In my late teens, I started keeping kosher and quickly discovered that for many Orthodox Jewish travelers, pots, pans, frozen meats and cheeses are automatic suitcase stuffers for every trip. While living a life of Torah and mitzvos gives me much meaning and pleasure, and I recognize that anything good in life comes with tradeoffs, it’s been hard for me to conceive of a vacation that includes washing dishes. (Then again, it’s hard for me to conceive of washing dishes any day!)
My desire to only go on vacations where someone else is doing the cooking has limited our ability to travel to a specific number of cities with kosher fare, but how many times can a Jew go to Florida? That’s why I was delighted to learn about the Arlington Hotel in Bethlehem, New Hampshire which is a brand new, year-round luxury boutique hotel. I’ve been to hotels that serve kosher food, but it’s always been for Pesach. So what a treat to be able to book a trip over any weekend that works for my family AND get served delicious chametz food! (Kosher traveler’s heaven!)
When we went, over Labor Day Weekend, the hotel had been open for a few days. We didn’t know what to expect, but hoped for the best. We were THOROUGHLY impressed! We entered the beautiful, modern lobby, got taken to our 2 bedroom suite (all the rooms are suites), which comes with a sitting area and kitchenette and a beautiful bathroom with a jacuzzi and shower. They really took the time and care to get the details right in this place down to cool light fixtures and wall hangings.
After getting settled into our room, it was time for dinner. Again, we didn’t know what to expect but hoped for the best and again we were delighted. Every meal for the next three days was a combination of gourmet flavors and presentation with a touch of heimishe that makes Shabbos food and morning pastries the absolute best. Every morning at the buffet they put out these cheese danishes and chocolate rugelach that were dangerously delicious. My daughter even grabbed some for the road so that I could delight in the tastes of Arlington as we drove home! (Because the diet ALWAYS begins tomorrow.) Because everyone who visits is going out of the hotel for activities for the day, they leave containers at breakfast with lunch foods to pack, so we were able to stock up on yummy lunch food before we left and break to eat whenever we got hungry.
They have an open bar in the evenings where they served mixed drinks and hot cookies fresh out of the oven. On motzei shabbos, the dairy melave malka was to die for – or at least worth gaining a few pounds for. They had pasta stations set up with different sauces and accompaniments, hot cheesy bread sticks fresh from the oven, pizza and more. It was the way I always dreamed of kosher vacationing.
If you think I indulged a bit too much in food, you may be right, but fortunately, they have a built in work out program nearby called “nature.” My husband considers nature his “happy place,” and while I’m more a city gal and got a tad nervous when we got to nature and Facebook stopped working on my phone and all cell service was dead, I realized that going device-free on a family vacation is actually a pretty nice thing.
Though we went while it was still warm out and spent the days on mountain coasters, alpine slides, and scenic hikes, New Hampshire has tons of cold weather actives like alpine and cross country skiing, sledding, tubing, snowmobiling and even walking through ice castles! Shabbos at Arlington was lovely and relaxing. It’s conveniently located next to a shul and mikvah, though they are building a shul in the hotel in the coming months. We got a chance to meet Jews from other communities and really get to know them over the weekend and we’re still in touch with several families we met during our stay.
This place is open and kosher every single day of the year (other than when corporate retreats or family Simchas book the whole place) and it is such an asset to the kosher community. For so long I wondered why no one had ever opened up a year long fabulous kosher hotel, only a few hours drive from the New York area, and thank God, someone finally did!
To book a suite or plan your next vacation, contact: