Whether you’re a denizen of the city or visiting NYC for business or pleasure, the intensity of everything the Big Apple has to offer can sometimes wear thin. If you’re pining for an easy weekend or weekday escape, leafy Westchester County (dubbed New York State’s Golden Apple) is just a stone’s throw away.
A storied place to rest your head
Located in the heart of the Hudson Valley that stretches north to Albany, Tarrytown House Estate on the Hudson in Tarrytown (Westchester County), New York is only 30 miles from the bustle of Manhattan. Here, guests will find a respite from the city’s high density of traffic, noise and people—a literal and figurative breath of fresh air.
A gracious driveway, lined with walls of old local stone and surrounded by towering trees, leads to the registration area. The sprawling, 26-acre property is anchored by two historic mansions from the 1840s that have been lovingly restored, now combined to form one magnificent estate. On the northern end is the porticoed Georgian-style King Mansion, once owned by B&O railroad magnate, Thomas King.
Further south is the Biddle Mansion with its impressive stone porte cochere, owned in the 1920s by Mary Duke Biddle, one of the richest women in America who was an heir to the Duke tobacco fortune and the wife of Ambassador Anthony Drexel Biddle.
A popular event venue and conference center, Tarrytown House Estate recently emerged from a $15 million property-wide redesign.
The resort-style hotel offers two distinct types of updated, overnight accommodations: These include 10 rooms in the King Mansion, and 214 lifestyle rooms—stylishly renovated with contemporary furnishings and decor—spread over three levels in a four-sided building that sits between the two mansions.
For those seeking a more bespoke experience, one that offers the nostalgia and romance of a bygone era, opt for a stay in one of the guest rooms in the King Mansion. The boldness of the black, white and gray Joan Mirò-inspired wallpapered ceilings immediately catches your gaze and lifts your spirits. The ceiling almost appears to be painted, brilliantly tying together the modern, Escher-like geometric bedspread with the black-and-white, Victorian-style tile work in the bathroom.
The room’s furnishings are a playful but tasteful blend of antique, contemporary and shabby chic pieces. Covered in luxury linens, the beds are uber-comfortable. The updated King Mansion rooms with high ceilings have flatscreen TVs, complimentary Wi-FI and coffeemakers. Some offer oversized, step-out patios with jaw-dropping views of the Hudson River.
Their old-world ambiance is enhanced with original wood floors and moldings, and decorative fireplaces (though not operative).
The Biddle House is now the site of a large ballroom, conference room, Cellar 49 (a cozy restaurant and bar), and the Winter Palace, a large windowed space where breakfast is served to guests each morning.
Nature-lovers will enjoy the property’s walking paths and manicured grounds that are covered with spectacular trees. During the Gilded Age, as a gift to their hosts, international guests visiting the mansions often planted the seeds of different species that matured into the grove of trees that exists today. The property also has an indoor pool and a newly renovated Fitness Center. Depending on the season, guests can enjoy the outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, and other recreational facilities and activities.
Dine with a celebrity chef
One brand new, very big draw: The property’s 180-seat signature restaurant and bar, Goosefeather, located on the main floor of the King Mansion. Since it opened last summer, it has become a destination restaurant attracting not only hotel guests but sophisticated food lovers from all over Westchester and surrounding counties (including New York county).
Operated by celebrity Chef Dale Talde and his wife, Agnes, Goosefeather is the first venture under the auspices of the couple’s new firm, Food Crush Hospitality. The very personable Chef Talde, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), was a two-time contestant and fan favorite on Top Chef. He also competed on Chopped, Iron Chef America, Knife Fight and Beat Bobby Flay.
The extensive menu, which might be described as highly inventive, contemporary Chinese cuisine with a Hong Kong flair, includes barbecued meats, noodle dishes, rice, Cantonese dumplings, Peking duck, and more. The chef uses high-quality fresh and seasonal ingredients, many of them sourced from farms in the surrounding Hudson Valley.
The wide variety of menu offerings makes it hard to narrow down choices. The dishes, many creative riffs on old-time favorites, are well-prepared, visually appealing on the plate, and tasty. When diners smell the enticing aromas and see the parade of appetizing dishes arrive at nearby tables, they invariably develop a case of “table-envy” and order “what they’re having,” too.
The dining room is split into four areas so guests feel as if they are dining in a much smaller setting. The intimate and dimly-lit bar, with an inviting cocktail menu, feels romantic with only nine seats and some additional banquette seating.
The informal feel of all four dining rooms complements the innovative, whimsy of the menu. Like the guest rooms in the King Mansion, they, too, have Mirò-inspired ceilings but this time, in an array of vibrant colors. The affable and knowledgeable general manager, Carlos Baz, oversees the beverage program and seems omnipresent, assuring the quality of the service.
While there: Explore the area
The surrounding area in Westchester is rich with history and begs to be explored so when you visit the estate, you’ll want to allow time to do so. Nearby is Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving; Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the park-like, “garden cemetery” that houses Irving’s grave; Kykuit, the house museum that was once the Rockefeller family compound; and Lyndhurst, a mansion that was home to financier Jay Gould, one of the best examples of Gothic revival architecture. Don’t miss the 1771-acre Rockefeller State Park Preserve that has some 45 miles of trails for walking or hiking.