Better Business Bureau Accreditation

We’ve just received this this morning:

Birchwood Inn is a BBB Accredited Hotel in Lenox, MA

It’s been a good week for us 🙂

Debbie and Tom

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Award of Excellence – Combined Hotels

birchwood-inn-lenoxThe Birchwood Inn, historic Bed & Breakfast in the Berkshires, has just received another award. Users of have rated us as “Excellent”. We are obviously very happy about this. Why don’t you book yours stay this fall to see for yourselves why guests think so highly of the Birchwood Inn 🙂

Your innkeepers,

Debbie and Tom

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Meet the new owners

Debbie and Tom - The new owners of the Birchwood Inn

Debbie and Tom – The new owners of the Birchwood Inn

The purchase of the Birchwood Inn, a historic Berkshires bed & breakfast in the little town of Lenox MA, is the culmination of several years of hard work and planning. Turning a dream into reality.

Debbie and Tom have left their careers behind them to pursue this wonderful project. They continue to offer the same level of comfort and hospitality and even have plans to make certain improvements to the inn. They have taken to their new roles as innkeepers like fish to water. It’s hard work at times, but they love it. Come meet them. Book a stay at the Birchwood Inn.

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Fond Farewell

Nearly 18 years ago I came up to the Berkshires to visit a lifelong friend and was parked in front of The Bookstore on Housatonic in Lenox reading a map book. Three different people knocked on my window and asked if they could help me. I immediately thought, “I want to live in a town like this.”

So I bought Birchwood Inn, the venerable old lady on top of the hill. The oldest home in Lenox is celebrating her 250th birthday, and I am celebrating the sale of the inn this week! It has been an inn-credible journey, and I am still in love with Lenox!

I want to thank my staff (most of them!), who, over the years have been responsible for the inn’s great success and international reputation. I particularly thank my current excellent team members, Becca Bliss Lilley and Karen Crandall. Becca, the assistant innkeeper, is my right arm as well as my right and left ear. And Karen has kept the inn impeccably clean for nearly 10 years.

I want to thank my guests (most of them, again!), who come back year after year and who have become like family. You have made innkeeping a pleasure, and I have so enjoyed your delight in returning, your hugs, and your appetites!

A big thank to all of the plumbers, electricians, techies, contractors, and landscapers who have kept this old house in order!

More big thanks to all of the cultural and recreational venues in the Berkshires, especially Tanglewood and The Mount.

And I want to thank my Lenox and Berkshire “family,” past and present, who have kept me well-fed, well-coiffed, well-read, and well-dressed! Thank you Lynne West (Glad Rags); absolutely everyone at Guido’s; Peter Alvarez; Aurelien and the Alta staff; Jim Luce at Café Lucia (the linguine and clams are unforgettable!); Stephane and Luke at Church Street Café, the best porch in the Berkshires! Jason Macioge, James, and everyone at Bistro Zinc; Kathy and Tony at Prime for always being so welcoming; Peter Platt at The Old Inn on the Green for many memorable experiences (including me setting a waiter on fire); and Rachel and Franck at Chez Nous for unforgettable cuisine and your friendship. Thank you, Doris, Mackimmie & Co., for injecting Lenox with your enthusiasm. And thank you, Ralph Petillo, for your super efforts on behalf of Lenox. Carole Rumph, The Comfortable Home, and Annie Selke, Pine Cone Hill, for your unflagging support and great taste!

I especially want to thank my two service dogs, Charley and the late and beloved Quinn, and their mischievous sidekick Piper, my grand-dog, for making sure I was always on time for breakfast, for ensuring that I never burned the chocolate chip cookies and for keeping me laughing. You three have been my heart and soul.

I wish my fellow innkeepers continued success, and I wish Birchwood’s new owners, Debbie Lancaster and Tom Johnson, the greatest of luck and may you and the inn soar to even greater heights!

If you want to stay in touch with me, you can always e-mail me at, and please continue to follow my adventures on Facebook.

Love, Ellen

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How Would You Celebrate Birchwood Inn’s 250th Birthday?

Lenox Massachusetts Bed and Breakfast

Lenox, Mass. 1839 A reprint from Barber’s “Hist. Coll. of Mass.”


Birthday cake? Party hats? Gift bags? How would you celebrate Birchwood Inn’s 250th birthday in 2016?
In 1766, the Massachusetts Bay Colony deeded its first residential property in what was to become the town of Lenox to Israel Dewey, who built a substantial home. Dewey’s home laid the foundation, literally and figuratively, for what has become Birchwood Inn.
Birchwood Inn is the oldest home in Lenox and celebrates its 250th birthday next year.
Lenox was incorporated in 1767, and the first town meeting was held in Dewey’s home in March of that year. At that meeting, the form of town government was decided on — and remains in that form today — and Dewey was elected as the town’s first selectman.
This is a major event as Birchwood Inn is even older that the US! So how should we mark this milestone?
Tentative plans include commemorative mugs, a special New Year’s Eve party, a house blessing, a strawberry social and open house, and occasions for local students to learn the house and town history.
But how else can we make 2016 even more special for Birchwood Inn? Any and all ideas are welcome on the inn’s blog, Facebook, twitter, and email. All who submit winning ideas will receive one of the commemorative mugs.
And DO make plans to visit the Berkshires and Birchwood Inn during its birthday year!

New sign and inn


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Oh Brave New Brews! Lenox & Surrounding Area Breweries

Lenox Breweries


Things are brewing in the Berkshires! Innovative beers with local flavors!

What’s on tap?

In Lee, the Berkshires’ smallest brewer, the Glass Bottom Brewery, brews its TeaSB with Earl Grey tea and lemon zest while Parsnippity is brewed with the obvious for a country flavor. Weird? Yes, but definitely different! Or how about a dessert beer like Banana Cream Stout? In the spring, there’ll be a repeat of last year’s Dandelion IPA.

A few miles south, Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington features more than a couple of dozen beers, including a number of seasonal ones — Cask Conditioned and Rum N’Oak Brown — as well as Farmer’s Ale, made completely with local ingredients.

Travel a few miles further south and head for Big Elm Brewery in Sheffield. India Pale Ale is their most popular brew but American Lager, they say, it heading to the top. And we’re not just talking about foam. Another popular choice is 413 (the Berkshires’ area code), which includes chamomile flowers and locally sourced peppercorns. Their dark beers — like Gerry Dog Stout or Imperial Stout which incorporates coffee and chocolates — are favorites during the challenging New England winters.

But once you’re at Birchwood Inn, you don’t even have to get in your car. Nejaimes Lenox Wine Cellar stocks local beers and offers beer, wine, and cheese tastings every Saturday afternoon.

Yup, here in the Berkshires there’s a beer for all seasons. So come up and hoist a few! They’ll warm up winter’s chill!


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Stay at Birchwood Inspires Guest to Wax Poetic

Three lovely and interesting women stayed at Birchwood Inn this fall. One of them, instead of writing a review, was inspired to be poetic, and we wanted to share this with you:

Autumn in New England

What a lovely stay at Birchwood Inn,

So far away from life’s usual din.

Up on a hall and standing tall,

Just the place to enjoy New England’s magnificent fall.

There are mountains, galleries, and history galore,

But, at the Inn, it’s more, more, more.

More wonderful breakfasts and tasty teas,

Which Ellen serves with such talented ease.

She makes the Inn the place to stay

And to come back soon to spend a week or another day.


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“Happy” in the Berkshires!

The old clichĂ© that a picture is worth a thousand words is only a clichĂ© because it’s so true. With thousands of words we could tell you how “Happy” the Berkshires are, tell you about The Mount, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts, The Clark Art Institute, Tanglewood, Canyon Ranch, Jacob’s Pillow, Bash Bish Falls, the unique towns and villages, and so much more, but thanks to the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, you can now experience “Happy in the Berkshires” for yourself. Sit back and tap your toes or get up from your computer and dance!

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The Most Requested Recipe This Year

Blood orange recipes

Blood Orange Olive Oil makes roasted pears extra special!

Whenever we serve Blood Orange Roasted Pears with Pumpkin Seed Crunch as Birchwood’s fruit course at breakfast, nearly everyone asks for the recipe. This is our version of Roasted Pear Crumble that appeared in the October 2013 issue of Bon Appetit, and it’s most assuredly a winner!


Serves 4.

2 ripe firm Bartlett or Anjou pears

2 teaspoons blood orange olive oil

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons oats

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1/4 cup marscarpone

Mint leaves for garnish.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut pears in half and core with a melon baller. Spread the cut side of the pears with the blood orange olive oil. Place the pears, cut side up, on a baking sheet, and bake on the upper rack of the oven for 20 minutes, until soft but not mushy.

Mix the pecans, pumpkin seeds, brown sugar, oats, salt, and the extra virgin olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Toast the crumble mix on the lower rack of the oven and stir occasionally until golden, about 12-14 minutes. Mix in the sesame seeds and let cool. (We make up a triple or quadruple batch and refrigerate so that we always have some on hand.)

Place each pear on a plate. Spoon the marscarpone into the center of each pear. Top with the pumpkin seed crunch. Add a mint leaf and serve… to rave reviews.



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Celebrating the Bard! Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

 Shakespeare & Company 2014 season


With this year being Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, Shakespeare & Company has planned a joyous, thrilling, and powerful season celebrating the Bard’s life and work.

This magical season aptly includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a jazzy 30s’ twist, set in the mysterious mangrove forests of the Mississippi Delta. (June 21-August 30) And if you really would like to honor the Bard, indulge in an evening cocktails, dinner, theater, and dancing at the Midsummer Night’s Gala on June 28.

For this season’s celebration, Shakespeare & Co. are bringing back — finally — the very hilarious medley of mayhem, comedy, and lunacy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Fast-paced and devilish, this popular parody is a cornucopia of naughty laughs. (July 4-August 24) Even Quinn, who accompanied me several years ago, was mesmerized and delighted!

Let’s get serious about this, shall we? Henry IV, Parts I and II, brings power and rebellion as well as Prince Hall and Falstaff to the Lenox stage. (August 2-31) It’s amazing to consider that these plays have continued to endure for more than four centuries!

The old adage that behind every successful man is a woman so we must include Anne Hathaway is this celebration season. Shakespeare’s Will, a sensual tale full of passion, humor, and mystery, explores with song, dance, and poetry the tumultuous life of Will’s wife. (May 24-August 24)

For most of us, our introduction to Shakespeare was in sophomore year of high school when we studied Julius Caesar. Caesar, Portia, Cassius with his “mean and hungry look,” and Brutus will all be familiar in the “bare Bard” production. (June 27-August 30)

The Tony Award winning play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike makes its Berkshire premiere as well — a comedy with a dose of mayhem. (August 6-September 14)

And Shakespeare & Company returns to The Mount, a most romantic setting for Romeo and Juliet, in a “bare Bard” production. (July 17-August 23)

And more! Come celebrate Shakespeare’s incredible legacy!

PS Birchwood Inn, only a mile from Shakespeare & Company, by the way, boasts an authentic replica of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in our library, compliments of my high school friends who created it when we were high school sophomores in 1961!




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