This New Hotel in New York's Catskill Mountains Has Outdoor Fire Pits, Gorgeous Antiques, and the Best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

A closer look at the Wyndham Wilder hotel, which opened in July 2022.

The exterior of Wylder Hotel Windham

Michael Carnevale

I've been driving up to Windham, a small town in New York's Catskill Mountains, for years. Usually, I turn right off New York State Route 23, toward my family's house. This time, however, I turned left. That's because I was forgoing a stay with my folks to visit the new Wylder Windham hotel, which opened in July following a massive renovation, instead. And, as I crossed the small bridge stretching over the rock-strewn Batavia Kill stream and drove up to the two-story white clapboard main lodge, I could instantly tell this transformation would be special. 

The hotel has existed in one form or another since 1880, and thankfully, the renovation has retained much of its historic charm. Inside, new wide-plank oak floors complement antique golden yellow couches flanking a welcoming fireplace that makes for the perfect place to relax after the three-hour drive from New York City

Next to the fireplace sits a beautifully restored heirloom backgammon set, which tempted me to settle down and play a round while sipping a glass of something strong. Old books — some purchased and some found during the renovation — line every shelf, lending a warmth to the lobby that only weathered pages can. 

A bar and bedroom inside the Wylder Hotel Windham

Courtesy of Wylder Hotel Windham

Once upstairs, I settled into my room, which came with a cozy red rug and purposefully mismatched furniture that made the space feel like home, and took a seat on one of the Adirondack chairs on the balcony. I looked down at the heated pool and up at the surrounding mountains, mesmerized by the carved ski runs of nearby Windham Mountain and the lush greenery you can only find by leaving NYC.

It was quiet, and it was comforting. That's precisely the vibe John Flannigan, the founder and CEO of Wylder Hotels, was going for when he took on the property. 

The pool at Wylder Hotel Windham

Courtesy of Wylder Hotel Windham

"It felt whimsical, yet really familiar," Flannigan, who grew up in upstate New York himself, shared. "It reminded me of childhood places I've been with my parents." 

The hotel has 110 rooms spread across seven buildings, and as of October, had opened all of them to guests. The property, which stretches across 20 acres, offers enough nostalgic amenities to bring you back to a time before screens: There are wood-fired saunas and fire pits strewn throughout the grounds, pickleball courts and corn hole boards, a (free) Ms. Pac-Man arcade game in the rec room, a restored vintage Land Rover Defender 110, and hammocks framed by trees, overlooking the creek and the mountain beyond.

A hammock with view at Wylder Hotel Windham

Michael Carnevale

Aerial of 5 Wedgewood Drive in Windham, Maine on a lake
Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

"It's about nature, and it's about activating it in a way that feels natural," Flannigan said. "I think sitting in an Adirondack chair next to a streaming river without hearing car noises is divine. We try to give those experiences to people."

Taking Flannigan's advice, I went down the hill outside the property and crossed over the grass to find the creek. The water twisted and swirled around the rocks as it slowly flowed through town. If I followed the creek, I'd find my way to the Windham Path, a 1.5-mile loop filled with wildflowers, a classic covered bridge, and that rambling water providing the best soundtrack. This idyllic scene is just what you want in a place like Windham.

Windham is a sleepy town in many ways, and that's what you want when you escape the city. But the hotel also put me in the middle of a town packed with quirky jewelry shops selling ski pendant necklaces and quilt shops packed with floor-to-ceiling color, alongside an absolutely thriving food scene.

Just a two-minute walk back over the creek brought me to Union and Post, where I spent a night listening to live music and nursing a Ski Bum cocktail with tequila, pomegranate liqueur, lime, agave, and just a sprinkle of cinnamon for warmth. For a more romantic evening, you can also try the nearby Deer Mountain Inn's restaurant, which comes with just the right amount of candlelight and serves simple food made from ingredients sourced from local farms or directly from the hotel's garden.

There's plenty more to do here beyond shopping and dining, too. In the winter, you can ski, and in the summer, you can ride Windham Mountain's scenic chairlift. But one of the best ways to spend a day is with a wine flight at The Vineyard at Windham, a small winery tucked into the rolling hills just outside town. Sitting on the patio, sipping a glass of your choosing and snacking on olives and fruit, I couldn't think of a better spot to soak in a quiet afternoon. 

Back at the Wylder, I headed to the hotel's restaurant Babblers, which pairs the traditional with the innovative (think blistered shishito peppers with cilantro lime crème fraîche, which my sister loved so much she tried to recreate at home, to no avail). But the real highlight was the strawberry rhubarb pie with homemade vanilla soft serve that came from the restaurant's bakery that had me — almost embarrassingly — devouring every last flakey crumb. 

Like the hotel itself, the pie was simple, nostalgic, and perfectly executed. And that's what made the Wylder special. It’s a modern property in every way that counts, but that knows exactly where it came from and embraces its past.

Room rates vary by season but start at $215 a night. Learn more and book your stay here.

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