For reasons too many to get into right here, interesting people are, simply, leaving New York. Indeed, those who find the once provocative city’s cultural edges to have been decisively filed down have headed to Berlin and Detroit; and those who can’t bear to watch another high-rise tower go up, or another innocuous brunch spot open on their block, are perhaps taking up residence in Philadelphia, Baltimore…or, in the case of the more arcadian inclined, settling a couple of hours north in the surprisingly unspoiled but increasingly intriguing Catskills.
Our most recent visit was actually a temporary one – but the immediate charms of the Eastwind Hotel & Bar in Windham did have us daydreaming a bit about life amongst the majestic peaks. The hotel was opened quite recently – in June of 2018, by first time hoteliers Bjorn Boyer and Julija Stoliarova – but was still very much ahead of the curve of the new wave of Catskills buzz that has been lately stirring up amongst the cognoscenti.
In our learned opinion, the Eastwind represents one of the “must” getaways for the upcoming summer season. Here’s what we loved about it.
The town of Windham, which the Eastwind calls home, is central to the “action,” since it’s got some of the best skiing in the region. But with the hotel sitting just across from the majestic Windham Mountain, especially in springtime, the scenery elicits a constant stream of awe-inspired gasps.
Of course, in any season, “take a hike” is obviously not an insult up here. We took the Diamond Notch Falls hiking trail, and trust us, it will easily outperform your meditation class for summoning inner serenity – and will do so without the corresponding damage to your wallet. Nearby, we also took – we swear – a survival guide course with Jeff Vincent of Catskill Mountain Wild, who taught us how to start a fire from scratch, build a shelter, etc. – though we must admit, adept as our instructor was, we’re still not sure we should be left to fend for ourselves in the wild.
Design & Rooms
It’s actually quite impressive how natural everything feels at the Eastwind – especially considering that, for fussy New York visitors, woodsy charms generally need to be balanced with a knowing sense of contemporary style. An overall Scandinavian influence is evident, and rooms and beds are clean, white, modern, with just the right amount of rustic finesse – like old-fashioned fireplaces, as well as invitingly patterned rugs and Faribault wool blankets. The copy of David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries placed on the nightstand was a knowing touch. No surprise, views from virtually every window vary from peaceful to breathtaking.
You could also virtually throw a party in the cavernous bathrooms, done up with gorgeous mosaic floors and cool, industrial style sinks. You may even find a vintage tennis racket hanging on the wall above the loo – because, why not?
For the more adventurous, there are three architecturally striking A-frame Lushna “houses” on the property, great for those who like to feel they are genuinely living amidst nature – a bit like glamping, but way sexier. They’re always booked, so reserve far ahead.
They’ve got snowshoes, wellies and wheelies to satisfy your many exurban inclinations, should you wish to take a trudge or take a spin. And, as if it had been airlifted from the Finnish Laplands, a handsome-looking sauna rests up high behind the main building – a wonderful relaxation option for any time of year. Yoga classes on the upper lawn come, of course, with a jaw-droppingly majestic view.
Yes, you’ve heard it before – but in the Eastwind’s particularly inviting bar and lounge area, the rustic and the modern really do play nice together, in a way that feels remarkably unstudied. Wraparound windows sort of beg long, lazy afternoons-into-evenings over tea or cocktails, with savory sandwiches and generous cheese & charcuterie boards to assure that you barely have to move for hours at a time (don’t worry, you did yoga in the morning). Scattered about for entertainment are assorted non-strenuous games – though we strongly recommend bringing along your own copy of Cards Against Humanity or Exploding Kittens, and making new friends.
The hotel also does a special communal Friends & Family barbecue series every Friday from May through October. Though it’s essentially for guests and former guests, you can call and make a request to join. And honestly, sometimes it’s actually hard to tell the staff from the patrons…which is exactly how it should be in a hotel such as this.
Since NYC nightlife has been pretty much toned down to its current PG-13 status, you needn’t feel the least bit of FOMO opting for a few days immersed in the cultural offerings of the Catskills. For starters, the Supertone music festival will be at Basilica Hudson on July 6, with indie darlings including Ex Hex, The Felice Brothers and Habibi. While Red Hook & The Chocolate Festival takes over the town of the same name (not in Brooklyn) for an afternoon of gorging on, well, you-know-what.
But before that, head to the groovy little town of Narrowsburg, for one of the best bookstores in the world, One Grand Books – where you’ll find erudite collections curated by the likes of Lena Dunham, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton and Greta Gerwig. The shop’s impressive annual Deep Water Literary Festival will be galvanizing bookish sorts this June 21 through 23rd, in its hometown – and will feature a-list writing talent amongst its special guests. Unmissable.