The Wonderful Williamstown 1896 House Inn and Country Lodgings

A cloudy day in Williamstown, Massachusetts

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest daughter Amanda and I took a mini-break to head up to Vermont so that I could take pictures of covered bridges and she could visit her friend Darci who is attending Bennington College in Southern Vermont. I thought it would also be the ideal time to find someplace nice to stay in the Berkshires so after a little bit of searching on the Internet, I found The 1896 House Inn and Country Lodgings in Williamstown, a small town tucked away in the northwest corner of Massachusetts.

Originally built as a milking barn with a bull pen in 1896 - of course! - the 1896 House got its start as a famous restaurant in 1939 which enjoyed "an unparalleled reputation for excellence for approximately 40 years". As the restaurant was so popular, a lodging facility called The Brookside Country Motel was built in 1951 to accommodate the patrons who flocked to The 1896 House. The popularity of the motel and restaurant was such that soon sixteen additional guest rooms were added but sometime in the 1970's, for reasons unknown, the lodging portion of The 1896 House and the restaurant were sold separately and began operating separately.

Office area of the Brookside Motel
Over a decade later, enter in Sue Morelle & Denise Richer from Rhode Island who bought the lodging property in 1985 and began a 17-year process of acquisition and renovation. Their first task was to renovate The Brookside Country Motel and upon completion of that task they then bought a second lodging facility across Route 7 from Brookside which they completely transformed and named The Pondside Country Motel.

The 1896 Pondhouse Accommodations

In 1995, Sue & Denise completed their task of creating a 17-acre complex which features three buildings along with brooks, ponds,and gardens when they purchased the original 1986 Barn House. The building underwent a total rebirth both structurally and cosmetically and in 2000, the former milking barn became the Barnside Luxury Suites which offers guests six luxurious suites that are all decorated in a unique period style.

Suites at the 1896 House

In 2005 the previous restaurant at The 1896 House was reclaimed by its original owners and was transformed into the '6 House Pub. The name of the Pub is derived from the habit that the locals had of referring to the 1896 House Barn as either "The "6 House" or "The '96 House". With a very comfy Common Room and welcoming Tap Room that is open for lunch and dinner daily, the '6 House Pub is very popular with locals and visitors alike - something that Amanda and I found out first-hand during our stay.

Sign for The '6 House Pub & Tavern at the 1896 House

The Wednesday that Amanda and I arrived at The 1896 House was rather overcast and blah but thankfully it had stopped raining and things were starting to dry out a little bit. The area was still feeling some of the affects of Tropical Storm Irene which had passed through about a week and a half earlier so the waters of Hemlock Brook were quite high and still quite muddy.  I had a pretty good idea that the brook was definitely not as it normally would be when guests would relax in Adirondack chairs while they enjoyed the peaceful countryside.

Hemlock Brook was a little

I had made our reservations through Priceline - a website that I use quite frequently to get some pretty good deals on hotel accommodations - so check-in was a breeze even though at the time of the booking I only knew what type of room we had and not which part of the complex it would be located in.  As it was midweek and there weren't too many guests, the Pondside Motel was not open so all guests were staying at the Brookside.  I was given the key to Room #117 which was at the very end of the building and close to Hemlock Brook and the footbridge that leads over to The 1896 House where a complimentary breakfast buffet would be served the next morning.

The footbridge to the 1896 House from the Brookside Motel
A view of the Brookside Motel in Wiilamstown, Massachusetts

Room types at the Brookside Country Motel range from a Deluxe Country King Room that has a whirlpool tub for two and a romantic parlor stove to a Country Room with Two Double Beds as well as various King and Queen Rooms in between. 

The front porch at Room #117

Each room has two inviting rockers sitting on the porch out front and I suspect that they are definitely put to use during better weather than what we had during our stay.

Room #117 at the Brookside Motel

Amanda and I were staying in a Double Queen Country Room which was quite large and comfy with its sturdy maple furnishings and old-fashioned wallpaper.  The style and design of the room brought back memories of when I was a kid and we used to travel back and forth across country when my Dad was being transferred from one Air Force Base to the next. We'd stop at whatever hotel was convenient at the end of the day's travels and they were usually the Mom & Pop-owned type of motels that didn't have to adhere to the rules of a chain and could have their own individual touches.

Pillow kisses on the bed

The furnishings and the bedding were characteristic of what travelers would find in days gone by and the pine walls were a definite plus in that they gave the room a personality that you just don't find in more modern hotels/motels.  The Hershey Kisses on the pillows were a nice little touch, too! 

Room #117 doesn't smoke!

The immaculately clean rooms all come equipped with a book that provides visitors with information on the area, a coffeemaker with coffee, tea, and supplies, a hairdryer, iron and ironing board, flat-screen cable television, a computer-compatible telephone with free local calls, alarm clock with a radio, and complimentary WiFi which Amanda found worked perfectly!

Proving that the WiFi works!

The Brookside most definitely had charm and everything that a traveler - including a teenager - would need!

Helpful Hints

After reading the "Helpful Hints" card that was in the bathroom, I noticed that the door adjoining our room wasn't locked and as the room on the other side wasn't occupied (yet), I went in and took a few pictures so that you can see what a Country King Room looks like.

King-size room #116 at the Brookside Motel

In addition to the lovely four-poster bed and warm country furnishings, the room also boasted a single whirlpool tub in the bathroom. 

The whirlpool bath in Room #116 at the Brookside Motel

Going back into our own room, I shut and locked the door just in case the room was occupied later on - which it ended up being by an older couple from New York.  Following that, I went outside to explore the grounds a little bit. 

The footbridge over to the Barnside Luxury Inn Suites
The footbridge over Hemlock Brook leads to The 1896 House where the Barnside Suites are located.

Porch area of The 1896 House Barnside Luxury InnThis is the wicker-filled country porch area of the Barnside Luxury Inn which is where the six suites are accessed from. Each suite has one grand room with a king-size bed, a dining area where a full gourmet candlelight breakfast is served each morning, a large living area, and a mantled gas fireplace.

Wanting to provide guests with the feel of a luxurious bed & breakfast type setting, the romantic beds are all pillow-topped and most have canopies or 4 posts. To complete the suite there is a large dressing room that opens up to a spacious bathroom complete with showers and dual whirlpool tubs.

Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to poke my head into any of the luxury suites but from what I could see from the outside, they looked very warm and inviting  and like a great place to stay if you were looking for something a bit more special than the country feel of the Brookside or Pondside Motels - which I thought were quite charming in their own right.

The 1896 House

This is the side and former silo of The 1896 Barn House which now houses the '6 House Pub where Amanda and I had a delicious dinner on the night that we were there.  The high wing-backed chairs, wood beam ceilings, huge fireplace, and overall atmosphere reminded both Amanda and I of The Tavern at my favorite Hawthorne Hotel in Salem.  Due to the low light, I didn't take any pictures while we were at dinner but trust me when I say that the room was packed even on a Wednesday evening!  They aren't kidding when they say that the Pub is popular! 

The Pondside Motel

Across Route 7 from the '6 House Pub is the Pondside Country Motel; it's so named because of its location next to a spring-fed duck pond. Room types at Pondside range from a traditional room to a 3-room suite with a complete kitchen or their special "Sweetheart Room" which has a two-person whirlpool tub.

The pool at the Pondside Motel

The Pondside has a heated swimming pool which is available for guests' use from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

View of the rooms at the Pondside Motel

Pondside doesn't have the rocking chairs that Brookside does but there is still a place to sit outside and enjoy the atmosphere on a nice day or evening. Additionally, guests can sit by the pond and enjoy the tall evergreens and the antics of the motel's resident mallards or - if you just can't be without it - make use of the motel's free WiFi and commune with Mother Nature while communing on Facebook! 

A Flower cart
A good place to wait for fall

Back over at Brookside guests can sit by the brook (which is probably more appealing when it's not quite so high and muddy) and watch foliage change before their very eyes or just relax and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the landscape. Either way it's a win! 

The Breakfast Room at The 1896 House

As I mentioned earlier, all of the rates at The 1896 House Inn and Country Lodgings include a full hot breakfast buffet which is served in the breakfast room at The 1896 House with quite the selection of breakfast goodies!  Amanda and I walked over the footbridge on Thursday morning and checked out the offerings. 

Amanda at the breakfast buffet

Just what every Bacon Lover could ever hope for - a passel of country bacon and scrambled eggs could be found in one of the warmers next to a selection of breads, English Muffins, and bagels just waiting to be toasted and slathered with butter, jam, honey, or peanut butter. In addition to that there were stations with fresh fruit and yogurt, an assortment of hot and cold cereals, home-baked breakfast pastries like cinnamon rolls and crumb cake, lots of hot fresh coffee both regular and decaf, several different tea selections, and even a "make-your-own" waffle station. 

Fruit & Cereal Station at the breakfast buffet
The Fruit/Cereal/Pastry Station
Make Your Own Waffle Station
The "Make Your Own Waffle" Station
Coffee and Tea Station
The Coffee and Tea Station

The cozy Breakfast Room where the buffet is served every morning at The 1896 House.
A table for two in the Breakfast Room

For most of our breakfast we had the room to ourselves but before we left, several more guests had wandered in and were enjoying their breakfasts, too.  I suspect that during foliage season the room is packed but we were there at a time when it wasn't quite summer anymore but it wasn't foliage season yet either. As someone who doesn't like crowds very much, I found it to be ideal! 

All in all, Amanda and I both enjoyed our stay at the Brookside Country Motel even though when we first pulled into the driveway Amanda looked at me like I had brought her to the Bates Motel or something! Being of a different generation and in spite of all our traveling, this was her first time at a motel that was retro in style and not your modern cookie-cutter type accommodations. Once we were checked in and she had a chance to check it out, she declared it to be very nice and said that she thought that it had a lot of personality. Coming from a 19-year old, I've got to think that's high praise for The 1896 House Inn and Country Lodgings!

Gazebo at the 1896 House


  1. I love waffles. And charm. And 4-poster beds. And Wi-fi. I'd be happy! srsly.

  2. You always find THE neatest places to stay!! This is definitely the type of place I would love to stay in, everything looks so very welcoming. I so enjoyed reading the history behind it and it warms the heart to know that it was brought back to its original beauty and popularity. So many of those old places fall into disrepair and nothing is ever done about them. If I can ever win millions (!) in the lottery, I'm going to buy an abandoned house from the 1800's and return it to its glory:-) Hey, I can dream, can't I? lol xoxo

  3. If I ever make it back to New England, I am calling you before I book anything.

    Love all the rocking chairs.

  4. Wow, this looks like a great place to laze and watch the days go by without a care...

    Love the bed quilts... makes it homey.

  5. Looks and sounds quite nice. Bet it is starting to get chilly up there.


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