Trips upstate are as much a part of Brooklyn winters as sledging in Prospect Park and snowy afternoons inside The Chocolate Room. With gems like Cold Spring, Hudson and Woodstock, a manageable under-three-hour-drive away and reams of dreamy cabins for rent, we don’t need much excuse to go north.
Every now and again we stay somewhere truly special; the kind of place you rave about to friends and have planned your next stay before you’ve even checked out. This renovated 110-year-old, three-bed farmhouse near Callicoon (off the Delaware River) ticks that box in spades (we’re already planning trips two and three.)
First up you need to have ninja-like concentration to spy the entrance to Kate and Huck’s home (the only sign is a wooden marker at the top of a steep forested drive) but roll down to the bottom and you’ll find a handsome, white clapperboard house set amid woodland, blueberry patches and banked by an enormous grassy lawn. After the fug of the city, the views are a tonic. You can’t spy another building anywhere, in fact your only company is a family of deer who saunter by several times a day, and the occasional chipmunk or turkey.
When they found the house 12 years ago it was a falling-to-pieces wreck. “The walls were stuffed with horse hair and newspapers and the plumbing had exploded the bathroom,” says Kate, a Brooklyn Heights-based mother of two who spends her weekdays in Manhattan working as an ad director.
It took an arduous four years (and numerous to trips Dancing Dog Antiques) to renovate the space into a blueprint of contemporary coziness, furnished with felted couches, eye-catching illustrations, rawhide rugs and a powerful little pot-bellied stove alongside the open plan kitchen – which seems to have every conceivable cooking gadget from steak knives to a Cuisinart mixer.
Outside, a wide 1500-square-foot porch now wraps around three sides of the house and is dotted with artfully chipped rocking chairs and a family style farm table for eight (don’t worry – there’s an equally sizable table indoors too.) Down the hill is what we referred to as the “man barn,” where you’ll find a TV, sledges, fishing rods, walkie-talkies for hikes, camping gear and a host of other diversions, which you’re welcome to borrow.
Accommodation is spread between three doubles – people tend to bed down kids in the one with a giant blackboard wall which until recently housed bunk beds. There’s an all-white bathroom upstairs with a vintage rolltop bath and stacks of candles as well as a glamorous downstairs toilet (the newest addition to the house) with floor-to-ceiling windows and swagged curtains.
There is no TV in the house, although you do have wifi, so this is the place for families who want to hunker down and have adventures on their doorstep. So come ready to cook s’mores on your fire pit, play hide and seek in the woods and bake up feasts in the kitchen.
Kate wanted a place where her kids (Izzy, 11 and Murphy, 10) could learn to love dirt and bugs, and where she could escape the hum of Manhattan and just stare at a glorious view with her morning coffee. If that’s what you’re after too, you’re in for a total treat.
PS: There’s no crib or highchair so if you’ve got a babe in the group you’ll need to come prepped (both the double bedrooms can fit in a travel crib.) If you’re staying and have a spectacular snowfall the driveway makes for a mean sledge run. The upstairs back bedroom has a cupboard full of surefire boardgame hits like Pictionary and Monopoly.
Booking it: Stays start at $250 a night. To book go to airbnb.