A late-19th century mansion perched on a grand, green knoll in Massachusetts’ beautiful Berkshire Hills, Wheatleigh blends the ornate grandeur of a 16th-century Florentine palazzo with every modern comfort you’d expect, including fine French dining, lush landscaped grounds, antique furnishings (check out the Tiffany stained glass) and a gallery-load of contemporary art.
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Lunch for two on one day of your stay. SilverSmiths also get a $50 to spend. GoldSmiths get the lunch and a half bottle of champagne in your room upon arrival.
Double rooms from £467.78 ($570), including tax at 11.7 per cent.
Rates include service but not breakfast.
The hotel’s location in the Berkshire hills means that rural diversions such as golf, horse riding, biking, fishing, hot-air ballooning and, in winter, skiing can all be arranged via the Wheatleigh’s concierge.
At the hotel
In-room spa treatments, shiatsu massage room, gym, tennis court, DVD/CD library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Bang & Olufsen flatscreen TV and DVD player, Bose Bluetooth speaker system, a choice of Bvgari, Aromatherapy, Clarins, Plantation and Neutrogena toiletries. Junior Suites have decorative fireplaces.
Our favourite rooms
The Aviary’s the grandest pad (and, yes, it used to be a birdhouse), with two floors joined by a circular staircase encased in glass and a private terrace – where you can take private meals – overlooking the lush green grounds. At the other end of the scale (and the budget), the adorably chic Small Room, (voted one of the world’s most luxurious), which has an air of a ship’s cabin about it.
The Wheatleigh’s heated outdoor pool is an enticing circle of blue set in a tree-lined clearing. Staff are on hand to bring you drinks and snacks.
A jumper’s a sensible option in the evenings – the Berkshires can be chilly, even in summer. Heidi Klein swimwear is de rigueur for a dip in the pool.
There’s a two-night minimum stay on weekends and a three-night minimum in July, August and on public holidays. You may bring along pets on request.
Beside the window in the Dining room, so you can look out onto the lawns.
Up to the nines for the Dining Room (you can stop around the sevens in the Library).
Lavishly decorated with antique mirrors, crystal-dripping candelabra and a marble fireplace, the Dining Room offers a contemporary takes on classic French dishes. The Library, lined with china cabinets, has a more informal atmosphere.
Lined with wooden cabinets (displaying fine china rather than the expected books) the Library has a full bar service, though you can enjoy a drink anywhere in the hotel – bagsy a balcony table in summer.
Dinner’s served between 5.30pm and 9pm, lunch between noon and 2pm.
Sandwiches, salads and soups are available 24 hours a day.
Take your pick of airports – Albany, Hartford, Boston and New York's various hubs are all within three hours' drive. A helicopter pad is available for those in possession of their own rotor blades.
Head out of Lenox on the Old Stockbridge Road – the hotel is around a 10-minute drive via Hawthorne Street and Wheatley Drive. It's two hours to Boston. Wheatleigh has a personal valet parking service. Parking is free.
Worth getting out of bed for
Despite its popularity, there are usually lawn seats available at Tanglewood, a name synonymous with the Berkshires. The summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Centre hosts opera, classical, pop and jazz concerts from June to early September. For something special, pack a picnic breakfast and enjoy a rehearsal (it’s not free, but it’s much more of a deal at US$17 a ticket) and you’ll feel like they’re playing a concert just for you.
Wheatleigh's own restaurant is the biggest name in Lenox by a long shot, but drive over to nearby Great Barrington for a pocketful of culinary treats, including Allium on Railroad Street (+1 413 528 2118), an excellent, co-eatery with a fine line in small production-line wines, and Xicohtencatl at 50 Stockbridge Road (+1 413 528 2002), which serves a mouthatering mole and more than 50 tequilas.
The Chocolate Springs Café (+1 413 637 9820) in Lenox is not only talented when it comes to its namesake, but does a mean espresso to boot.
Mr & Mrs Smith have just got back from an anonymous review trip to this boutique hotel in the Berkshires, and just as soon as they’ve unpacked their bags, a full account of their stay in the US will be with you. In the meantime, just to pique your interest, here’s a quick snapshot from Italianate country manor, Wheatleigh.
Posing placidly on a Berkshires hillside not far from the little town of Lenox, Wheatleigh combines the grandeur of a historic mansion with the intimacy of a country cottage. Built by a New York tycoon at the turn of the 19th Century as a wedding present for his daughter (now there’s a man we’d like to call ‘dad’), the hotel has the look of a Florentine palazzo, but the friendly feel of a rustic retreat. With a modest 19 bedrooms, it can feel like you’ve been given your own palace for the weekend – an impression only heightened by the insanely good food (classic French) served in the elegant formal dining room, the massages on demand, the heated outdoor pool, and the sumptuous contemporary interiors. Look out for the Tiffany stained-glass lining the main staircase and a selection of stylish modern oil paintings. Wheatleigh’s outdoors are as ornate and impressive as the indoors, with 22 acres of rolling green grounds and a lake, all lovingly landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted – the brains behind NYC’s Central Park. It’s enough to make you take up an easel and make masterpieces – like some many of the arty types who make this enchanting corner of New England their home.