The last few snowflakes have finally melted into the dirt of my Brooklyn backyard, but up at the Urban Cowboy Lodge in the Catskills, you can still find powder covering the ground.
Just a three-hour drive from the city in Big Indian, Urban Cowboy’s second New York property (the first, in Brooklyn, is now a private residence and photoshoot location) and third overall (they also have a guesthouse in Nashville) feels like it’s located in another universe — one where Wes Anderson is God, the vibes are immaculate, a fireplace is always softly crackling in the background and your food is never missing a sprinkling of Maldon.
Despite all of that aforementioned splendor, Urban Cowboy might not yet be on your Upstate radar for a tragic reason: its grand opening was timed pretty much perfectly with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been such a wild ride for the past 12 months,” shares founder Lyon Porter. “We are looking forward to the summer! We opened a week before the pandemic. We can’t wait to have people come and experience The Lodge Bar and Restaurant as well that we are opening up to the public in the coming months. To have the locals, guests and the community all be able to enjoy the space together is something we are so excited about.”
Perhaps the reason Urban Cowboy has been able to survive despite this most unfortunate timing is that it perfectly embodies what everyone in New York City needs the most right now: a place to disconnect from reality. This isn’t the kind of place you’ll find business travelers, and during my 48 hours there, I couldn’t find a child in sight. Instead, it’s the kind of place where you arrive and the first question you’re asked is whether you’d prefer champagne or bourbon for your welcome beverage.
That welcome beverage, poured at their lumberjack chic bar (I’ll take bourbon, please), is just the beginning of your time to feel like, well, an urban cowboy. At The Lodge, don’t expect frilliness or any stiff lips — the laid-back atmosphere pairs best with the smell of palo santo you’ll find wafting through the air, and feels great while you’re looking out across your private deck in a hotel-provided Pendleton robe.
It’s moments like these that Urban Cowboy has already become known for, and might be to blame for the fact that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to snap up an open room there. Staff at The Lodge encourage guests to sit back and relax, whether it’s warming up at their always-lit bonfire beside the lobby or in your own private copper soaking tub.
“The moments that have meant the most [to me] all have involved an elemental experience,” says Porter. “Sitting in the river skipping stones, drinking by the bonfire with friends, getting mesmerized by the stars or taking a bath in the forest bathing suite. Fire, water, food, drink, music — The Lodge is a place to disconnect from the routine of your life and reconnect with those special elemental experiences you don’t have access to in NYC.”
Planning Your Journey
That’s not to say that there aren’t activities to partake in. Porter tells us that The Lodge is actually surrounded by one of the largest protected wilderness areas in driving distance of the city, meaning hiking opportunities abound. The property sits on 68 acres in the Big Indian Wilderness, nestled between two rivers. In the wintertime, a wall of snowshoes hang on hooks ready to be checked out, and during the warmer months you can take your bathing suit with you to the swimming hole at the base of nearby Diamond Notch Falls for a cool dip.
On your way there or back, take advantage of The Lodge’s proximity to trendy Woodstock and its many restaurants and storefronts. Charming spots like Phoenicia Diner will only further feed into the delusion that you’ve found yourself in a Wes Anderson flick, and their spacious heated outdoor patio and tasty American diner classics will keep you feeling COVID-safe and full.
Honestly, we wouldn’t judge you if you chose not to leave the property during your stay either, though. In fact, I’m fairly sure I only left my room during the first 24 hours following my arrival to grab dinner and drinks at The Lodge Restaurant and Bar. Before I even finished my meal, I had already shot off my breakfast order via text message to their customer service number, and the next morning I awoke to find a Stanley thermos full of coffee and a to-go container full of scrambled eggs with bacon and toast outside my door.
Though everything I ate there was already genuinely delicious, Porter tells me he’s eagerly awaiting the imminent roll out of The Lodge’s brand new culinary program. “The program is something that our team has been working on tirelessly for the past few months, and while I don’t want to spoil the surprise, I can say that it is going to turn a lot of heads in the region.”
When pressed for details, Porter replies that I just have to come up and taste it for myself soon. Don’t mind if I do.
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