Catskills Weekend: Getting the ‘Hygge’ on at the Eastwind Hotel and Bar

Remember hygge? The Danish vibe that was #goals for every influencer in 2019? By definition, it is the cozy feeling of socializing with loved ones, snuggling in warm clothes beside a roaring fire, and enjoying indulgent foods – all paired with a mug of tea or mulled wine, naturally. As delightful as it sounds, this was basically our lives in 2020 when “forced hygge” became our reality.

But now that we are slowly returning to traveling and socializing, some are still unsure about leaving the COVID-created cocoon. And we’re happy to report that there is a way for those people to ease back into it all, as well as way for those unnerved by the anxieties and tensions of post(?)-pandemic Gotham to just get out for a few chill days.

The oh-so-hygge Eastwind Hotel and Bar in Windham, NY (in the perpetually trending Catskills region), is a very stylish, Scandi-inspired hotel less than three hours from New York City. The property was founded in 2018 by a group of friends in hospitality, food, and fashion as a decisive retreat from the rigors of city life. The refurbished 1920’s era lodge has been completely remodeled in a modern Nordic minimalist style, with lots of airy spaces, raw wood, and mid-century antiques.   

Image by Lawrence Braun

While the main house offers sleek but rustic and spacious accommodations, the real stars of the Eastwind are its Insta-worthy Lushna cabins and suites. Nestled into the mountainside alongside soaring pines and wildflower meadows, they’re grouped into tiny communities reminiscent of a summer camp, yet with more than a touch of luxury. 

We checked into one of those cozy A-frame cabins, which offered just enough space for two to snuggle in the queen size, Frette-bedecked bed and enjoy glorious views of the Catskill mountains just outside. The private bathroom was located just outside the Lushna – but relax, this was no outhouse. The heated full-size bath boasted a huge rain shower with a glass ceiling that evoked the distinct feeling of bathing outdoors, but with lots of shelf space, tile floors, and ikat-print, poncho-style robes. (For the more modest, the Lushna suites have an interior bath and lounge area, plus a deck for basking in the golden glow of the sunset).

Our cabin also had a fire-pit complete with complimentary S’mores kit. But for our first evening we opted instead for a seat at the Eastwind’s stylish bar, with its wraparound windows and signature cocktails featuring locally crafted spirits.

The hotel has no formal restaurant (it does occasional communal style dinners in summer), but it is perfectly situated for making a Catskills gastronomic excursion, which was most definitely our core mission – especially as there has been something of a mini culinary revolution unfolding up north. Though we actually kicked if off in classic style, at the buzzy Phoenicia Diner.

Fitted into a retro cool ’60s-era building, breakfast is served there all day, with eggs so fresh you’d swear they have a few dozen chickens running around somewhere in the back (we didn’t check), and the Dam Good Breakfast Sandwich – coffee rubbed Catskills farm ham, arugula, egg, manchego cheese and spicy tomato jam – is the absolute must. But we also did an order of the sublime house French toast, made with house-baked Pullman bread. (For lunch we’d suggest the Rueben w/ house-cured corned beef and all the toppings, the Route 28 Cobb w/ locally sourced vegetables and just-caught steelhead trout, or the vegan Nashville Hot Shroom Sandwich, made with locally foraged and fried oyster mushrooms.)

On our way back to the Eastwind, we tuned into Drive 28, a podcast that serves as a local driving guide focusing on history and sustainability, arts & culture, and outdoor adventure in the region. 

Tannersville is where a lot of the action is happening these days. And the farm-to-table (that means something more up here) Jessie’s Harvest House forwards a seasonal menu, but also impeccable daily specials to take advantage the best meats, fish, and produce regionally available. Chef-owner Phil DeFalco was trained at Culinary Institute of America and also did time at the prestigious Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester, NY. We chose to indulge in those aforementioned dinner specials, which included slow braised steak tacos with an Asian-inspired slaw and a crispy eggplant entrée on a bed of arugula with a generous globe of the creamiest burrata this side of Puglia.

The region is also renowned for locally made beer, and the next day we made our way up a twisting mountain road to the West Kill Brewing Co., which is a little hard to find, but very well worth it. Located on a historic 127-acre dairy farm, beers are brewed with a commitment to quality, taste and, most importantly these days, environmental factors – with ales, lagers, and IPAs crafted from fresh mountain well water and locally grown/foraged ingredients. We particularly enjoyed the Saphouse Maple Brown Ale (brewed with maple bark and maple syrup) and Creekside Sour Ale – both uniquely delicious.  

For dinner we were back in Tannersville at recently opened Tabla, which bills itself as “a family run neighborhood spot,” but is actually much more than that. From the moment we walked through the front door, we felt the warm and inviting atmosphere embracing us – and the staff stopped just short of physically doing so, as well. And much like its hospitality, Tabla’s tapas menu is designed to be shared. To start, we got the incredibly rich whipped feta, whose creaminess was offset by peppery EVOO and sweet + savory herbs. Following that, the Tortilla Espanola, with caramelized onion, herb aioli, and balsamic greens, took creative liberties with the classic Spanish dish, but in the very best way possible. And we couldn’t resist a main event of Salsiccia house-made sausage and roasted fennel square pizza, which was perfect for two.

Of course even in Upstate New York, no Scandinavian-style retreat would be complete without a hot tub and saunas – and the Eastwind had two of the latter, which were community-style. But we were more inclined towards the wood-fired oversized barrel hot tub, which is the perfect way to wind down after taking in some of the myriad action around here, including skiing, hiking, swimming on Colgate Lake or Ziplining at Hunter Mountain. Needless to say, we took a pass on the latter.

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