Gay-Friendly Lodging in N.H.

The Riverbend Inn near Conway, N.H., offers gourmet breakfasts.
The Riverbend Inn near Conway, N.H., offers gourmet breakfasts. (2007 Riverbend Inn)
Sunday, September 16, 2007

At first blush, New Hampshire, where the majority of the 1.3 million populace resides in rural towns, seems an unlikely place for gays and lesbians to sojourn for a civil union. But in the past few years, an extensive network of accommodations welcoming homosexual travelers has opened in rustic villages and other locales. Purple Roofs (, an umbrella Web site listing lodging options for gays worldwide, features a wide variety of more than 40 gay-owned and gay-friendly bed-and-breakfasts in New Hampshire. We visited several New Hampshire lodging places that are planning to offer tailor-made civil union packages for travelers. Here are three of our favorites.

* Stately and serene. The Notchland Inn, perched majestically in the White Mountain town of Hart's Location (pop. 42), opened in 1991. Innkeepers Les Schoof and Edward Butler, together for 29 years, have led the way in creating the community of gay-owned properties across the state. Their property, a handsome stone building with a cluster of smaller cottages, has specialized in crafting intimate wedding, honeymoon or romance escapes, mostly for heterosexual couples. For ceremonies, they have brought in kilted bagpipers, hired vintage cars and filled rooms with candles and white roses. With the new civil union statute, the inn is preparing to offer the same kind of storybook occasions for gay couples. As a justice of the peace, Butler will perform the services.

Info: 800-866-6131, Rates from $195.

* Warm and earthy. The Highlands Inn, a 19-room retreat in the town of Bethlehem that attracts a loyal following of women from across the country, is a half-hour's drive from the Notchland Inn. Guests hike the network of trails surrounding the place, kick back with a selection from the big collection of videos (tapes of "The L Word," a popular lesbian soap opera, are favorites) or partake in the long-running series of concerts by female performers staged in the inn's living room. "We have found that women hunger for a place they can be themselves and be respected," owner Grace Newman said. "We try to provide just that."

Info: 877-537-2466, Rates from $110.

* Downright tony. The Riverbend Inn is a 10-room bed-and-breakfast near the town of Conway. This is a place decorated lavishly with grand wooden beds and bold artwork collected in Asia by owners Jerry Weiss and Craig Cox. The breakfasts are a multi-course gourmet affair. The decor coupled with the pristine setting -- highlighted by the babbling Chocorua River out back and 15 acres of surrounding pine forests -- is easily honeymoon worthy.

Info: 800-628-6944, Rates from $100. -- G.L.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company