Upstate Escape (March 9-11): Troutbeck
While there’s always something new and exciting to do in the greatest city on Earth (sorry London), escaping New York once in a while is necessary to keep the stress levels at a minimum. There’s nothing like replacing constant noise with absolute calmness, doing activities in the great outdoors and recharging those batteries.
Just a two-hour train ride away from Grand Central Station, Troutbeck is offering luxury weekends with meditation classes, amazing locally sourced food and endless activities to choose from. And, because we always like to give our readers that little extra something, Just Opened subscribers will receive a complimentary breakfast at Troutbeck’s special event this weekend (March 9-11).
We met founder Anthony Champalimaud, who told us more about the enchanting 18th century private estate, and his go-to places in NYC and London.
You’ve been open less than a year, so it’s still early days. What was your intention with Troutbeck, and has this project differed in terms of what you set out to do versus what you have created?
What we knew – having grown up spending weekends nearby – is that the City has nothing like what London does in terms of a country house property. Upstate, and in particular Dutchess County, is dynamic and engaging all year round. We’ve envisioned a place where New Yorkers can find a bit of respite, a social atmosphere, great food, and great service, which doesn’t take itself too seriously. The standard is world-class, but residential in feel. We’re carrying on a tradition of hospitality present on this estate for over two hundred years. This is hallowed ground for naturalists, transcendentalists, suffragettes, progressives and key moments in the civil rights movement. So, to us, Troutbeck has a provenance that is totally relevant and contemporary. It just needed to feel and appear relevant and contemporary again.
It feels like Upstate NY is having something of a renaissance at the moment. Do you agree or has it always been this way?
Yes, to both! So, it may very well be that the coolest person at the bar tonight will be in his 80s and an icon of American art, or, as is the case with one of our neighbors, a seriously accomplished musician. We’re surrounded by all types: writers, actors, athletes, fashion directors, curators, bankers, entrepreneurs, and publishers. They’re all here and most will tell you they’ve been here for years. I don’t think that it’s a wholly undiscovered country, but, rather, that it’s been an under-served market for a very long time. There used to be only a handful of places to stay or eat and everything closed early – limited places to shop, limited places to socialize. It was primarily about staying with friends or renting a house.
Now, I think we’re seeing more and more people relocate out of the city because the ecosystem is maturing, with great restaurants, breweries, art institutions, and makers of all kinds. That, and the lifestyle is fantastic. You can do anything you want here. Race a car, climb a mountain, swim a lake, go on a sixty mile bike ride, ski, fly fish, eat great food or just take a bit of time to go on a hike, meditate, do some yoga. Or throw a great party at Troutbeck!
It’s clear to us that Troutbeck is so much more than a hotel – it’s an experience. How would you describe yourself and how do you want guests to feel when they come and stay?
Thanks for that. We’re only the fourth owners of this land since the mid 1700s. I’m very interested in places with soul and history. Something not conjured out of the ether to meet the trend. There’s resilience, significance and inspiration in Troutbeck’s history. We see that provenance as a preface to what we aim to accomplish now and in the future. Resisting the commodification of hospitality and returning to the experience, the place and the surrounding environment. We want you to feel as though you’ve walked into a house, generations in the making, now in the hands of a younger generation who know what good living, good conversation and good food is about and are sharing it with you – without any pretence.
What activities do you offer?
This time of year, it’s skiing. We have two very decent mountains near us, which are good fun for a quick weekend. On-property, we have two spectacular tennis courts set in a field at the base of Oblong Mountain – spectacular sunset games in the warmer months. We can arrange lessons or a clinic if you’d like. The pool has a sense of humor and riffs a little off of Slim Aaron’s photography. There’s a great bar and grill and an outdoor shower. Badminton, croquet, boules. Borrow one of our bicycles and take a short ride up the Harlem Valley Rail Trail to Millerton if you’d like. We’ve got a mile of river with three trout pools on it for those keen to cast a fly.
I should explain that we’re surrounded by over 5,000 of accessible wilderness. We can arrange just about anything you’d like. If you’re an athlete, training for a marathon or triathlon, we’ve partnered with Full Throttle Endurance (out of Chelsea Piers) and can arrange for their trainers to take you running, cycling, swimming. Lime Rock Race Track is down the road, if you’re keen to try out your lap times or want to watch some great auto sport. Hiking, yoga, pilates, meditation… you name it, we can arrange it for you.
Would you ever open up a place in England? If so, where?
I was involved in The Gainsborough, Bath, and am presently working on reopening Monkey Island, Bray, with YTL Hotels. Monkey Island is literally an island in the River Thames, below Windsor. It was formerly the fishing camp to the Earls of Spencer and later converted to a hotel. We will reopen it this year, with a strong culinary focus, great rooms and, well, it’s an island! On the Thames!
What are your favorite restaurants in NYC and London?
I’ve spent a lot of time at the bar at Blue Hill and Blue Ribbon; they are still my perennial favorites. In London, it’s Isabel, Mayfair or 5 Hertford Street. They are quality places with great people.
You walk into a cocktail bar. What’s your order and why?
I fret over cocktail menus. It’s a phobia, I’m sure. When I’m feeling it, I trust the bartender. But mostly, I’m a gin & tonic.
Describe your perfect night out in London and New York?
Both London and New York for me are about visiting with family and old friends. Though, you still get invited to dinners at home in London. I enjoy those the most. If I’m feeling like a night out, who doesn’t love Loulou’s? In New York, I’m up for anything.
What do you love about Just Opened?
Carpe Diem! It’s a great, trusted, go-to resource for fresh ideas. It’s so difficult to figure out where and what with the time I have to do it. So, you guys are a godsend.
Featured image: Anthony Champalimaud