The list of accolades written on the wonderful Relais & Chateaux Berkshire country house/hotel could fill pages of this magazine, and it is worth every morsel of the praise. This beautiful establishment is impeccably staffed, maintained and decorated. It is a treasure located within an hour’s drive of the Capital Region, making it the perfect spot to steal away to this winter.
Blantyre is located on 117-acres of property in Lenox, MA, and was built by businessman Robert Warden Paterson in 1902. Current owner/Innkeeper, Ann Fitzpatrick Brown, is from the much-loved and well-respected first family of the Berkshires, the Fitzpatricks. Her parents, Jane and the recently deceased Jack Fitzpatrick, truly had a big hand in transforming the Berkshires into a cultural haven. Ann’s imprint on her own historical property (Blantyre) may be the most influential one to date since Paterson’s construction. As a world traveler and collector, her uncompromising touch sets the tone for the uncompromising service. She collects the finest, serves the finest and never bends to modernity and frugality.
Upon entering the gates of the property, there is an air of exclusivity. Yet, the warmth is also present as the friendly staff is ready to assist you at the main house before you even exit your car. On the weekend my husband and I visited, I unfortunately needed some extra assistance because I was about three weeks into a broken ankle.
The rooms/suites are absolutely off the charts in elegance and refinement, but as with everything at Blantyre, great attention is also paid to practicality. The guest rooms are stocked with many great books and during the holidays there is a selection of holiday movie favorites as well. The chairs in the suite’s parlor area and bedroom were perfect for snuggling up with either book or DVD and every chair had an exquisite blanket for extra warmth. No personal touches are left out: there are fresh flowers, furniture positioned for best views and jetted tubs. In each suite, you could, and I did, spend a great deal of time enjoying the room’s roaring fire. Of course, I had an excuse to lolly around, but you will want to also take advantage of the activities on the property during a winter stay at Blantyre.
Ice skating, hiking, sledding, snowshoeing and nearby skiing are all at your door; skating in particular looked appealing. The rink designed and kept on the property is quintessential Blantyre–style as it is picture perfect. A warming hut sits well-stocked with many varieties of hot chocolate for skating respites. Situated in the shadows of the huge lit Christmas tree, one might think that Norman Rockwell could have gained some inspiration from this skating scene! The difference would be that this scene comes with the tinkling sound of snowbells from the horse–drawn carriages roaming about for your pleasure.
The small and comfortable spa also stands ready to serve. With Lenox being such a home to health and wellness, the ability to have massages and treatments from the area’s best practitioners is a real treat. The spa area is well equipped for the committed exerciser and the hot tub sits in front of a powerful Berkshire view. Warm, comfortable and quiet; it’s your choice to relax or rev up your heart rate.
After a day of outdoor adventure and exercise, the Tudor-inspired mansion provides fantastic escape from the cold. Large fireplaces and plenty of couches provide great spots for a hot toddy or glass of wine from the 19,000-bottle collection.
Before dinner in the evening, we had cocktails in the piano living room. Again, upon entering the main house I was overcome with a nostalgic feeling that I could not explain. Certainly, I have never lived in a mansion like this so the nostalgia was odd. Then it hit me – I have traveled throughout Great Britain and Ireland and toured many of the great castles that are now empty and understand that they’re for historical reference only. Yet, each time I visited one, my mind would wander to what it must have been like when the dwelling was in its’ “hey day”. What types of entertaining went on, what kind of elegance surrounded the now cold walls and rooms. Well, an evening at Blantrye finally gave me that perspective and answers to my curious thoughts. Alive with music from a wonderful pianist, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and lively conversations, you can truly enjoy a setting from an era long gone that is still alive in the Berkshires.
After leaving the parlor for the very private dining room, we enjoyed a masterful meal with expertly paired wines and the entire menu was listed on a sidebar for you. The evening ended where it began, back in the living room, where we enjoyed more music and the warmth of the roaring fire.
Blantrye has been referred to as “Bliss in the Berkshires”, “The Best in the World”, and “#1 Small Hotel in America” and I couldn’t agree more. Blantrye is a suburb getaway for travelers from the Capital Region. Just a short drive away, it is unsurpassed in elegance and staffed with amazing professionals. It should be held as a model for everyone in the hospitality business that wants to strive for the best.
To not visit this wonderful treasure would be a shame. It’s an experience that everyone deserves!
Blantyre is located at 16 Blantyre Road, Lenox, MA. For more information call 413.637.3556 or visit www.blantyre.com.
-The Grateful Traveler