The stables came first at Inn Walden in Aurora, Ohio; accommodations for two-legged guests were added just six years ago. Thirty-two thoroughbreds thrive in a roomy, clean and poshly appointed barn; attached is a huge indoor arena with a spectator gallery.
The staff at Walden takes excellent care of horses—notoriously fussy, demanding and high-maintenance creatures. Taking excellent care of the people who visit the inn? Well, in comparison, that’s easy.
First off, they keep guests well-fed. We’re treated to a constant supply of thoughtful treats: cookies, banana bread and hot cocoa at teatime; wine and cheese before dinner; a carb-rich breakfast of homemade coffeecake, waffles and fresh orange juice. Dinner is at The Barn, housed in a restored farm building from the 1820s. The restaurant has a clubby feel, with high-backed chairs and rich textiles warming the tall space and its weathered wood beams. The food is rich, too; the filet mignon and steamed asparagus with red peppers is the winner among the entrees sampled at our table. Next, as they do for the horses, the folks at Walden make sure guests have comfortable accommodations. The all-suite inn is decorated with contemporary paintings and pottery, and the rooms are furnished with lush wood and natural stone. But the real luxury is light. Compensating for northeast Ohio’s often gray skies, large windows and skylights let in as much sunshine as possible, and offer views of the gardens and pastures. —Britta Waller