Piaule Catskill Is the Ultimate Modern Getaway—Just Two Hours Away From New York City
Hudson Valley has grown to be just as hot a vacation spot as the Hamptons. But if the Hamptons are the summer season’s big blockbuster, Hudson Valley is the well-respected A24 film. Well known, but less flashy. You go to Hudson Valley and the surrounding Catskills for nature without sacrificing many (if any) creature comforts. This attitude is exemplified by a new hotel, Piaule Catskill, which would satisfy any aesthete’s appetite.
Just two and a half hours north of New York, Piaule Catskill is a 24-room boutique hotel overlooking the mountains. Piaule (pronounced pee-ahl) is slang for “crib” in French, which gives you a hint at the kind of beautiful-yet-laid-back atmosphere the founders Nolan McHugh and Trevor Briggs hope to inspire. McHugh and Briggs founded Piaule almost eight years ago as a towel company, making Japanese cotton, waffle weave towels which you can now buy at the hotel. Realizing they made more money AirBnBing their apartments than selling towels, they started thinking of launching a hotel together four years ago. They found the land in Catskill, hired Jim Garrison—who specialized in modular projects—as the architect, and crafted the modern, Japanese and Scandanavian-inspired interior design themselves. The result is a truly modern getaway: beautiful, cozy, and centered around the surrounding landscape. “The vision was to keep nature at the forefront of that experience and to create a space where you don’t need to add much because you have the natural beauty,” McHugh says, pointing out that the chief materials used throughout the hotel are local Bluestone and untreated wood.
You arrive at Piaule after driving through a solid 10 minutes of winding, wooded roads with few buildings in site. The main building, which houses the lobby and restaurant on the top floor and the spa on the bottom, features walls of windows and a terrace that overlooks the mountains in the distance. The restaurant fully opens in August, with dinner service Thursday through Sunday, brunch on the weekends and a few a la carte sandwiches for lunch. When I was there, we had a family-style, locally-sourced dinner complete with vermicelli noodles, delicious hen of the woods mushrooms, and a mochi berry cake (the founders pointed out that part of the meal was sourced from a farm down the road). The pool, sauna, and yoga studios are available to overnight guests with a nightly $35 fee, with massages and other treatments available upon request.
But the reason you’d go to Piaule Catskill is the cabins. Each is its own modular room, standing separate from the rest, with one entire wall made of glass overlooking the forest. With a bug screen (so you can open the window partially), and a blackout curtain tucked into the walls, it’s a whole new level of glamping. Waking up in the king-sized bed and having a cup of coffee (there are complementary pour-over setups in each of the rooms) while looking out at the forest is, simply, divine. The cabin feels a bit like two rooms, one for the bathroom, your suitcase, and the mini bar, leaving just the bed, chair and window in the other area. It’s nice that Briggs and McHugh took care to separate some of the messy aspects of hotel life (namely, a suitcase that never gets fully unpacked and spills everywhere) from the pristine bed and window. Hudson is just 30 minutes away by car, but with the company of swaying trees and a journal or a book, you may find yourself just staying put.
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