Friday, June 14, 2013

A Step Back in Time

If you have ever wondered what life was like 100 years ago, a stay at the Roycroft Inn ( in East Aurora, New York will give you a good idea. Although it has been updated with all the mod cons such as internet for guest use and large bathrooms, it still looks as if little has changed since the inn opened early in the 20th century.

This inn is a must if, like me, you are a fan of Art Nouveau and its cousin in the English-speaking world, Arts and Crafts. This was an artistic movement at the turn of the 20th century that reacted against industrialization and wanted to return to an idealized past of small communities close to nature where craftmanship was taken seriously. It is characterized by low ceilings, organic shapes and natural materials. In Britain, William Morris and Charles Rennie Macintosh were the principle proponents of the movement. In America, Frank Lloyd Wright was its main architect.

The Roycroft is a three storey structure of grey green set amid trees in the attractive town of East Aurora, a suburb of Buffalo. There are a number of substantial homes built in the Roycroft style nearby, and a museum about its founder, Elbert Hubbard. Still today, the artisan community Hubbard founded persists, and you can purchase authentic copies of the furniture, china and silverware you find at the inn (provided you have deep pockets.)

You will also need a fairly substantial bank account to stay at the inn, especially in summer and on weekends. During the week a  large double room goes for about $190 including tax at this time of year. If that is too expensive, just stop by for a meal. The food is American style and tasty, and lunches are an especially good option. Try to get a seat overlooking the beautiful courtyard, where a purple rhodendron  the size of a tree and Japanese magnolias flourish. My only complaint about the Roycroft is that the interior is fairly dark, and even the guest rooms are low on reading lights.  Lighting could be improved.

The Roycroft is small, so if you plan to visit on a weekend it pays to book in advance. Otherwise, you may not fiud a room.


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