Scribner’s Catskill Lodge has a sense of warmth and genuine hospitality that radiates from both the owners and staff, one that makes you feel at home
Review by Aaron Shuttleworth
That was all it took to be released from the frenetic jaws of Hell’s Kitchen and find ourselves in a world devoid of concrete and sidewalk heat-seekers locked onto their next client meeting. Living in the midst of it all, it’s easy to forget that ‘New York’ is a state and not just its namesake city, but arguably the best on offer requires only as much patience and effort as taking the L train.
The drive either side of the Hudson is serenity incarnate, and that enchanting time between seasons is the best time for it. We glide through the macabre stillness of Sleepy Hollow through to Beacon, resisting the urge to spend hours in each tiny picturesque town we bypass. A quick refresher pint after and it was a straight shot over the river and up to Scribner’s, a lodge overlooking Hunter mountain in the heart of the Catskills.
First opened in 1966, Scribner’s was the ski lodge straight out of old Trixie Belden tales that eventually fell into disrepair. Snapped up by some NYC locals who earned their chops in finance and hospitality, they set out reimagining the lodge with a distinctly Brooklyn touch. Whilst initially viewing the Hamptons as a viable option for an out of town weekend escape, they settled on the Catskills, with its serene mountains, storied history and burgeoning hospitality scene.
I first came up here at the end of October on a whim, opting for a mountain getaway rather than facing the Halloween hordes of NYC. Scribner’s was in the process of their soft opening, yet it felt as if everything was just right. Six months on and with the final vision starting to take shape, the same inherent feeling, one that burrows and nests and says, ‘this is how things should be’ remains. There’s a sense of warmth and genuine hospitality that radiates from both the owners and staff, one that makes you feel at home.
The bar and restaurant space have evolved, from the black lining on the blonde wood to the intimate whisky lounge, everything feels more grown up. It’s the subtle use of light and dark coupled with the big French windows which wrap themselves snuggly round the space that make the room ideal for lounging with a chilled aperitif, from the bars impressive selection, on a warm day, or snugged up round their indoor or outdoor fireplaces on a cold winters night.
Whilst snow was just beginning to fall on my last visit, this time the lushness of the region is in full effect. Scribner’s have implemented a ‘Mountain Concierge’ program to take full advantage of the surrounding hiking trails, with local guide Jeff Vincent, who has summited all 35 high peaks in the Catskills area, a natural fit to lead prospective adventurers through the terrain. Having not met Jeff, I nonetheless thought of him as my foot dislodged another stream of rocks and dirt as I clung to a tree on the side of Pratt rock, probably not named after silly prats like me who decide to play mountain goat. I was rewarded with a view that took in mountains and valleys, streams and greens so vivid they make you blink twice.
Although Scribner’s looks and feels much like a finished product, outdoor construction hints at yet greater things to come. ‘Phase two’ which involves the development of outdoor social spaces will include a multi-tiered cedar deck, blue stone patio, and salt water pool is underway and set to be complete in the coming months.
What has been completed, in stunning fashion, is the library and common area, with many of the lodge’s 2,000 books surrounding a central fire place and billiards table. Curated by Lisa Harrow, the collection’s overarching theme is Americana, mirroring the local intent that permeates through all aspects of the hotel, from food and drink to design. Many libraries use a library as a merely decorative implement, yet the thought behind the collection at Scribner’s has ensured that the books will be doing anything but collection dust.
By including only American authors, or those that have had a profound impact on American culture, the theme stays in check whilst running the gamut from American architecture, American muscle cars, and strides made by American scientists through to fashion across the decades, architecture, painting, cinema, and gentlemen’s style. The setting also features heavily, with are books on the Hudson Valley, foraging, tree identification, and surviving in the forest as well as animals indigenous to the area.
The name of the hotel is also shrouded in literary mystique, with Charles Scribner’s Sons being a highly-respected firm founded in 1846 in New York and known for publishing authors such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wharton, and Vonnegut. Whilst a connection is a stretch (the owners carried on the name), Lisa sought to include as many antique books bearing the Scribner’s Sons name and include them in the collection.
Many will still head for the Hamptons this summer seeking respite from the city sun, but those in the know will opt for the Catskills via the injection of life that establishments such as Scribner’s are bringing to the area. In the words of the team ‘it’s a space where people can disconnect from the cacophony of city life and enjoy being humans’, a statement which as I left I could well attest to.
Enquiries: Scribner’s Catskill Lodge, 13 Scribner Hollow Road, Hunter, New York 12442 / +1 518 628 6130 / www.scribnerslodge.com/