When it was built in 1902, the hotel was the first in New England to have private bathrooms in every room, and in its heyday, as many as 57 trains a day delivered guests to its door.
The hotel, now with a mouthful of a name -- the Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods -- features a 230-foot-long lobby, an indoor tiled pool and the "Cave," a Prohibition-era stone-walled speakeasy. Its winter activities include Nordic skiing, sleigh rides, ice skating and snow tubing. People are required to dress for dinner in the hotel's formal dining room -- that means jackets and no jeans -- but the payback is being serenaded by a roving orchestra as you spoon down your sorbet.
In keeping with the spirit of the old cog and the old hotel, the adventurous might want to consider chucking those fancy parabolic skis they bought last season and strapping on a pair of vintage 77-inch-long wooden ones with leather bindings, something like those worn by the famous Austrian skier Toni Matt when he schussed the Headwall at Tuckerman's back in 1939. "Schussing" means that Matt went straight down the ravine -- no parallel turns and certainly no wimpy stem christie or snowplow turns either. The result was that he reached a speed of 85 mph.
Then again, maybe schussing is best left to the Austrians. Better to stick with the forgiving shaped skis and the equally forgiving slopes at the cog, and be around to hear the band play on at dinner.
Details: Mount Washington Cog Railway Ski Trains
GETTING THERE: The Mount Washington Cog Railway Ski Trains ski area is in Bretton Woods, N.H., about 90 miles west of Portland, Maine, and 165 miles north of Boston. The drive takes about two hours from Portland, three hours from Boston.
WHERE TO STAY: The Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods is the place to stay if you want to avoid a drive after a day on the slopes. The resort operates the MountWashington Hotel, Bretton Arms Country Inn, Lodge at Bretton Woods and Townhomes at Bretton Woods.
When the Mount Washington Hotel opened in 1902, it was considered the last word in luxury, and it's still no slouch in the pampering department. Some rooms feature fireplaces and canopy beds. Rooms run from $130 per person a night double, including breakfast and dinner. The Bretton Arms Country Inn, a refurbished Victorian mansion, has rooms from $65 per person per night double, including breakfast. The Lodge at Bretton Woods is more of a standard motel and caters to families; from $99 to $199 double, including continental breakfast.
The Townhomes at Bretton Woods range in size from one to five bedrooms and feature fireplaces, decks and kitchens. From $199 a night. All the above accommodations have access to the resort's many amenities, including swimming pools, Jacuzzi, weight rooms and racquetball courts as well as horseback riding, golf and tennis in season. All are clustered at Route 302, about a five minutes' drive from the cog railway. Package deals are available that combine lodging and skiing at Bretton Woods; a plan to include skiing at the cog is in the works. For reservations and general information: 800- 314-1752, www.mtwashington.com.
WHERE TO EAT: The Main Dining Room at the Mount Washington Hotel (see above) serves breakfast and lunch; a four-course dinner is about $60, plus wine, tax and tip. Lunch is available at other venues in the resort for a variety of prices.
LIFT TICKETS: The Mount Washington Cog Railway Ski Trains costs $59 for a full day or $25 for a single ride. A combination ticket including the Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire's largest ski area, and the cog railway ski trains costs $75. Info: 800-922- 8825, www.mountwashingtoncograilwayskitrains.com. For alpine or Nordic skiing, Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, 800-314-1752, www.brettonwoods.com.
-- M.J. McAteer