A visit to the truly historic Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts a few months after a similar trip there awesomely verified everything both about that hotel and the benefit of choosing this type of unique property over cookie-cutter hotels. The primary purpose of both trips was to visit an exhibit at the nearby Norman Rockwell Museum. An interview with 95 year-old pulp magazine artist Gloria Stoll Karn will run by late May 2018.
Inns that value art over commerce provide those of us who enjoy a sense of visiting Grandma (without the competing smells of cheap perfume and toxic cleaners) a real treat and allows folks who generally feel as if they are staying in an Apple store or a Pottery Barn a chance to see how more enlightened folks live.
Special fun at the Red Lion involves discovering the treasures throughout the main inn. These extend well beyond the scads of vintage photos and other art on every floor to equally abundant antiques that include the original hotel switchboard and cabinets full of other cool stuff.
The hospitality began with the first telephone call regarding a reservation. The prior stay made the Red Lion aware of both a love of suites and a preference for having "the whole joint" to myself as much as possible. This led to booking me in the incredibly homey Hayes Suite in the Stafford guest house, which literally (but untested) is spitting distance from the main inn.
The three suites in the Stafford are designed to give wedding parties and other groups traveling together a chance to have their own space. This building retaining much of its original single-family house vibe further contributes to a sense of coming home while staying there.
The literal accommodations include a parlor (complete with board games and books) in the common area, the downstairs Pratt Suite having kitchen facilities, and the upstairs Holden and Hayes Suites having connecting doors that can be securely locked when separately booked. The Pratt and Holden Suites being unoccupied provided the intended desired solitude.
The following self-explanatory photos (including the image of the "charming dressing area") are of the Hayes Suite. Even Grandma does not provide that much private space or give you turn-down service that includes gourmet heart-shaped chocolates.
A recent addition to the Red Lion staff wonderfully supplements the hospitality that EVERYONE there provides guests. Four year-old former shelter cat Norman (as in Rockwell) is very glad to let those of us who miss our kitties or doggies pet him and tell him that he is a good boy.
An unplanned test proved that the human employees at the Red Lion go above-and-beyond to put right what once went wrong. Concern about a low tire-pressure warning light and a related epic failure by a non-AAA roadside emergency service led to asking if the hotel maintenance man on duty at 8:30 on a Sunday night might be able to help. Josh quickly came to the rescue in heavy drizzle by checking the pressure and offering advice. Of course, car repair is beyond any reasonable expectation of a hotel guest.
Stockbridge provided another "rescue." The combined impact of the car trouble and very minor disappointments that had nothing to do with the town and were not the fault of anyone dampened the mood on the trip. Further explore a hiking area that I found by wandering the prior day was what the head doctor would have ordered.
The objective this time was Laura's Tower; not having the proper clothes for hiking and not bringing water prevented reaching that goal. However, the walk in the woods was wonderful and included a few dog encounters.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of using the provided bath crystals to soak in the deep tub followed by a rinse in the almost waterfall level two-head shower. The rest of the evening consisted of watching DVDs from the very relaxing couch.
The deep impact of all this is a strong sense of the hotel ideal of a vibe of staying at a home away from home.
Anyone with questions about the Red Lion or the Rockwell Museum is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.