5 weekend getaways in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont
By Kimberly Kirchner
Self-isolation, Week Two: For the first time, you notice a strange pattern of knots in the wood of the coffee table.
Week Seven: You’ve determined the knots resemble an antelope with a pelican on its back. As a courtesy, you avoid them when you set down your afternoon coffee cup.
Week Twenty-four: You have your third vivid dream about the wacky adventures of Artie Antelope and Scoop the Pelican. You wake at 2 a.m. with a harsh realization: You need to get out of this house.
After months of self-isolation, even the most reclusive of homebodies is beginning to feel the itch of cabin fever. While cross-country road trips aren’t advisable with COVID hot spots still blooming across the U.S., there are plenty of local lodging options that can fill the need to get away.
Here are five hotels, motels and country inns in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont that are perfect for a weekend escape.
If you’re looking for: a taste of Old Hollywood
Try: The Latchis Hotel, Brattleboro, Vt.
The Latchis Hotel and Theatre, opened in 1938, is one of Vermont’s few remaining instances of authentic art deco design. The building was commissioned by four sons of Demetrius Latchis, a Greek immigrant, and honors the family’s heritage with Greco-inspired flourishes throughout. Murals and statues depicting Greek mythology decorate the Main Theatre and lobby. Outside, the sculpted facade invokes classic Grecian columns.
Accommodations at The Latchis embrace the gilded decadence of 1930s high society, down to the vintage brass fixtures in the bathrooms. There are plenty of modern touches, too, including complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi and high-definition television programming.
The attached Latchis Theatre is a four-screen facility that doubles as a venue for live entertainment. During nonpandemic times, the theater’s schedule is packed with a variety of events, from theatrical and dance performances to simulcasts and educational talks. Most live events have been scrapped due to COVID-19, but the theater still is screening films, with strict limits on theater capacity and enhanced-cleaning procedures.
Guests also can opt for a full-theater rental for a private showing with family or a small group of friends. Renters can play their choice of any of the theater’s current offerings, or bring their own DVD or Blu-ray. Outside food and drink are welcome. Our suggestion? A date night screening of “Some Like it Hot” with pasta (and wine) to go from the nearby Blue Moose Bistro.
The Latchis Hotel & Theatre
50 Main St., Brattleboro, Vt.
802-254-6300 • latchishotel.com
If you’re looking for: homemade charm
Try: The Fiddlehead Inn featuring The Rabbit Hole, Worthington, Mass.
The Fiddlehead sits in Worthington, Mass., on a stretch of road so secluded that the inn’s website provides GPS coordinates for guests arriving by snowmobile.
The inn embraces its rural location. Each of the five guest rooms is decked out in classic country decor, with mismatched furniture and plenty of quilts. A communal sitting room, complete with books, board games and a fireplace, adds to the homey, familial atmosphere.
Downstairs, The Rabbit Hole Restaurant & Tavern works that simple-living philosophy into a from-scratch menu emphasizing local ingredients and self-sufficiency. Rather than bulk-ordering cuts of meat, owner J. Huntington Chase purchases whole animals, which he butchers on-site. Produce comes from the nearby farms or the inn’s own garden. In the root cellar, an array of pickled and lacto-fermented vegetables wait for their starring turn on the restaurant’s menu.
In line with Massachusetts guidelines for restaurant dining, The Rabbit Hole welcomes guests to eat outdoors in a bright, open-sided tent. A handwritten sign at the tent’s entrance reminds diners to wear masks when not at their table. The inn’s five-person staff is monitored daily for signs of illness, and all communal surfaces are sanitized and re-sanitized throughout the day. It’s a peaceful retreat where your biggest worry will be choosing between the dry-aged steak and the fresh-ground burgers.
The Fiddlehead Inn featuring The Rabbit Hole
144 Huntington Road, Worthington, Mass.
413-238-0144 • thefiddleheadinn.com
If you’re looking for: an all-inclusive experience
Try: Barrows House Inn & Restaurant, Dorset, Vt.
The Barrows House Inn is actually a complex of nine buildings, containing a mix of luxury suites, multiroom cottages and freestanding homes on a 6-acre estate in Dorset, Vt.
Originally staked out for the town pastor in the mid-1800s, it was converted into a farm and country inn in 1900 by its namesakes, Experience and Theresa Barrows. The inn found popularity with members of the New York City art and literature scenes who fled the city each summer in favor of quieter, cooler Vermont.
The main inn underwent renovations in 1939, after a fire. Along with structural repairs, the whole building was given a stylish Greek Revival makeover. In 2012, the owners of the historic Dorset Inn purchased Barrows House and modernized the guest housing, adding an outdoor dining pavilion and a bar constructed with local Dorset marble.
The on-site Barrows House Restaurant is open for dining, with reservations required. Guests also can order food to go, by phone or online, to enjoy in the privacy of their suite. Combined with a pool, tennis courts and expansive grounds to explore, Barrows House is a vacation destination in itself.
Barrows House Inn & Restaurant
3156 Route 30, Dorset, Vt.
802-867-4455 • barrowshouse.com
If you’re looking for: elegance with history
Try: The Four Chimneys Inn, Bennington, Vt.
Another former pastor’s home, the property that would become The Four Chimneys Inn first was constructed in 1783. It soon passed into the hands of Battle of Bennington participant Nathaniel Brush, who eventually converted it into a boarding house and general store. The home was renovated in 1870, only to burn to the ground 40 years later.
The existing iteration of the mansion was built on the old foundation by Philip B. Jennings, a local businessman. After his death, the home was converted into a fine dining restaurant that hosted such A-list celebrities as Walt Disney and Elizabeth Taylor.
The Four Chimneys was purchased in 2005 by its current owners, Pete and Lynn Green, who refurbished the property with historic details and modern amenities. Today’s inn has 11 guest rooms, each with its own mix of features: a private porch, a fireplace, a jetted tub. The inn’s famous Vermont country breakfast still is available, with extra precautions like masks and gloves for servers, and 6 feet of space between tables.
The inn is surrounded by history. The Bennington Battle Monument and Bennington Museum are within walking distance. In a 25-mile radius, you’ll find the historic Park-McCullough House; the Robert Frost Stone House Museum and Frost’s gravesite; Hildene, the Lincoln family home; the American Museum of Fly Fishing; and The Clark Art Institute, across the border in Massachusetts.
Not up for a drive? Order up a cheese-and-cracker plate, kick back in your room and just soak up the history around you.
The Four Chimneys Inn
21 West Road, Bennington, Vt.
802-447-3500 • fourchimneys.com
If you’re looking for: nostalgia — but the cool kind
Try: the Briarcliff Motel, Great Barrington, Mass.
From the outside, the Briarcliff Motel resembles the kind of roadside stop that marked the end of a long day stuffed in the back of the family station wagon, halfway between home and your uncle’s cabin on the lake.
Inside, each room is decked out in retro-modern style, with brightly patterned Marimekko bedding, quirky wall art and midcentury-inspired furniture throughout.
The motel’s long list of amenities emphasizes the “family vacation” atmosphere: DVD players, available by request, with a library of DVDs to borrow; lawn games like badminton and volleyball in the backyard; and books and board games in the common areas. Note that the lobby and some shared spaces might be closed temporarily to facilitate social distancing.
Normally, the Briarcliff also provides a locally sourced continental breakfast that puts the typical hotel cereal-and-bagel bar to shame. For guest safety, the motel is not serving breakfast on-site for the time being, but each guest receives a daily voucher of $12 per person to use at its sister site, the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. The motel also offers special packages for nearby attractions like the Ramblewild Adventure Park and whitewater rafting at Zoar Gap.
Plus, the motel is proudly dog-friendly. It’s everything you loved about your childhood vacations, with much better decor.
The Briarcliff Motel
506 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, Mass.
413-528-3000 • thebriarcliffmotel.com
Wherever you choose to stay, remember that times still are uncertain. Always call ahead to confirm that hours, services or policies haven’t changed. Be kind to staff and try to be patient when things don’t go as planned. Wear a mask when asked. Stay home if you don’t feel well.
And maybe think about getting a new coffee table.
Kimberly Kirchner is the art director for UpCountry magazine. She lives in the Berkshires with her partner, their cat and just enough lizards to keep things interesting.