Published on March 16, 2020

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Courtesy of Urban Cowboy Lodge

“Arrive as strangers, leave as friends.” No, this isn’t the slogan for a woo-woo meditation convention; it’s the ethos of Urban Cowboy Lodge, hotelier Lyon Porter’s latest property, opening last week in New York’s Catskills. It’s a fitting mantra from the pro hockey player–turned–innkeeper, who seems to collect friends, creatives, and artisans as easily as he does curiosities and antiques (his other properties, like Nashville’s Dive Motel, are proof of his thrifting abilities). 

The sentiment is infectious: Within hours of checking in, newcomers are cajoled into an energetic round of reggae bingo by a large stone hearth and invited to nosh on freshly caught trout and wild mushrooms at a communal table in the Southwestern-patterned dining room. But just as togetherness is revered, so is solitude, which guests can find while soaking in their wildly wallpapered room’s private copper tub that overlooks the postcard-like alpine scenery below. 

What Porter has created, with the help of partner Phil Hospod (a developer who has worked on Freehand, LINE, and NoMad hotels), is a summer camp for adults in a kaleidoscope of green-hued patterns. Think the upstate retreats in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but made for 2020. With over-the-top wallcoverings and whimsical touches, he brought the great Adirondack lodge into the 21st century. 

He Chose a Palette in Line With the Scenery

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Photography by Ben Fitchett

The hotel’s nature-driven hues didn’t come together by mistake. Nestled in the mountains of the Big Indian Wilderness (read: away from busy roads and highways), the property, which overlooks 68 woodsy acres and a fly-fishing creek, was begging for a forest color scheme. Each of the 28 guestrooms is covered all the way to the ceiling in 30,000 square feet of block-printed wallpaper tiles, hand-applied by Brooklyn artist Clint Van Gemert to create a cozy cocoon effect that frames the sweeping views outside.

He Took the Theme to the Extreme

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Photography by Ben Fitchett

Not known to do anything halfway, Porter finished off the alpine-themed rooms with similarly-patterned Pendleton blankets and pillows, along with Navajo rugs. He scoured vintage fairs from Tennessee to Texas in search of mountain-inspired objects to fill each nook and cranny. Along the way, he made friends like Rick Pratt (who he affectionately calls Twig Daddy), a furniture maker who covered every mantel and bar with twisty black willow creations. “I love surrounding myself with amazing artisans, and then inviting people into my world,” muses Porter. “There’s a little bit of magic and jazz in that type of collaboration.”

He Kept the Style Away From Clichés

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Photography by Ben Fitchett

One thing Porter wanted to put a younger, fresher spin on grand Adirondack lodges of the Gilded Age. So while he salvaged a few pieces from the previous owners—a collection of Swiss chalet-style chairs and sofas which he also upholstered in red and black Pendleton patterns—he also mixed them with his unique blend of quirky finds: a steel rabbit with antlers for legs and vintage signs that read ‘Don’t feed the black bears’. 

The result isn’t your typical lodge, but rather an alpine-inspired labor of love infused with whimsy and soul. The type that can only be crafted by a like-minded ragtag group of creatives such as the one Porter has lovingly gathered over the years. It has him realizing:  “I don’t think I’m ever going to be done with this place.”

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