Places to Stay

Golden arrow Lakeside Resort Lake Placid, Adirondacks region is not, in fact, on Lake Placid but on Mirror Lake, and the minute you look out of your bedroom window, you see why. The beauty is reflected back instantly. Children dive off pontoons, paddle boarders pootle and kayakers explore hidden corners which lie at the foot of imposing mountains. Ironically this lake is more placid than Placid as motor boats are banned, making this a very peaceful resort. It is also very responsible, with the US Audubon Society awarding it their top accolade, because with a wealth of low carbon practices, the Golden Arrow has rightly now gone platinum.

A lower budget option in the Adirondacks is the mountain lodge or ‘loj’ movement. These are mountain cabins catering for hikers and the original one was opened in 1890 by Henry Van Hoevenberg on the shores of Heart Lake. He then went on to build many more in the High Peaks, offering warmth and food to hikers. This tradition continues under the management of The Adirondack Mountain Club. Superb facilities, if a little basic, run by mountain lovers for mountain lovers.

The Rhinecliff Hotel, Hudson Valley is for train lovers. If you crave the romance of train travel, this is for you. Step off the Amtrak train just a whistle away from this very cool boutique hotel, which also overlooks the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains beyond. Guests sign a train waiver to say that they are aware that there are trains passing by from time to time. So, if you don’t like that, or the idea of good local musicians, fine local art, great food, a laid back creative vibe and trains shaking the bed, this isn’t for you. Go find a Marriott. I, for one, am sticking with the love train.

Morgan State House, Albany is a haven amongst the concrete corporate conglomerates of this impressive capital city. An elegant brownstone building overlooking Washington Park, its wood panelled interior, magnificent oak staircase and original wooden shutters make this feel like some rich dowager’s dwelling. As if there is a kind patron lurking in an attic room, who leaves cookies out for peckish callers, breakfast in the fridge and an elegant urban garden for sipping iced tea. This is a beautiful bolthole.

Wellness: Té Lodge ,Taberg, Central New York is a family run collection of cabins set into a magical woodland, with Fish Creek running through its sixty acres. Swim, kayak or tube the river, hike their trails or just enjoy the quiet beauty of this home, created by conservationists Christophe and Karen Marin-Gerlach. Warm and generous hosts, this is a place you wish you had booked for a week. If you visit by train, nearest stop Rome (really), they will collect you from the station if they can.

Conrad Hotel, New York City, is on the Hudson River shore in downtown Battery Park City. It has been awarded the US LEED Gold certification, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Undoubtedly sumptuous and cool, I am not convinced by the two TV’s in the room, or the excess plastic toiletries, but the green roof is certainly impressive. The luxury hotel brands have a way to go in terms of embracing all aspects of sustainability, but at least some are making a start.

Handsome Brook Farm, Franklin, Catskills region is a working organic blueberry farm (with chickens and pigs thrown in). A welcoming and very comfy bed and breakfast run by the affable Bryan and Betsi Babcock, this is a wonderful spot for kids to enjoy the farm, but also adults who want to garner vast amounts of regional knowledge, because these guys are Catskill clever clogs as well as natural born hosts.

New York’s State Parks not only have a wealth of campsites but also a collection of cabins in exquisite locations. I stayed in one on Wellesley Island State Park on the shores of the St Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands Seaway Region. It has everything you need for a serious outdoorsy time and was just a skimming stone’s throw from the water, not forgetting the 600 acres of island idyll complete with hiking trails and nature centre just minutes away.

Sunset Cottages on Oneida Lake, Sylvan Beach in Central New York, are owned by the Stewart family who have been hosting people in this vintage style vacation town for eight generations. Sylvan Beach has generations of New York families who come back year after year for fun in the sun, volleyball on the beach, and boating on the lake. Come after Labor Day, and you have the place to yourself.

Owls Landing B&B is in Cooperstown, Central New York, a town which is most famous for the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, this is also a town that values conservation and sustainability, with a dynamic farmer’s market , a vibrant Otsego Land Trust to protect its lake and a film festival that celebrates environmental stewardship. This B&B is a microcosm of this community, with walking trails around its ancient woodland and a superb host, Pat Szarpa, who is also an expert birder.

Mohonk Mountain House, Hudson Valley is unique. Not often you can say that, but it has been owned by the same Smiley family since 1869, located on the stunning Shawangunk Ridge overlooking Minnewaska State Park, and fostered by its Quaker founder ‘as a dedication to the cause of peace’. Albert Smiley held annual conferences on international arbitration here and today it continues to promote environmental awareness with the Mohonk Consultations. Located on Lake Mohonk, it has endless miles of walking trails and endless miles of rooms, the latter with an old fashioned elegance that make you feel as stately as many of the people who have passed through here.

Another World B&B, Finger Lakes is slightly in its own world, with the effervescent owner having created this eco-friendly inn just a year ago. It is unapologetic chintz but hosted with such charm that you want to wrap yourself up in the homemade quilts, tuck up on the porch rocking chair, drink iced tea and wallow in Whitman ’til the sun sets. One of the best breakfasts in New York too, by the way, with frittatatas made with local herbs and tomatoes, French toast and NY maple syrup just two things on a long list. This is another world to chill and chow down.

Bear Mountain Inn, Hudson Valley is where the Appalachian Trail began, so you can arrive in the afternoon, head to the summit of Bear Mountain and know that you have taken on one section of one of the most famous walking trails in the world before dinner. Dinner was also a peak moment on my NY travels. Still wearing hiking boots, I indulged in the award-winning Chef Michael Matarazzo’s sample menu. Hudson Valley duck breast, Hudson Valley foie gras, pan seared pave of Halibut and grapefruit panna cotta were just a few of the treats in store. Gave me good incentive to take on another hike in the morning, not that you need much incentive here. You can also get here in 1.5 hours by bus from NYC.

Allegiance B&B, Finger Lakes is a perfect location for visiting Letchworth State Park. More mansion than b&b, this is the sort of American grandeur that skims on the edge of camp. But totally congenial. It has mature hidden gardens behind its colonnade façade and, if you wander around them with Steve, the owner, you will be rewarded with the extraordinary history of the underground railway movement which went under this house during the civil war. Now it is a house full of books and music, a baby grand piano and not so baby but still grand bedrooms.


Unusual & Responsible New York State accommodation >

Choose from a selection of 13 New York State options from US $89.


1 day Adirondacks hiking tours in New York State >

1 day hike across the wonders of the Adirondacks from US $150 per tour.


Finger Lakes kayak tours and kayak rental, New York State >

Guided kayak/canoe tours in the Finger Lakes region, from US $175 per tour.


Letchworth State Park rafting trips in New York State >

Guided River Trips at Letchworth State Park, from US $35 - US $50 per tour.


Finger Lakes wine tasting tour, New York State >

Learn about and taste some of New York States finest wines, from US $5.


Adirondacks basic mountaineering tour, New York State >

Introductory mountaineering adventure, from US $300 per tour (2 days).


Saratoga Springs farmstead B&B; in New York State >

Restored farmhouse B&B in Saratoga Spring, from US $150 per room per night.


New York to Niagara Falls tour in New York State - 3 days >

Niagara Falls & Upstate New York short break from £355 (3 days) ex flights.


Adirondack back-country camp New York State >

Backcountry camping retreat in Adirondack state park, from US $200 per person.


Catskills farmstay B&B;, New York State >

Upstate NY Farmstay Bed & Breakfast from US $169 - US $229 per night based on 4.


Adirondacks snowshoeing tours, New York State >

Snowshoe through the most pristine areas of the wilderness from €240 per course.


Whale, dolphin and seal watching in New York City >

Discover Whales, dolphins and Seals in New York City, from US $25 - US $45.


Horse riding & carriage trail tours in Western New York >

Guided trail rides across the mountains of Western New York from US $25/tour.


Architectural house museum in Buffalo, New York State >

Tour a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece and historic home, from US $15 admission.