Since its somewhat quiet soft opening early this year, Foxfire Mountain House in Mt. Tremper has made a big splash. Along with its popularity among in-the-know New Yorkers, Foxfire also seems to have enchanted the international travel world. The hotel was recently featured in both Conde Nast Traveler and Gear Patrol as one of the best new boutique hotels in the US. It also just received the #2 spot on Monocle’s Top 50 Travel, and was named best renovation by the same publication in 2016. If those three publications are any indication, we’d imagine this is just the beginning of their success.
First built in 1914, Foxfire was opened as an inn and boarding house. A century later, new owners Eliza Clark and Tim Trojian bought the property in March of 2013. No doubt, it’s seen a long and tedious renovation; but it’s also seriously inspiring to anyone who’s ever considered buying a fixer-upper. To keep costs low, they’ve done the brunt of the renovation work at Foxfire themselves–whether it’s hand-tiling the front porch, installing sinks, or unearthing the giant fireplace in the living room that they found hiding under drywall. Perhaps most treacherous were the few weeks Tim spent under the hotel, repairing the foundation himself.
The final result couldn’t have turned out better, though. The interior is almost a fairytale-like setting, with eclectic furniture, fixtures, and surface treatments, found all over the world… and definitely including some local flea markets. But you wouldn’t ever guess it–Eliza, the designer, has done a spectacular job at marrying the dark wood floors, florals, velvet couches, and wall decor, giving the flea market items a second life as part of a larger whole. It’s truly a work of art. Taxidermy adorns much of the walls here too–though in this bright, airy setting, the result is more elegant than lodgey.
Upstairs, each of the eleven rooms have been beautifully designed, on two separate floors. The Moroccan tile motif from the terrace is repeated in each of the bathrooms, and even the stairs between floors. We stayed in what I’ll refer to as the “Fox Room”, where bright blue wallpaper with illustrated foxes accented one of the walls. Among our other favorites were the “Shell Room” (with a shell lamp) and the “Stencil Room” (with stenciled motif on the accent wall) with lots of sitting space. You definitely can’t go wrong though–each room is simply but thoughtfully decorated. The simple spaces compliment the natural setting, where the leafy views out the windows make it reminiscent of a treehouse.
In the dining room, a breakfast buffet is served in the morning with everything from decadent lamb hash and pastries to more judicious offerings like fruit and yogurt. Guests can wander down whenever they’re ready to enjoy breakfast in the living rooms tables and nooks, or opt for outside breakfast on the shady terrace. Tim, whose passion is cooking, is in charge of the kitchen here and talent shines through in each of the dishes he creates. Though the kitchen isn’t open to the public yet, Foxfire will be open for pop-up dinners and events starting this June. The first of these fun events is slated for June 11, a night of comedy and a pop-up dinner by the bonfire, called “Comedians by the Campfire.”
Stepping outside of the inn, ten acres of land surrounding Foxfire are free to explore. What was once a grand kidney shaped pool for guests was reclaimed by lilly pads and frogs sometime during its decades-long vacancy. A pool house has turned gazebo, creating a gathering space for guests, and closeby, a fire pit has been installed for nightly bonfires. Guests will also enjoy the newly added bocce ball court in the front yard, as well as strategically placed hammocks for a good nap. For a more adventurous afternoon, ask Tim about the trail he created up the hill in their backyard–or check out our other hiking recommendations below.
If all this sounds familiar, it might be because this isn’t our first time here. We first visited Foxfire Mountain House some years ago, staying in the Foxfire Cottage, on the same property. The three-bedroom home rents for $325 a night–a steal if you’re traveling with friends, or a worthy splurge for couples. The price is worth the master bedroom alone, where you’re tempted to stay in bed all day and enjoy the toasty warmth of the fireplace, which en-suite. In the living room, there’s an additional fireplace, and taxidermy and antiques abound. The large, full kitchen and family-sized dining table make it ideal to spend the weekend on the property without ever having to leave. Whether you’re booking it with friends, or just looking for a romantic weekend away, the cottage is not to be overlooked. We’re still dying to go back!
We’re not the only ones who have been anticipating Foxfire’s reopening, though. Before its grand opening, owner Eliza was getting event requests as soon as they had a website. Though it wasn’t in the original plan, Tim and Eliza saw opportunity in weddings–which makes sense, given their aesthetic. Consequently, much of summer 2016 is booked for weddings, but they’ve left the weekends of June 10, June 17, and July 8 open for potential inn guests. So, a piece of advice to those who wish to visit: book it now!
What to Do in Mt. Tremper: Hike to Hotel Ruins, Visit Woodstock, Phoenicia, and Kingston, or Spend the Day Shopping Along Route 28
Mt. Temper is in the beginning of the east side of the Catskills, where there’s lots of hiking within an hour radius. In Woodstock, a 25 minute drive takes you to Overlook Mountain, with some of the very best views of the Catskills. Climb to the top overlook, then test your bravery by climbing the fire tower, which offers incredible 360º views. On your up or down the mountain, the ruins of an old, grand hotel sit poetically in silence. The hike is about a three hours round trip, which includes some time for sight-seeing. Another hike we love nearby is Giant Ledge, a bit further away–probably 40 minutes–but is great to pair with a visit to Peekamoose, arguably the most popular restaurant in the Catskills, which is a great halfway point on the road home.
All along Route 28, there’s great shopping with lots of antique shops, farm stands (one of our favorites is Migrioelli), yard sales, galleries and the like. It also has one of the most unique shops in all of the Catskills, Scandinavian Grace, where coffee and shopping come together in one beautiful space. Owned by Fredrik Larsson, the large converted garage is stocked with both classic and contemporary home goods imported Scandinavian designers. It also includes local designers and artists like Andrew Molleur and Nina Z.
A thirty-ish minute drive will take you to the heart of Kingston, where there’s a huge renaissance in boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. Our favorite spot in town is Outdated Cafe is part-cafe, part-antique shop–combining two of our favorite things! Another great option is starting your morning at Clove & Creek for a cup of coffee while perusing their selection of goods created by local makers from the Hudson Valley and Catskills. Afterward, stop into Hops Petunia for flowers, or Kingston Wine Co. to grab a bottle of wine. Speaking of wine, don’t miss Brunette Wine Bar, where you’ll feel like you’ve been immediately transported to a Wes Anderson film. It’s marble counters, use of the color pink, and seahorse/pineapple wallpaper are perfectly paired, creating an ambiance that makes even the most ordinary wine drinker feel sophisticated and special.
Last, we’ve never gotten a chance to try it, but the Emerson Spa is a stones throw from Foxfire Mountain House and looks pretty tempting. Book a massage and get complimentary to their spa, with a sauna, steam room, and outdoor jacuzzi. During warm months, the outdoor pool set at the foot of Mt. Temper is complimentary with any spa treatment.
Where to Eat & Drink Around Foxfire Mountain House: Diners, Farm Stands, Dive Bars, and Farm to Table Restaurants
For breakfast and lunch, Phoenicia Diner is just 10 minutes down the road, though it can get packed on weekends–arrive early to beat the crowds. In the same direction, Sweet Sue’s in Phoenicia, is famous for its pancakes, and has just re-opened after a year hiatus. For lunch or dinner in town, Tavern 214 and Brio’s/Sportsman Alamo Cantina are both solid options.
A little further away at about a 15 minute drive, Woodstock has a good variety of places to eat, with some new options along with the staples that have been around for some time. For breakfast, Shindig is the newest option in town serving fresh, local, seasonal fare. It’s hands down our favorite place to eat in Woodstock–be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Say hi to Allison, the manager for us! For lunch, Woodstock Provisions is new in town as well, serving up mouth-watering paninis and sandwiches. Menus change often and are posted on their Facebook page. Garden Cafe is also wonderful, offering up lots of vegetarian and vegan options. During warm weather, their outdoor seating in the garden can’t be topped. For dinner, the Italian cuisine at Cucina absolutely cannot be topped. The restaurant is housed in a restored farmhouse with a cozy bar to hang out in (if you didn’t bother making reservations–which you should!) The main courses are a little on the pricier side, but they’re 100% worth the splurge. For something more casual, check out the beautiful Tinker Taco Lab, with it’s simple menu of five types of tacos and two types of tamales. We’re into that–there’s beauty in simplicity. It’s tucked behind some other buildings on Tinker Street, so it’s a little tricky to find, but worth the effort. Last, we enjoyed cocktails and the food at the Commune Saloon. It’s right next to music venue Bearsville Theater, so check out their schedule when you’re planning a trip here!
The bar scene gets a little more interesting, and a little more local. I couldn’t count with 10 hands the number of times we’ve driven past the Boiceville Inn and wondered out loud about it. When we finally googled it, we found out it wasn’t a hotel, and kinda forgot about it. But given our proximity to the place this time, we decided to scope it out. We’re almost reluctant to include it because it’s such a “locals” gem. The tavern has a cool bar, pool table, juke box and fireplace. Owned and operated by the same family for 40+ years, it serves up booze, pizza, and good times. Just try not to stick out.