Perched atop a hill in Hunter, NY, Scribner’s Catskill Lodge is the best new hotel in the Catskill Mountains. Located 100 miles from New York City, its location in the Great Northern Catskills couldn’t be more ideal for an outdoor-centric getaway—around these parts, the mountains are higher, the waterfalls are bigger, and the swimming holes are deeper. All year-round, Hunter is a hub for outdoor sporting, whether it’s hiking, skiing, swimming, fly fishing, or zip lining. And the scenery is unmatched.
The building, which dates back to 1966, reopened in November of 2016. The interiors and exterior were first reimagined by owners Marc Chodock and Glennon Travis, then brought to life by creative group Studio Tack. It’s history is pretty fascinating, too. In a previous life, an underground pool area called “The Grotto” resembled a cave and hosted somewhat–ahem, adult–parties. It was one of the first things to go. “Unfortunately, it was falling apart after 40 years in existence,” Marc told us. “The area was critical for us to understand the integrity of the structural support of the building.” Following an eight month, down to the studs renovation, Marc, Glennon, and their team of creatives transformed Scribner’s from a swanky seventies ski lodge to what they now describe it as a “bespoke chic hotel.” Traces of Scribner’s history is still evident throughout the hotel, though, giving it a charm a new hotel couldn’t replicate. As for the future of “The Grotto,” it will reopen later this year in its new interpretation.
At 38 rooms large, Scribner’s also has no less than twelve room configurations, which made the design process really fun. “We love the different room designs… It was one of the things that sold us on the building,” Marc told us. “No one would design a hotel like this today, especially with the lofts and different surfaces.” He also explained their choice of Studio Tack to help with the project: “We were looking for a group that appreciated the depth of the project and had experience in working on boutique hotel renovations. When you layer in their fun personalities and team chemistry, it made selecting them a no-brainer.” With Studio Tack’s help, Scribner’s was born again, preserving the eccentricities and creating a more modern lodge. Their best idea, according to Marc? It’s a tiebreaker between their role in creating the lounge, and the bar in the on-site restaurant, Prospect. “The lounge is the heart and soul of the hotel. Guests love to hang out there, as well as non-guests who come to the hotel just to see it. In the bar, the circular design as the centerpiece provides an immediate point of hospitality for the restaurant, and a great way to enjoy the 270 degree view of the mountains.”
No doubt that Marc, Glennon, and Studio Tack were the perfect team. Inside the guest rooms, details like sunken living rooms, freestanding wood stoves, lofted beds—and even a bed with a mirror above it!—are all a nod to Scribner’s swanky past. Each room is equipped with amenities like locally crafted furniture and artwork, vintage rugs, cheekily curated reading material, WiFi, flat-screen TVs and toiletries from local makers including one of our favorites, Hudson Made. Fireplaces can be found in many of the rooms. (And speaking of fireplaces, nightly bonfires begin at 4 p.m. in the outdoor areas of the hotel!)
Of course, the owners and designers are just part of the greater whole. “While we want you to notice how much work we’ve put into designing and building Scribner’s, our hope is that when you arrive, you’ll discover a place that is greater than the sum of its parts. We want guests to feel just right: it smells the way a lodge should smell, the lighting dims in the evening, and our music has a sense of place.” He also stressed the importance of staffing. “Every day, Marc and I try to foster a hotel culture that allows our employees to approach their jobs creatively—this translates to a genuine desire for our staff to make guests smile. We hire friendly people with unique personalities, and unique skills and backgrounds.” Glennon adds, “They not only look the part of mountain innkeepers, but they’re genuinely happy that you’re here!”
Perhaps best of all, hotel guests can easily spend the entire weekend on the 20-acre property without having to leave for food or entertainment. Its on-site restaurant, Prospect, is fantastic for dinners or cocktails, and breakfast is included in the price of your room. (Be sure to grab a window seat for the spectacular view of the mountains, too.) The menu serves a playful twist on Alpine cuisine, drawing upon the history of mountain cuisine, paying homage to elegant Swiss fare; then infused with a chill, après-ski vibe. All the culinary ingredients are sourced within the Hudson Valley, utilizing the region’s rich agriculture to shape the daily offerings. Cozy, warm and familiar, the restaurant is a gathering place for the local community, area-visitors and hotel guests.
What to Do in Hunter NY: Spend Some Exploring the Great Northern Catskills
No matter the time of the year, a trip to Kaaterskill Falls is a must; it’s the highest two-tier waterfall in New York, and a fifteen minute drive from Scribner’s. In winter, the falls turn into a frozen wonderland; in spring, it gushes to life with snowmelt. Summer is its busiest season, when hikers can cool off from the steep hike with a splash of the always-cool water. In fall, the foliage is magnificent; it’s no wonder that Thomas Cole painted one of the region’s most famous works of art, The Falls of Kaaterskill, based on the falls. There are two main trails to see the falls, the first of which is close to North-South Lake at the end of Laurel House Road. Park in the lot, then follow the short trails down to an overlook from the top of the falls. A more rewarding hike can be done from the bottom of the falls, though it can be a tough one for the faint of heart. This trailhead is on 23A, and parking can be scarce at the lots, so get there early (or late) to avoid the crowds. No matter your route, always be prepared for the weather, and remember that sturdy shoes are an absolute must. Those looking for a mellower hike than the bottom of Kaaterskill Falls, and longer than the top of Kaaterskill Falls, should head to North South Lake and follow the loop around the lake there. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few hours; pack a lunch and stop at one of the picnic tables.
Another year-round attraction, Hunter Mountain, is just down the road from Scribner’s. All winter long, Hunter serves as a bustling hub for thousands of visitors ooking for world-class skiing. (For those looking to visit Scribner’s this winter, it’s worth noting here that lift tickets are included in the room price during a two-night midweek stay at Scribner’s. Use code “GETLIFTED” when booking!) Summer and fall are fantastic times to visit as well, where visitors can go for a hike to Hunter Fire Tower, or simply ride the chairlift for a scenic adventure. Thrill-seekers should try the Zipline Adventure, which is crazy fun and totally unique way to take in the beauty of the Catskills. Festivals and events happen year-round, too.
Last, in Tannersville, there’s some great shopping for those looking for something to take home from the Catskills. Check out Tannersville Antiques & Artisan Center, comprising of two buildings and 20+ vendors, right on Main Street. The multi-building, multi-level market has a huge selection of homewares, much of it Catskill-themed or locally produced. Those seeking something super unique (or strange) should head just down the road to Bones & Stones, whose small shop is full of animal & insect taxidermy, dream catchers, jewelry and candles.
Where To Eat & Drink in Hunter NY: Fireside at the Lodge, An Ice Cream & Burger Joint, or a Donut/Antique Shop
Guests staying at Scribner’s are in for a phenomenal meal when they eat at Prospect, the hotel’s on-site restaurant. With ingredients sourced in the Hudson Valley, Alpine après-ski comfort food and Swiss cuisine are thoughtfully served up in the cozy and inviting atmosphere. Helmed by Executive Chef Joseph Buenconsejo, the restaurant is backed by Matt Ricke and Chef Adam Volk, the partners behind popular Brooklyn spots Esme and The Exley. (Meanwhile, Joseph’s wife, Mary Choi is the pastry chef. Do not pass up the sourdough bread!) The dining room overlooks the mountain, kept cozy with two fireplaces; make sure to ask for a window seat. Before dinner, grab a cocktail, and have a chat with the bar staff. Everyone behind the bar is wonderful, but bar manager Michael King has a fitting last name. King, whom we first met at Tuthilltown (of Hudson Baby Bourbon fame), is not only a great conversationalist—he also makes some seriously incredible cocktails.
Though it’s tempting to spend the entire weekend at Scribner’s, for a meal outside the property, head no further Main Street in Tannersville for a meal. Our favorite lunch spot in the area is Mama’s Boy Burgers, who serves up great burgers and 26 flavors of custards in an old roadside ice cream parlor. Order from the counter inside, and find a spot at their outdoor picnic tables or enjoy inside at their retro booths. Just up the road, Maggie’s Krooked Kafe is undeniably cute, with solid foot to boot. Grab a seat by the window, or the outside patio in summer. For smaller appetites, or just an indulgent snack, check out Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts who make donuts fresh to order. (Unfortunately, no relation to the TV show.) Pass the time waiting for your donuts at their little antique and gift shop! Speaking of antiques, there’s another restaurant in town combining food and shopping at Last Chance Cafe. You can literally find anything you need here–it’s part general store, beer shop, is stocked with gourmet foods, and sometimes has live music on weekends.