Troutbeck: Down Home in Dutchess County

  • Written By:Christina Valhouli
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Photo by Michael Mundy

Some of the best hotels in the world are the ones that feel more like a private home, with personal touches such as piles of well-thumbed books, and a furniture that feels a little worn in. In other words, a place with soul.

The recently reopened Troutbeck in New York’s Dutchess County has all of those qualities, along with a rich history. The Tudor-style estate was built in 1765 for the Benton family, who hosted the likes of Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1900’s, the home was purchased by Colonel Joel Spingarn, a former Harcourt, Brace & Co. publisher who was active in the Civil Rights movement. He hosted critical meetings of the NAACP at Troutbeck, and established the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Medal here.

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Photo by Michael Mundy

Since then, Troutbeck has had many incarnations as a hotel but was languishing before hotelier Anthony Champalimaud recently snapped up the 45 acre estate located in Amenia. The first thing it needed was a top to bottom renovation, but it had to be a thoughtful one that took into account its historic bones and intellectual past. Champalimaud had the perfect person on his speed dial- his mother Alexandra, of the design firm Champalimaud Design. Her other hotel projects include similar storied properties, such as Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Hotel, and The Little Nell in Aspen.

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Photo courtesy of Instagram

Champalimaud kept Troutbeck’s original features, such as a wood-paneled library and massive fireplaces. She added pops of color with bright textiles, and decorated rooms with a mix of vintage and modern pieces. The overall effect is a hotel that feels like a perfectly imperfect home.

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Photo courtesy of Troutbeck

As with most historic properties, the floors in the main building are not level, which just adds to the charm. The sofas are deep and squashy and guests will feel comfortable flopping on one after a walk outside. Go ahead and bring your dog, throw on some wellies and don’t worry about getting mud on the floor-- it’s that kind of place. While Troutbeck is comfortable, it’s also luxurious. The 37 guest rooms have Frette sheets and Malin + Goetz toiletries in the bathroom, and guests can arrange to have breakfast in bed.

The re-design pays homage to the home’s literary and civil rights past in a quiet way. Books and built-in bookshelves are everywhere- in guest rooms, hallways and public areas. My room, the two-bedroom suite, had framed letters from Dr. Martin Luther King. The public areas are decorated with ephemera in a way that suggests the collection has been built up for generations. There’s everything from shells to vintage catalogues of British wallpaper.

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Photo by Nicole Franzen

One of Troutbeck’s biggest draws is its farm to table restaurant, helmed by chef Marcel Agnez. The menu is small but mighty. Kick off with a superfood cocktails such as The Beet, which is packed with bee pollen, fresh beet juice and topped with Great 9 gin and a sprig of rosemary. Many of the ingredients are sourced from local farms and purveyors. Some of the lighter options include oysters with elderflower granita, and a white and green asparagus salad, topped with hen of the woods. Mains range from loin of lamb with ramp puree to grilled blue cobia, served in a saffron sauce. Children are welcome in the dining room; just ask for the kid’s options.

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Photo courtesy of Instagram

There’s plenty to do at the estate, from hiking and fishing to tennis. Yoga and pilates are available, and the stylish pool area will open during the summer – all perfect ways to enjoy a vacation that feel like your own home, but even better.

Rates start at $225.

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