The Briarcliff Motel
What We Love
- Modern, budget-friendly alternative to the region’s chain motels and inns
- Welcoming British owners who will direct you to the best restaurants, towns and outdoor adventures in the region
- Tasty breakfast spread of homemade granola, scones, cake, boiled eggs and good coffee
What To Know
- Contemporary, convenient base for exploring the region’s great outdoors and charming towns — not for holing up on a romantic getaway
- Clever retro-modern makeover is surface-deep; guestrooms still have the thin walls and petite plastic bathrooms of a classic motel
- A car is essential for exploring the area
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
In the shadow of Monument Mountain off Route 7, the Briarcliff Motel is a 1960s roadside lodge given a retro-hip makeover and a wholly modern personality. Brit owners Clare Weatherall and Richard Proctor repainted the single-story exterior duck-egg blue, installed a centerpiece firepit in the newly landscaped garden, and transformed a bleak, pine-clad motel lobby into a lodgelike living room overlooking the grounds and mountain.
Bed and Bath
All 16 guestrooms echo the lobby’s retro-modern design, from vintage-style posters and randomly pinned black-and-white photographs, to the rounded headboards painted in glossy primary colors and graphic print bedding. Zippy WiFi is free, and there are flat-screen TVs loaded with cable channels, smartphone-friendly speakers and unstocked refrigerators. The single-rail wardrobes could do with a cover, and the synthetic duvets are a too thin for the winter months, but all rooms are supremely clean and comfy — best for a good night’s sleep rather than holing up or lying in. The bathrooms retain their original porcelain sinks and have simple plastic shower units with pull curtains and a mismatch of travel-size toiletries (better to bring your own).
The open-plan lobby/living room provides a handsome central hub that’s absent from traditional motels. Done up with a communal raw wood dining table, a bright Smeg fridge, a coffee station, an upright stove and cozy seating nooks in earthy green and purple felt, it’s a welcoming space to chat with other guests and the friendly staff. The breakfast spread of homemade scones, granola, hard-boiled eggs, local yogurt, cake and more is served there each morning.
In the Area
This small corner of Massachusetts has a raft of excellent restaurants; ask owner Richard Proctor to recommend his favorites, but don’t miss the Prairie Whale in nearby Great Barrington. A true farm-to-table tavern from Mark Firth, the restaurateur behind cultish Brooklyn favorites Diner and Marlow & Sons, it dishes up local, seasonal produce (much from Firth’s farm) and hosts a lively jazz night on Sundays. For more champions of local produce and creative seasonal menus, check out the modern American bistro fare at Allium, endlessly inventive small plate dishes at Nudel, or John Andrews, an award-winning farmhouse restaurant with a great bar. For a culture dose, check out nearby Tanglewood Music Center or the Norman Rockwell Museum, or venture an hour farther north to Mass MOCA. Active types can get a winter ski fix at Butternut, Catamount or Jiminy Peak or, in the warmer months, hike up Monument Mountain — the trail starts across the road from the Briarcliff.
How to Get There
I love places like these; updated older properties that are a cut above a chain hotel, yet not frilly or stuffy, AND a good value to boot. The Briarcliff has it all; comfy rooms are decorated with modern furnishings and high quality linens. The icing on the cake is you have the year round pool and hot tub use of their sister property, The Red Lion Inn, 2 miles down the street, and by staying here you avoid the higher room rates and the "preservation fee" there. The breakfast is indeed continental, but memorable with homemade granola and fresh scones right out of the oven. Only quibbles? The office closed at 6PM, kind of early when you consider many guests may be arriving past that time (however, I was there in the off season during the week, so maybe hours are extended during busy times). Also, they should switch over to a real fire pit, or at least have both; the kerosene ones just aren't as good.
We were able to get a room without a reservation, but it can get busy during ski season and for Tanglewood events. Great deal for price, included breakfast. Friendly, personal feeling. Comfortable, clean rooms.
The online photos on their website showed a modern, on-trend fresh, crisp and modern interior with some industrial touches. It was exactly what we got! The owner, we were told by the concierge, transformed a very old and tired motel (and all that you can old and old-style motel would look like....supposedly it was scary with old wood paneling and everything) into this fabulous place. The simplicity of it is brilliant. The room was very comfortable. The dining/reception area was very cool. They turned something old and tired into this fresh new place! Love this! Would go back. We were there to visit Great Barrington, Stockbridge, and Tanglewood. It was the perfect distance to all those places we wanted see. I would recommend this place for sure!!!