A puzzle is perhaps best enjoyed during a vacation, when time is plentiful and relieving stress is the order of the day. Aficionados know that the choicest accommodations for puzzling are intimate, quiet inns, nestled in the countryside.
Stave, maker of the world's best hand-cut wooden puzzles, has sized up its market and selectively placed jigsaw collections in a dozen or so of North America's finest luxury inns, including the Lake Placid Lodge in New York state and Montana's Triple Creek Ranch. For those who enjoy a puzzle on a rainy day, the ultimate experience might be found at the Wickaninnish Inn, where guests can tackle a Stave jigsaw on a specially designed table during winter storm-watching season. Perched on a rocky outcropping on the pristine coast of Vancouver Island, the inn is designed so that every suite and public space has a panoramic ocean view, giving guests a unique vantage point for viewing the spectacular annual display of six-meter breakers (wickinn.com).
Stave puzzles can also be found in a more bucolic setting at Barnard, Vermont's elegant Twin Farms. The inn was once the country retreat of Nobel Prize–winning novelist Sinclair Lewis and his wife; today, guests can ramble the 120 private hectares, relax in the spa, or retire to their quarters, each of which is stocked with a Stave puzzle (twinfarms.com).
But the true jigsaw-puzzle devotee should plan a visit to Great Britain, where printer John Spilsbury first began dissecting maps in the mid-18th century for aristocratic schoolchildren to reassemble during their geography lessons. These and other early examples of wooden puzzles can be seen in London, in the collections of the British Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green. Those in the market to buy should stop at Harrods for a Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw, or check the auction listings at Bonhams, where vintage puzzles occasionally come up for bid.
For a truly sublime experience, puzzlers should head to Scotland for a stay at Inverlochy Castle. Jigsaw enthusiasts Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth both have visited, and guests are welcome to try one of the castle's puzzles themselves. If it gets too taxing, they can always take a break to stare out the window at some of the finest scenery in the Highlands (inverlochycastlehotel.com).