The Red Lion Inn and I go back a long way, not all the way back to 1773 when it first opened, but back to my single days. I happened upon it quite by accident as I was driving to Boston. I was on my way to a house where I was renting rooms for the Summer. The house was in Cambridge. There I would meet up with friends I knew from Boston University.
I didn’t know a thing about this Inn when I first saw it but I later learned it began as a simple tavern. During its first 120 years the Inn expanded several times and went by several names, but it always featured a red lion in its sign, and it has been known as The Red Lion Inn since the 1890’s.
I remember walking into the Inn back then and straight ahead was this dining room. Someone was at a grand piano playing light classics and I was immediately enchanted. I took a seat and enjoyed a lovely fruit salad. That was the beginning of my relationship with this Inn. I returned many times over the years and very recently I was there again, not for one, but for a few extremely delightful Country Inn Days.
What are Country Inn Days? They are days where I step out of life’s usual routines and simply enjoy my favorite things. No matter how good one feels it’s always wonderful to make time for favorite things, and if one needs a little boost, well, you know how that famous song goes – “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.” It’s true.
One of my favorite things are flowers and this Inn has lovely flowers everywhere. There is a feeling of informal formality in every corner. There are so many places to sit here at the Inn enjoying a book or writing a letter with a cool drink at one’s side, all in the presence of beauty. Delightful!
Sometimes it is nice to have an action-packed getaway, and a Country Inn Day can involve action and sometimes does, but I love slow Inn Days too, days filled with simple quiet pleasures – dreaming dreams, people watching, chatting with strangers who could become pen friends, taking leisurely walks in the country past old houses, down country lanes and through historic cemetaries.
The Red Lion Inn is located in the town of Stockbridge, such a pretty little town with many old charming sites. There are shops to investigate, a number of little coffee houses and restaurants, and important historic houses belonging to famous people of the past. These houses are in Stockbridge or in Lenox, the next town over. I’ll share some of these places with you in another post.
When it’s time for dining there are three options right in the Inn. This is Widow Bigham’s Tavern. It’s named after Anna Bingham, one of the Inn’s original owners. She is believed to have been the first business-woman in the country. This tavern reminds me of some of the oldest places I love in Boston.
But when in the mood for a little more informal formality I dined in the main dining room, usually by the window, so I could see the flowers outside. This was the room I first dsicovered all those years ago so when I’m here I feel 40 years younger. It’s funny how returning to places from our past can make us feel we’re back in time.
But on a lovely Summer’s day it’s also great to enjoy a meal on the Inn’s open porch. I got here early so I could choose a table near the railing. Sitting here made it possible to people watch all the diners below at the umbrella tables. I do always bring a book with me when dining alone, but people watching is great fun too.
And here I sit waiting for my pasta meal to arrive.
Of course there’s a swimming pool and sauna and all that jazz, but I’v never been one for baking in the sun. I’m more the porch type of person with my books, letters, pens and paper. But you never know, maybe on one of my visits here I’ll surprise myself and take a dip.
This trip you could usually find me on the porch. I would come very early in the morning with my coffee. I remember one man taking the rocker next to me saying, “Isn’t this wonderful?” I had to agree.
After an hour or two of sipping and writing or reading I’d take off for an outing, then it would be lunch, and around 5 I’d be back on the porch with a cocktail until dinner. I met a number of very nice people and had quite a few lovely chats. All this is great fun for a person who likes people, and that’s me.
Of course the Inn has a gift shop. Over the years I’ve bought all sorts of fun things in this shop – paintings, rugs, shawls, books and this trip was no exception. I bought 6 Red Lion Inn mugs and two Red Lion Inn cocktail glasses… oh yes, and a Red Lion Inn cookbook. I’ll enjoy testing lots of the recipes in this book.
Before leaving The Red Lion Inn I spent some time in the patio garden. What did I tel you about flowers everywhere. My flowers at home should be so robust. How do they do it?
Don’t you love the cute little patio bar?
My last meal at The Red Lion Inn (this sounds so sad) was a tasty fish fry with a glass of wine from that cute little bar, then coffee for the road as I made my way from the Bershires into Boston proper. It was a lovely few days here. I have memories which will last me until I return. But now, simply to close my eyes and remember beautiful things I saw and moments I experienced will be a creative visualization exercise capable of refreshing my spirit whenever refreshemnt is needed.
Until I can return to The Red Lion Inn I will be enjoying lots and lots of my very own County Inn Days back in Hudson, Ohio. The Red Lion Inn inspired these days and I’m working on a book explaining just how these days work. The outline for this book was created right here at the Red Lion Inn.
So if you’re looking for a getaway my suggestion is to visit a Country Inn and not just any Inn.
Visit The Red Lion Inn.
Tell them Carol Ann sent you.