Jan and Phil Weiss--he is the president of HVAC Services, Inc., a construction
company in Philadelphia--who live in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania read about the
Castle on the Hudson in "Condé Nast Traveler's" special feature, "Room
with a View." They chose to celebrate the onset of summer with a short stay
in the opulent Lismore Suite in a turreted tower that is the highest point in Westchester
County and whose windows look out on a verdant carpet of trees stretching 200 yards
to the Hudson River.
Had the Weisses come in winter, they might have lit the logs in the bedroom fireplace
and curled up with a book on the cut-velvet sofa facing the hearth. In summer, they
could, instead, read in several outdoor sitting areas. Surrounded by a stone wall,
the well-cultivated, ten-acre grounds are a veritable arboretum of evergreens, rare
varieties of deciduous trees, grasslands and a kaleidoscope of flowers.
Looking very much like a Gothic citadel from the exterior, the Castle began as
a great family estate 100 years ago. And if staying in a castle whose facade is granite
block and whose interiors are covered with very dark wood seems gloomy, it isn't.
The space has been softened with tapestries, brocaded sofas, plants, prints, carefully
chosen antiques, Oriental rugs and specially designed carpeting to give it homey
look, albeit a formal one. The seven accommodations in the main house--24 more were
recently added in a new wing--are as comfortable as they are sumptuous.
The Equus Restaurant, now a popular destination for diners from many miles
around, is dressed up like the rest of the inn. You can eat in one of several rooms:
the baronial Oak Room, the more intimate Tapestry Room and the Garden
Room with its expansive views of the river and the New York City skyline. In
the warmer months, dinner and cocktails are served on the Terrace. The General's
Bar, named for Howard Carroll, a commander in the Spanish-American War, who built
the domicile, is cheerful and congenial.
As for the menu, it has a royal quality, too. Why else would venison with mango
and peppercorn sauce be served in summer? Many other creative combinations are cooked
in Chef Philip McGrath's kitchen. The Carrolls, who entertained frequently and on
a large scale, were epicureans and connoisseurs of fine wine. They would have been
pleased with the food served at Equus.
Mr. and Mrs. Weiss not only chose the Castle because they were smitten with the
uniqueness of it, but they also wanted to explore some of the Hudson Valley's best-known
sites. They spent one day visiting nearby Kykuit, home to four generations
of Rockefellars; Lyndhurst, a Gothic Revival mansion, once owned by Jay Gould;
Sunnyside, Washington Irving's cottage; Philipsburg Manor where
18th-century farm life is demonstrated; and Van Courtland Manor, also dating
from the 18th century and filled with Georgian and Federal period furnishings. On
another day they traveled to Hyde Park to see the Franklin Delano Roosevelt
and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Sites.
The Castle on the Hudson, 400 Benedict Avenue, Tarrytown, NY 10591. Tel.
914-631-1980. Rates, except for one single room, start at $495. www.castleonthehudson.com
Kykuit, Pocantico Hills, Sleepy Hollow. Tel. 914-631-9491. Tours daily except
Tuesday, April 18 to November 2, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Reservations required.
Lyndhurst, 635 South Broadway, Tarrytown. Tel. 914-631-4481. Summer tours,
10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., except Monday; winter tours, weekends, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sunnyside, Route 9, Tarrytown. Tel. 914-591-8763. Tours November and December,
weekends in March, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; April to October, daily except Tuesday, 10
a.m. to 4 p.m.
Philipsburg Manor, Route 9, Sleepy Hollow. Tel. 914-631-3992, 631-8200. Tours
weekends in March; April to December, daily except Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Van Courtland Manor, South Riverside Drive, Croton on Hudson. Tel. 914-271-8981,
631-8200. Tours April to October, daily except Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; November
and December, weekends, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site, Route 9, Hyde Park. Tel.
914-229-9115. House open daily, May to October; Thursday to Monday, rest of year.
Library/museum, open daily year round, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, Route 9, Hyde Park. Tel. 914-229-9115.
May to October, open daily; Thursday to Monday, rest of year, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.