Worth Traveling For: The Boarding House at Seminary Hill

By: Madeline Weinfield

In the mountainside hamlet of Callicoon, where the Delaware River snakes through the Catskills and cuts a divide between New York State and Pennsylvania, is one of the most beautiful boutique properties to enter the area’s increasingly exciting hotel landscape. That hotel, The Boarding House at Seminary Hill, just opened this summer and is, by all means, worth traveling for. Already at weekend capacity luring city and pandemic-weary travelers, the apartment-style hotel draws inspiration from boarding houses once ubiquitous in the region, while creating its own very modern concept that aces in comfort, design, and originality.

The Property

The Boarding House at Seminary Hill has given new life to the two buildings that once comprised Callicoon’s hospital, and later a linoleum-heavy apartment complex. The Boarding House is the design brainchild of Homstedt, the folks behind the eponymous shop in Livingston Manor and the much-instagrammed Livingston Manor Fly Fishing Lodge. The result is an aesthetic that marries Swedish cabin style with New English Shaker sensibilities—think pale, sanded wood floors, pallets of creams and stormy gray blues and greens meticulously curated to highlight the building’s American construction and puritan architecture. 

The Boarding House is home to seventeen bedrooms spread across eight apartments spanning  the property’s two adjacent buildings. The apartments are designed to host varying sizes of groups, from couples, to families, to pods of friends. It’s an elevated and creative approach to a market that has been dominated by Airbnb and a thoughtful way to meet the evolving needs of travelers in our age of road trips and weekend escapes.

The Upper House serves as a kind of lobby in that it’s home to a comfortable communal living room filled with over-stuffed seating, vintage rugs, book-lined walls and small nooks and tables that make the space feel as suited for hanging out as it does for working remotely. Check-in is more in the vein of an Airbnb than a hotel. Prior to arrival you’re emailed a code to access the front door of the Upper House as well as the door of your apartment. An innkeeper’s number and emergency contacts are provided, but there is no dialing down to a front desk. It’s an appealing way to begin a stay that feels all the more personal for it. 

photos by lawrence braun

The Apartments

The eight apartments are appointed with antique furnishings and modern touches (like deep couched and high-quality beds) that feel thought-through, lived-in, and functional. I stayed in Apartment Six in the Upper House which was light-filled and had windows facing three different views of the surrounding landscape. The only room on the top floor, I loved the privacy of it all, the vaulted beamed ceilings, the spacious living area and kitchenette and king bedroom complete with a claw foot tub lovingly squeezed below a window eave. Everything about the space felt considered, from the linen bedclothes (if you, like me, love them, you can purchase them on on Homstedt’s website), Turkish towels, and bamboo washcloths. The beauty of the design translates down into the details where even the flowers—both cut and dried—match the muted Farrow & Ball color scheme. It’s a design that complements the surroundings, gracious and rustic and entirely inspiring. 

The apartments are designed in such a way that even a long-term stay would be comfortable. Each apartment is supplied with a stocked kitchenette (hot plate, pots and pans, toaster, dishes, etc.), freshly ground coffee and local milk, and some light cleaning supplies, so you can really settle in. A full kitchen on the lower level of the Upper House is available for more elaborate cooking plans. 

photos by lawrence braun

What Else

Breakfast is served in the Upper House for Saturday and Sunday guests.  

photo by Peter Crosby

Life Beyond The Hotel

Like much of the Catskill’s little towns, Callicoon is all but shuttered during the week, but a discerning eye and an adventurous spirit can root out its gems during its quitter days Monday – Thursday. Check out Callicoon Wine Merchant for tapas natural wines by the glass or bottle and Spruce for local goods and treats. Head to the Tusten Mountain for a hike and Skinners Falls for a swim. The nearby North Branch Inn and the Launderette serve meals worthy of their New York City price tags.

Worth traveling for on its own, the Boarding House was dreamt of as an addition to the also very recently opened Seminary Hill Cidery. Just up the road from the Boarding House, the cidery’s acres of apple orchards (they grow around 60 varieties) overlook the Delaware and the valley below. The staff and cider makers are passionate about their craft, and are bottling cider with the care and precision often reserved for winemakers. You’ll want to stay all day. 

How Do I Get There?

Callicoon is a two ½ – three hour drive from New York City. You will need a car once here. 

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The Culture-ist