The chicly simple life

A Catskills bolthole with an ultra-hip rustic-chic vibe

The Catskills hamlet of Phoenicia – home to just 309 residents and a main street, where the hardware store and local watering hole dominate the scene – is the improbable location of a new, hip boutique hotel, The Graham & Co.

I’m guessing it will be a game changer for the place. The rustic-chic hotel is the brainchild of four Brooklynites – Bianca Barattini, Jason Gnewikow, Amanda Bupp and Jeff Madalena – who work in the worlds of fashion and design and spend weekends in this laid-back part of New York State. Their first foray into hospitality is a 20-room hotel-motel with stylishly simple rooms designed in a camping-basic way, accessorised with vintagey knick-knacks – such as Tivoli radios – plus the kind of beds, benches and tables that have a pared-down sculptural feel, in a sort of Donald Judd-inspired way. Stark modernist furniture in various finishes lends an edgy vibe (quite literally), but the overall ambience is warm and welcoming.

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The hotel’s low-key hang-out areas – pool (complete with car inner tubes doubling as rubber rings and mountain views), badminton and croquet courts, snack bar and kitschy homemade outdoor cinema showing movies at dusk – make mooching about at The Graham & Co feel like being at an ultra-hip house party. It’s relaxed, cool and super stylish. I visited in summer, but in winter there’s cross-country and downhill skiing at nearby Hunter Mountain, plus snowshoeing and the atmospheric warmer of roaring fires.

One of the amenities The Graham & Co lists on its menu is “Solitude”. I’ll take that – plus a bonfire overlooking Esopus Creek – over a five-star spa and slippers almost any day.

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