MAKE GOOD on your New Year's resolution for more quiet times, completed novels and moonlit walks by visiting one of these newly opened inns, all within an easy drive of Washington.

Pick your fancy, whether it's a cityside mansion, a restored small-town Victorian home or a country-house hotel. The delights include cozy rooms, and, depending on your choice, sunrises over rolling fields, the shimmering Chesapeake Bay or city surprises in a park along the winding Schuylkill River..


For Philadelphia finery just one mile from Fairmount Park's 8,000 acres -- but only 15 minutes to Center City -- try the Pelham Inn, an impressive 42-room Tudor mansion in Mount Airy, opened to guests in December 1986.

Commissioned by a wealthy industrialist as a wedding present for his daughter, the mansion was completed in 1902 after 60 artisans worked four years. The Pelham Inn is an architectural delight of whimsical gargoyles, leaded-glass windows from the greenhouse to the library, beautiful stained-glass portraits of knights and an elaborate, carved three-tiered open staircase. As you pass the gateposts, cross the sweeping lawn and stand on the stone-pillared porch, you sense the studied grace of the Edwardian era.

But it was chance that made innkeepers of Raymond and Jody Maas. "Jody was convalescing from the difficult delivery of our son Grayson, my mother-in-law was with us to help out, and I was taking long walks just to get out," recalled Raymond Maas, a real estate consultant. "On one of these {walks}, on a Monday in August 1986, I saw the house with a 'For Sale' sign. I came back and told Jody that I saw the house for us. She just thought I was nuts."

Seduced by the house,, Maas convinced Jody, who hadn't even seen the outside of the mansion, to put their house on the market.

When the Maases sold their house the following Sunday, they made an offer for the mansion, then a convent of the Bernadine Sisters of St. Francis, without seeing inside the home.

But the nuns had received three offers for their convent. Later Maas became friendly with one of the sisters who told him what happened to the other offers.. "She told us that the nuns prayed for an hour, and then selected Jody and me."

Finally, when the Maases walked through their new home, they were amazed. "I tried to explain to Jody how big it was, but she went through it shaking. She couldn't believe the woodwork, the windows, or what we'd gotten ourselves into," Maas said.

To get rid of the convent's institutional feel, the Maases removed the pervasive wall-to-wall indoor/outdoor green carpeting and the interior walls that divided the large rooms into as many as 15 sleeping areas. To restore the mansion's charm, the Maases chose a combination of designer wallpapers, antiques and reproduction four-poster beds.

With five public rooms to relax in, including a billiard room (the gaming table is being restored), solarium, library, dining room and huge foyer, the Pelham Inn offers plenty of space. A bemused 1870s adult-sized rocking horse greets you in the foyer, setting a delightful Victorian tone.

Upstairs, the guest rooms are cheery and bright. Favorite rooms include the Ardleigh with its lemon-yellow wallpaper and wide wiew of the gardens from its five windows and the Durham, a white fantasy with soft comforters bordered with lace. Both have private baths with clawfoot tubs.

You can breakfast in your room or in the dining room on such house specialities as apple pancakes, souffles or Pelham pudding, a hot bread pudding with fruit. For groups of 15 or more, the hosts will be glad to serve dinner.


30 Pelham Rd., Philadelphia, PA 19119. 215/844-3727. Currently six rooms; three with private baths. Two more rooms are being added. Full breakfast served in the dining room, or in your room. Afternoon tea and evening coffee. Private bath: $60 single, $65 double. Shared bath, $55 single, $60 double. Includes full breakfast. Children welcome. About 150 miles or 2 1/2 to 3 hours from D.C. Take I-95 north past the Philadelphia International Airport. Follow signs for Center City, Philadelphia and the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) west. Exit on Germantown/Lincoln Drive (Exit No. 32). Follow Lincoln Drive 3 miles to Carpenter Lane. Turn right, travel 3 blocks to Cresheim Road. Turn right. One block to Pelham Inn.


The Vandiver Inn in Havre de Grace, Maryland, is a gussied-up 16-room Queen Anne "cottage," a pretty painted lady with cranberry gingerbread trim and three shades of green.

It's perched on a main street in the city's historic district, only blocks away from the wide expanse of the Chesapeake Bay. The inn, opened in September, offers a Victorian-style getaway, perfect for one night flights from the city.

In Havre de Grace, you can stroll down South Union Avenue to catch the sun glinting off the icy blue Chesapeake, or look up to see the frequent waterfowl cutting a "V" in the winter sky. Then, at the Vandiver Inn, linger over a four-course dinner. House specialties are crab imperial, sauteed Idaho trout and (in season) Maryland soft-shell crabs.

The inn was built in 1886 for Murray Vandiver, the town's mayor and a politco whose aspirations gained him a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. For innkeeper and chef Charles Rothwell, the house provided the perfect setting for a dream: a full-service, personalized inn.

"This is something I always wanted to do," said Rothwell, a graduate of Baltimore's International Culinary Arts Institute. He teamed with real estate developers Alland Pat Fair to rip out five apartments and to restore the Vandiver to mayoral standards.

The inn exudes a welcoming, informal air with its rose Victorian settees, period antiques, crystal chandeliers and brass fixtures, including a bronze lady poised atop the newel post as she did in Vandiver's day. You feel as if you could sit by the fire to discuss politics or put your shoes up on the sofa for a good snooze in the bay-windowed parlor.

The guest rooms, many of them large, offer comfortable retreats. Ask for the rooms with the intricately tiled fireplaces. In the John Rodgers room, the fireplace alcove boasts windows, a delicately carved walnut trim, and brightly colored yellow and green Italian tile. This spacious room features a melodeon, a large bathroom with a pull-chain toilet, a clawfoot tub and a small private porch (although the backyard view is plain).

In the Frank Wolbert room, the afternoon sun from South Union Avenue catches the tiled fireplace and lights the Victorian floral wallpaper.

In the Millard Tydings room, called the bridal suite because of its white walls and white-tiled fireplace, Rothwell finally found the perfect place to house his mother's high, carved Victorian walnut bed and marble-top dresser.


301 South Union Ave., Havre de Grace, MD 21078. Eight rooms, six with private bath. Single $80-$90; double, $105-$115. Includes continental breakfast and four-course dinner. About 80 miles or 1 1/2 hours from D.C. Take I-95 North to exit 89, Route 155 East. Cross U.S. 40 to Ostego Street. Follow Ostego Street to its end at Union Avenue. Turn right and go seven blocks to the inn. Dinner, $40, available by reservation to non-inn guests.


If your weekend wishes include forays to both Lancaster and Longwood Gardens, this inn in Pomeroy, Pennsylvania, is the place to stay. Set amid 21 acres of woods, fields, mineral springs and ponds, the Stottsville Inn, which opened in March, is a full-service Victorian country-house hotel.

Since 1745, wayfarers have sought overnight refuge in the small village of Pomeroy. In 1858, William Stott replaced his 1745 log inn with a white stucco over Pennsylvania fieldstone building across the street. More than 70 years ago, the Lynauh family purchased the inn, turning it into a general store and boarding house during the Prohibition era, and later, into a "a shot-and-beer bar for local blue-collar people," manager Susanne Carr said.

But you should see the Stottsville Inn now. Carr, whose family owns Pickering Properties, a real estate development firm, transformed the Stottsville Inn into a Victorian country retreat with chintz drapes, lavender walls, brass chandeliers and many of the inn's original Victorian furnishings.

Carr came upon the Stottsville Inn by chance. "We looked at the property to build a house on, and just when we got out here said, 'Oh, let's go through it for fun.' Within 24 hours I dragged my father-in-law out here and purchased it. It was so impulsive, it was ridiculous. Five days later, I found out I was pregnant. It's been a crazy year. We opened March 17, and I had the baby March 21.

"We bought everything," Carr said, "including what was stored in the attic. We didn't even know what was there, but we found ledgers and diaries dating back to 1858, a pump organ, matching settee and great big oak dining room tables and servers with big lion paws."

Among the surprises: the 1886 gold-bordered china ordered from John Wanamaker, Philadelphia, now displayed in a corner cabinet in one of the four dining rooms.

For special trysts reserve "Josephine's Parlor," a three-windowed private nook off the main dining room. Carr noted, "We frequently have requests to serve engagement rings here along with the dessert."

At Stottsville, the American country cuisine includes such house specialites as baby pheasant in gin and juniper berry sauce and Pennsylvania duckling flamed in Amaretto cherry, walnut sauce. All breads and desserts are homemade.

Since the inn serves lunch and dinner to the public, choose a guest room on the third floor for more privacy. Though small, the rooms are pleasant, featuring Victorian walnut, '20s white iron, or wicker beds. Favorites include No. 8, where lilac and rose floral wallpaper sets a soft tone for the carved Victorian bed and marble-top bureau.

As a prelude to a peaceful sleep, you'll find milk and cookies by your pillow. Have breakfast in bed or in the white wicker dining room on homemade herb breads, sticky buns and coffee. Before heading out for the hillsides of the Amish or for Wyeth country, be sure to stroll these peaceful roads past stone barns, horse paddocks and fields bordered with pine trees.


Strasburg and Valley Roads, P.O. Box 67, Pomeroy, PA 19367. 215/857-1133. 12 rooms. All with private bath. $75-$95, includes continental breakfast. Lunch and dinner available. Dinner about $25 per person. Located 15 miles from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and 13 miles from Brandywine Valley attractions. About 115 miles or 2 hours from D.C. Take I-95 North to Rte. 272 North to U.S. 1 north to Pennsylvania's Rte. 10 North to Pomeroy.

Candyce H. Stapen's City and Country Inns: The Best From New Jersey to North Carolina will be available in February.