During a recent trip to East Aurora to visit Fisher-Price’s headquarters, I was lucky enough to be booked at the town’s historic Roycroft Inn. When the border crossing agent gushed about the hotel when I stopped at his booth during my check, I was intrigued about its history and relevance in the community .
Upon walking through the front door I was welcomed by a large room that was paneled in rich wood, bordered by a gorgeous painting that ran throughout the main sitting area. An employee told me that Alexis J. Fournier painted all of the murals in the main hall to inspire the craftsmen, who came from all over the US to work for Elbert Hubbard.
When I checked in the attendant had informed me that I was lucky enough to snag one of their suites. Thrilled, I grabbed my key – yes, it was a real key and headed up to my room.
As I walked through the hallways towards my room I noticed that all of the doors had names engraved in them. When I asked the front desk what this meant they told me the names were inscribed when the building was built by one of the craftsman to inspire the others who resided in the building.
When it was built in 1905, 100 or more craftsman lived at the Inn under Elbert Hubbard, ‘a legendary man of vision who founded the American Arts and Crafts Movement in East Aurora NY’.
For more than 20 years, the Roycroft Campus was a center of entrepreneurship, creativity and learning. It was a hub of activity with over five hundred working artisans and craftsmen and drew visitors from faraway places.
In total the group of artisans that lived at the inn represented 20 different skill types and they were provided with room and board in exchange for their goods.
When I open the door to my room I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised with what was waiting for me. Like a cottage, my suite had wooden paneled walls and ceilings. I was welcomed by a spacious foyer that branched off in three directions. Straight ahead was a sitting area complete with a desk and armoir that contained extra pillows, an iron and quite a few hangers. To the right was a huge bathroom, with his and hers vanities, a huge soaker tub and a separate shower. To the left was my a queen bed, with a sitting area attached. The only thing missing from my room was a coffee maker, but I quickly learned that there was a station set up in the lobby for guests who would like some.
In total my room was about 800 square feet. One of the front desk attendants informed me that I was staying in a 5 room suites, the best the hotel had to offer. A couple of the writers I was traveling with were in 4 bedroom suites. Interested to see what the layout was, I was surprised to see that no two rooms were the same.
Years ago when the building was constructed, a room like mine would have been divided into 3 separate rooms, housing 3 craftsman – all likely sharing the bathroom.
Visitors can chose between 3, 4 and 5 bedroom suites or to stay in a guest house room, which are like standard hotel rooms.
Over the years the hotel has changed hands many times transforming from hotel, apartments, restaurants and back to the building that you see now. I was surprised, however, to learn that 70% of the wood in the building was original and was painfully restored when the inn was transformed back to it’s former grandeur between 1986-1995.
I had the pleasure of staying at the Roycroft Inn for two nights during my visit to East Aurora. On my last day, while wandering around taking pictures, I happened upon the office, which was a beautiful space with vaulted ceilings on the third floor at the back of the building. Equipped with 2 fireplaces, the staff told me that it was originally the Master Bedroom. Still in the middle of the room was a ladder that was used to access the look out point to view the town.
The Inn offers many dining areas each with their own unique ambiance and atmosphere.
- The library with an original stone fireplace is a warm and intimate setting.
- The Hubbard Hall with its vaulted ceiling and beautiful woodwork is reminiscent of the English inspiration of the Roycroft.
- The Larkin Room with its beautiful windows overlooks the courtyard garden and in the warmer months, the Peristyle providing for memorable outdoor dining.
Surrounding the hotel is the Roycroft Campus, which contains 14 structures including the Inn, the Chapel, the Print Shop, the Furniture Shop, the Power House and the Copper Shop.
If you are in town and visit make sure you bring your camera. East Aurora is a beautiful little town that has lots of charm and character. Plus, it has been the hometown to famous Toy maker Fisher-Price for more than 80 years! Be sure to take a trip down to their head office and shop in their toy shop. What many visitors don’t know is that there are many toys for sale in their store that aren’t available yet nation wide.