Girls (Over)night Out
Disconnect to reconnect
Photos by Jake Borden
It was a great idea; in practice, highly unlikely. I’m not new to travel—Quebec City, Kolkata, Bucharest, Bali are just a few points I have crossed. Beyond my reach, though, was time out in the Berkshires. Overnight. On a workday. A school day. A Tuesday. But I know that disconnecting is important, even for just a night. And I was long overdue. So, I did just that, and it made a world of difference.
Around this time last year, I threw some random personal items into a small bag and bid my kids goodbye. They were quite helpful in getting me out the door, which I normally would find unsettling except that I was preoccupied with getting out myself. Pittsfield was my destination, Hotel on North, to be more exact. I’ve ventured into this charming boutique location on a number of occasions—when it opened several years ago and for events thereafter, such as art exhibitions in the lobby, a Berkshire International Film Festival soirée, a lunch meeting, a burlesque. Someday, I mused at those junctures, I’d overnight in one of the hotel’s eclectic rooms.
So there I was, on a Tuesday afternoon, meeting my coworkers at Eat on North. As I sank deeper into the cushioned chair, I found myself starting to relax. The daily routine, the obligations, the phone calls, the emails, all faded into the background. I looked past my mixed drink and the view struck me—I was a guest in this hipster hotel located in an arguably hipster part of the Berkshires, with the evening open-ended.
I took greater notice of the nuances that make Pittsfield unique. There’s a certain edginess, a starkness to this city that has had its share of challenges. And still does. There’s a pulse that you can’t quite put your finger on, a backstory to its push for a solid future. The hotel
is a focal point—a hub for business travelers, for visitors on a skiing weekend, a Tanglewood concert, a night at the theater, a day at the museum.
For me, well, I was happy just to sit here with my girlfriends, have drinks and dinner, take a stroll down a somewhat deserted sidewalk, peek into Methuselah, window shop, and step into Mission for dessert and live music—then back to curl up on a comfy sofa in the hotel lounge and continue our conversation. A key person in creating such an inviting, cozy atmosphere is Noel Henebury, sales manager at Hotel on North who has lived in Pittsfield for five years. “I got snowed in last year, and even though it’s a place where I work, I forgot this is where I work,” says Henebury. I can see what she means. She found herself looking out the window from room 204, with a view that few people see—a full vantage of the roads and uplighting and, beyond, the mountains. There was much to explore within this backdrop of familiarity.
Henebury strives for hygge, pronounced “hooga,” a Norwegian term that means a sort of social nirvana, a cozy sense of togetherness. She is helping to create that here with a local following mixed with visitors. Henebury has organized a regular craft night, a knitting club, a book club, libations with librarians, and dogs on North. (Partnering with Berkshire Humane Society and Berkshire Bank, the hotel brings an adoptable dog to visit along North Street.) In the works are a philosophy club with the Berkshire Athenaeum, a living-room lecture series with Mastheads writers in residence, and kittens and cocktails. (On the night I stayed, a cluster of people gathered around a long table, working on their projects during Leathercraft Night, guided by Michael King with 1311 Art.)
“The main thing is we want to talk and laugh with each other,” says Henebury.
“You can’t fully unleash when you’re home with the kids,” notes Cara Carroll, co-owner with Laurie Tierney of Dory & Ginger, a treasure trove of curated home and lifestyle items at Hotel on North. “You have to physically remove yourself from the home setting. For working women, there’s never any down time.”
Carroll often comes across groups of women staying at the hotel who visit her shop, including Jen Glockner, director of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development, who was there with four other moms for a Thursday overnight. They ate at Elizabeth’s, exchanged gifts in the hotel lobby (it was just before Christmas), indulged in champagne and snacks in their room while getting ready to go out, and then ventured to Methuselah, where supportive patrons bought them rounds of drinks.
Glockner raved about the wonderful staff and the hotel rooms equipped with a coffeemaker, bathrobes, comfortable bed, smart TV, and even a retro radio with Bluetooth hookup. “It’s like we went to New York City for the night—the people, the bar, the lounge, the hotel itself,” she says. “They turned down the bed, had the most amazing chocolate, and we didn’t have to worry about anybody.”
Amazing Pavilion Chinese Restaurant; Brooklyn’s Best, Cafe Namaste, District Kitchen & Bar, Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, Eat on North, Empire Pizza, Flavours of Malaysia, The Highland Restaurant, Hot Harry’s, House of India, J Allen’s Clubhouse Grille, Liberty Pizza, Lucia’s Latin Kitchen, Maria’s European Delights, Marketplace, Methuselah, Mission Bar + Tapas, Otto’s Breakfast & Deli, Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant, Patrick’s Pub, Rainbow Restaurant, Red Apple Butcher, Sen Sushi, Studious Baker, Tito’s Mexican Grill, Trattoria Rustica.
Berkshire General Store; Berkshire Running Center; Brits R Us; Carr Hardware; Circa; Diedre’s; Dory & Ginger; The Funky Phoenix; The Garden; Museum Facsimiles; Paul Rich & Sons; R.J. Stoker; Steven Valenti’s Clothing for Men (and women); Township Four; West Side Clock Shop.
Barrington Stage; Beacon Cinema; Berkshire Museum and gift shop; Berkshire Paint & Sip; Candle Lanes; The Colonial Theatre; Framework (co-working space); Lichenstein Center for the Arts.