How the Hudson Valley has been home to cultural influencers since the 1800s

A new crop of creators and makers is reshaping hospitality in upstate New York.

Harper's Bazaar India

The Hudson Valley has been attracting cultural influencers as far back as the early 1800s, when the British-born painter Thomas Cole inspired the Hudson River School with his evocative landscape artwork. In fact, the bucolic region just north of Manhattan, which stretches from Yonkers to Albany, expanding along both sides of the Hudson, has been defined almost as profoundly by artists and alternative thinkers as it has by its geography, from the renowned artists’ colony Byrdcliffe, near Woodstock, to the Dia Art Foundation’s expansive gallery in Beacon, to the open-air sculpture museum Storm King in New Windsor.

In 2014, painters Brice and Helen Marden set the tone for the kind of clash of contemporary art and design against centuries-old rustic architecture and lush greenery that has come to define hospitality in the region in Tivoli when they debuted the 11-room Hotel Tivoli and its seasonally driven restaurant, the Corner. Further east, in Amenia, the interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, along with her son Anthony, transformed the 250-acre estate Troutbeck into a sprawling property with three guest houses, tennis courts, a spa, and a pool. (This summer, they added Benton House, which features 13 rooms and suites in a dwelling set among wildflowers and willow trees by the Webatuck River.)

But the pandemic initiated the latest and largest wave of newcomers, who have not only planted roots in the area but also sparked a boom of new hotels, shops, and restaurants. Last year, the celebrated chef Clare de Boer (of King in SoHo) unveiled Stissing House, an intimate contemporary pub serving Fin de la Baie oysters and dishes like hot smoked mackerel with beets, walnuts, and horseradish within an almost-250-year-old tavern in Pine Plains. In June 2021, in Hudson’s historic center, Shannon Wu opened the Amelia, an eight-room hotel in a Queen Anne–style residence just a few blocks away from the Maker, a two-year-old hotel run by the cofounders of the beauty brand Fresh. Eleven unique rooms are spread throughout three buildings, and all of the furniture and objects are vintage or made for the property, like glass decanters created with local glassmaker Bow Glass. Inness, a serene country resort complex of Dutch Colonial—inspired buildings overlooking 220 acres of pastoral grounds designed by landscape architect Miranda Brooks, launched this summer in Accord. And Wildflower Farms began operations at the end of September on 140 acres of farmland and gardens, not far from the Mohonk Preserve. A vast open-air lobby lets in the light during morning coffee, and 60 freestanding cottages are scattered throughout the property and connected by footpaths. Guests need to travel only 90 minutes from New York City to forage, feed the farm animals, or even ice climb and feel totally transported. 

This piece originally appeared in the October 2022 print edition of Harper's Bazaar USA.

Feature Credit: @wildflowerauberge/instagram

Image Credit: @stissinghouse/instagram