From the pages of the Transcendentalists to the paintings of the Hudson River School, fall in New England has proven to be a continuous source of inspiration. It’s easy to see why: With the pristine vistas of rural Vermont, the sprawling arboretums of the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and the famous springs of Saratoga, NY, New England is a treasure trove of protected land. And it’s best seen in the month of October. (Those leaves!)
With this in mind, we’ve gathered five extraordinary accommodations that retain the romance that has inspired so many.
Twin Farms, Barnard, VT
Renowned for its sense of privacy, eccentricity, and an extraordinary art collection, Twin Farms is not your standard hotel. With 20 uniquely designed accommodations dotted among 300 acres of lush private land, staying at this adults-only compound (those under 16 are not permitted) is more akin to renting a house on a historic estate than a traditional hotel experience. However, the relative lack of intimacy is balanced by exemplary service. Fine dining opportunities present themselves at every meal (even picnics), a 15,000-bottle wine list ensures you never have to drink the same thing twice, and a full suite of spa services guarantees a smooth recovery after a long foliage hike. With national and state parks surrounding the property making it feel as if it is working with the season, the geography creates an intensely intimate experience with fall. The tree-lined roads envelop you in nature, before the densely forested region opens up to serene lakes, with water so calm the fall colors are displayed twice as the treeline reflects off the surface. A three-hour drive from Boston and a five-hour drive from New York City, Twin Farms is well and truly off the grid, but still in close proximity to some of the most charming towns in all of the region. But it’s that remote sense of nature that provides the quintessential New England fall experience.
The Inn at Kenmore Hall, Richmond, MA
The brainchild of Frank Muytjens, the former head of J.Crew menswear, and artist and restaurateur Scott Edward Cole, the Inn at Kenmore Hall is a labor of love and design — midcentury modernism, to be precise. It’s also one of the chicest bed and breakfasts operating in the United States. Constructed in 1792, this restored Georgian building sits on 20 pristine acres in the heart of the Berkshires. Surrounded by black locust trees and overlooking an orchard, one can easily spend hours on the back porch — or curled up in the flawlessly decorated communal spaces (think Ilse Crawford by way of the Berkshires). The couple effortlessly cultivate an inviting mood, neither inattentive nor overbearing; it feels like being the guest of your low-key, stylish friends who had a successful “tree change.” For an off-property jaunt, the Harvey Mountain State Forest is a 10-minute drive away. Featuring open meadows and the brooks of the Green River, it serves as a pristine canvas upon which to witness the season. At only two-and-a-half hours from New York City, The Inn of Kenmore Hall functions as the perfect reset after a hectic week.
The Lake House on Canandaigua, Canandaigua, NY
Built on the banks of Canandaigua Lake, a five-hour drive from Manhattan, this 125-room hotel is the first large-scale luxury accommodation in New York’s Finger Lakes region. A design-focused hotel showcasing hand-crafted furniture by Studio Tack and the Brooklyn Home Company, the Lake House presents itself as elegant but unpretentious, deftly straddling the line between luxury and lodge. The Lake House presents the New England experience through a local lens: Enjoy a glass of the region’s Riesling, which increases in stature with each year, check out the new Rose Tavern, and hike through the High Tor Wildlife Management Area. Here, the fall experience is less about the foliage — although scenic vistas do pop up everywhere — and more about what the season represents: the harvest, the traditions, and the community.
Brentwood Hotel, Saratoga Springs, NY
Adjacent to the Historic Saratoga Race Track, the Brentwood Hotel is a smart update of that classic piece of Americana: the motel. Playfulness radiates throughout this 12-room accommodation, as a balance of Old World character and modern materiality is reflected remarkably well in the design. A three-hour drive from both New York City and Boston, the Brentwood is a perfect option for the ambitious traveler who’s game to explore. An hour from the Hudson Valley, 30 minutes from both Lake George and Saratoga Historic National Park, and 15 minutes from the Wilton Wildlife Preserve, the biodiversity accessible from the Brentwood is unparalleled. The mobile nature of this location also works to drive down rates, as it features the most affordable rooms on this list.
Blantyre, Lenox, MA
The Grand Dame of season turning greenery Blantyre is set between the quaint Berkshire towns of Lennox and Lee, and dates back to 1902 — the same year that Edith Wharton built her home and gardens nearby. It serves as a prime example of Gilded Age luxury. Set on 110 acres of manicured gardens, this Tudor-style estate features 23 rooms spread across five unique accommodations. Enclaved by forest, the grounds offer compelling views, but to truly take advantage of a fall stay at Blantyre, venture to October Mountain State Forest. Thirty minutes drive away, it is the largest state forest in Massachusetts, featuring 16,500 acres of protected land and some of the best overlooks in all of New England. At only two hours from Boston and three from New York City by car, the Blantyre effectively turns back time, and allows its guests to experience the fall as it was at the beginning of the last century.
Christian Novogratz works on PRIOR’s content & editorial team. He studied English at Princeton and is based in New York.