Visiting elegant Talbot County, Maryland [classic article]

Talbot County has been a destination for stylish pursuits and fine living for over 300 years. It remains a favorite vacation haunt of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Ben Stein, and Jenna Bush.

Some of its towns have more of a rural or waterman’s vibe, while others have a sophisticated, social bent. What may surprise people is the chic shopping opportunities, plethora of day spas to suit all tastes and high level of restaurant fare.

Where to stay:

On the outskirts of St. Michaels is the elegant Orient-Express resort and spa, Inn at Perry Cabin. As gorgeous as the furnishings and interior design are, it is still pet-friendly! Everywhere you look, there are special touches; hot mulled cider on nippy, damp days, huge and indulgent bath sheets, down pillows, a tv that folds into a vintage trunk. With 24 hour room service, you’ll have ample opportunity to use sitting rooms, decks and other fun spaces for private dining.

St. Michaels, Md Inn at Perry Cabin

The Purser’s Pub says on the web site that it closes at midnight, but they will keep it open if people are still enjoying themselves. Sit in front of the fire for drinks, light fare and even a couple of items from their fine dining restaurant.

Sherwood’s Landing is very elegant without being pretentious. Service is both attentive and quite knowledgeable about the inventive presentations of local seafood and produce that are incorporated into recipes that span all of American cuisine. Even if you are not normally a chocolate dessert fan, you will still probably go crazy over the deep, dark chocolate soufflé.

Right on the premises of the inn is a luxurious, personable spa, Linden Spa. It features indulgent treatments that use nutritive, organic plant materials. Several beauty products available are hand-crafted by the staff with honey, linden and other natural ingredients derived on site.

Like a good spy, the Inn at 202 Dover seems to be hidden in plain sight right in downtown Easton. While it has been compared to Buckingham Palace, I would say that, especially with the French décor suite, Versailles is the more apt comparison. Inn at 202 Dover is not only part of the historic “Hill,” it is also Talbot County’s only AAA 4 Diamond awarded property.

Its amenities include a Jacuzzi tub that has different colored chromatherapy lights, a steam shower and gorgeous interior design. It is so relaxing and indulgent! Each room is decorated with a different theme. The on-site restaurant, Peacock, uses the finest of local produce in contemporary dishes. Friday nights feature exotic and fun vodka tastings.

Easton, Md’s Inn at 202 Dover

Do you like the idea of walking right outside in the morning and finding yourself in the center of town? It comes in handy, after all, when you’ve had a little vino with dinner and do not want to drive in an unfamiliar area. Five Gables Inn & Spa is in the heart of St. Michaels. It is best for people who value privacy above lots of staff.

Surprisingly for a country inn, they have an indoor heated pool! Rooms are decorated in the “shabby chic” motif. The spa offers massages with a very private touch. You do not sit in a waiting room, rather, the masseuse comes and gets you directly from your room. Breakfast is served at a property across the street.

What to do:

Meet real artists and arrange for getting your own portrait painted, just like the finest homes have, at Easton’s Troika Gallery. Art from around the region is also displayed there.

Easton has lots of other upscale shops, too. Lanham Hall Design has chic things you did not even know you needed, like fun cocktail napkins, sexy TokyoMilk perfumes and baby Mozart throw pillows.

Can a massage be serious business? Well, they certainly take the art of massage quite seriously at the Spa at Harbour Inn in St. Michaels. Partly serving the well-heeled crowd of Talbot County, partly earthy-crunchy philosophy, you may very well experience the best massage in your life.

They are available seven days a week by appointment only, so that there is not chaos in the dressing rooms. You will find luxurious touches like a six-head shower and heated massage tables.

See everyone from indie rock artists to Wayne Newton at Easton’s Avalon Theater. It is a smaller, yet glamorous theater. For even more intimacy, there is the Stoltz Listening Room upstairs, which feels like your rec room, but with a full service bar.

Where to eat:

Take the bridge out to Tilghman Island, but allow some driving time to get there. It might just well be the best seafood buffet you’ll ever have. Harrison’s boasts “boat to table” seafood, including shedding their own soft crabs in season. Here, you will enjoy the bounty of the Chesapeake, as well as that of local farmers, in traditional home-cooking preparations.

You may well see some bold-faced local names when eating at Hunters’ Tavern in Easton’s elegant Tidewater Inn, for good reason. Snapping Turtle soup, which once was served to every dignitary who crossed into The Old Line State, is served with a carafe of sherry. Their Bloody Mary cocktails are garnished with a big Maryland Blue Crab claw.

Get big city café fare in Easton at Out of the Fire. This restaurant features sustainable seafood, brick oven gourmet pizza and fusion cuisine in a laid-back, but chic atmosphere.

How to get there:

How many times have you said to yourself, “I’m not going to the Shore on a Friday,” or been afraid of being caught in traffic on the Bay Bridge? The Bay Runner Shuttle is a quiet, convenient van that will take you from downtown Baltimore or BWI to Easton Airport.

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