We’ve been all aquiver since The Smithsonian magazine declared Great Barrington to be number one on its list of the best small towns in America. Read about it here.
Among the reasons was the town’s cool mix of local focus – resistance to Walmart, commitment to locally grown produce – with big city savvy. This cocktail of small town charm and proximity to a major world city is exactly what attracted us to the Berkshires in general and to Great Barrington in particular.
But it wasn’t always thus. Oh no. In the 15 years during which we regularly visited the area from the UK, many locals told us of their memories of Great Barrington as a Hopperesque townscape with tough bars up and down Railroad Street. Before entering, customers were advised to punch themselves on the nose to save someone else the trouble. Considerate.
The sea-change came ten years or so ago when bibbed overalls gave way to Ray-Bans and fur headbands, as New Yorkers were drawn to the charm and easy two-plus hours commute. Over time this brought cooler stores, bars and restaurants, which happily have helped the focus on local. It’s also why we picked Great Barrington to launch our motel-to-hip-small-hotel idea at the Briarcliff. One year in and we’re also number #1 – in Great Barrington, on TripAdvisor – and we just racked up five ‘bubbles’ based on guest reviews. Making us the best hotel in the best town in America. Official.