A new Williams Inn welcomes the public with new look and new location
By Jennifer Huberdeau
Kevin Hurley often hears that the New England farmhouse perched at the corners of Spring and Latham streets looks like it always has been there.
And, Hurley, the general manager of the recently opened $32 million, three-story Williams Inn, is fine with that sentiment. After all, the 64-room hotel was designed to be reminiscent of a classic New England farmhouse.
“It’s one of our best compliments,” he said, during a recent tour of the hotel, which is owned by Williams College and managed by Waterford Hotel Group.
Step inside the 58,000- square-foot interior and you’ll find a cozy, yet contemporary New England farmhouse design blended seamlessly with all the technology and features of a brand new hotel.
Upon entering, guests are greeted in the spacious lobby that boasts three cozy seating areas and a large fireplace. Touches of the contemporary farmhouse design are seen throughout — Goshen stone, wood floors and barn doors, both functional and decorative.
Just off the lobby is a reading area, a nook with comfy reading chairs and a bookshelf stocked with reading materials provided by the Williams College Bookstore and art books from The Clark Art Institute. The shelves also are stocked with games, curated by Michele Gietz of Where’d You Get That!?
Guest rooms are only located on the second and third floors, while a full-service restaurant and 3,200-square-foot meeting and event space (including a 2,800-square-foot ballroom) make up the rest of the first floor.
“We want the hotel to have a residential feel,” Hurley said, pointing out several other nooks designed to allow intimate conversations and gatherings in public spaces. “It’s understated, well-appointed, just comfortable. It feels like where you are right now has a real sense of place. It’s not bright and shiny, nor does it have that feel of something that will be outdated in a few years.”
Color palettes of muted blues, greens, golds and purples, he said, carefully were chosen by the college’s design team and are used throughout the building and guest rooms.
The hotel boasts two one-bedroom king suites and 62 guest rooms, all equipped with Eurotop mattresses, high-quality linens, 55-inch high-definition televisions, Wi-Fi and in-room refrigerators.
The two king suites offer spacious bedrooms with a private bathroom, a large living room with a powder room and wet bar, as well as panoramic views of downtown Williamstown.
“One fun thing we do in all our guest rooms is, we have a compass and a copy of a Berkshires outdoor guide,” Hurley said. “We want this to be the respite at the end of the day, where you can sleep in a very comfortable bed, watch TV and relax. But really, while you’re here, [we want you] to connect with the outdoors and have that sense that you’re not in the middle of the city right now; there’s so much to do in the area.”
With a focus on sustainability, he said the rooms have larger, refillable high-quality shower products in the bathrooms, eliminating the traditional one-use plastic bottles. Every guest room also has refillable glass water bottles that can be filled with sparkling or filtered water at the gourmet coffee, tea, and water station located on each floor.
“We’re going for LEED Gold certification, so there are quite a few sustainability features throughout the building,” Hurley said. “One of the sustainability features is that lights in the room are activated by the key card, which really is, again, to minimize our footprint.”
Other energy-saving features include a highly efficient exterior envelope — a high-performing facade using insulation; high-performance windows and other energy-efficient systems. A solar array will offset a portion of the hotel’s energy consumption.
The hotel, which opened in August, replaced the former 100-room Colonial-themed hotel of the same name. The older inn, which closed July 31, was purchased by Williams College in 2014. The college decided to replace the hotel with a more sustainable venue located in the heart of the town’s commercial district.
“Our hope is that the new Williams Inn serves as a welcoming spot for locals and visitors alike to gather and enjoy the scenic atmosphere,” Fred Puddester, vice president for finance and administration at Williams College, said in a statement.
Cambridge Seven Associates, the architectural firm hired by Williams College to design a sustainable, yet chic, space, created the hotel with three distinct but complementary sections. The “main house” is the white clapboard and stone farmhouse; the white clapboard “bunkhouse” features event space on its lower level and guest rooms on its upper floors, and the red “barn” is home to The Barn Kitchen & Bar, the hotel’s restaurant and bar.
“From the boldness of color and design [of its exterior], the thought process is to define the restaurant as its own space,” Hurley said. “It’s part of the hotel, so the guests can have that full experience while they are here, but it’s meant to have its own identity and be a stand-alone restaurant that’s its own place, something that locals will want to come and frequent and be here a few times a week.
“Part of that, in the design, is the pedestrian bridge that was designed to give it its own sense of arrival, so you’re not even really going through the property at all.”
The Barn — it’s open to the public — seats 62, and it offers a main dining area with a lounge and bar area. Patio seating and two private dining areas also are available. Its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are filled with familiar New England classics.
“It’s a farm-to-table menu, full of fresh ingredients that are cooked properly and simply,” Executive Chef Kevin DeMarco said.
Working with local farms and distributors allows the menu to reflect the season and seasonal produce offerings.
“The way we’ve built the menu, there are certain ingredients that change out daily. What the farms bring to us is what shows up on the plate,” DeMarco said.
This, he said, will allow diners who frequent the restaurant on a regular basis to continually experience dishes in a new way.
For those looking to host executive functions, conferences or events, such as weddings, the hotel has 3,200 square feet of space set aside. A 400-square-foot gallery, filled with artwork from current and retired Williams professors, functions as a cocktail reception space.
The gallery flows into the 2,800-square-foot ballroom, which can be adapted to an individual or group’s needs.
“It divides into three equal sections,” Hurley said, “each with fully integrated audio-visual systems. We have three separate dropdowns, so each area has its own separate display. And we can separate the room into thirds or two-thirds.”
The ballroom can accommodate up to 390 people for a cocktail-style function, 180 people for a seated function, or 150 people seated with a dance floor. The ballroom also has its own outdoor patio space (as does the restaurant, complete with firepit and Adirondack rockers), with retractable awnings and unobtrusive heat lamps to warm the air on chilly nights.
For those seeking to host an outdoor function, there’s 3,500 square feet of greenspace that can be tented for those events.
If you go …
The Williams Inn
101 Spring St., Williamstown, Mass.
The Barn Kitchen & Bar
103 Spring St., Williamstown, Mass.
Reservations recommended by not required: 978-784-7602, thebarnwilliamstown.com/reservations
Breakfast: 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily
Dinner: Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. The bar is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.
Jennifer Huberdeau is editor of UpCountry magazine. She also pens the column “Mysteries from the Morgue” for The Berkshire Eagle.