If you ever wished to live like an oil baron, or perhaps a turn of the century real-estate developer, you might try spending a few days at the Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness, New Hampshire.  The Manor was actually built by Isaac Van Horn, a real estate developer, in 1907.  He and his beautiful debutante bride loved Shepard Hill and the vistas overlooking Squam Lake.

Manor on Golden Pond

Over the years, the estate passed through many hands, once becoming home to Howard Fowler, Life Magazine’s photography editor who ran the Holderness Photographic Colony here during the 1940’s and 50’s. It was finally purchased in 1999 by Mary Ellen & Brian Shields, completing a 20+ year-old dream of theirs.

Manor on Golden Pond

Manor on Golden Pond entry

The inn now attracts people from all over, who love nature, fishing, skiing, hiking and just relaxing with a fabulous view of the lake. In warmer weather, guests can enjoy biking, croquet, horseshoes and tennis. A swimming pool is open from June through early September.

As we arrived, we couldn’t help but be impressed with the wood beams and fabulous woodwork throughout the interior of the Manor. Brick and plaster walls, fine hardwood flooring and beautiful area rugs set off the comfortable seating in the many public spaces. Huge back-to-back fireplaces were the focal points in the lobby and the “tea room”.  Afternoon tea was available at 4:00 p.m. with a selection of small sandwiches and fresh bakery.

When checking in, if you want to maintain that aristocrat feeling, the Manor offers butler service; unpacking your suitcases while you go out to enjoy the grounds.  We didn’t opt for the butler service, but we found the grounds the perfect place to warm up our snowshoeing skills before we went out on a more extended hike.

Accommodations in the Yorkshire Suite

After snowshoeing, the fireplace in our room was very inviting.  It was already stocked with an ample supply of wood, kindling and matches.  We had enough logs to keep it burning all through the evening when we came back from dinner.

We stayed in the Yorkshire Suite, a 450-square-foot oasis of luxury.  The room was bright and elegant with its wide, white woodwork and blue and white wallcoverings. A high-backed airjet Jacuzzi sat between the living area and the bedroom, such that you could enjoy the fireplace while luxuriating in the tub. Across the hall in the bathroom was a wall-in steam shower with waterfall head, beautiful suspended sink and toilet. A smart, white, glass-doored wall unit contained hair dryer and multiple bathroom essentials.


A sofa, stuffed chair, as well as a small round table with two chairs gave you plenty of options for sitting while enjoying the fire. We pulled the table in front of the fireplace for a board game before retiring.

In the separate bedroom, the bed was centered in the room and its tall, four-poster bed tried but couldn’t touch the cathedral ceiling in the room.  Fine, blue, shear, drapery fabric swagged over the head of the bed, falling to the sides of the headboard. A white soffit around the bed concealed two recessed downlights, making it easy to read in bed.

Had it been warmer weather during our stay, I would have wanted to enjoy a glass of wine on the private patio outside our room, overlooking the lake and the mountains in the distance.

Dining in the Van Horn Dining Room

Manor on Golden Pond

We arrived fairly early for dinner and were able to get a table right in front of the roaring fire. Enjoying a couple glasses of wine, we could have easily forgotten about dinner and just enjoyed the warmth of the hearth. Ultimately, we gave in to the temptations found on the menu.

Right after ordering, the server brought out a chef’s surprise.  He had just created some roasted goat cheese flat bread and sent some out for us to try. The presentation was lovely and the taste even better.

Manor on Golden Pond

We started off with the bacon and parmesan crusted shrimp for an appetizer – delicately baked with a crumbled bacon and toasted cheese crust. Just a touch of their maple-chile condiment was all that was needed. Delicious.

Manor on Golden Pond

For the entrée, I had the Maplewood-smoked and pan-roasted duck breast with crushed winter squash and wilted greens. Far and away, the most tender and tasty duck I ever had.  Maureen truly enjoyed her Manor Tournedos; twin petite tenderloin steaks with fingerling potatoes, roasted mushrooms and asparagus spears, topped with sauce Béarnaise.

Manor on Golden Pond

We enjoyed our dinner so completely, we couldn’t sample desert, but their choices looked amazing. They also have a seven-course Chef’s Tasting Menu for those who really want a dining feast cum laude.

After experiencing such a perfect dinner, we looked forward to see what they would do with breakfast. We weren’t disappointed.

The breakfast menu consisted of all the normal favorites, but we decided to try the French toast and the pancakes.  Maureen got the Pumpkin-Sourdough French toast with whipped cream and candied pumpkin seeds.  I enjoyed the whole grain Cranberry-Oat Pancakes.  Both came with authentic, locally produced maple syrup that was excellent.

Manor on Golden Pond Manor on Golden Pond breakfast

Guests have the option of having breakfast delivered to their rooms or eating in the dining room.

More than just rooms and food

In addition to the dining room, there is also a wine cellar with an abundant stock of fine wines, the Three Cock’s Pub for a comfortable drink and a Cooking School.  There are even packages available for a perfect getaway weekend with room, meals and two-day cooking school.

If you work too hard learning to make homemade pasta, don’t worry, Seasons Spa in the Carriage House will get you back in shape with one of many massage therapies.

Making plans for the future

One night of living like an aristocrat wasn’t enough. It’s a life style I could learn to love.  We are already thinking about returning.

Manor on Golden Pond

The Manor has all types of rooms: from classic single rooms, to fireplace rooms, to fireplace and Jacuzzi rooms to fabulous suites like we stayed in. Prices range from $165 to $450. Each is beautifully decorated and quite different from the next. You’re sure to find something you like with color pictures and floor plans of each room.  Each room is equipped with wireless Internet, individual climate controls and wonderful plush robes. Telephones are available for free local calling and your cellphone may or may not get reception.

Manor on Golden Pond


You might also consider Manor on Golden Pond as the site for a meeting or the most perfect small wedding (they can accommodate a party size of up to 40.)



Distinctive Inn of New England (DINE)

Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Virtuoso Member since 2007

AAA Four Diamond Award (11 years)

Select Registry

Harper’s Hideaway Report, ”Best of New England”

Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence”

Wine Enthusiast “Award of Distinction”

Fodors Choice Hotels for 2006 Frommers’ “ Outstanding Inn of New Hampshire


Brian and Mary Ellen Shields

The Manor on Golden Pond

31 Manor Drive

P.O. Box T

Holderness, NH 03245

P 603-968-3348



About Distinctive Inns of New England

The Manor on Golden Pond is one of the Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE), a consortium of 12 inns located throughout the six New England states.  This collection of luxury inns and B&Bs are carefully aligned to offer distinctive surroundings and haute hospitality all within an easy drive of one another.  Choose one or create an itinerary for either coastal or mountain inns.  Either way, an extraordinary escape will offer bucket list accommodations. Visit www.Distinctiveinns.com for more information or follow DINE at https://www.facebook.com/DistinctiveInns.

We were invited by Distinctive Inns to review five of their inns.  Watch for additional reviews of:

Deerfield Inn – Historic Deerfield, MA

Capt. Jefferds – Kennebunkport, ME

Manor on Golden Pond – Holderness, NH

Grafton Inn – Grafton, VT

Chesterfield Inn – Chesterfield, NH

Also published on Medium.