Retreat to This Bohemian Paradise in the Catskills
Inspired by Moroccan design and Nordic cuisine, Foxfire Mountain House is a dream escape that lures visitors to the heart of the Hudson Valley.
Photos by Arden Wray
Somewhere in Ulster County, bohemia thrives. The spirit of renaissance art and culture runs free amid the local woodland, where it skips along rippling brooks and dances across the foothills of the Catskills before taking flight in the Hudson Valley. In this place, a place where naturalism melds with old-world artistry, escape awaits in the form of Foxfire Mountain House.
More than an inn, the vintage-inspired retreat is a destination in the fullest sense of the word. Drawing visitors in with its intrinsic beauty and wealth of opportunities, it’s a dream that sits quietly in Mount Tremper, just waiting to be explored.
For such an alluring property, Foxfire Mountain House has maintained a relatively quiet identity in the Hudson Valley since its birth in 2016. The idea, as co-owner Eliza Clark tells it, came to her and her partner Tim Trojian out of frustration one night, when the wear and tear of long hours away from one another finally reached a breaking point.
“It was one of those moments of epiphany that you sometimes have and always remember because that moment suddenly creates a Before and After; how things were before the moment of realization and how things are and will now be after the moment,” Clark explains. “It’s amazing that a simple thought can change everything, but that’s how it was.”
As she and Trojian decompressed over a glass of wine late one summer night, they made a commitment to finally pursue they life that they wanted, the life that would bring them together and fulfill their passions. Yes, it was a risk. It was a commitment that meant saying goodbye to their “safe” careers as a television showrunner and executive chef, respectively, in order to pursue a risky future that might or might not pay off. Yet they closed their eyes and held their breath as they signed the deed on a very worn-down property in Mount Tremper in 2013. It was a nerve-wracking leap, to be sure, and it didn’t get any better when they embarked on their long journey through renovations.
Foxfire before the renovation
Clark is the first to admit that their relationship with the historic property was most definitely not a love at first sight sort of deal. On the contrary, a labor of love, heavy on the labor, seems like a more accurate way to describe the intensive overhaul process, which forced the couple to learn the ins and outs of construction, plumbing, and interior design.
“The roof needed to be replaced, the long wooden veranda was falling in, floors were sloped, really the renovation list was endless,” says Clark as she recounts the laundry list of eyesores. “In hindsight, it’s lucky we were as green and relatively naïve as we were, or we would never have taken on a project so big.”
Daunting as the endeavor was, Clark and Trojian charged full steam ahead, tackling each and every obstacle as it came their way. Trojian became something of a jack-of-all-trades as he undertook tiling, carpentry, and plumbing in order to keep in line with the duo’s minimal budget. Clark, meanwhile, channeled her already existent passion for decorating and design into Foxfire’s interior, combining natural details like mounted antlers and cozy throws with rustic woodwork and pops of gold and royal blue. Overall, the design is one that evokes the mysterious beauty of bohemia and the rustic simplicity of the Hudson Valley.
“We love vintage, and so there are lovely old velvet sofas and lamps and paintings throughout,” Clark enthuses. Indeed, those thoughtful, historic touches shine in every aspect of the design, operating in harmony with natural elements like feathers, stone, and wood.
When Foxfire Mountain House finally came to life in 2016, it continued to pay homage to the natural world that inspired it.
“Since Foxfire was going to be more personal to us than only becoming entrepreneurs – it was about making a complete lifestyle change – we knew we wanted to live somewhere surrounded by nature yet with close enough access to a large city that we wouldn’t be fully rural or become isolated,” says Clark. “The Catskills are heaven on earth [with] mountains, rivers, forests, waterfalls, just the most striking beauty that is a daily wonder to us.”
In regard to the name, it too draws inspiration from nature.
“Foxfire is a natural phenomenon, a bioluminescent fungus that causes decaying wood to have a soft, bluish-green glow,” Clark explains. “The light is mysterious and otherworldly, but, in folklore, is said to have burned bright enough at times to lead weary travelers home.”
Fittingly, Foxfire is a bedrock for travelers who crave a home away from home in upstate New York. Sitting on ten acres, the expanse offers multiple settings for weekenders to take a breath away from the stresses of everyday life. Guests can spend afternoons at the picturesque pond, read a book by the lily pool, cozy up near the bonfire pits at night, or even sip an evening cocktail inside the vintage glass house. For those who like to explore, raised garden beds, woody trails, a bocce ball court, and horseshoes provide ample opportunity to get moving across the grounds. Homebodies, meanwhile, will love relaxing by the fire as old-school records play in the background, then diving under the plush Parachute Home covers when the sandman casts his spell at night.
As for the rooms, they’re nothing less than nirvana for visitors who want to get away from it all. Guests can choose to stay in one of the 11 guest rooms, which house two people each and feature serene interiors and the option of private or shared bathrooms, or live in luxury inside the private cottage, which includes three bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and two fireplaces for friends and family who want to stay together. In every space, personal touches like fresh flowers and bottled water await, with options to add wine, champagne, or a curated bundle of flowers to the welcome package as well.
Olive oil and rosemary focaccia
In the mornings, Foxfire invites guests to a Nordic buffet breakfast to help them begin their day on the right foot.
“We serve a simple and rustic Nordic-inspired breakfast buffet that includes smoked fish salads, roasted venison kielbasa, cumin and caraway boiled new potatoes, cucumber and tomato salads, hot porridge with fruits and pumpkin seeds, hardboiled farm fresh eggs, house-made drop biscuits, and fresh-from-the-oven quick breads and coffee cakes,” Clark lists.
If the breakfast spread is any indication, the overnight experience is only part of the attraction at Foxfire, which also houses an onsite restaurant for fine dining and decadent cocktails. Open to the general public and inn-goers alike from Thursday to Sunday for dinner and daily for drinks, The Bar Room delights with an ever-changing menu that spotlights locally sourced ingredients and global flavors. On any given day, diners might sample fried cauliflower and a winter roots salad or slow roasted pork with corn bread pudding. For dessert, indulgence reigns supreme in the form of treats like cheesecake with warm caramel apples or chocolate pots de crème with pistachio torta chips.
When it comes to drinks, The Bar Room’s cocktails are just as tempting, thanks to their use of wild-foraged herbs and house-prepared fusions and bitters. Local beers and ciders from regional staples like West Kill Brewing and Woodstock Brewing power the tap lineup, while a curated list of French, Californian, and Italian wines welcomes vino lovers. Needless to say, it all pairs very well with the enticing menu that defines Foxfire’s culinary program.
View from the bar
Foxfire Mountain House may be a secluded oasis in the quiet of Mount Tremper, but it’s fast developing a reputation for its breathtaking interiors and exteriors among travelers, event planners, and brides and grooms in the know. Because of this, Clark and Trojian are hard at work on major plans for the Foxfire brand. To start, they’re finishing up a design cookbook called Foxfire Living, set to be published later this fall. The publication, which drops right in time for the holidays, pulls from the couple’s experience and showcases their successes both in and out of the kitchen for readers to recreate at home.
The brightest spot on the horizon, however, is Foxfire’s sister property in New Hampton. Dubbed Foxfire La Colina, the 1930s Spanish-style estate is currently accepting inquiries for full property rentals, weddings, corporate and creative retreats, photo shoots, and location filming. If the Instagram photos are any indication, “stunning” doesn’t even begin to cut it. While a public opening date has yet to be announced, anyone interested can follow along on La Colina’s Instagram for more information.
72 Andrew Ln, Mt Tremper
Inside the glass house