Western Connecticut Tourism District

Longed-for Long Weekends: Litchfield County, Cornwall, is co-written by Michelle Falcone of Easton, secretary on the Executive Committee for the Western Connecticut Tourism District (WCTD) and Stacy Lytwyn, Easton resident and CT guidebook author. This is the sixth article in a six-part series that examines some of the best weekend jaunts offered in each of the three WCTD regions.

Embedded along Connecticut’s 78-mile stretch of U.S. Route 7 (US 7) in Cornwall, one of the state’s smallest towns and self-proclaimed, “Greenest Town in Connecticut,” families gather under one roof at the Cornwall Inn — and they aren’t necessarily related. 

Friends are synonymous with family, and the tagline at the inn is appropriate, “… where friends gather.”  

“We have owned the inn for almost 18 years and still love what we do. This comes across in the way our guests are treated … like family. So many people comment on the friendly and family-like vibe,” says Stacey Marcin, who co-owns the inn with her husband, Mark Hampson.

The couple’s passion ignited when, while working in the corporate world, they ended up owning and operating a B & B in Philadelphia. Their dream, however, was to purchase and run a country inn where they would raise their family. For two years, the couple surveyed 36 inns from Maryland to Maine. Against stiff competition, the Litchfield County property, set in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, beat the odds and won their hearts.

Photo courtesy of Randy O’Rourke of Randy O’Rourke Photography, Kent, CT.

Subsequently, during “homecomings,” denizens of the Cornwall Inn, Stacey says, have enjoyed watching the innkeepers’ toddlers, ages two and four when they first opened the doors for business, grow into young adults, ages 19 and 21. 

“Most visitors are from New York City, but the number of Connecticut visitors has increased dramatically since COVID. Connecticut residents from along the coast are always pleasantly surprised when they ‘find us,’” Stacey explains.

The perfect life metaphor: the inn that connects communities across generations lies in a hamlet called Cornwall Bridge, one of the town’s five villages. Needless to say, Cornwall Bridge, the actual bridge, is an integral part of area history. The present six-span open-spandrel bridge over the Housatonic River and Housatonic Railroad on US 7 and CT 4, built in 1930 as a replacement bridge, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the largest one of the six of its kind in the state.

The inn’s main house was built in 1821. One can easily imagine the clatter of the horses’ hooves over the boards of the 19th-century covered bridge that previously spanned the river, escorting guests when the inn began to play host to travelers in 1871.

Today, the 13 well-appointed, child-friendly guest room inn is steeped in history, as it is in nature. Conveniently close to hiking and waterfalls, the establishment also boasts its own three scenic acres that include a mountain stream leading to the Housatonic River. In the warmer months, the swimming pool inspires wake-up dips or bathing any time of day. Guests can also enjoy poolside dining options or pause to indulge in a bottle of wine. Furthermore, they can soak all year long in the hot tub.

Photo courtesy of Randy O’Rourke of Randy O’Rourke Photography, Kent, CT.

At every turn, outdoors or indoors, guests are encouraged to soak up life and slow down. Schedules, obligations, regiments go wayside, and it all kicks in with a post check-in complimentary glass of red wine. 

The innkeepers have preserved the authentic antique decor at the main inn. On the first floor, many extended-stay lodgers take advantage of the private restaurant and tavern. Space, as well as dishes, utensils, and other provisions, is also available for guests who dine on local restaurant dinners that they bring back to the inn. 

Board games and books, not to mention a fireplace in the winter months, set the mood at the gathering room. Mornings are all good in the breakfast room where the complimentary hearty continental breakfasts, featuring such treats as homemade granola, breads and baked sweet items, are served. A screened patio invites the outdoors in. 

On the second floor, visitors find four classic bed and breakfast styled, ensuite guest rooms. Their monikers, such as Lily White and Periwinkle Pastime, are as distinct as their ambiance. Suite Marigold is the two-bedroom suite, complete with a California king bed, queen bed in the adjoining room and extra roll-away cot, ideal for traveling couples and families.

In addition, the innkeepers create a decidedly homemade and comfortable feel at the pet-friendly country lodge that is in a separate building consisting of eight ensuite guest rooms, six on the ground level, all with private entrances. Home away from home, for instance, may portray relaxing on the deck of the Crow’s Corner with a fur baby and “counting the crows.” The spacious room entices downtime with its sitting area and sleepytime with its two cozy queen beds.

To accommodate couples, as well as children 12 and over, who prefer the full “New England Main Street” experience, Stacey and Mark have recently added a new addition to their family of properties, the Kent Guest Suite, five miles north of the inn. Here, in the town of Kent, natural wonders mingle with an array of art galleries, restaurants, boutique shops and top-rated educational academies.

It is obvious that the innkeepers and staff at the inn have successfully pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the process, they have not only implemented appropriate precautions, but met the changing spatial needs that the pandemic incited. 

“We converted a few spaces and made them appropriate for extended stays, as folks were looking for longer term (weeks/months),” Stacey explains.

During the changing times, some things remain consistent. “We offer couples that were married here (my husband is a JP), a free, one-night stay on their anniversary.”

The innkeepers and staff recently had the pleasure of meeting “the adorable baby” of a couple that Mark married at the inn three years ago.

Whether traveling as a couple, solo guest or with family members, the location, Stacey says, is “homebase for visiting attractions, such as Kent Falls, state parks, river sports, wineries, breweries, shops and galleries in Litchfield county. “

The inn is a four-minute drive to Kent Falls State Park, five minutes to Housatonic Meadows State Park and 10 minutes to Mohawk Mountain. Plus, there are numerous highly recommended restaurants in the area, including the iconic Fife and Drum in Kent. 

The beauty of the town itself is alluring and, undeniably, inspires guests to stay put. 

“The mind, eager for caresses, lies down at its own risk in Cornwall,” local Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Mark Van Doren, aptly once described the town.

The inn, like the town, is difficult to leave. Upon departure though, “family members” go forward, nourished with feel-good memories and a renewed sense of belonging.

Cornwall Inn, 270 Kent Road, Cornwall Bridge, CT 06754; (860) 672-6884; info@cornwallinn.com 

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