Sometimes it takes a village to raise a guest’s expectations.
From the beginning, my hopes for the Golden Plough Inn in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County were pretty high, at least up to my elbows. Based on my cursory research, I knew that the inn featured 70 rooms, all individually designed; I liked the idea of staying in the lodging equivalent of a snowflake. The property also warmed the heart and the toes with a roasting fireplace in the den, a free bottle of wine per room and WiFi on the house, allowing guests to Skype any loved ones they’d left behind.
The generosity didn’t stop there. At check-in, the agent handed me a breakfast voucher for Sweet Lorraine’s Cafe, and in my room, a snack basket (pretzel mix, gumdrops) and two bottles of water created the fixings for a double-feature movie night (brought to you by HBO).
Before burrowing down, I decided to drop into the modest fitness center behind the inn. And that’s when I stepped into the warm embrace of Peddler’s Village.
To be blunt, the village is a pretend community. No one lives in or around the brick buildings except the scarecrows, who will be evicted after the season. The narrow streets and village green are basically vehicles for shops and restaurants, many catering to visitors who can order “Chicken Pot Pye” with a straight face.
The man behind Peddler’s Village, Earl Jamison, found his inspiration in the most un-Pennsylvania spot in the Lower 48: Carmel, the monied seaside town on the California coast. He started with a garden center, now down the street, and a chicken coop, now a shelter for baubles, not eggs. He later expanded his concept to include 70 independent stores, six restaurants and the inn, whose rooms are secreted in nine buildings set on 42 manicured acres.
In the evening mist, the village looked luminous, like a vintage greeting card. The stores were closed at that hour, so I snooped around like a cat burglar, peering into windows filled with sparkly jewelry, candy-colored soaps and women’s clothes that could accommodate a two-dessert dinner. The front desk had provided me with a map and a coupon booklet, so I knew where I needed to circle back the following day.
The inn was sleepy when I returned. Even the fireplace seemed to crackle more softly. I tiptoed up to my second-floor room, bushwhacking through a jungle of riotous patterns on the carpets and walls. I felt the eyes of wooden waterfowl sculptures and a portrait of Eddie Munster’s doppelganger upon me. (The owners shop for their profusion of folksy furnishings at a nearby auction.)
My room hewed to the same Americana style, but it was more heavily edited, so I could easily find the essential furnishings among the floral drapes and the checkered chairs. I had no objections to the decor, though I might have relocated the framed image of the pig from the full-size kitchen to the reading nook.
Curious about the insides of other rooms, the next morning I asked the front desk for a look-see at the photo album thick with snapshots of all the chambers. Sitting before the fire, I gazed lovingly at Room 303 in the main inn, which starred a sunken bedroom, a fireplace, a double-sized whirlpool, a loveseat and a window seat. Room 105 in the Wagon House also caught my eye and pinched my heart with its king-size canopy bed, fireplace, dressing area and private balcony. O, Romeo. However, if pressed, I would slap my credit card down on Room 125 in Merchants Row. The two-star suite sits above Skip’s Candy Corner, a purveyor of sweet treats and dreams.
Golden Plough Inn
at Peddler’s Village
Route 202 and Street Road