The Best Places to Escape New York City This Winter
An upscale resort on the Jersey Shore, a cluster of secluded Catskills retreats, a wabi-sabi wellness experience in The Hamptons—a new crop of hotels, lodges, and inns are offering a diversity of options for quick-hit winter weekend getaways from NYC.
A former hillside bunkhouse has been renewed as a sophisticated year-round boutique hotel that brings a taste of warm Scandi ambience to the Catskills. The brainchild of founders Bjorn Boyer and Julija Stoliarova, who also serves as creative director, the secluded 19-room getaway forges a convivial, home-away-from-home atmosphere through group activities and an approachable scale. Outfitting the communal spaces are vintage mid-century furnishings, an authentic Malm fireplace, hand-woven Turkish rugs, and reclaimed wood paneling—an alchemy that sets the tone for the Scandi vibes laden throughout the understated guest rooms. Visitors opt for either traditional digs, which feature Frette linens, Masaya & Co. furnishings, and blackened barn doors, or one of the three A-frame lushna cabins, which embody the idea of lagom—Swedish for “just the right amount”—through cozy interior space, sweeping hillside views, and intimate seclusion in equal measure. Each room sits near an oversized barrel hot tub and sauna.
Shou Sugi Ban House, Water Mill, NY
Perhaps the most cleansing place in The Hamptons, Shou Sugi Ban House is a fully wellness-driven combination of food, instruction, and wabi-sabi aesthetics. Here, Debbie Kropf has fitted the low-lying structures and guest rooms with motifs pointing toward Japan in a fully contemporary Western format. Cedar slatting references both Eastern and Hamptons architecture, careful landscaping creates a clean break from New York City, and airy, harmonious spaces offer meditation, hydrotherapy, and Noma alum Mads Refslund’s elemental plant-based dishes.
Asbury Ocean Club, Asbury Park, NJ
Many hotels attempt to transport visitors to another place or time, or at least sequester them from the outside world. Ocean Club actually fulfills that promise. Miami? Santorini? Standing on the outdoor terrace among the fully grown pine trees and wisteria-cloaked pergola shading an open-air bar, you’d buy either. Designer Anda Andrei oriented the fourth floor, which contains all 54 guest rooms, to align perfectly with the horizon, giving the illusion that nothing but sea lies just beyond the edge of the pool fringed by minimalist loungers. A colorful bench by artist Dirk Vander Kooij, roving granita cart, and man-made installation of sand dunes fill out the frame. Taking the scene in, it’s hard to believe you’re only an hour and a half from Manhattan.
The property’s beating heart is the drawing room, a glass house rimmed by a reflection pool—Andrei calls it the “snow globe” for its visual effect come winter—where guests convene for Champagne and caviar, live jazz on the baby grand piano, and meditative views of the dune garden, the creation of landscape designer Madison Cox, whose notable work includes Marrakech’s Majorelle Gardens. The loft-style rooms conjure the same pied-à-terre atmosphere as the building’s 130 high-rise residences. Daybeds, glass-box showers, and Bowd’s tasteful edit of amenities—MiN body wash, sprays by organic Australian brand Grown Alchemist, and Palermo Body soaps—hit all the right notes. As do the Patchology face masks and eye gels in the mini bar. (Quickie kits from stylish sex brand Maude are another shiny object, er toy, to keep guests ensconced.)
Preserving the feel of its past life as a Borscht Belt-era country inn, the newcomer shows off elevated offerings like a speakeasy-style bar and a modern European bistro. A restored century-old farmhouse serves as the centerpiece of a sprawling property designed to entice a new generation of travelers to The Catskills. The hotel’s 75 guest rooms, many appointed with Simmons mattresses, Bower Studio lighting fixtures, and sculptural tubs by Jaime Hayon, are scattered among several unique structures including a handful of bungalows, a cluster of secluded A-frame cabins, and a retrofitted two-level pool house. The menu at the indoor-outdoor bistro is made up of simple, seasonal dishes that showcase regional produce, organic meat, farm-fresh cheese, and sustainably sourced fish. The beverage program includes selections from nearby vineyards, breweries, and distilleries. Coming soon: a Swedish–style spa and glass-front wooden sauna overlooking the surrounding forest.
McKinley Bungalow, Montauk, NY
The New York–based interior designer Robert McKinley has unveiled his second McKinley Bungalow, a shoppable residence located within a quaint Montauk neighborhood five minutes from the popular Ditch Plains beach. The 2,400-square-foot, ranch-style home unites the studio’s favorite products under one roof—and, of course, shares them with guests. Furniture, linens, housewares, finishes, and appliances from brands such as Blu Dot, Hay, and Sonos, among others intermingle with carefully selected vintage furnishings and artworks to imbue the bungalow with the laid-back sensibilities which have come to define his practice. After he opened up the interior to create a seamless flow from living room to patio, he installed a series of large Noguchi paper lanterns that float cloud-like within the home’s high-vaulted ceilings. These interventions, along with a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces, conjure the stillness of Montauk’s salt-weathered coastline and the ambience of European seaside villages—an alchemy achieved by Moroccan-style daybeds, rattan chairs, and vintage ceramics and rugs. The library, meanwhile, is awash in cool, palm green hues that evoke a distant rainforest. Laid-back, indeed.
Hotel Kinsley, Kingston, NY
In the bucolic Hudson Valley town of Kingston, Studio Robert McKinley is also behind Hotel Kinsley, a multi-pronged restoration project that opened this year to high acclaim thanks to James Beard Award–winning restaurateur Taavo Somer’s hyper-seasonal American bistro. When the property is finished, four historic buildings dating as far back as 1680 will be recast in various styles. The anchor is 301 Wall Street, a former bank building (the vault is now home to the check-in desk) with Scandinavian-inspired interiors and the Kinsley Restaurant fitted with velvet sofas, terrazzo floors, and an original mural by illustrator Happy Menocal. Coming in 2020: 41 Pearl Street, which houses 13 rooms with built-in fireplaces and a communal lounge; 270 Fair Street, a 13-key annex with a street-level retail space and an outdoor deck; and 24 John Street, a former 17th-century cottage whose eight rooms will showcase original design touches such as stained glass and tin ceilings.
Scribner’s Catskill Lodge, Hudson, NY
Travelers and transplants have long drifted to the hemlock forests of the Catskills in search of an antidote to New York City’s bedlam. These days, the small hamlets clustered around the Hudson River are being reborn yet again as a place for urban refugees fleeing the stresses of city life, and a proving ground for small, rustic-tinged hotels—Graham and Co., Hotel Dylan, Arnold House—that adhere to a more cosmopolitan, social-club playbook. In the ski town of Hunter, the 38-room Scribner’s Catskill Lodge might be the most ambitious yet.
Brooklyn design firm Studio Tack envisioned groups of friends coming to hang out, ski, and hike, then gathering to tell stories at the bar or public spaces come nighttime. So a communal vibe is infused throughout. The rooms, varying in size and layout, all feature similarities like white-washed walls, maple floors, and terra-cotta bathrooms. Loft suites come with sunken living rooms and fit up to six guests. Other elements are a nod to the lodge’s surroundings. At the Prospect restaurant, Alpine-style cuisine developed by the culinary team at Brooklyn’s Esme uses produce sourced from the many farms around the Hudson Valley, and is served in a space lined floor-to-ceiling in blond pinewood that looks out on Hunter Mountain. The artwork has a regional bent, from Emily Johnston’s landscape photography in the lobby to local textile artist Catskill Kiwi’s woven pieces above the bedside tables.
Brentwood Hotel, Saratoga, NY
From its handsome board-and-batten exterior to its crisp interior palette of black, white, brass, and wood, the Brentwood Hotel, another Studio Tack project, offers a sharp alternative to the old-timey inns common in Saratoga. The 12 rooms are stocked with hand-dyed French linen blankets and C.O. Bigelow bath amenities; Aquina Roasters coffee is on pour every morning in the lobby, which is also the place to return for well-executed cocktails at night.
Urban Cowboy, Big Indian, NY
After the runaway success of its Brooklyn flagship and Nashville encore, Urban Cowboy heads to the mountains. Residing on 68 acres of the Catskills Forest Preserve, owners Lyon Porter, Jersey Banks, and Phil Hospod imbued a dilapidated turn-of-the-century lodge with their signature Southwestern Victorian Deco style. A freestanding cabin, standalone chalet, and 28 guest rooms outfitted with copper clawfoot tubs and wood-burning stovepipes fringe the grand lodge, where executive chef Tara Norvell serves whole-grilled fish and game. Come spring, guests will have the option of booking safari-grade tented accommodations along the stream that runs through the grounds. Don’t miss: a visit to the Estonian sauna.
Troutbeck, Amenia, NY
When hotelier Anthony Champalimaud and his wife Charlie bought this historic English–style country estate, whose storied guest ledger includes bold-faced names such as Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Teddy Roosevelt, they vowed to create a bucolic getaway for modern times. So they turned to Anthony’s mom, prolific designer Alexandra Champalimaud, to give the early-1900’s stone homestead a tip-to-toe makeover. The result is an idiosyncratic mix of rooms outfitted with four-poster beds, wood-burning fireplaces, and wicker furniture, spread across the Manor House and cottages dotting the sprawling grounds of creeks and Sycamore trees. The ground-floor restaurant is a hot reservation even among non-guests thanks to new chef Gabe McMackin’s greenmarket recipes made with the Hudson Valley’s freshest ingredients. His devotion to seasonality will come as no surprise to fans of his Michelin–starred Brooklyn spot, The Finch, and his menu at Troutbeck has many of the same notes thanks to its farm-proximate setting in Dutchess County.
Glen Falls House, Round Top, NY
Housed inside a 19th-century farmhouse near Wyndham and Hunter mountains, this compound once stood as a marquee summer refuge for urban families during the halcyon days of the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. After a tip-to-toe rehab by partners Jonathan Picco and Greg Brier, and studio Nocturnal Medicine, the property is primed for another run. What to expect: 43 clean-lined rooms and three Tentrr sites appointed with found objects and works by local artists, farm-fresh comfort food at the Trotwood restaurant overseen by executive chef Gaby Hakman, and 47 acres of waterfall-filled woodlands. Brier’s ties to the music industry—he owns the popular Brooklyn club Good Room—also means there’s plenty to do after dark when visiting DJs fuel dance parties at the on-site tavern. This winter, the hotel is partnering with independent book shop McNally Jackson to host après ski readings and creative workshops.