In many of the cities and towns of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley, the locals are used to hosting people - city dwellers, foreigners, and tourists from around the country - and it can be claimed that this is where the U.S. summer tourism business was started. It's been a major industry for more than 150 years, so it comes as nearly second-nature to them. There are lots of accommodation choices in this region - you have your standard hotel, of course, but what about resting your head in a farmhouse-cum-bed and breakfast? A complete visit to the region includes interesting and offbeat accommodations, too.
Hotels in the Hudson Valley
If you're idea of a vacation means staying at a standard name-brand hotel and being assured of quality, don't be put off by the region's rural character. You'll find these hotels in many of the mid-sized cities, such as Tarrytown and Poughkeepsie.
A first-choicer outside the standard fare would have to be Vassar University's Alumnae House, open, of course, also to those who never went to the small liberal-arts college. The rooms look out at the selection of attractive 19th- and 20-century campus buildings, there's a centrally-located television room, and the food is high-quality college fare. The price is also attractive, as the most expensive room is no more than $100.
Hotels in the Catskills
If you're itinerary includes some fishing, pleasure boating, biking, and hiking, there's also the possibility of making the region's western, southern, and northern towns as your bases of operation. Windham, Fleishmanns, Margaretville, Colchester, and Liberty all contain hotels of good quality, allowing you a shorter commute “home” on the way back from your outdoor activities.
One interesting pick, located in the heart of the Catskills, is the Lexington Hotel, in Lexington. It was built as a resort around 1900, and it originally enjoyed an exclusively Ukrainian clientele. These days you may still see Ukrainian-Americans walking the halls, and the décor is to some extent Ukrainian, but for the most part it's just a really nice place to stay. Interestingly, there's an eclectic vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the hotel run by Kaya Chaos, founding member of the New York hardcore punk band Deviant Behavior.
Resorts in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley
Resorts are what put this region on the map, going back over 150 years. Demographics have changed and the old resorts are for the most part, gone but a new wave of resorts, are sure to please today's vacationers. Levels of luxury may have declined and a five-meal-a-day regimen is no longer standard, but today's resorts are much more in tune with the active pursuits and the natural beauty that surrounds them The emphasis is to serve as home bases for exploring the Catskills, while offering a high standard of quality, good food, . sports facilites, lake access, pools and activities for kids. The resorts are located in the northern half of Catskill Park, in or around Jewett, Windham, Acra, and East Durham. Hunter boasts Scribner Hollow Lodge, home to the Grotto, an underground cave pool; while Round Top hosts Winter Clove Family Inn, which offers three hearty meals a day, nine-hole golf, indoor and outdoor pools, and cross-country skiing.
There are two major resorts in the region that stand out above all the rest:
- The Mohonk Mountain House and Resort. This is the last of the great resorts, truly the only one to survive the ages. It was built between 1879 and 1910 by the Smiley family, whose descendants still run the place. The grounds are located atop a mountain in the Shawangunk Range, and include a fantastic, castle-like, sprawling hotel, a lake with all the amenities you would expect from a first-class resort, a golf course, and plenty of pre-planned and well-tended hikes and trails.
- Kutsher's Hotel and Country Club. This is the only one of the old Borscht Belt resorts that still exists - nay, thrives. Its secret was to specialize in sports promotion. From the Fifties on to the present, Kutsher's has sponsored sports events and sports camps, where greats like Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali trained. Today it features all kinds of sports attractions, such as pools, ball fields and basketball courts, golf, and ice skating.
B&Bs in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley
There are excellent bed and breakfast establishments (B&Bs) all over the region, both in the Hudson Valley and in the Catskills. Visitors have a terrific selection of B&B styles in the region, depending on location. Most are built in the Victorian or Dutch styles, but some are actually built like Colonial mansions. You can even stay in a converted farmhouse, where they serve you homemade foods prepared from produce from the immediate area.
You'll find the Colonial-style B&Bs closer to Tarrytown and the region's southern areas, while the farmhouses you'll find in the more agriculturally-based areas in the Hudson Valley. Those in the Catskills, such as in Palenville, Hunter, Phoenicia, Boiceville, Margaretville, and Walton (a few miles north of the region), are usually in the Victorian or Queen Anne style. The high-end suites come with Jacuzzis and wide-screened TVs. B&Bs in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley are great for experiencing the region's nature, as well as its people.
Probably the most original B&B in the region is the unremarkably-named Lazy Meadows, in Mount Tremper. This is a 1950s-derived creation, from the imagination of Kate Pierson, lead singer of the B-52s, the band that gave us “Love Shack.” She's combed through the antique shops in nearby Phoenicia, brought in the designers who gave us the Love Shack video from 1989, and imbibed the whole place with lots of love and care. It's all Fifties retro with a psychedelic touch, but up to speed with microwaves in every cabin. You sleep in refurbished Fifties caravans.
Motels and Motor Lodges in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley
Clean and comfortable motels are scattered throughout the Catskills and the Hudson Valley region, especially off I-87 and State Road 9. Many motels in the region allow children under 18 years of age to stay for free.
Camping in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley
Camping in the region is a fun way to experience its natural secrets up close. There are campgrounds in many of the state parks, including Catskill Park, and in many of the forested areas. The more expensive ones come with many more amenities, sometimes including laundromats, children's activities, and more.
A truly unforgettable place to go camping is at the North-South Lake Campground. This is near where the old Catskill Mountain House used to be. The resort is no more (save for the gateposts), but the view of the escarpment and the Hudson River remains for posterity. The twin lakes are very scenic, and boating (rentals available) and fishing are permitted. The campground lies at the end of North Lake Road, which you can find on State Road 23A.
Hotels, Motels and Resorts in Woodstock, Cooperstown, New Paltz, Catskills and Hudson Valley