Why Montclair, New Jersey, Is an Underrated Escape From the City, According to Makeup Maven Bobbi Brown

Travel + Leisure asks a hometown hero about her favorite spots.

Beauty pioneer Bobbi Brown at an inn in Montclair, New Jersey
Bobbi Brown at the George, the 32-room inn she owns in Montclair, New Jersey. Photo: Courtesy of The George

Three years before launching the makeup line that made her a household name, Bobbi Brown left the glitz and glamour of Manhattan to move to Montclair, New Jersey. Located in the foothills of the Watchung Mountains, it's just 12 miles from NYC — "but once you're there," she says, "you feel transported." She raised three children in Montclair with her husband, Steven Plofker, all the while overseeing a growing cosmetics empire.

Montclair became Brown's muse when, in 2016, she severed ties with her namesake brand and began to channel her creativity in a new direction. The place had "everything," she says — "all the energy, cool businesses, and interesting people you can find in the city" — but at the time there was nowhere for visitors to stay.

Brick exterior of The George, a mansion in New Jersey that has been reimagined as an inn
The George occupies a 1902 mansion designed by prominent local architect Joseph Van Vleck Jr. Courtesy of The George

Brown and Plofker, a developer, had bought a 1902 Neoclassical mansion designed by noted architect and philanthropist Joseph Van Vleck Jr. — which the pair transformed into the George, a 32-room inn that opened in 2018. Brown's career in beauty wasn't over, either: in 2020 she launched her latest venture, Jones Road, with a storefront near the center of Montclair.

These days, Brown can be found walking early mornings in the picturesque Van Vleck House & Gardens, up the street from the hotel, and extolling the virtues of her adopted hometown to anyone who will listen. Here, her picks for a cultured weekend getaway.

The George

"Neither of us had run a hotel before," Brown says, but she and Plofker wanted to give Montclair a place that was "just as unique and design-focused as the people who live there." The meticulously refurbished landmark property is filled with globally sourced décor — and even pieces from the couple's personal collection. thegeorgemontclair.com

Interior of Jones Road beauty brand store in Montclair, New Jersey
The Montclair flagship of Jones Road, Brown’s new beauty brand. Courtesy of Jones Road

Jones Road

Montclair is home to the flagship store for Brown's new beauty line — what she calls "clean, no-makeup makeup." (Brown bans more than 2,700 potentially harmful additives from her products.) The space also hosts events and workshops. jonesroadbeauty.com

Montclair Art Museum

"We are so lucky to have a state-of-the-art museum in our town," Brown says of this century-old institution, which has more than 12,000 pieces of American art in its collection. "From My Home to Yours," a new multimedia exhibition from Indigenous artists Caroline Monnet and Laura Ortman, is on view through the end of the year. montclairartmuseum.org

An exhibit at the Montclair Art Museum
Work by children’s-book illustrator Jerry Pinkney at the Montclair Art Museum. Richard Titus/Courtesy of Montclair Art Museum

Yogi Berra Museum

Brown says "Yogi and his wife, Carmen, were not only Montclair's most famous residents — they were also my dear friends." This museum on the Montclair State University campus, which adjoins a minor-league ballpark, is a destination for Berra memorabilia and artifacts from baseball history. "It's a true testament to the impact Yogi and Carmen had on so many of us." yogiberramuseum.org


This brasserie "serves the most delicious French-inspired food," Brown says. (Think coq au vin with spaetzle, or barbajuans, Monegasque chard-and-ricotta fritters.) "Their beautiful outdoor space is the place to be for killer wine and cocktails." faubourgmontclair.com

Two photos from businesses in Montclair, New Jersey, including a pink sofa in the waiting area of a salon, and a dish of barbajuans at Monaco restaurant
From left: Montclair’s Boho Hair Salon, which has an adjoining café and vegan bakery; barbajuans, deep-fried treats from Monaco, at Faubourg. From left: Jessa Schifilliti/Courtesy of Boho Hair Salon and Cafe; Paul Bartholomew

Boho Hair Salon & Café

"I always try to support female-owned businesses," says Brown, who loves this full-service salon and coffee shop. "It's run by three friends who believe in beauty and sisterhood. Amen! Grabbing a latte and the greatest blowout in town is multitasking at its very best." bohohairsalon.com

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "The New New Jersey."

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