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Hudson Valley’s Small Inns Holding Steady During Challenging Times
When it comes to small inns and bed and breakfast lodging in the lower Hudson Valley, Orange County leads the pack with 27 of them. Some range from just two cozy rooms to a 16-bed inn with suites, dotting the region from Newburgh to Port Jervis. The Village of Warwick boasts six bed and breakfasts, while Montgomery and Fort Montgomery have two each.
“I think the further you get from New York City, the more popular bed and breakfast lodging becomes,” said Amanda Dana, director of Orange County Tourism & Film. “There are so many quaint little towns here, and we have a lot of tourist destinations like wineries, breweries, West Point, the Storm King Arts Center, and of course, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.”
While many hotels and conference centers in the New York metro area saw a significant drop in hotel and event bookings due to COVID, Dana noted that bed and breakfasts in Orange County did not experience that same decline. “Our bed and breakfasts have always been extremely popular with guests coming up from New York City who want to spend a weekend in the ‘country,’ and they were quite busy even during the height of the pandemic,” explained Dana.
The area also offers a plethora of walking and hiking trails, including the newly updated Orange County Heritage Trail, beginning in the Village of Harriman and extending 18 miles to Middletown.
“Plus, there’s a lot of history up here,” added Dana. “One of our oldest inns, the Stagecoach Inn, was literally a stagecoach stop.” Set on Main Street in Goshen, the Stagecoach Inn dates back to 1747. The property was originally used to raise sheep. However, when owner Anthony Dobbin realized that stagecoaches were cutting through his land on the way to Albany Post Road, he opened the property as an inn. Former New York Governor George Clinton was a guest, as were justices from the local courthouse. By 1801, Dobbin was the host of a thriving business.
Fast-forward to more than 200 years in the future, and after several owners, the inn was purchased by Faith Ferguson and Ron Boire in 2014. It has since been fully restored to its former glory and reopened in 2016. It now has five guest rooms, two dining rooms, a living room, bar, outdoor porch and event space.
Like many other hospitality venues, the Inn was forced to close last year from mid-March to July. “But in August, things started to pick up a bit—first with the restaurant and then with the rooms,” he said. “Overall, weekends have done very well with a lot of last-minute bookings from people in New York City.”
Their event spaces, consisting of outdoor lawns, the solarium, back porch and atrium, are perfect for smaller events. “People are doing short-term bookings for weddings, showers, birthday parties and anniversaries, so we are seeing an uptick there,” added Boire.
What they’re still missing are international travelers coming to shop at Woodbury Common or visit historic Hudson Valley sites. “We used to get people from all over the world, and did get some from Europe last year, but I think it will be a while before we start seeing lots of international guests again,” said Ferguson. “We may still be a couple of years away from ‘normal’ again.”
Another local historic property, the Caldwell House Bed & Breakfast, was built while Thomas Jefferson was President. John Caldwell, a successful businessman, purchased the property in 1802 and today it has been restored with many of the original details. Located in Salisbury Mills, the Caldwell House offers 14 guest rooms and is just one of 300 inns in North America to be listed on the Select Registry of inns.
Owner John Finneran said last year was a bit slower, but things have started to pick up more recently. “We’re still getting a lot of guests from New York City who just want to get out of closed quarters,” he said. “We do miss the international tourists who come to see West Point, the Storm King Arts Center, Brotherhood Winery and other nearby attractions.” Last year’s and this year’s virtual West Point graduation has also had an impact on bookings.
Due to the pandemic, Finneran said they have implemented stricter sanitation measures that involve deep cleaning after each guest leaves, then keeping that room vacant for the following 24-hours. “So, we’ve had an artificial higher vacancy rate due to these policies, but we want to makes sure everything is safe for our guests,” he said.
Typically, their busiest season is the fall and the summer, when the venue can be full every day of the week. During the winter, it tends to be more weekend travelers. “We are also seeing more young people in the spring and summer who like to hike and visit the wineries,” he added.
Other notable historic Orange County smaller accommodations include Buck’s Homestead Bed & Breakfast, built in 1830 in Montgomery, Meadow Lark Farm, dating back to 1865 in Warwick and Violet Hill in Middletown, constructed in 1809.
Putnam County’s Hudson House Inn is also a product of the 19th Century. Built in 1827, the property has operated as a lodging establishment since 1832. The inn, offering 13 rooms and a restaurant, overlooks the Hudson River in the quaint Village of Cold Spring. Originally called the Pacific Hotel, and later the Hudson View Inn, the Hudson House Inn is currently listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Owners Regina and Sam Bei actually closed the inn temporarily last March and reopened it in May 2020. “When the summer hit, though, we were full—mostly with guests from Manhattan and New Jersey,” said Regina Bei. The couple also own the Hudson Ribs and Fish Restaurant in Fishkill, which sustained them over those closed months with take-out orders.
This winter, when business was slower, they took the opportunity to renovate the inn’s main floor and are currently working on refurbishing guest rooms and bathrooms. “We wanted to have a more updated look, so we’re taking out carpeting and putting in hardwood floors,” she added.
Bei said they’re also fortunate that they can offer up to 25 socially-distanced outdoor dining tables at the Hudson House Inn. “I think going forward, people will continue to want outdoor dining,” she said.
Just up the street is the Pig Hill Inn, built in 1825. The three-story building offers nine guest rooms, indoor and outdoor dining options, and a gift shop. Many of their rooms also offer fireplaces or wood burning stoves, and two have jacuzzi tubs.
Westchester County has only two small inns, and actor Richard Geere is an owner of one of them. It was in 2007 that Gere and Russell Hernandez joined forces to rescue and restore this historic property dating back to the 1860s. The Bedford Post Inn today offers eight luxury rooms, two restaurants, and a yoga studio.
Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant and Inn in Chappaqua may be best known for its fine dining and elegant outdoor and indoor settings for weddings, but its small inn offers three historic rooms for overnight guests. Built in 1790, the Kittle Barn and Carriage House was once a working farm, while the Kittle family home also served as a roadhouse during Prohibition and a private girls’ school.
“Westchester County’s luxurious B and B’s, Crabtree’s Kittle House and Bedford Post Inn, both offer an intimate retreat with world-class culinary experiences in a rich historical setting,” said Natasha Caputo, director, Westchester County Tourism & Film.
Rockland County’s one and only bed and breakfast, Casa Hudson, is located in Haverstraw. Built in the 1850s, the Italian Renaissance house was restored in 2010 by Andrea Caccuro, a New York City fashion executive and her business partner, Nelson Diaz, a Miami/New York artist. Offering three guest rooms, Casa Hudson also hosts various Hudson Valley events including “Chef’s Table” and “Italian Style Tomato Canning Classes.” The entire villa, overlooking the Hudson River, can also be rented for retreats, getaways or special events.
Prior to its restoration, the villa had served as a pre-school, with no private bathrooms or a kitchen. “It was a total gut job renovation,” recalled Caccuro. “We had to bring everything back to the original beams, install floor-to-ceiling windows, restore all of the original wood, put in new floors, and add the kitchen and bathrooms.” After five years, Caccuro and Diaz enhanced the space with their own artistic contemporary flair, while still preserving most of the original property. In 2015, they were honored with the Rockland Historical Society Preservation Merit award for their adaptive use and restoration work.
Like many other Hudson Valley bed and breakfasts, they were able to sustain their business during the pandemic. “We were very fortunate because we had guests who ended up staying long term, and we’ve also made some updates like keyless entry, enhanced sanitizing practices and even subtle changes like removing a lot of decorative pillows,” said Caccuro.
Most of their guests hail from New York City, and the owners are looking forward to a more stable business for this summer. “The best part about owning a B and B is being able to hear people’s stories and experiences—especially over the past year,” Caccuro added. “I think people are excited about being able to connect again.”