Sing for Your Slumber Series at Tourists Hotel Is a Rocking Scene

Book a room at Tourists for the upcoming Freshgrass music festival and be treated to an impromptu concert thanks to the hotel's Sing for Your Slumber series.

Solid Sound at MASS MoCA, photo by John Dolan

In the year since its opening, the Berkshire hotel Tourists has quickly characterized itself as a gathering spot for musicians and other northeastern creatives. The reputation comes thanks at least partly to its well-connected owners, the most famous of whom is Wilco’s bassist John Stirratt, and which also include Boston-based developer Ben Svenson, Eric Kerns, co-founder of local brewery Bright Ideas, and Brooklyn Magazine founder Scott Stedman. With the recent opening of Airport Rooms, a cocktail lounge and music venue on the property, and a series called Sing for Your Slumber, the hospitality dream team is bolstering their reputation as an after-hours venue for rock stars.

Airport Rooms interior, photo by Mark Holthusen

Many musicians pass through the Berkshires for gigs at the former industrial area-turned-artist enclave’s numerous venues. But North Adams in particular sees a large number of traveling bands because of the two music festivals held on MASS MoCA’s grounds; July’s Solid Sound is curated and organized by Wilco while September’s Freshgrass is a bluegrass and roots festival whose lineup this year includes Calexico, Iron and Wine, Andrew Bird, Mavis Staples and Jade Bird.

In an attempt to both provide exposure for the up-and-coming artists and as an attractive amenity to guests at Tourists, musicians are invited to participate in a new series called Sing for Your Slumber where they play an impromptu show for whoever happens to be staying at the hotel, and in return get a free bed to sleep in that night. So one minute you could be enjoying a cocktail on the hotel’s outside patio and the next, you’re privy to an intimate jam session.

Some of these pop-up shows happen in the hotel’s standalone lobby, but most of them materialize in the Airport Rooms, the newly opened cocktail lounge inside a re-done 1813 farmhouse that sits next to the hotel.

Airport Rooms, photo by Mark Holthusen

The farmhouse became a boarding house after an airport was built across the street, hence the name, and locals can still recount stories of one cantankerous owner whose favorite accessory was a loaded BB gun. Wanting to preserve its history but rebrand its image, the Tourists partners tasked Austin-based designer Julie Pearson to bring Airport Rooms into this century.

As she recounts, “It had such a great story to tell in its bones. My team poured their love into preserving the place, which has subtle details that simply needed to be uncovered. We had artists come in and touch up the floral wallpapers throughout, bringing each petal back to life, and we left the markings of where artwork once hung exposed to the imagination. All of the furniture and fixtures were either originally in the home when we acquired it or were found in flea markets and local antique shops.”

Airport Rooms, photo by Mark Holthusen

The place is charming even without the threat of bumping into a guitarist. It still feels like someone’s house and guests place drink and food orders at a small counter in the retro kitchen before finding a place to sit in one of two living rooms packed with velvet fainting couches and oversized arm chairs. The menu, created by chef Corey Wentworth, is small, but doesn’t feel lacking and includes standard bar fare like burgers, fresh salads and especially good french fries. There are always a couple of wines by the glass, a half dozen cocktails and a selection of mostly local beers. Even if no musician is singing for their slumber on the night you visit, it’s guaranteed you’ll still be entertained.

Airport Rooms, photo by John Dolan