“The Griswold Inn, sometimes known as the ‘Gris’, is an inn with the most extraordinary atmosphere in the nation. Indeed it is doubtful if another inn can go so far back in the country’s history. There is no other place to compare in atmosphere, in hospitality, in the excellence of its cuisine unless it is another ‘Gris’.” The Connecticut Almanac
For a journey through American history there is nowhere in the USA quite like New England. From Boston, down past Plymouth Rock and through Connecticut, you will find signs of the first settlers and the great migration, colonial wars, the American revolution, the industrial revolution and the founding of the great educational establishments. A key part of the regions activity was along the Connecticut coastline, and at the heart of this you will find Essex and The Griswold Inn.
Founded when independence was in the air in 1776 it was the year when Connecticut authorised the building of its first warship at Essex, then called Saybrook. A local economic boom brought in shipyard workers, housed at the Inn whilst it also provided food, spirits and lodging to the suppliers, politicians and other patriots.
There have been many ups and downs in the intervening years of course, but the Inn survived and to walk in to ‘The Gris’ today is a journey back in to this amazing history where parts of the property represent the oldest continuously operating Inn in the country.
The Historic Dining Room is one of the most historic parts of the Inn. Everywhere are reminded of the Inn’s nautical connections in an outstanding collection of marine art that hangs from every inch of the wood panelled walls. Elsewhere, there are historic artifacts and firearms – in fact the collection is so comprehensive that there are regular free tours.
Dinner at The Gris is a special event. There is a commitment to top quality, seasonal and locally-sourced fare prepared by talented chef Shaheed Toppin. There is lots of choice of local meats, but we opted for the seafood with impressive Atlantic Salmon and Cod dishes beautifully prepared. The wine list is exceptional and desserts – we only just managed to squeeze one in – were equally impressive
Under the domed ceiling of the Tap Room, made from clamshells and horse hair, 200 years-old and with a smoky patina to match, we enjoy the bars own Revolutionary Ale, brewed especially. There is live music daily as well as bar meals that naturally include fish and chips and clam chowder.
It was very hard to drag ourselves away from the very lively ‘pubby’ atmosphere, (complete with a local Coast Guard choir singing festivals on the night we were there) that has made the bar famous and regularly puts it in to listings of ‘Best Bar’ in the USA year after year.
Once we did we found our room quiet, and extremely comfortable. There are five levels of room in both new and historic sections of the building, but all were beautifully and traditionally styled with very comfortable beds, quality linens and lots of useful extras. Your own fire and a clawfoot bath are available in upgraded rooms and well worth the extra.
If we had more time, we would mention that the hotel has its own shop, that Essex is a wonderful place to spend time, there are lots of great places like Mystic (above) in the locality, Billy Joel might pop in and play the piano as he has been known to do, and you should definitely not miss Sunday brunch. We will instead highly recommend that you just come and find out more about the wonderful Griswold Inn for yourself
For more information visit The Griswold Inn
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of The Griswold Inn
Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and The Griswold Inn.