Have you seen this article by the New York Times: “Plan B, Open a Country Hotel in Upstate New York?” No? Well, it tells the story of a handful of New Yorkers who left the hustle and bustle of the city for a quieter life in the country. And it quite literally tells the story of Casey and Steven–featured in said NYT article–whom left the city for the Catskills last winter to renovate a motel-style inn once owned by the Schwartzenager family. Though it’s set in the middle of the Catskills, where phone reception and wireless are pretty much a lost cause, the Brooklyn-ness of the inn shines through. The rooms are simple, rustic-chic and one of the rooms functions as a bar. And for breakfast, pop-tarts and Cafe Grumpy coffee.
The Spruceton Inn is great for both holing up and unplugging completely, or as a base to explore the Catskills. Two of the nine rooms have kitchenettes; but all rooms have access to the many grills and firepits on the property. The firepits are spread throughout the property, so guests can have their own private fires or join eachothers. (But if you’re crashing someone’s fire, might we suggest bringing beer or s’more supplies?) We loved the fire pit right next to the creek at night while listening to the water, crickets, and the occasional drift of laughter from the bar while gazing at the stars. You really can’t beat that! Also on the property are two tree-swings and hammocks for your ultimate relaxation.
The drive is just under three hours from the city. On the way, your drive will take you though Paramus, NJ where you can stop at Trader Joe’s or Fairway to stock up on groceries and booze. All rooms come equipped with mini-fridges; standard rooms come with a microwave and dishware. Kitchenette rooms are an extra $30 a night but include a full stove setup. (If you forget to bring food, or you just want to supplement with fresh veggies, there’s a farmers market every other weekend in Lexington.)
What to Do Around Spruceton Inn: Hike to a Waterfall, Hang Out Under the Stars at a Fire Pit
If you’re into hiking, there’s a great set of hikes just a 5 minute drive down the road. You can do either the short or long version of the hike; the short takes you to Diamond Notch Falls, and the long takes you to the summit of West Kill Mountain. The views at the top are incredible, but make sure you bring a lunch and water (and a beer for the top) because the hike is long and pretty tough at points.
There are tons of great little road-side farm stands, auctions, antique markets and the like on the drive in. Our favorite is the antique barn in Shokan, New York, owned by Bob. It’s a big red barn on the right side coming in on Route 28. You can’t miss it! Ask Casey about the auctions and local stuff going on. Check-out is 11, so make sure to plan an afternoon on the road. (We suggest stopping at the Phoenicia Diner or the Village Team Room in New Paltz to cure your back-to-the-city blues.)
At night, it’s incredibly dark and we don’t really recommend driving (or arriving too late for that matter!) After dinner, plan to kick it at the bar or at one of the many firepits on the property. And next spring, West Kill Brewing will be opening, which basically means there will be two places to get drunk within stumbling distance instead of one.
Where to Eat and Drink around West Kill: What’s Worth the Drive
Though you can use the shared grills, or cook in your kitchenette room, we understand if you want to get out and explore the area a little. The weekend we visited Spruceton Inn, the community center down the road was hosting a BBQ cookout–if you’re lucky, it sounds like they do this quite a bit, so it’s definitely worth checking on. Also super close, West Kill Brewing is set to open in Spring/Summer 2016, and we couldn’t be more excited.
The closest, really great restaurant is Peekamoose in Big Indian, about 20 minutes down the road from the hotel. During summer, their patio seating is divine–if not, the tavern has a fun atmosphere. (Nothing wrong with the dining room, though!) Dreamed up by a couple NYC ex-pats, the restaurant opened up after the owners longed to be closer to the source of their food in the Catskills. It’s very popular, so make reservations online. Arrive a couple minutes early to say hello to the chickens roaming around in the back yard.
A little further away (25 minutes), but well worth the drive, is Tannersville–”the painted village in the sky”–with awesome options at every meal. In the morning, check out Twin Peaks Donuts, where donuts are made fresh to order. For more of a sit-down experience, Maggie’s Krooked Cafe is another great option; it’s an adorable little cafe serving up fantastic breakfast and lunch. Don’t pass up the pancakes. For lunch or just an excuse to get ice cream, newly opened Mama’s Boy Burgers is awesome and has every variation of a burger you could dream up. And good news for vegetarians: you’ll be well served here with multiple options for patties. For a nice dinner, The Deer Mountain Inn serving up incredible local-inspired dishes and the lodge-y atmosphere is straight out of a David Lynch flick. The original wood bar, crazy taxidermy and deer chandeliers (oh, also their huge outdoor patio and fireplace) are beyond fabulous.
As far as drinking goes, bring your own or visit the bar on-site at the inn. The inn is pretty far from any other bars in the area and we definitely wouldn’t recommend driving in the pitch darkness wilderness after a couple drinks. The bar has a good selection of beer, and it’s cool to hang out with other guests, passing-through tourists and locals alike.