A Rustic New Year’s

January 3, 2017 § 2 Comments


For New Year’s weekend, we decided to leave town for two nights on a short road trip. As this was planned rather last minute and we wanted to venture off the beaten path (AKA avoid going to another big city), our destinations ended up being pretty random. But we found some gems along the way and ultimately had a romantic and relaxing retreat.

On Saturday morning, we drove 1.5 hours from Manhattan to Cedar Lakes Estate just outside Port Jervis, a town right on the tri-state (NY/NJ/PA) border.

The 500-acre property and its collection of cabins look gorgeous in the summertime photos on its site — I can see why it’s popular for weddings — but it was a different story in winter. The place was deserted. Well, there were cars parked around, but nobody was in the office, and when we called, the manager said she would send housekeeping to our cabin within the hour. (To be fair, we arrived pretty early.)

None of these are complaints, just things that surprised us as part of our first-time cabin-staying experience. Instead of a standard check-in or checkout, the housekeeper left the key in the cabin with the door unlocked, and we left it the same way upon leaving the next day. Super casual.

2cle 3cle-key

We stayed in Garden Suite #7 (the middle one above), which was gorgeously decorated in bright whites, including a gleaming white Smeg fridge in the kitchen. We were suitably impressed — everything looked very clean and new. There were also two other beds in a separate room, though I’m not sure how six people would share the space given there were only two chairs at the kitchen table, haha.

4cle16cle-kitchen 7cle3

Other bedrooms

Other bedrooms

Our only gripe was that the bed and pillows weren’t very comfortable, but they were fine for one night. Oh, and there were no blinds for the small window in the front door, so anyone could just look in and spy on us………creepy.


The retro-looking oven was secretly modern

The retro-looking oven was secretly modern


The bathroom floor had a beautiful chevron tile pattern that perfectly matched my White + Warren slippers, which I’m so glad I brought because that tile was COLD in the morning! Definitely could’ve used some heated floors.

That afternoon, after considering our remote location, we went out to pick up some groceries. We didn’t spend too much time in Port Jervis (pop. 8,668 as of 2013), but it appeared to be more of the ramshackle variety of small town — not the cutest destination. (We saw plenty of Trump/Pence signs everywhere we drove…truly upstate NY!)

We hit up JJ Delicatessen, which was well-stocked with Polish and other European goods like pierogies and kielbasa, and picked up snacks and ingredients to make sandwiches.


These chocolate snacks tasted like cardboard :|

These chocolate snacks tasted like cardboard :|

Our options were limited for dinner; there weren’t any standout restaurants in the area, and even the dining recommendations given by Cedar Lakes Estate were a bit of a drive away. The one restaurant we were interested in was closed for the weekend, so we just made a reservation at El Patron, a casual Mexican place nearby.

Goblet of mojito

Goblet of mojito

The food and ambiance were pretty mediocre (pretty much all the customers were large white people), and it certainly wouldn’t hold a candle to any establishment in NYC, but we were happy to be together and just went home and watched movies in bed. (If you haven’t watched the documentary “Tickled,” you really need to — it’s absurdist, unexpectedly disturbing and totally riveting.)

On Sunday morning, we packed up and hauled off to Narrowsburg, a little less than an hour away. It was a beautiful day, which made the drive along the Delaware River that much more scenic.

14byway1 15byway

For brunch, we randomly went to the Heron, a celebrated restaurant that has been featured in Food & Wine magazine along with plenty of other publications. We only did our research after eating there and didn’t know to order the fried chicken, oops. At least we got their fresh chicken liver mousse, which was delicious.

J gave the corned beef hash two thumbs up

J gave the corned beef hash two thumbs up

We were very excited by the restaurant’s local cider selection, though I was recovering from a bad cold and didn’t actually want to consume alcohol with breakfast. That didn’t stop us from going to the liquor store next door and buying a bunch of cider, which I hope to feature on my cider blog soon!

The shopkeeper gave us a taste of Fair quinoa vodka, which we had spied at the Heron’s bar and were quite curious about. I don’t know anything about what good vodka is supposed to taste like, but J said it was “almost unsettlingly smooth.” It was pretty easy drinking — so much for no alcohol that morning.

Narrowsburg’s main street was quite small, but it was clearly leaps and bounds more our style than Port Jervis. A bit farther down the block was One Grand bookstore (previously featured in the NY Times, which we also didn’t find out until later); we just went in because the window display featured books written by many of the notable people who had died in 2016 — how interesting yet macabre!


The store was immaculately designed, and the shelves were arranged by collections of 10 favorite books of notable people (most of whom are still alive) from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Tilda Swinton. The shopkeeper, who unbeknownst to us was Aaron Hicklin, store owner and current editor in chief of Out magazine, told us that he mostly found out these people’s book preferences by simply emailing them. We were pretty agog at this, but it makes a lot more sense knowing he’s the head of a major magazine!

We left Narrowsburg full, delighted and with armfuls of cider and books, and headed down to Barryville, just 20 minutes the way we came.


That Wi-Fi password tho

That Wi-Fi password tho

J would not stop giggling at the name of our digs for the night, Stickett Inn, which was every bit as cheeky as its name sounds — the cottage out back is called Stickett Inn (The Rear). Out of the four rooms in the main inn, we chose the Steam-themed room, which has a luxe, high-tech steam shower (it was AMAZING).

Stone wall is just wallpaper

Stone wall is just wallpaper

The rest of the place was decidedly shabby-chic, with sparse furnishings in the living room, zero counter space in the bathroom and a metal cold-plunge tub that I’m not sure I’d get in even on a hot day.


The bed was much more comfortable, though the covers were not nearly thick enough, especially given that the place didn’t have central heating, just a loud and dinky space heater by the bed — we ended up getting pretty cold in the middle of the night!

I’m sure there’s a lot more to do in the area during warmer seasons and not on holiday weekends, but we had a good time snuggling and reading and steaming. We definitely want to go back to Narrowsburg to try the rest of the Heron’s food and drink menu (and maybe stock up on cider and books) so it’s a good thing it’s only two hours away!



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