EVERY SEASON IS THE perfect season to spend time at the beloved Deer Path Inn. From the moment visitors step into the Inn, they’ll feel like they’ve escaped to the English countryside. Styled after a 15th century English manor house, the Deer Path Inn opened as a hotel in Lake Forest in 1929.
The Inn is a respite for Chicago city dwellers, out of towners, and Anglophiles alike. Known for its traditional Afternoon Tea service, developed in partnership with a Master of Tea from England, its exceptional dining and cocktail offerings across three restaurants, from elevated European cuisine and traditional white glove service in The English Room to traditional bangers and mash in The White Hart Pub and creative cocktails and Chicago’s best sushi in The Bar, and spacious accommodations, Deer Path Inn has survived a fire, been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and welcomed famous faces over the past century including the late Carol Burnett.
While filming the 1978 movie The Wedding, Burnett changed the future of sleeping accommodations at the Inn when she declared the mattresses were “far too soft” for her liking. After testing six other mattresses on site, Burnett took a trip to Sears and purchased three mattresses, two of which she donated to the Inn and one that she and her assistant hauled to her guestroom so Burnett could ensure a good night’s sleep.
Sensibility and Style…with a sense of humor
P.G. Wodehouse was one of the great British comedic writers of the 20th century. Best known for his memorable characters of Jeeves and Wooster, Wodehouse was renowned for his witty prose and plots revolving around comedic errors.
In true Wodehouse-style, the Deer Path Inn remains committed to exceeding its guests’ expectations while promising to never takes itself too seriously. Personalized guest services are always top of mind from the moment guests step onto the hotel property, with the staff fully prepared to welcome hotel guests by name. This small detail sets the tone for a special stay to come. While the Inn is known for its sophisticated atmosphere and world-class service, it embodies Wodehouse’s comedic sensibility and style too. Playful, whimsical touches abound at the Inn including a legendary practice of guests trying to locate the Inn’s beloved rubber duck, Winston, who hides like Elf on the Shelf throughout the spectacular property.
Whimsical and Wonderful
Chief Spirits Officer Jorge Centeno embraces Wodehouse revelry in nearly all of his creative cocktail creations, but aesthetics isn’t everything to Centeno. The Inn’s curated cocktails are as delicious as they are delightful, but Centeno wants guests to know that their drinks were crafted with intention and not just thrown together for the “wow” factor or for a social media photo opportunity. However, Centeno says that if guests feel drawn to photograph and post a photo of one of his creative libations, he considers that a bonus.
Centeno’s holiday cocktail menu this year is a veritable grown-up version of Candy Land with drinks including the beloved Snowfall and the indulgent Adult Red Velvet Hot Cocoa. The Snowfall is reminiscent of a tres leches cake and garnished with fragrant, fresh rosemary and plump, sugared cranberries. On chilly, winter nights, Ceneno hopes guest might relax by the fire with an Adult Red Velvet Hot Cocoa, an extravagant and adults-only take on the timeless childhood classic. One of Centeno’s finest whimsical cocktails, the Krispy Kocktail, is sure to delight diners and guests with its playful, nostalgic take on an iconic breakfast cereal. Made with Roku gin and Rice Krispies, Centeno’s masterpiece is served out of a mini-Rice Krispies cereal box. It’s impossible to not marvel at this aesthetics of this drink and, of course, capture Centeno’s artistry in a photo destined for social media.
Whimsy and light-heartedness aren’t limited to picture-perfect cocktails or enthusiastic searches for Winston the duck. According to Inn regulars, staff member Catonious Nathan embodies and radiates kindness, positivity and the biggest dose of light-hearted humor. During the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and subsequent quarantine, Nate took to the Inn’s Instagram page to upload a weekly dancing series in the hopes of cheering up local residents and patrons of the Inn. Quickly, Nate’s dance moves and conviviality became such an appreciated hit that while he was running personal errands in town recently, a patron stopped and asked for a selfie with Nate, proving how cherished the Inn has become to the community of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest.
Interested in learning how to create whimsical cocktails of your own? Inn guests can book a two-hour private mixology lesson with Centeno to learn how to make their own innovative drinks. Mixology lessons can be fully customized based on the guests’ spirit/flavor preferences.
Get Lost in Lake Forest and Enjoy the Holiday Season at Deer Path Inn
This holiday season, guests who stay at the Deer Path Inn can channel their inner Kevin McAllister (Home Alone) and celebrate the holidays by getting “Lost in Lake Forest.”
The new Lost in Lake Forest Suite Experience, which is available exclusively through the inn’s Cornwall Suite, between 11/26/2021 and 1/2/2022, includes a pair of Deer Path Inn robes to take home, an in-room screening of Home Alone, a gift box of specialty treats from Sweet’s of Lake Forest, gift cards for holiday shopping at the Lake Forest Bookstore and other local boutiques, an elevated twist on nostalgic childhood snacks served in-room including gourmet popcorn and boozy milkshakes, and complimentary roundtrip transpiration via Range Rover to experience the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape annual event; an after-dark, illuminated trail filled with installations from captivating Chicago-based artists and international artists.
A Top Dining Destination
The Deer Path Inn accommodates all tastes and preferences with three dining options, The English Room, the White Hart Pub, and The Bar. In addition, cocktail service is available in the Hearth Room, an extension of the lobby, with all restaurants led by Executive Chef Brad Parsons.
Considered one of the most celebrated fine dining venues on Chicago’s North Shore, The English Room is the Inn’s primary restaurant, delivering British cuisine with a European flair. Featuring the area’s most extensive wine list, The English Room holds a two-decade winning streak for Wine Spectator’s award for Most Outstanding Wine List in the World. The English Room is the only AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant in Illinois located outside of the Chicago metropolitan area.
The indoor/outdoor Garden Room glass conservatory serves as an extension of The English Room and can be used for private dinner events. Alfresco dining is available year-round in the Garden Courtyard.
The White Hart Pub
The Inn’s White Hart Pub offers authentic English food and traditional pub fare in a casual setting. The menu displays comforting dishes including classics such as Fish ‘n Chips, Scotch Egg, Bangers & Mash and Welsh Lamb Stew. Guests are also offered a generous list of wines, beers and ales.
The Bar is considered one of the most popular gathering spots for locals, The Bar’s gold-hued bar room offers a sophisticated yet relaxed ambiance. Resembling the feel of a jewelry display, guests are greeted by a glass wine case that is decoratively constructed with solid brass framing and illuminated with a mirrored back. The menu features a mix of shareable items, sandwiches, large plates and fresh, hand-rolled sushi.
While accolades and top-ten lists are appreciated and celebrated, it is the community of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff that filled the Inn with friendship, festivity, and a welcoming environment where there’s a little something for everyone. “While we’re well-known for our world-class service and award-winning food and beverage offerings, our greatest accomplishment is becoming an integral part of the local community in Lake Forest,” says Patrick Lacassagne, general manager and innkeeper at Deer Path Inn. “For more than 90 years, we have been an adored destination for locals, whether coming to spend quality time with family and friends or meeting a colleague for lunch – and every day, we look forward to welcoming out-of-town travelers to experience that same, unique sense of community that we all feel on a daily basis.”
For more information, please visit thedeerpathinn.com.