New York’s Best-kept Secret Is This Castle Resort That’s Straight Out of a Fairy Tale
It is easy to get around New York City, but it can feel nearly impossible to escape. What if I told you there’s a retreat that feels like a timeless European castle only 100 miles outside of the city?
Mohonk Mountain House is a beautiful resort in the Hudson Valley that has a captivating history and tons of charm. Originally a 10-room inn opened by Albert Smiley in 1869, the resort has grown over the years but continued to be operated by the Smiley family. Set on Mohonk Lake, guests can enjoy sweeping views of the Catskills, hike plenty of trails, or rejuvenate in a world-class spa.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Mohonk Mountain House, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate. You can join a special anniversary weekend to meet members of the Smiley family and learn more about the history of the property. Snack on a scoop of Mohonk Mountain Crunch ice cream, a special edition flavor made in partnership with Jane’s Ice Cream. And the coolest way to celebrate is by downloading the Hidden Histories augmented reality app on your phone that makes artwork come to live throughout the hotel.
Mohonk is truly a treasure, and once there you’ll find families that have visited every year to celebrate holidays, weddings, and simply to enjoy time together. To make your trip even easier, here’s a list of what to do to make your Mohonk trip even better.
Have a Memorable Meal
One of the best parts of Mohonk is that three daily meals are included for overnight guests at the resort. And while guests can enjoy a solid buffet for each meal, with options to please any palate, the stand out experience is the four-course dinner at the Surrey, the resort’s new fine dining room. An upscale evening, this is the night to dress up, sip sommelier-suggested wine, and feast on seared sea scallops or braised duck ravioli.
Take a Sunrise Hike
Get up early one morning to take an easy hike up to the stone Sky Top Tower. The Sky Top Path will take you up the hill, past the cliffside gazebos and lookout areas until you reach the tower which you can actually climb up as well. Looking out from the top on a clear day you can easily see multiple states while breathing in the crisp mountain air.
Hit the Spa
A good spa always has a signature treatment that incorporates a local element, and Mohonk’s is no different. The Shawangunk Grit Mineral Body Treatment is an 80 minute experience that begins with a soak in the tub followed by an exfoliation with “Shawangunk Grit,” fine quartz quarried from the resort’s very own cliffs, then a relaxing massage. The spa also has a eucalyptus steam room, indoor heated pool, verandas and solarium, and fitness center.
Feel Like Indiana Jones on the Rock Scramble
If you see kids and adults climb and squeezing through an intricate series of rocks, you’re probably looking at the rock scramble. Not for someone with a fear of tight spaces, the rock scramble is a trail that takes you on top of, below, and through rock formations of all shapes and sizes. The perfect adventure for someone who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty, just be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Feel the Lake Breeze on a Boat
Mohonk Lake’s calm waters are the perfect place to spend an afternoon row boating, paddle boating, canoeing, or kayaking, — all of which are free to guests. If you have a great center of balance, you can even head out on a paddleboard to feel at one with the water. Insider tip: taking a boat out into the middle of the lake is one of the best ways to get a full picture (or selfie) of the castle.
Relax in Your Room With a Warm Fire
Many of the rooms at Mohonk have fully working, wood-burning fireplaces. If you’re comfortable enough building your own fire, everything you need is in the room ready to go. Or if you’re afraid of burning the whole place down (like me), just call the front desk and they’ll send someone up to do it for you.
See the Grounds on Horseback
If you’ve been itching to get on a horse, a trip to Mohonk can make it happen. Join a trail ride to see the area around the resort or hop on an old-fashioned carriage pulled by a mule. Kids can also take a pony ride as part of the Mohonk Kids’ Club. (Equestrian activities aren’t included in the overnight stay and must be reserved ahead of time.)
Show Off Your Dance Moves
Throughout the year there are live bands that stop by to perform for guests in one of the many beautiful events spaces. Grab a drink from the bar and claim a seat to listen to the music. But hey, at Mohonk it feels like everyone is family, so don’t be shocked if someone extends a hand and pulls you to the dance floor.
Live Out Your Winter Olympics Fantasies
Mohonk Mountain House is a place worthy of a visit all year round. In the winter come for the views, stay for the sports. Here you can partake in ice skating, curling, and cross-country skiing on over 30 miles of trails. Warm up after by a fire on the Parlor Porch before heading back into the castle and tucking into bed. Who needs sweet dreams when your vacation is already a fairy tale?