By Lisa Green
With accommodations such as Blantyre, Wheatleigh and the Topia Inn, there’s no question that the Berkshires is a prime destination for a luxurious vacation. But what if you prefer to spend your R&R in a more rustic setting? The Berkshires has that too, and your range of options goes from as basic as a tent to an elegant but “chintz free” (as the Race Brook Lodge terms it) suite.
Let’s start at the ground level, literally. The many state forests in the area — Mohawk Trail, October Mountain, Tolland and Windsor, to name a few — contain campgrounds, many of which offer electric and water hookups, flush toilets and showers. Others, such as the Bonnie Brae Cabins and Campsites, offer small rustic cabins and furnished trailers for rental. The Hawk Mountain Lodge is a renovated farmhouse, but if you’d like a pampered camping experience, you can opt out of the guest rooms and book a cabin tent, halfway between camping and staying indoors. Bucksteep Manor, which has English cottage-style rooms in the Manor House, also offers charming, dollhouse-like cabins that are a step above camping. Bedding and towels are provided, but visitors share a central bathhouse (as well as a pool and tennis, basketball and volleyball courts). Best part: there’s always a breathtaking Berkshires landscape just outside your tent, cabin or room.
One of the Berkshires’ most unique sites is Bascom Lodge at the top of Mount Greylock (the highest point in Massachusetts). A rustic 1930s stone and wood lodge, it was built by the Civilian Conservation Crops to provide a way station for hikers and vacationers. In recent years it has been renovated to its Arts & Crafts glory and although the rooms are simple (many with bunk beds, and separate showers and bathrooms) the spectacular view is the attraction here.
Then there’s that other kind of rustic, the kind that may be related to an inn’s heritage or design style. A few to select from: The Inn at Silver Maple Farm, an elegant bed and breakfast that reflects the region’s Shaker influences. Rooms and common areas are furnished with antique furniture, folk art and hand-painted murals. At Race Brook Lodge, “country rustic” means original rough beam ceilings, plank floors and eclectic furnishings and rooms; some of them were formerly the barn’s hayloft. All rooms have private bathrooms, but no TV or telephone (although there is free wifi) — possibly the most rustic feature of all.
So if it is a rustic escape you are looking for be sure to make sure that the Berkshires are on your list. See you soon.
Lisa Green is a freelance writer and advertising director of www.ruralintelligence.com