Operating since 1776, the Griswold Inn (from $100) in Essex joined the new millennium last year when it added a mahogany-lined wine bar, a welcome contrast to the neighboring rooms’ collection of Currier & Ives prints and fifteenth-century firearms. After sampling one of 50 wines by the glass, retire to one of the 31 guestrooms with sloping pine floors, claw-foot tubs, and antique beds.
A few miles west, in Ivoryton, the 160-year-old Copper Beech Inn (from $195) is wrapping up five years of renovations. Eleven of the thirteen guestrooms now have Italian-marble bathrooms with heated floors and deep hydro-massage tubs, and all are outfitted with London-imported Penhaligon toiletries. The main dining room will also get a face-lift in May.
The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa (from $219), two exits south of Essex on Route 9, has recently jumped on the green bandwagon. In addition to no-brainer improvements like using energy-efficient lighting, coasters have replaced cocktail napkins in the bar, and two pools are filled with saltwater instead of chlorine. Also helping you sleep easier: pillow-top beds and the sounds of lapping water (half the guestrooms have river views).