One Hundred Hours Of Solitude: Top Five Historic Retreats

One of my favorite books in college was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years Of Solitude. That’s a lie actually. I never read it thoroughly, which is probably why I got a C in international literature that semester (I was skiing a lot). I just loved the name—something about it at that time in my life was inherently soothing. I found my dog-eared copy of Marquez’ novel this past week while putting some boxes of old books into storage that I’ve kept for almost three decades.

If you’ve had the wonderful displeasure of moving recently the wounds are most likely still fresh. We’ve moved two 28′ trucks of stuff since April (on our own), slept on the couch for three weeks, and eaten take-out for months if we’ve eaten at all (someone should pioneer ‘moving’ as the new South Beach diet by the way—I shed 12 pounds). We still have eleven boxes yet to be unpacked on our dining room table, and if I hear the sound of packing tape ripping off the roll it sends me into a post-traumatic fit of anxiety.

So when I re-discovered Marquez’ book last week, simultaneous with the worst of our move finally subsiding, it dawned on me exactly what we needed most right now: one hundred hours of solitude. Three days of utter, total, absolute peace and privacy where no one can find us and we don’t have to lift a finger—let alone another forty pound box of old books. My uncle once said that he loved to fly “because it’s the only place they can’t get me”. I’m not sure who his “they” were but I now know exactly he means about the space where no one can find you.

The Inn At The Round Barn Farm (Waitsfield, VT)

Depending on where you live “property” comes in many sizes. In Manhattan you’re living like a king with anything more than 1000 square feet. If you live in rural Wyoming, you’re tight with your neighbors with less than 1000 acres.

In Vermont, as soon as you travel outside of the major “cities” of Burlington and the capitol Montpelier, a couple hundred acres isn’t atypical—which is exactly why The Inn at The Round Farm Barn is quintessential Vermont and the epitome of solitude and luxury. Surrounded by 250 bucolic acres, rolling Green Mountain views, flower-filled meadows and perennial gardens, and direct access to hiking trails, this historic Vermont bed and breakfast offers guests throw-back farmhouse-chic accommodations in the main property built in 1810 as well as a nearby c. 1910 horse barn that has been recently converted.

In the spring, summer and fall, Vermont’s legendary fly-fishing, river rafting, hiking, biking, and foliage are right out your back door. In the winter you can slam the un-groomed powder of Mad River Glen, one of the most historic ski resorts in the United States. Whatever the season you can indulge yourself in heavenly Tempurpedic mattresses, steam showers, whirlpool tubs, a gourmet farm-to-table breakfast, and the the sound of absolutely nothing all day long.

There’s also wifi in every room but we’d encourage you not to use it. Try to connect with something else for once.

Holualoa Inn (Holualoa, HI)

Everyone has a bucket list. Hawaii has been on ours for over two decades. There’s no other place where you can ride a 20′ wave, walk the rim of an active volcano, and dive a virgin coral reef all in the same weekend—all with the same passport that gets you to Cleveland.

Located on the mountainous slopes of the Big Island with elevated, cobalt ocean views, Holualoa Inn defines the authentic Hawai’ian experience offering you a once-in-a-lifetime ability to relax and recharge amid a working coffee plantation estate,  rich pastureland, and lush tropical gardens buzzing with native birds and butterflies. Our favorite activity on the menu here is the option to do absolutely nothing. Sleep late. Sip a cup of locally-grown coffee in your private outdoor hot tub to start you day. Roll into an after-breakfast stroll through the plantation grounds. Read. Listen to the wind off the Pacific. Eat. Nap after lunch. Sunbathe. Watch the sunset from your hot tub. Eat. Repeat.

So back to riding that 20′ wave. On the solitude and relaxation vacation we’ll watch from the hot tub thank you very much.

Blisswood Bed And Breakfast Ranch (Cat Springs, TX)

When your informal slogan is ‘Do it all or nothing’ you know you have the perfect recipe for isolation and solitude.

Blisswood is a throw-back Old Texas experience hidden on a six-hundred and fifty acre working ranch property an hour outside of Houston, offering guests the rare opportunity to unplug and unwind under the quiet shade of majestic oaks surrounded by your own private game preserve of horses, Angus cattle, alpaca, camels, peacocks, black buck antelope, and American Bison.

Ten ranch-chic cottages and cabins (as well as eight accommodations at the nearby sister property, Oasis) offer luxurious, Texas-style accommodations each decorated in its own unique combination of antiques and modern design elements, and offering utter and total privacy from its neighbors. A complimentary breakfast is delivered to your cabin each morning that includes coffee, tea, bagels and cream cheese, muffins, yogurt, fresh fruit, juice, and granola bars.

All of which will fuel you up for your next activity—doing absolutely nothing. If you do end feeling a twinge of ambition, you can bass fish in the stocked lakes that abound on the property, horseback ride, picnic overlooking the Enchanted Lake, or take a midnight stroll through the meadows and moonbeams.

Castle In The Country Bed And Breakfast Inn (Allegan, MI)

We love ‘fly-over’ states. South Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Michigan. Dead center in the beating heart of America. Bring ’em on. Sure you can find quiet, isolated pockets on the New Jersey and Orange County fringes of the continent. But when it comes to a solitude vacation, we want acreage. Significant acreage—in the form of massive buffer zones that insulate us from any possible disturbance, noise, or intrusion. Dozens is a good starting point.

Enter the Castle in the Country Bed & Breakfast Inn, one of the most secluded and romantic Michigan getaway destinations ensconced on a sixty-five acre private estate close to Lake Michigan and the Upper Peninsula wilderness areas. This Queen Anne Victorian property drips with historic charm, and offers guests the opportunity to unhinge in luxury and privacy with access to kayaking, canoeing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing whenever the urge arises. In September and October the Upper Peninsula fall foliage catches fire like few other places in North America. This is one of our favorite solitude vacation activities precisely because all it requires is sitting back in an Adirondack chair.

The Castle Inn’s on-site private spa offers extra pampering including couple’s massages, pedicures, manicures, and facials in a tranquil oasis that is completely devoid of any possible intrusion. Sign us up.

Woolverton Inn (Stockton, NJ)


We lived in San Diego for a few years a decade ago and loved every minute of it. We spent every Saturday hiking the surrounding mountain trails and each Sunday on the beach with a picnic cooler and our dogs. But it didn’t take more than a month to miss the deeply-rooted history of the East Coast—and the Delaware River Valley in particular—where both of us grew up.

George Washington crossed the Delaware River here during the Revolutionary War to turn the tide on the British. The Declaration of Independence and Bill Of Rights were both signed just south of here in Philadelphia. It’s not uncommon to have a gourmet dinner today on a winding country road in an obscure tavern that’s been in operation for over two-hundred and fifty years.

Built in 1792 and perched high above the Delaware River, the Woolverton Inn puts you in the heart of one of the most historic places in America, while offering the ultimate in privacy and luxury on ten secluded acres surrounded by three-hundred acres of protected farmland and forest that will ensure perpetual tranquility and seclusion.

If the peace and quiet gets to you, indulge yourself in the farm-to-table restaurants, galleries, antiques and other locally-owned shopping in New Hope, Pennsylvania and Lambertville, New Jersey which are annually ranked among the most charming, historic river towns in America.

On a final note, I didn’t put Marquez’ novel back into storage. It’s staying out this time and I am finally going to read it start to finish. It might take one hundred years though.

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