Single-digit temps are forecast as I write this, hot chocolate within reach and fat cat on my lap. Happiness through hygge (“hoo-ga”), the Denmark concept of making yourself content and cozy, especially applies when winter gives us the cold shoulder.
In summer, we seek waterfront cabins and dining. As windchills replace warm fronts, we want the comfort of fleece and a fireplace. One of Wisconsin’s most beautifully imposing fireplaces – at Telemark Lodge, near Cable – has been inaccessible for years, thanks to the property’s perennially troubled financial history.
The 200-room lodge opened in late 1972, shortly before the area’s first American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race. The main event, Feb. 22 this year, has grown to become the largest in North America. And the lodge? It faces a gutting of contents, via an April or May online auction of kitchen appliance and bedding to vintage décor and furniture. birkie.com, kubarekauction.com
Although you no longer can nurse a hot toddy at the Telemark, many lovely fireplace settings remain to ease the harshness of a Wisconsin winter. For example:
Chanticleer Guest House, Sturgeon Bay: A couple of miles north of the city, just far enough away to feel rural, is a converted dairy farm of 70 acres that is luxurious but earthy lodging for adults only. None of the farmhouse or 1915 barn suites are decorated the same, but fireplaces are easy to find – in cottages and cabins too. chanticleerguesthouse.com
CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel and Spa, Appleton: Linger at the downtown hotel’s lobby fireplace for happy hour or a nightcap. Book a suite with your own fireplace too, and reserve time for a spa sampler – massage, facial, manicure and pedicure – that lasts 2.5 hours and costs less than $150. copperleafhotel.com
Garmisch USA Resort, Cable: Dig the Northwoods vibe in the main lodge, where a two-story wall of floor-to-ceiling windows faces a massive stone fireplace. Watch wintry life on Lake Namakagon and dine on schnitzels or other German fare. What began as a private retreat in the 1920s retains a Bavarian theme in handcrafted architecture. garmischresort.com
Gateway Lodge, Land O’ Lakes: At the border of Michigan and Wisconsin, in Vilas County, is a cozy, historic, frozen-in-time retreat with hand-hewn logs and a imposing fieldstone fireplace. Want more to unthaw you? Head to the redwood sauna. Astronaut James Lovell used to find his way here, as do snowmobilers and other lovers of the outdoors today. gateway-lodge.com
Hillside Inn, Ephraim: In summer, you may know it for having the largest porch in Door County. The century-old hotel started as a four-room log cabin. Now each of five upscale suites includes a fireplace, as do the property’s two cottages. Rates include breakfast. hillsideofdoorcounty.com
Inn at Wawanissee Point, Baraboo: The name is a Native American word for “beautiful,” and that applies to the confines as well as the blufftop views of Baraboo Range, a Natural National Landmark. From the lounging area of this estate are miles-long panoramas of hills and valleys. Inside is hand-carved woodwork, a two-story fireplace, a baby grand, sauna and tidy bar. The four-accommodation hideaway is for adults only. innatwawanisseepoint.com
Mecan River Outfitters and Lodge, Princeton: Come for the day or an overnight, and relax at the lodge’s two fireplaces – in the great room and dining room – before calling it a day. Right outside are 10 miles of woodsy trails, groomed for cross-country skiing. For rent are rustic cabins and lodge rooms designed for a getaway of family or friends. mecanriveroutfitters.com
Siskiwit Bay Lodge B&B, Cornucopia: Near the top of Wisconsin, in a quirky town whose population is 98, is a lakeside lodge surrounded by old-growth forest. In the Great Room is a fireplace of local brownstone, quarried in 1892. The four choices of accommodations are a homey yet elegant base camp for exploring Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands and its ice caves (when weather conditions permit). siskiwitbaylodge.com
Spider Lake Lodge, Hayward: The deliciously remote bed and breakfast has seven overnight rooms and is a throwback to simpler times. What began as a rugged fishing camp in 1923 touts rustic-chic design and décor today. The lodge was built by Native American craftsmen, has a big fieldstone fireplace as an anchor and was only accessible by boat or seaplane for years. spiderlakelodge.com
Sundara Inn and Spa, Wisconsin Dells: Digital detox is the mantra for this 80-acre, adults-only refuge that completed a major expansion in 2019. New is the Suvela lounging area with fashionable flickering fireplace: It faces a thicket of trees, and the name is Sanskrit for “silence” in this no-conversation roost. New suites for overnight stays accommodate groups of spa-loving friends. sundaraspa.com