Mohonk Mountain House is only 15 minutes from downtown New Paltz, New York, but being there feels like a world away. Founded by the Smiley family in 1869, the massive Victorian castle — a National Historic Landmark — is surrounded by 40,000 acres of protected forest and wildlife. We arrived on a cold November Friday right before dinnertime, so driving up the dark, twisting woodland road was an adventure in itself to kick off the weekend.
As we were rolling our weekenders to the room, we noticed that Mohonk Mountain House seemed familiar. In fact, something about it reminded us of Overlook Hotel from The Shining — in a good way. An employee later told us that Stephen King used to vacation at the resort with his family before writing the book, and it all came together. Every nook of the resort is special. Everywhere you turn, there are small seating areas overlooking the property, fireplaces offering crackling warmth, and plenty of antiques to get you in a shopping mood. The House’s central staircase is the heart of it all, connecting you to the dining room and activities on different floors via ornate carpeting and a rich wooden banister.
While the rooms at Mohonk may look like you’ve stepped back in time, they offer all the modern amenities to keep you comfortable during your stay. Our room featured a double bed with a smaller single bed tucked into one of the corners, which is perfect for families or friends traveling together. Our spacious balcony overlooked the property and offered two rocking chairs for relaxing. The room didn’t have a television, which was just fine by us, but other rooms do, so be sure to request one if it’s important to you. The large bathroom was stocked with cozy robes and rosemary mint bath products, created especially for the resort by Gilchrist and Soames. Every room is designed with a working fireplace, and the friendly staff is at-the-ready with fire starters and matches to help you get it going if needed.
The price of breakfast, lunch and dinner in the main dining room is included in your stay, and the food at Mohonk doesn’t disappoint. Breakfast and lunch (brunch on the weekends) are both served buffet style and feature salad bars, carving and omelet stations, made-to-order stir fry noodles, lots of fresh veggies, and a dessert bar. You can also choose to dine from the buffet for dinner, but we much prefer the full-service three-course meal. The menu changes nightly, so you won’t have to choose from the same dishes three nights in a row. On Friday night, we indulged in beet-cured salmon with smoked trout roe (which had a jelly-like texture that was out of this world), seared pork loin with white bean and sherry honey sauce, and a local cheese plate for dessert. Saturday we sampled a velvety chilled foie gras with plum compote, seared calotte of beef with purple cauliflower puree, and a perfectly crusted trio of creme brûlées.
Mohonk has a well-rounded wine and spirits menu with highlighted sections for the local stuff. There are libations available in the dining room, but we loved heading up to the Carriage Lounge after our meals for expertly-made cocktails and live music. They also have a small pub food menu available, but take note that the price is not included in your nightly rate.
If you’re looking to pamper yourself, the spa at Mohonk is a luxurious treat. They feature everything from massages to facials to nail care, all in a beautiful setting that you’re free to enjoy before and after your treatment. The men’s and women’s facilities feature separate saunas and eucalyptus steam rooms, but meet in the middle with a coed outdoor heated mineral pool and glass-enclosed solarium with a fireplace and tea bar. If you’re not indulging in a spa service, you can purchase a $25 day pass to experience the facilities.
Once you arrive to Mohonk Mountain House, there’s no need to leave for the duration of your stay. There is a recreation activity for everyone, and we had a difficult time fitting everything we wanted to do into our daily schedule. If wellness tops your list, Mohonk offers daily yoga and strength training classes, as well as adult swim and Aqua Shape at the property’s sizable indoor pool. Lovers of the outdoors can take full advantage of Mohonk’s surroundings with hiking, rock climbing, ecology walks, mountain biking, archery and tomahawk throwing, which was one of our personal favorites. There’s seasonal fun like ice skating, snow tubing, and cross country skiing in the winter, and golf, swimming and kayaking in the warmer months. Mohonk screens a nightly movie and also features live music on the weekend evenings.
Throughout the year, Mohonk Mountain House hosts a variety of themed weekends, which are not to be missed. We were there for the property’s Fall Romantic Couples’ Getaway and got to experience a special couples yoga session, dance lesson with Broadway star Hettie Barnhill, and then put our new skills to the test when we danced to the sounds of 17-piece Big Blue Big Band. We even attended a cocktail-making demo by Mohonk beverage manager Anna Stone, where we learned mixing techniques and discovered some new spirits from the Hudson Valley.
Mohonk is a special place that’s filled with history. When you’re there, you’re in the bubble, and all that matters is nature and wellness and really good food. If you’re in the Hudson Valley and looking for a different kind of getaway, pay this big old lodge a visit.
Images by Max Schwartz/The Manual.
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