Review: In The Maker, Hudson Has Its First Truly World-Class Boutique Hotel
New accommodations have exploded throughout the region, but one 11-room guesthouse rises above the competition
Extant in all of us is the desire to create. Maybe it’s through artistic expression. Maybe it’s by building something. Regardless of its manifestation, the impulse to make is one of the most fundamental and fulfilling motivators in the entire human experience.
The Maker –– a luxury hotel that opened in Hudson, New York last August –– is a tribute to this romantic notion. Founded by Lev Glazman, Alina Roytberg and Damien Janowicz, The Maker offers guests a bespoke experience that fuses aestheticism with corporal comfort. Every inch of the property is devoted to cultivating a sensorial experience anchored by the works of local artists and artisans; custom-built beds promise to make you feel “like you’re sleeping on a cloud.”
Glazman and Roytberg are new hoteliers, but they’re successful entrepreneurs who have summited a parallel industry. In 1991, they opened Fresh, a boutique handmade soap shop in Boston. Three decades later, it’s an internationally renowned brand with a range of innovative beauty products. Among other achievements, Fresh was the first beauty company to use sugar as an exfoliant. The same pioneering instincts have guided their approach to hospitality.
“We saw a lot of white space in the hotel world,” Glazman says. “There was an opportunity to create a highly curated experience that celebrates art and design. It’s not just about renting a room and feeding people.”
Opening a hotel in the middle of a pandemic may sound like risky business, but The Maker is off to a strong start. Guests have coveted the opportunity to escape the chaos of the world by staying in one of the hotel’s 11 uniquely appointed rooms. In an industry that has lost jobs at a terminal rate, The Maker has hired more than 80 employees. Glazman says they hope to grow the team to 100.
Although my wife and I have lived in the Hudson Valley for seven years, we’ve never visited Hudson. Spending a night at The Maker felt like the perfect opportunity to explore the city while checking out the hottest hotel in the region.
Get Your Bearings
Hudson is commonly referred to as “upstate New York.” But if you look at a map, you’ll see that’s debatable. It’s 120 miles north of Manhattan and 40 miles south of Albany. Buffalo, for reference, is 380 miles northwest of the city. Semantics aside, the key point is that Hudson is actually quite accessible. The train from Penn Station takes two hours, and Boston is less than a three-hour drive.
As a destination, Hudson is steeped in history. Settled by the Dutch in the mid-17th century, it eventually came under British control. It prospered as a whaling center –– yes, the Hudson River had a vibrant whaling industry –– before emerging as a manufacturing hub in the 19th century. The loss of factory jobs in the mid-1900s, however, decimated the city as many residents were forced to pack up and try their luck elsewhere.
But the times they are a-changing. In recent years, Hudson has mounted a serious comeback. Its economy has reinvented itself around tourism and retail, and it has become a haven for artists. It feels like Brooklyn 10 years ago, and therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suggest it’s on the precipice of a boom. With 90 antique stores and galleries, more than 100 one-of-a-kind shops and 50 restaurants representing an array of global cuisines, Hudson’s revival is culturally driven.
Warren Street is the city’s beating heart. It’s where you’ll find the majority of shops and restaurants, Hudson Hall –– the oldest operating theater in the state of New York –– and, right in the epicenter, The Maker Hotel.
Explore the Property
“One of our core values,” Glazman says, “is our address.”
The property includes three buildings: a Greek Revival from the 1840s and a carriage house and Georgian mansion from the 1890s. Each structure has been completely refurbished since the ownership group purchased the property in 2016.
Over the past four years, Glazman and the team have worked tirelessly to restore vintage artifacts and acquire eclectic furnishings aimed at creating a bohemian vibe. They recently launched The Maker Shop, an e-commerce platform that sells many of the custom items found throughout the hotel, including glassware, bedding and even furniture.
There’s something musical about the way all the individual pieces and design touches come together. Like different notes in the same key, the effect is harmony rather than dissonance. The carriage house, for example, has been converted to a lounge adorned with Victorian sofas and early-20th-century light fixtures. Leather drapes cling to dark mahogany walls and climb the towering ceiling. Candles and a hand-carved fireplace establish a sensual tone. The ambience lands somewhere between speakeasy and classic Parisian bar, and it works.
Including The Lounge, there are three dining areas onsite, each with its own distinctive menu prepared in one central kitchen. The Lounge serves craft cocktails and savory plates; The Cafe, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is modeled after a European brasserie; and under a glass ceiling, The Restaurant offers more traditional fine dining. While the fare is local and excellent, none of the menus are pretentious or decadent.
“I don’t like fancy food,” Glazman says. “I like real food.”
We ate dinner in The Cafe. For a starter, we split steak tartare served with salt and vinegar chips. I ordered a chicken pot pie loaded with Hudson Valley vegetables. My wife went with the grilled steelhead trout. The “after dark choco taco” made for a delectable after-dinner treat.
We stopped by The Lounge for a nightcap, and then walked around the hotel as we continued to digest. We could’ve spent hours in the library, particularly flipping through a coffee table book of Andy Warhol’s celebrity polaroids. In the second-floor Fragrance Library, we sampled a handful of the 180 distinct scents from Glazman’s personal collection.
A circus-inspired gymnasium features acrobatic contraptions –– a vintage pommel horse, rings and aerial silk –– along with modern fitness equipment. Personal training sessions and pilates courses are available, and the massage room includes two hamams (Turkish baths). A juice bar is set to open later this year. During warmer seasons, guests have access to a heated pool. Other outdoor spaces include a garden courtyard and a patio connected to The Lounge.
The 11 guest rooms are curated to highlight various periods and styles. They are all spacious, carefully lit suites decorated with museum-worthy art. Plush bedding and gas fireplaces make each room a cocoon of comfort. If you’ve seen Wes Anderson’s short film “Hotel Chevalier,” The Maker’s accommodations are even more tasteful.
Four of the rooms are studios dedicated to different maker archetypes: the artist, the writer, the architect and the gardener. We stayed in the gardener.
Meet Your Maker
The gardener’s most striking feature is the wrought-iron screen that separates the bedroom from the bathroom. Its presence is a testament to Glazman’s imagination and creative process. He puts himself in the mind of each maker to envision what that person’s ideal living and working studio might look like.
“The gardener lives inside and outside,” Glazman says. “So how do you express that in space?”
The wrought iron is an ingenious solution. A metal bed frame enhances the botanical theme, as do floral paintings and an assortment of horticulture books. Moroccan rugs, present throughout the hotel, inject warm colors. And then there’s the lighting.
My wife started rolling her eyes because I wouldn’t shut up about the lighting. Between lamps, fixtures and a chandelier, the 500-square-foot room contained almost two dozen lights. And each one, controlled by a vintage button, had its own vintage knob that served as a dimmer!
The other maker studios are equally enchanting in their own way. One commonality is that they all offer incredible bathing experiences. The architect’s bathroom is probably the most regal. Two massive shower heads precede a deep Roman tub.
“Once you step in, it becomes a playground,” Glazman says. “It’s an experience. I love this tub.”
Although we planned to get up early to go for a run and explore Hudson, we couldn’t bring ourselves to abandon the luxurious Napoleon III style bed. I did manage to put on one of the waffle linen robes to retrieve the “Eye Opener” that was waiting outside our door –– a thermos of coffee and fresh pastries from Bartlett House, a bakery in nearby Ghent that The Maker’s owners opened in 2016 –– but that’s about as far as we got before grabbing brunch in The Cafe and hitting the road.
It looks like we’ll have to make another trip to fully experience Hudson. Given how pleasant this first one was, that’s fine with us.
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