I’m going to do this review by addressing the complaints of other reviewers because I don’t know much about writing reviews and to me it just seems easier to do it that way (when I try to think of stuff to say I just draw a blank, the other reviews are just convenient jumping off points).
My wife says I do stuff this way because I have focusing issues.
I think she said it has something to do with ADHD but I don’t really pay attention when she complains about it so you’ll have to ask her. I do know she said; “something something something are you paying attention to me something something” but that’s all I remember about that.
We picked Walker House for our Lenox, Mass. Stay for two reasons:
A: We had stayed there once 20 years ago so were vaguely familiar with the name.
B: It’s got the lowest room rates in the area (minimum 25% less).
On to the complaints, my evaluation of them and my proposed solutions.
1: Compliant: “do not use the stair rail, wobbly thought it would fall off.”
My Evaluation: The bannister creaks; a bit of rail-rattle. The rails are loose due to joint age. It should probably be reseated. However short of attaching a grappling line to the bannister and rappelling down the side of the staircase it’s perfectly safe (I gave it a good, solid shake and leaning; it creaked, rattled a bit but clearly held firm).
If creaky bannisters bother you don’t use it.
2: Complaint: “Nothing worked, shades to the toilet.”
My Evaluation: Went room to room (I’m nosy that way) checking shades and toilets. All of them worked although the toilet in our room (Chopin) did run after use.
Jiggle the handle.
3: Complaint: “Besides this place smelling like cat urine”
My Evaluation: Stayed there all weekend. Thought I smelled something when going up the stairs Friday night. I didn’t smell anything after that. It could be I was being paranoid due to the review and psyched myself into smelling something (I really hate the smell of pet urine) or it could be one of the guest’s pets had an accident and I just had unlucky timing.
Perils of staying at a pet friendly place. If you can’t cope, then go elsewhere.
4: Complaint: “creaky floors”
My Evaluation: Yes, some of the floors creak. The house is an over 200 year old building in the Federal style. I’m guessing it would require significant work to fix but considering you might lose some of the original flooring I wouldn’t do it.
If it bothers you request a non-creaky-floor room.
5: Complaint: “(sic) an mattress that had to be 50 years old”
My Evaluation: Our mattress was up to date and fine (I like a really, really firm mattress). I can’t speak for the others. The other beds looked fine but even I have my limits and I wasn’t about to do a kamikaze-run throughout the house stripping down the beds and launching myself onto them to test for bounce-ability while shouting; “HONOR TO THE EMPIRE!”
Stay in Chopin room, it had an awesome mattress.
6: Complaint: “old peeling wall paper”
My Evaluation: What part of; “over 200 year old Federal-style building” don’t you people get?
Yes, there are spots where wall paper is peeling. I noticed for the most part it’s around the steam heat radiators (steam heat radiators are notorious for killing paint/ wallpaper) with a very few minor spots in other places throughout the house (I suspect there was once water or settling that caused it).
I do antique furniture restorations and in my evaluation I would leave it all alone provided there isn’t connecting leaking from the roof. Giving up wonderful, antique wall paper to put in modern wall paper? That strikes me as a bad idea. There was one room I’d consider changing it out (the peeling looked to be potentially significant sooner than later) but I’d probably cry as I did it as the pattern is antique and hauntingly beautiful.
Enjoy it or stay elsewhere.
7: Complaint: “dated yard sale furnishings”
My Evaluation: This complaint really pisses me off. As I said I do antique furniture restorations and calling that furniture “yard sale furnishings” is a crime against antique-anity.
A few of the pieces are more vintage than antique and not necessarily what would be considered “choice pieces” (although you’ll note what is considered “choice pieces” changes with the mood and whim of trends) but I didn’t see anything that wasn’t at least vintage and the great majority was solidly antique; hundreds of years old.
Much of the furniture is early Victorian (oak). The side table in the main dining area dates back to the early 1700s. I’d sell mother’s soul to own it (sorry mom but it’s a REALLY AWESOME TABLE).
Stop thinking that shopping at Ikea and watching “Storage Wars” makes you an expert on antiques and quality furniture.
8: Complaint: “The bathroom was one of the worst I experienced in an accommodation…”
My Evaluation: Chopin had a small bathroom. My wife and I used it comfortably but we’re from NYC and are used to small bathrooms. The other rooms had larger bathrooms.
Request a large-bathroom room.
9: Complaint: “It was carpeted (eww)”
My Evaluation: The carpeted thing struck me as a bit strange until I woke up Saturday morning and it was 17 degrees out. Then I loved it. The rugs look older but very clean so if they can manage the situation my toes aren’t complaining.
If your aim is so off when hitting the toilet that you worry about the ability of others I suggest you stay at home and practice.
10: Complaint: “with the smallest dingy stall shower”
My Evaluation: Our stall was small but I would have liked a bit more light. The other tubs/ stalls varied in size. They all looked clean.
Ask to see the bathrooms and pick the one that makes you happy.
11: Complaint: “scratchy towels”
My Evaluation: Towels seemed fine to me. My wife did say the linens weren’t top of the line.
Say something to management. If people don’t inform them they don’t know to make changes.
12: Complaint: “The host was Super unwelcoming.”
My Evaluation: Everyone was nice. Maybe it’s you, not them.
Visit Self-Help section of bookstore and pick up Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.
13: Complaint: “Breakfast, served ONLY at 8:30, is close to non-existent…cheapest yogurt and croissants available.” When I asked if I could have these meager morsels at 8:00 instead of 8:30, I met with resistance and complaints by the owner ( “I have to get up so early every day!”.
My Evaluation: Jesus, some people.
All the bakeries in the area open at about 8:30-9:00. So whining about wanting fresh baked goods before the stores are open for the inn to purchase them is sort of dickish if you ask me. For those who wanted something earlier there was coffee, teas, yogurt (the $1.00 stuff, not the $2.00 stuff *GASP*) and fruit. I think some of it was home baked but forgot to ask.
All I wanted was a croissant but someone beat me to them (Who eats ALL THE CROSSANTS?!) . But guess what? The bakeries they get this stuff from are up the block; a 1:46 second walk (I timed it because I’m weird that way).
So if you don’t like the fare, you can do this thing called “walking” and get something else. Considering the price of the stay this complaint struck me as incredibly petty. Also; breakfast served until 10AM so I don’t know what the reviewer was going on about.
Don’t be a d*ck.
14: Complaint: “ Bathroom very decrepit, with a hole in the ceiling”
My Evaluation: I saw that one of the bathrooms had what looked like a patched hole in the ceiling. To my eye whoever did the job could have done it better but I’m guessing most people wouldn’t notice what I saw because I’ve got an eye for that sort of thing.
My Evaluation: I asked out of curiosity; it turned out the inn had no available rooms that night but the one with the hole in the ceiling. It was offered as a consideration to a non-reservation guest who was desperate, stuck and without a place to stay. Otherwise they wouldn’t have offered it due to the needed repair.
The result was their stellar review. I won’t bother to address the rest of the complaints other than to comment that I’m not surprised this person was travelling alone as who would want to travel with someone like that?
Don’t be a d*ck (squared).
15: Complaint: “There is a vast difference between eclectic decor and cluttered mess, between worn and downright dirty, between charming and decrepit, between basic and spartan, and between aged and ramshackle. “
My evaluation: I’m guessing you can’t tell that difference despite its vastness. I’ll post some pictures on my blog since pictures speak a thousand words (link down below or go to TheTruePooka on wordpress and search for Walker House). The showerhead must have been the Chopin room one. It was REALLY tiny but amazingly strong with a surprising spread. Sort of a mouse that roared sort of deal. It struck me as funny. It was super effective.
The back Veranda (which is awesome) has one 3×3 spot in the far corner that I suspect should probably be inspected for possible repair. The garage didn’t lean but the roof looked saggy. Since they wrote that review in 2010 and it’s still standing and intact 3 years later I’m guessing the reviewer’s ability to evaluate garage-sturdiness needs some work.
The parlor did have a bit of an old piano-smell to it but that’s probably because there are two old grand pianos in it.
Don’t sleep in the garage if you’re worried about it falling over. Avoid the pianos if you’re allergic.
My summation; it’s a nice place. I stay at a lot of chain hotels (part of my job) and if you’re looking for that chain hotel experience this is definitely not the place for you to stay.
You could probably get more services at other places in the area but you’ll also be paying a heck of a lot more money. This place has more of that old feel you used to get from families who run B&Bs that are a mix of rooms for rent with dining/ siting areas that are shared communal areas (it reminds me of some of the gentile, old B&Bs/ hotels you get in Harlem that date back to the civil war/ pre-civil war era).
The place could also use a bit of renovation here and there but from what I saw there’s nothing there that should impact negatively on your stay. I’m a bit amazed that 20 years later to my memory it for the most part looks about the same which strikes me as pretty neat.
Best thing about the stay:
When my car battery was dead the next morning the proprietor whipped out some jumper cables and gave my car a jump. In an age where getting a jump from a person is an impossibility due to the fear of screwing up the vehicle computer, I was amazed by that generous (and risky) offer.
I can safely say that I cannot think of any other place where this would have happened; most places will give you a phone number to a local mechanic. Part of me is saying; “she shouldn’t have done that as it’s a good way to get sued if it goes badly” but the other part of me is like; “Wow, that is old-school awesome”.
My one major complaint; I was really, really cold at first. I groused about it for three hours to my wife when we first got there until she got fed up and said something to management. They turned the heat up and put a toasty fire in the fireplace which made me happy. Sure, I should have said something to them myself right away but my wife said I’m weird that way and she thinks I just like to have stuff to complain about.
At least I think she said that but as I love fires in fireplaces I wasn’t really paying attention to her, just nodding a lot.
Photos I took with my crappy phone here: https://thetruepooka.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/photos-walker-house-lenox-ma/
P.S. This was fun to do. Feel free to invite me to your place and I’ll write responses to bad reviews by dumb customers. Just be sure you’re actually good or I may end up agreeing with them.