Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Roxbury Motel

We just returned from a wonderful trip to the Catskills. It took us about four hours to drive from Manhattan to our mini Shangi-La: The Roxbury Motel. The word "motel" normally has negative connotations, but the Roxbury Motel really is in its own category. The Roxbury Motel has recently been featured on National Geographic Traveler, NBC's Today Show, and it won the best hidden gem and best service categories in the 2009 Trip Advisor Traveler's Choice Awards.

We can't stop gushing about how great the owners Greg and Joseph are. They are so sincerely friendly and go above and beyond to make sure you have a fabulous experience at the motel. In fact, when we checked in, one of the owners Greg escorted us to our room and walked us around the property to show us everything. When was the last time you checked into a hotel and the owner gave you that kind of attention and service? Greg will chat with you like he's known you for ages and they'll help you out with questions and requests. They're just the most wonderful people and the combination of their great customer service and genuine friendliness with the clean and quirky motel will make this one of the best times you have.

We have a ton of photos so be patient with us. We'll start with our hotel room - Fred's Lair. We knew this was the room we absolutely had to stay in. How often do you get to stay in a Flinstones inspired motel room in a small town nestled in the mountains?

The pillows below were made out of sequins.

We were so happy to see how spic and span the room was. Hands down the cleanest hotel room we've ever stayed in. The room was perfect for a germaphobe like me. Everyday they cleaned the room for you, they cleaned it to perfection. They provided ample towels and they even put fresh daisies in our room.

The room wasn't that big since we chose one of their studio rooms but they did such a great job of using the space intelligently. We loved this shower next to our bed. And the water is so fresh!

The bathroom included these fantastic thyme bath products, including a great lemongrass wasabi hand soap. And they even provided you with ziploc bags to encourage you to take home the products (and you even had the option to purchase the full size from them).

The room came with an adequately sized fridge, microwave, flat screen T.V, coffee maker and coffee. And the coffee wasn't the typical Folder's type coffee; they provided us with delicious and socially responsible CropToCup coffee. Another great thing about the wing where our room was located was that we had two doors - one which opened right to our rental car and one (pictured below) which opened right onto the yard. It was the most convenient room location, especially since we could slip right into the Shimmer Spa with our bathrobes, which was located right next to our room. Check out their other studio theme rooms.

View of the section of the motel our room was located.

The Roxbury Motel's beautiful back yard.

The perfect spot to recline and read a book. One thing to note is that there's a ton of bees and other weird looking bugs flying around. In fact, we saw one huge flying insect with six long legs that looked like a combination of a mosquito and spider on steroids.

We wish we had a yard that looked like this.

You can also have a bonfire here at night.

This is the upstairs fire pit and lounge area where we ate our breakfast and had our post dinner wine. The pictures don't really do the beauty of the place justice.

Right next to the firepit lounge area is their dining room.

This is the kitchen located at the main entrance. When we first checked into the motel, we had to walk past this kitchen and it felt like walking into someone's home rather than a motel. They provide continental breakfast for all guests from 8 to 11 am - pastries and jam, fruits, yogurts, juice, coffee, tea.

They really have all the details down - from the cucumber water to the cheerios for the kids to the fresh batch of cookies and nuts they provide in the kitchen all day and night to the sweet candles in the kitchen.

Right next to the kitchen is the living room area. It really felt like someone's cozy home rather than a motel. There's a cabinet in this living room containing board games and tons of DVDs for your use for free (unlike other hotels that charge way too much for crappy and sparse movie purchases). They have almost the entire AFI's Top 100 Movies of the Past 100 Years DVDs. We took advantage of this by having movie nights with French Connection, Bringing up Baby, An Affair to Remember, Do the Right Thing, and two Indiana Jones movies.

One of our favorite areas at the motel was their porch. We enjoyed just sitting there in peace and silence while enjoying our wine and looking at the flowers.

We loved these beautiful blue flowers!

View of the top wing of the motel opposite to the wing we were staying in. We recommend people stay in the Fred Lair's wing if possible.

This is one of the entrances into the Shimmer Spa. For $20 you get access to the spa for your entire stay with access to the jacuzzi, sauna, and they provide you with the most comfortable bath robes. They'll even hire a massage therapist for you. Unfortunately, the goofs that we are, we thought it was $20 per day.

Next to the motel (literally a one minute walk from our room) is the Public Lounge. This place is fantastic - the food, the drinks, the friendly service, the cleanliness - it was all good. They were playing blues music and showing a Joan Crawford movie on one of the walls of the restaurant.

The waitress/bartender is one of the nicest people we met during our trip and she makes some pretty darn good, strong drinks. A fantastic margarita and the best Caipirnha.

On the menu it sounded like a basic salad with blue cheese and walnuts, but the lettuce was one of the freshest, buttery lettuces we've ever had. They literally got this down the street from the ground probably an hour prior to serving us. The first time I said I love salad and I usually don't like salad.

We don't really want to think about the fact that this could have been from down the road as well, but this steak was damn good.

A lady in the neighborhood made this raspberry mouse for Public that day. And she made only seven. A fine way to end the meal.

On our first visit to Public, we ordered their pizza with green olives. It was one of the best pizzas we've tasted. Normally when you order a pizza with olives, you're expecting the usual chopped up olives tossed on top. In this case, they embedded just the right pieces of the olives into the flavor without overpowering the other flavors. The thin crust was perfect. The sauce was just the right amount. And it wasn't oily at all. We loved this pizza so much that on our second and last visit to Public, and after eating all the above mentioned food items, we ordered a box to go, which is about 8 slices for $8.50. We ate it happily in our motel room while watching Indiana Jones.

There's a binder in the motel room containing restaurant recommendations. They gave the Peekamoose Restaurant and Tap Room the top nod. The restaurant is about a 30 minute drive from the motel.

The food and service was excellent. We had the bass with risotto and a vegetable platter. We also tried local beer (brewed 10 minutes away from the restaurant). It was good but the Public Lounge was more our flavor (and more affordable and convenient).

We were enjoying our dinner when we saw something moving around in the dumpster in the parking lot near our rental car. Bear sighting! A first for us.

The Cheese Barrel in Margaretville (about a 30 minute drive from the motel). It's a country store that has an ice cream parlor, sells homemade sandwiches (as take out or dine in), and tons of sweets, treats, teas, and jams. The deli's prices here is refreshingly far from Manhattan deli prices. We sat on one of three tables they have right in the middle of the store.

A simple yet absolutely delicious ham and cheese hot croissant sandwich for under $4. We also had a delicious and filling tuna sandwich for $2.95. The prices harken back to the old days.

We also drove to Woodstock (although we didn't make the drive to Bethel). Very appropriately, John Cougar Mellancamp's Small Town was playing on the radio during our drive. To be straightforward, Woodstock was pretty boring and a bit of a tourist trap, but we're glad we got to experience another small town in New York. One of our highlights in Woodstock was this store. The lady had strange, funny, unusual, and lots of creative toys and clothes that has been used as props on shows and movies.

We wanted to buy this painting.

On the drive to and out of Roxbury on the main road is Heller's Fabulous Furniture that sells wood and metal furniture as well as car art. The furniture is made on site in his workshop behind the store. If we had the money (because his stuff was very expensive), we would have bought half the stuff here.

What caught our eye and made us stop at the store were his artwork on the yard. Remember, this is an odd sight in an area of trees, fields and mountains.

And last but not least is the town of Roxbury where the Roxbury Motel is located. It's a very quiet town. We didn't see one grocery store or even a small hospital and you won't find any clothing stores here. We saw one fruit stand, one tiny shed selling corn on the roadside, several barns, a few restaurants, a few antique stores, and that's about it. It was mostly fields upon fields and mountains upon mountains. There's also a ton of beautiful "All American as Apple Pie" homes that all have beautiful porches, American flags hanging from the windows, and manicured yards. These people take pride in their homes. We couldn't help but wonder what those people that lived in those homes did for a living considering there didn't seem to be much going on in the town except for farming and what the people did for fun. It's a different way of living that we're certainly foreign to. But all the people we met on the trip were very warm and friendly.

People go to the Roxbury to go hiking during warmer months or skiing during the winter months, but it's just as nice to go there just for peace and tranquility and to essentially do nothing and unwind down a thousand notches. But, we have to say that we probably would not have gone to the Roxbury if not for the desire to stay at the Roxbury Motel. And we probably would not have had the enjoyable experience we did if we stayed at one of the nearby roadside motels in the area. Staying at the Roxbury Motel really made our visit what it was.

Check out the chair made for a giant below at Rick's Barn.

Church for sale. Sadly, we saw a lot of for sale signs.

Time flew by. We went from sleeping with the sound of nothing to sleeping with the sound of cars honking, bottles shattering, and people yelling. Thanks to our friend Erika for recommending the Roxbury Motel. If not for her, we wouldn't have known about this hidden gem and we wouldn't have been able to experience another side to New York or small town America.

On another note, Greg told us that Roxbury Motel will be expanding. We even got to see some of the possible new theme rooms; we had our eye on one in particular that we'd love to stay at (but we wouldn't give that away now). We also learned Greg and Joseph lived not far from our apartment. We're not certain what they did for a living when they lived in Manhattan, but what they've done in transforming a plain motel into the Roxbury Motel is just genius.