GREENFIELD -- I arrived at the Brandt House at dusk, whipped by a cold wind that, as I hauled my bag from the car to the inn, managed to slip under my coat and slither up my back. The scent of snow was in the air and I was not, as the saying goes, a happy camper. A basket on the door held an envelope with my name and room confirmation, a sure sign, I thought, that the place was deserted.
My mood changed as I stumbled in. A table in the hallway held freshly baked sweets.
Even better, I could smell something baking in the oven. I followed the scent into the kitchen, where one of the house managers was baking treats for the morning's breakfast. Within minutes, I was holding a cup of hot tea and feeling very much at home.
And that's how I felt for the rest of the weekend, as if I were at a home away from home. Which made sense once I found out that this sprawling, 16-room Georgian Colonial on 3 acres was built in 1890 as a private residence and remained one until 1988. That year, Phoebe Compton Brandt converted the place into an inn, renovating one room at a time.
In 2004 John Lavryssen and Steve Sears acquired the Brandt House and added their collections of art and objects from worldwide travels to Phoebe's original furnishings. The result is a cozy, comfortable, eclectic mix.
My room, No. 7, was on the top floor. I chose it from a photo on the website because of the sloping ceiling with two skylights above the bed and another in the bathroom.
I was happy with my room. The queen-size feather bed had a plump duvet printed with fruit and flowers. The terra cotta-tiled floor was attractive but could have used another rug or two in winter. The furniture was a mixed bag of side tables and chairs.
Sadly, I'm not a big breakfast person, so in the morning, I picked at breakfast offerings that most guests would drool over; my hot entree choices were portobello mushroom and crab or candied jalapeno and pear omelets. (In warmer months one can eat outside on the wraparound porch or the patio overlooking the garden.)
On the table were the cranberry and pecan bundt cake I had smelled the night before, as well as banana-nut muffins, fresh fruit, and yogurt. The sideboard held bagels, homemade granola, and other goodies.I spent most of the morning curled in an overstuffed armchair with my laptop and a book in the bright second-floor sunroom. Windows on three sides look out at trees and a Buddha fountain in the hallway adds a relaxing sound. There's a desk with computer if you need one (the entire house has WiFi) plus a TV with a DVD and video player, a microwave oven, and a small fridge.
One hopes that the other visitors are friendly and quiet because, as in any old house, sound travels easily. I could hear my neighbors moving hangers in their closet, sneezing, and tapping their toothbrushes on the sink.
After lazing around the inn for most of the day I finally ventured out. It's a nice walk or a brief drive to Main Street, where there are lots of small shops, a movie theater, and restaurants like the People's Pub.
Snow was falling as I left to drive home. But memories of a stress-free weekend were more than enough to keep me relaxed.