For anyone who lives in New York, the excitement of the city’s famed crush of humanity occasionally feels simply crushing. No matter how much you love it, every so often you’ve just got to leave. Here, to keep the old damp, drizzly November from permanently chilling the soul, we present four plans for a weekend escape, each within a few hours’ drive from the city.
Jamesport, New York — With its country roads dotted with farm stands, its burgeoning vineyards and casually sophisticated food scene, the North Fork is a quieter, gentler side of Long Island — closer than the Hamptons to the rural idyll that has drawn urbanites to the East End for generations. And the Jedediah Hawkins, a six-room Victorian inn whose every last nook is as cozy as can be, sets just the right mood for a low-key escape from the city. While summer and fall bring the most visitors, the colder months have an unexpected charm of their own. A blustery day is all the more excuse to pile into that billowing white duvet and keep the fireplace blazing in the room — at least until the scent of fresh-baked bread wafting in from the dining room becomes too much to resist. Beyond the hotel’s own excellent farm-to-table restaurant and intimate little speakeasy, the North Fork’s many outstanding places to eat take on somewhat more of a small-town, locals-oriented feel in the off-season. The wineries, meanwhile, shift their focus from the vineyards to the cellars and tasting rooms, often hosting free tastings, holiday open houses, seasonal dinners and live music.
Getting there: Jedediah Hawkins is located 85 miles (about a 2-hour drive) from New York City.
Milford, Pennsylvania — Admittedly Milford, Pennsylvania doesn’t enjoy quite the same name recognition as some of the competition, but really that’s just part of the appeal. (Traffic jams and citified prices are a long way off.) From the outside, Hotel Fauchère looks like a piece of quintessential small-town Americana, with its rustic farmhouse façade presiding over Milford’s main street; but step inside and the style is perfectly urbane, giving the lie to any “flyover country” clichés. It turns out that a cocktail bar with a massive photo of John Lennon and Andy Warhol can look perfectly at home in a Pennsylvania farmhouse. Meanwhile the elegant restaurant and pâtisserie manage to do justice to the hotel’s hundred-and-fifty-year-old culinary reputation. Back in the guest rooms, spa-like bathrooms, feather-topped beds and radiant underfloor heating keep things on the right side of the farmhouse-luxe equation, and make Hotel Fauchère inviting for a weekend getaway even in cold weather.
Getting there: Hotel Fauchère is located 75 miles (about a 95-minute drive) from New York City, or 2 to 3 hours by train.
Lenox, Massachusetts — Set on a Frederick Law Olmsted park in the rolling Berkshire mountains, some three hours from New York City, the Wheatleigh is about as lavish a country house as you’ll find anywhere in the Northeast. Architecturally, the 1893 Florentine-style palazzo is perfectly, unapologetically extravagant, in the mode of a classic European château. Yet it’s also distinctly American. The former home of an American heiress and her husband, a Spanish count, it got an extensive redesign at the hands of the New York architects Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown. The result is a world of beiges and creams, everywhere soft to the touch, with contemporary artworks and modern furnishings where the count might have chosen something more florid. In summer the Tanglewood Music Center next door is humming with the sounds of the Boston Symphony, while winter blankets the hotel grounds and the mountains beyond in snow. With its deep, deep tubs, its roaring fireplaces, and a refined restaurant that’s in the upper echelons of American fine dining, the Wheatleigh would make for an exceedingly civilized take on the New England ski vacation — all the more so during the last week of the year, when the hotel throws open its incredibly well-stocked cellar and lets guests taste their way through, say, a free flight of vintage Bordeaux or Opus One.
Getting there: The Wheatleigh is located 150 miles (about a 3-hour drive) from New York City.
Roxbury, New York — It’s just three hours north of the city, but in every other sense the Roxbury feels like an alternate universe — a pop-culture wonderland presented in technicolor, with suites that evoke the world of Indiana Jones or Gilligan’s Island, to name just two, in fantastically florid detail. The idea is not so much to escape the sensory overload of the city as it is to replace it with something even stranger and more fun. If the Catskills are traditionally a back-to-basics summer retreat, the pleasures of a glowing tropical fish tank for a shower wall or a bed that looks like a coconut cream pie work just as well any time of year. And for all the outsized decorative flourishes, it’s still a perfectly comfortable and, above all, lovingly managed hotel. Little details like good, reasonably priced wine in the fridge and top-shelf toiletries in the bathroom make it exceedingly livable, while big ones like the Aztec idol with a flame-shooting head in the Archaeologist’s Digs suite make it all feel larger than life.
Getting there: The Roxbury is located 150 miles (about a 3-hour drive) from New York City.