A Design Lover’s Field Guide to Upstate New York
Eat and antique your heart out.
Published Feb 26, 2019 7:00 AM
There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a new city, but when you only have days (or hours) to explore, it helps to have a curated list from travelers you trust. That’s where Domino’s Field Guide comes in. Compiled by editors and design-minded locals around the globe, consider this a need-to-know edit of the coolest bars, hotels, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques in the top design cities (and regions). We’ve already covered Philadelphia. Next up: upstate New York.
In upstate New York, creatives and former Brooklynites are building a culture-rich enclave that’s perfect for an idyllic weekend getaway. Set between the rolling hills of the Catskill Mountains and the valleys of the Hudson River, this region is lively with a buzzy food scene, a booming arts community, and a treasure trove of antique shops to delight any design fan.
In Hudson, everyday life oscillates between the decidedly small-town feel and the urbanite influence of newcomers. Espresso bars are tucked inside motorcycle shops. Traditional diner food is served “Animal Welfare–approved.” Hardware stores of yesteryear stand alongside upscale design shops and fine arts galleries. It’s an oddly endearing blend of fast-paced, big-city energy and tranquil, small-town humility.
If you’re in dire need of a fresh nature escape with Michelin-starred eats, boutique neo-motels, and pedigreed antiquing, Upstate New York is the weekend getaway for you.
Where to Stay
Seeking solitude? A weekend at The Dutchess promises plenty of it. The Mr & Mrs Smith property embraces simplicity with effortless flair and is about as off the beaten path as it gets: imagine a series of converted farmhouses set on a hilltop, surrounded by sprawling greens. With custom-made activities at your avail—yoga at the barn, guided hikes, and family-style tasting dinners courtesy of Eleven Madison Park alum chef Mark Margiotta—you’ll never find yourself short of things to do. And if you’d rather lay low and take in the serene vibes of the retreat instead, that’s perfectly okay too.
At the heart of the Catskill frenzy is Scribner’s Lodge. Ever since it reopened in 2016, the former motor-lodge (which used to house a basement grotto) has attracted Manhattanites in troves. The vast lobby, punctuated with an oversize Noguchi lantern, smells of pine needles. The main lounge is filled with books and board games, all surrounding a lively circular fireplace. In the restaurant, waiters serve up aquavit cocktails and locally sourced free-range roasted chicken. Once you’ve spent a night there, you simply won’t want to leave.
Located a mere 15 minutes away from Scribner’s, Deer Mountain Inn has an appeal of its own. Drive up the dimly lit, winding, and oft foggy laneway leading up to the inn, and you’ll feel as in you’ve landed in The Shining (sans the horror part). Inside, plush English roll-arm sofas face large roaring fireplaces dimly lit with antler chandeliers. But don’t let the rustic vibe fool you: The bartender is a Brooklyn expat, and the restaurant chef is Michelin-starred.
For a more small-town feel, check in at Rivertown Lodge in Hudson. The common lounge is quiet and comfortable, the rooms are minimalistic and meticulously designed, and the bar is cozy and quaint and often festively decorated over the holidays. Located in an old movie theater on the New York town’s main street, it’s a hop and a skip away from some of the best architecture, restaurants, and antique shopping that Hudson has to offer.
Located on the border of Connecticut, Troutbeck feels like a curated country estate. The 1760 Century Lodge is immaculately restored, vine-strewn stone walls line the property, and the grounds are punctuated by landscaped pools, clay tennis courts, winding creeks, and even a walled garden. Inside, buildings are filled with plush libraries, farm-to-table dining spots, and cozy guestrooms and suites. One thing’s for sure: It has all the makings of plush living.
Where to Eat
Ask any Hudson regular where to eat, and Fish & Game will surely be the first words out of their mouths. Set into a rustic former blacksmith shop tucked away from bustling Warren street, the 2016 James Beard Award–winning restaurant serves up an intoxicating mix of whipped ricotta, pumpkin tortelli, and smoked lamb shoulder alongside an impressive cocktail menu and an even better wine list.
For brunch, Phoenicia Diner is a must-stop. The bustling “hipsterized” diner is possibly one of the few roadside eateries to serve craft cocktails alongside buttermilk pancakes and eggs and cheese on a roll. But the menu spans wider than your typical diner offerings: shakshuka, tostadas, and vegan burritos are also on offer.
For a delightful (albeit slightly more casual than Fish & Game) dinner, head to Gaskins in Germantown for a candlelit evening filled with great wine, comfort food classics, and a neighborly atmosphere. The menu skews Italian, so get ready to wolf down a guanciale pizza and ricotta gnudi washed down with a negroni or a glass of barbera.
Where to Shop
In Woodstock, Pacama Handmade is filled with beautiful ceramics and handcrafted minimalist furniture in a refreshingly pared-back setting.
If you have an affinity for Swedish, Belgian, and French antiques—specifically fine silverware, antique ceramics, and vintage linens—Red Chair on Warren will make you feel like a kid in a candy shop.
This quirky shop on a corner of Warren Street is the brainchild of two creatives forces—Enky Bayarsaikhan, the Mongolian clothing designer behind the brand Enkyu and Elise McMahon, the artist and designer behind the lifestyle brand Likemindedobjects. Stop into Enkyu Likemindedobjects for graphic homewares and primary-hued jumpsuits.
Hawkins New York is a must stop for all things pastel-hued homewares, from kitchenware to bedding and linens.
For colorful and graphic ethically made and socially responsible goods from Mexico, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Bolivia, pop into Minna’s first store on Hudson’s Warren Street.
At Finch Hudson, Andrew Arrick—a former Yves Saint Laurent exec—and his husband, Michael Hofemann, have curated the most delightful mix of new and old furniture, with a focus on modern Danish design.
In a Nutshell
In Hudson, start your day with a coffee from Moto Coffee Machine, a coffee and pastry shop inside a motorcycle store—yes, really. The coffee is unparalleled in the small town, but the scene is also a sight to behold. Then, stop into Grazin’ Diner for an animal welfare–approved hamburger—so you can feel good about your non-vegan (or particularly healthy) meal.
If you’re up early, wander the beautiful historic streets of Hudson, lined with Victorian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Beaux-Arts, Colonial Revival, and Arts and Crafts homes. For any architecture buff, this self-guided walking tour is a real treat.
Once the shops open, hop in and out of antique stores and small design shops and grab a quick lunch in one of the many local eateries on Warren Street. Finish the day with a hearty and well-deserved dinner at the inimitable Fish & Game, or hop in an Uber to Germantown to feast at Gaskins, a mere 15 minutes away. Grab a nightcap at Back Bar or the Rivertown Lodge Tavern before hitting the hay.
In the Catskills, wake up to a hearty breakfast and craft cocktail at Phoenicia Diner. Note: The Catskills are a little more spread out than Hudson, New York, so this day might require a rental car. In nearby Phoenicia, quirky shops and colorful buildings line the street. Drive the winding roads to Woodstock, where 1970s memorabilia stores stand alongside quaint modern pottery shops.
If the weather allows, stop by one of the many hikes in the area—like the majestic Kaaterskill Falls. Work up an appetite before popping into Deer Mountain Inn for a snack and happy hour drink. Then head back to Scribner’s Catskill Lodge where roaring fires and hearty fares await and head into the main lounge post-dinner for a game of pool (or backgammon or Scrabble) until your eyelids get heavy. If you’re in the mood for a midnight snack, S’mores kits are available in each guest room and the outside fireplace is ready for roasting.
Discover more design-minded travel destinations: A Design Lover’s Field Guide to Philadelphia Soho House Quietly Launched 2 ’50s-Inspired Motels—Peek Inside This Quaint New England College Town Might Be the Next Big Travel Destination