Hotel Tivoli, Upstate New York

, October 16, 2017

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Arriving at the central crossroads of Tivoli, New York in September 2017 feels a lot like giving an inspection a model village midway through its development. As a gesture of normalcy, the “downtown” area of this tiny upstate hamlet is home to a 24-hour laundrette, a Mexican restaurant, a theatre and the more unusual Hotel Tivoli. A coffee shop, whiskey bar and general store are a weak stone’s throw away, contributing to the intimacy of place that is little known by most New Yorkers.

When Tivoli’s Madalin hotel and restaurant closed in 2013, renowned American artists Helen and Brice Marden purchased the property, proceeding to update the Victorian building to its bright and energetic landmark. By pulling in the skills of their photographer daughter, Mirabelle, and her longstanding interior designer friend, the established artists recruited the tastes of a younger generation. The quartet proceeded to reinterpret traditional materials with new colours and local finds. Dark Douglas fir wood flooring is lightly stained purple, while the robust marble bar was sourced from Brooklyn. Other furnishings were found from the nearby mid-century antique goldmine, Hudson, as well as through bizarre collectors listing on eBay.

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Despite having ample opportunity to go overboard with the eleven bedrooms in the hotel, sleeping quarters are spacious and airy. In my bedroom, the Parsons Bed from Room and Board is a striking choice, matched with an open hanging space, small writing desk and pair of chairs. A small collection of hotel stationery is a welcoming touch, designed by New York-based Reunion Goods & Services.

Wander downstairs from your room and dinner options are plenty. The hotel’s The Corner restaurant mirrors the eclecticism of the accommodation, though with a Mediterranean and farm-to-table emphasis guided by chef Devon Gilroy. I went for the heirloom tomatoes with homemade mozzarella, followed by the yellowtail poke. Feeling a little fragile after a long day in the summer heat, the blackberry mint lemonade was my Monday night tipple. A continental breakfast with scrambled eggs set me off to protein perfect day the following morning, paired with freshly baked bread, peanut butter and honey.

Beyond Hotel Tivoli’s terrace, you’ll find coffee at Murray’s, responsible for repurposing the local church for a new congregation, and Tivoli Bread & Baking, who have been built a following since turning on their ovens in 2003 under the guidance of owner Mike Gonnella. Even if you have no need for groceries, jump across the street to Tivoli General, sourcing produce from nearby Mead Orchard and Five Maple Farm – the U-Pick scene during harvest is vibrant. Tivoli General also sells the literature of local authors like Joseph Luzzi’s In a Dark Wood, which is presumably good when paired with European beer, also well curated. You might extend this introduction at the bar in Traghaven, another stone’s toss from the terrace at Hotel Tivoli.

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Training Notes

If you’re looking to make the most of the comfortable accommodation and sumptuous Mediterranean dishes, get your running shoes on and head to Tivoli Bays. Simply go south at crossroads down Montgomery Street and after two thirds of a mile, head down a slope and veer left over a creek. Continue on the road once you’ve crossed the creek, up the slope on the other side then look right to a trail that juts off to the right, called Access Road on Google Maps but it’s essentially a gravel track right on one mile from the doorstep of Hotel Tivoli.

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This trail takes you down to Tivoli Bays down the right fork, and to liberal arts school Bard College if you go left. If you’re prepared to make a 5-mile run out of it, swing into campus, via the Frank Gehry-designed Bard Fisher Center for Performing Arts and over to Blithewood, a late-19th-century building with an impressive landscaped garden that overlooks the Hudson and Catskills Mountains. Double back from here, making sure to keep safe on the road – there is no pavement along the 500m sloped section of the road either side of the creek.

Those looking to swim or lift weights can head to Bard College’s sports facilities, Stevenson Athletics Complex. By most university standards the gym is modest, but it still manages to house a 25m pool and plenty of space for training with barbells (no pull-up bars, unfortunately). A daily drop-in rate is $10, payable at the front desk.

I slept in the lovely bedroom #11 on the third floor overlooking the church (now coffee shop). To get to Hotel Tivoli, take Amtrak from Penn Station to Rhinecliff Station, ordering a taxi in advance through Village Taxi (845 757-2244), vital for taking you from the train station to the hotel. Amtrak costs c. $30 when purchased on the day, with the taxi costing an additional $20 when referencing Hotel Tivoli during booking.