Hotel Intel: Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz NY

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You don’t have to travel to Italy and throw down thousands of dollars Kardashian-style to sleep in a castle.

If you’re willing to spend time with some old folks (they’re more fun than you think) and travel to less-exotic upstate New York, you can vacation in an enchanting Victorian castle—the Mohonk Mountain House—that has hosted five U.S. presidents. Take that, Kim Kardashian-West.

First Impressions

Photo by Jim Smith Photography

After a winding drive through a pine forest, the turrets and stone structure begin to peek out from the trees and before you know it, a castle towers above you. Upon entering Mohonk Mountain House, you will find that excitement fills the warm lobby, from older couples eager to embark on their annual Mohonk pilgrimages to children bewildered by the castle. What used to be a 10-room inn is now just a part of the multi-winged resort. Reception is on the ground floor, and down the carpeted hallways are lounges looking over the lake, hidden nooks with fireplaces, dining rooms, a dimly lit library and a billiard room. And there are still three other floors. While it’s clear this massive castle-like estate can overwhelm, you will find peace and comfort in your cozy room.

The Room

Fireplaces are mandatory at Mohonk Mountain House, so there’s a good chance you will find one in your room (if not, there’s one waiting somewhere down the hall). The circular “Tower Rooms” are the coolest—if not just for the fact that they’re in a tower, then for the views of the Shawangunk Mountains. If you like bright and airy, go for the “Country Rooms,” but if you want that dark castle vibe, we highly recommend the “Victorian Rooms.” Whichever room you choose, it will be decked out in patterned wallpaper, kitschy antiques, rocking chairs, flouncy valances and as much wood as possible. We like to call it, classy-country, or Grandma’s palace. If you’re traveling with a large group, Mohonk also offers cottages.

What Pops

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Aside from the obvious (the architecture), what impressed me most were the facilities. Thanks to multiple renovations since its 1869 founding, the resort boasts an ice-skating rink, a lake, horse stables, an award-winning spa with an outdoor hot tub facing the mountains, a golf course, and a garden. The most remarkable is Mohonk’s naturally occurring facility—the 40,000 acres of mountains directly outside of the property. The 85-miles of trails allow for hiking, biking and rock-climbing toward the top, where you will find cliffs and a stone tower (pictured above). Climb to the top if you’ve still got some energy for views of five states on a clear day. If you think Mohonk Mountain House is breathtaking, wait until you see if from above.

The Locale

Photo by Jim Smith Photography

The resort is right outside of New Paltz, New York, plopped in the middle of the Shawangunk Mountain Range. There’s not a lot to do nearby, which is fine because you’re staying at an all-inclusive with activities galore.

Maggie Parker is Paste Magazine’s assistant travel editor.

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