The Catskills Are Suddenly Lousy With High-End Hotels

The Borscht Belt has entered its expensive phase.

Illustration: Lauren Tamaki
Illustration: Lauren Tamaki
Illustration: Lauren Tamaki

It’s not as if one year ago it would have been impossible to find a place to stay the night in the Catskills. Since the early 2010s, a slow trickle of boutique hotels have moved into an area once dominated by rentable riverside bungalows and somehow still-functioning Borscht Belt resorts. But in the past couple of months, as the real-estate market upstate has exploded, a genuine onslaught of amenity-rich hotels have opened, or are soon to — among them wellness retreats and five-star farm stays. Piaule, a Japanese-and-Scandinavian-inspired retreat, offers Thai yoga bodywork and a menu curated by a Noma alum (Frank Ocean has already visited). Nearby, Taavo Somer has opened a hotel–slash–golf club, and an outpost of the $1,000-plus-a-night midtown hotel the Chatwal will soon spring up. We’ve parsed all the options and their (occasionally overlapping) offerings.

9 Newcomers, Each With More Amenities Than the Last


Where Frank Ocean Takes Sound Baths: Piaule

Piaule, featuring Portuguese sheets. Photo: Sean Davidson

Open date: July 2021
Where: Catskill
Price: From $399
What it’s like: Luxury forest bathing. Twenty-four private cedar cabins sit on stilts in the woods, each with a glass wall overlooking the treetops. Rooms are small, but the spa is giant. All told, it’s as if the compound from Ex Machina got a woodsy redesign. The project was dreamed up by Nolan McHugh and Trevor Briggs, founders of the homeware brand Piaule, which is famous for its linens and tableware. Frank Ocean has already been up for a stay.
Amenities: Spa and wellness center, in-room heated stone floor, breakfast, cold plunge pool, sound baths, yoga, massages, Piaule towels and custom-made quilts everywhere.
Who’s behind it: The Piaule guys, plus Brooklyn firm Garrison Architects (Syracuse University School of Architecture, Iverson Kaplan residence), with furniture-sourcing help from Lichen.


Taavo Somer’s Golf Retreat: Inness

Inness. Leather butterfly chairs have gone the way of the Edison bulb, and now if guests want to sit, they will likely be doing so in handsome Shaker-style ladder-back chairs. Inness is swimming in the simple upright style. Photo: Adrian Gaut

Open date: July 2021
Where: Accord
Price: From $300
What it’s like: Inness feels like a more relaxed Piaule. Sure, there’s a great spa (opening in 2022), but you’ve also got a members’ club, a golf course, a tennis club, and gardens designed by Miranda Brooks. It’s the latest project from Taavo Somer — the man behind Freemans, Hotel Kinsley, and Ray’s bar (with Succession’s Nicholas Braun) — and you’ll be sure to bump into members of his extended social network, who raced up here to stay immediately.
Amenities: Golf club, tennis club, spa, farm shop, walking trails, gardens, two swimming pools, tennis, and a Francis Mallmann–style restaurant focused on an open fire.
Who’s behind it: Beyond Somer and Brooks, the architectural design comes from Post Company (Sound View Greenport, Marram Montauk), CBSK Ironstate (the Standard, East Village), and Lee Pollock.


An Upgraded Borscht Belt Classic: Callicoon Hills

Callicoon Hills, featuring chia pudding. Photo: Read McKendree

Open date: June 2021
Where: Callicoon
Price: From $150
What it’s like: This century-old boardinghouse, part of the area’s 1960s heyday, was just refreshed with help from the team at Post Company. The new setup is overwhelmingly wholesome — think board games, squiggly coffee tables, and a beer garden — but the actually charming interiors (wood-heavy cream-and-sage-green bedrooms), lake, and dramatic main building nod to the property’s past while keeping things on just the right side of twee.
Amenities: Pool, lake, coffee shop, New American–meets–German restaurant.
Who’s behind it: Implied Hotels, whose Coachman Hotel on Lake Tahoe has similar millennial-friendly glamping vibes.


The Honeymoon Destination: The Chatwal Lodge

Chatwal Lodge, featuring Ayurvedic En Suite massages. Photo: Tim Williams Photography

Open date: April 2022
Where: Bethel
Price: From $1,200
What it’s like: Privacy and luxury are the game here with just ten rooms and suites and a decadent level of service similar to its five-star sister property, the Chatwal New York City, a Luxury Collection hotel. The lodge’s concierge service (it exists) may not get you into a Broadway show, but it will secure you the best fishing spot on the lake.
Amenities: Lakeside decks, outdoor showers, soaking tubs, fireplaces, afternoon tea, wine tastings, horseback riding, fly-fishing, 24-hour valet.
Who’s behind it: Sant Singh Chatwal, founder of the Dream Hotel Group, with local architect Steve Dubrovsky, who has worked on converting the estate since 1999.


The Five-Star “Farm”: Wildflower Farms

Wildflower Farms, featuring saltwater pools (and regular pools). Photo: Auberge Resorts Collection

Open date: Fall 2022
Where: Gardiner
Price: TBA
What it’s like: From its early renderings, Wildflower Farms better resembles a state-of-the-art Napa Valley vineyard than a farmyard. The upcoming luxury retreat will allow guests to lean both into and out of the nature that surrounds them, with foraging and vegetable-farming “programs” taking place alongside tennis courts and a 9,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor spa, all anchored by a farm-to-table restaurant.
Amenities: Hiking trails, spa, tennis courts, open-air gym, restaurant, outdoor hot tubs, indoor saltwater pool, orchards, private patios.
Who’s behind it: Auberge Resorts, whose existing properties include the Grace Hotel in Santorini and Malliouhana in Anguilla, plus architects Electric Bowery (Bluestone Lane, Erewhon) and interior designers Ward and Gray (St. Jardim in the West Village).


Prefab Cabin Cluster: Hutton Brickyards

Hutton Brickyards, featuring wooden-barrel saunas. Photo: Jane Beiles

Open date: May 2021
Where: Kingston
Price: From $385
What it’s like: Built on the visible ruins of the Hutton Company Brick Works, this hotel is broken out into individual cabin rooms and an on-site restaurant, directly on the Hudson, from former Minetta Tavern chef Dan Silverman, plus quick access to the shopping and dining in Kingston proper.
Amenities: Restaurant, spa, riverside yoga, archery, outdoor gym, firepits.
Who’s behind it: This is the sixth property from Salt Hotels (Salt House Inn, Eben House), designed with help from Hudson Valley firm Kristina Dousharm Architecture.


Family (and Dog) Friendly: Hotel Darby

Hotel Darby, featuring $12 beef jerky. Photo: Sasithon Pooviriyakul

Open date: June 2021
Where: Beach Lake, Pennsylvania
Price: From $200
What it’s like: Simple furniture and colorful artwork fill the rooms of this fairly traditional Delaware River–adjacent hotel. Spend time bird-watching in the back meadows, playing cornhole, kayaking on the river, and hiking the local trails (the staff will pack you a picnic lunch). Like all Foster Supply hotels, this one is dog friendly, and some rooms come with bunk beds for kids.
Amenities: Lawn games, pool table, firepit.
Who’s behind it: This is the sixth hotel in the area from Sims Foster and Kirsten Harlow Foster of Foster Supply Hospitality. If anyone is responsible for kicking off this new wave of blond-wood-clad hotels here, it’s these two.


A Fully Rent-Out-Able Property: Norsdale

Norsdale featuring Malin + Goetz bath products. Photo: Chellise Michael

Open date: June 2021
Where: Phoenicia
Price: From $1,913
What it’s like: The property includes both a single five-bedroom two-bath cabin, with a large living room and kitchen area, and a four-bedroom restored motel. The rooms are a bit like a Pinterest board come to life — one room in the motel is entirely pink; another in the cabin features a wallpaper pattern with illustrations of cyclists.
Amenities: Large deck with hot tub and grill, firepit, indoor hearth, fully stocked kitchen with large dining table and Fiesta dinnerware, croquet, cornhole, table tennis.
Who’s behind it: Designer and wedding planner Jove Meyer purchased the property in 2017 with two other co-owners.


And a Motel Your Crew Can Take Over: Sylvan Motor Lodge

Sylvan Motor Lodge, featuring thoughtfully chosen Turkish pool towels. Photo: Lindsay Bowen

Open date: July 2021
Where: Hillsdale
Price: From $1,750
What it’s like: Another elevated motel with simple rooms surrounding a pool and plenty of Adirondack chairs to seat the entire group around the firepit (and the pizza oven).
Amenities: Fully outfitted outdoor and indoor kitchens (with, among other things, a waffle-maker and a milkshake-maker), projector, Bluetooth speakers.
Who’s behind it: Owned and maintained by Dana Bowen (food editor, writer, and co-founder of the Dynamite Shop) and Lindsay Bowen (Stitcher executive and co-founder of the 24 Hour Plays).

Design studio Post Company has built or branded six upstate properties in the past six years — including Inness and Callicoon Hills — with at least three to come.

The Mobile at Callicoon Hills. Photo: Read McKendree

What was your first upstate project?
“We’ve been poking around the Catskills since 2015. There were a few hospitality projects already there — Graham & Co., Hasbrouck House. That year, we started working on Scribner’s Catskill Lodge. We got a big following. And that’s when we realized the region might be picking up steam.”

What’s the new Catskills aesthetic?
“There’s so much history of the Catskills as a sort of a destination of leisure and culture to build upon. And the design history of somewhere like Accord versus Woodstock versus Callicoon Center versus Hunter — they’re all very different. So for, like, Inness, we based it on Hudson Valley vernacular, classic barns. The Brentwood is around the backside of a horse track, so we based the branding off these bizarre, out-of-print horse magazines. And Callicoon Hills was an old resort — we found an old brochure for the place and worked off that. It was very playful then, so we, you know, put a big mobile in the dining room.”

—Ruben Caldwell, Jou-Yie Chou, Leigh Salem

The Gift Shops Are Carefully Considered

A curated gift shop is, of course, part of the package at most of these places. Here, a selection of the wares.

Photo: Courtesy of piaule

These Rowing Blazers–esque mesh shorts are perpetually sold out online.

Photo: TJC

The most popular items in the hotel’s new store, apparently, are these plain,
tonal hemp bucket hats.

Photo: Courtesy of Norsdale

Sherbet-colored bouquets can
be found in the Magenta room.

Photo: Courtesy of Marisha Falkovich

Inness is one of just two retailers (the other is Brooklyn shop Thank You Have a Good Day) to sell Falkovich’s ceramic serving spoons

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The Catskills Are Suddenly Lousy With High-End Hotels