Rivertown Lodge: A Retro Style Retreat in the Heart of Hudson, NY
731 Warren St | Hudson, NY
The creative landscape of Hudson is thriving with prolific entrepreneurship and design-forward thinking as more and more people look to relocate from larger cities to grow their business. A former whaling port famous for its 19th century architecture and dynamic artist community, the area has long been regarded for its unique shops, art galleries, design studios, cutting-edge restaurants and historic sites. At the top of mile-long Warren Street, the city’s visitors are making themselves at home at Rivertown Lodge, a 27-room boutique hotel, created and co-owned by Ray Pirkle and Kim Bucci.
As former New York City hotel consultants, the friends and partners were long familiar with the business of designing for feel and utilizing specific materials and color palettes to fashion a desired vibe for others’ spaces. However, they had never before been able to create a space that spoke to their own style. “I basically kidnapped him,” says Kim who, along with Ray, had been coming up to Hudson off and on for years. “I took him out and said ‘Let’s do this or else.’ He’s the best person I’ve ever known in this business.”
Sourcing from within the local coterie of small upstate businesses and working collaboratively with Charleston and Brooklyn-based design firm Workstead, Rivertown is an impressive display of contemporary design mixed with cozy Americana living. Contrasting colors, wood plank floors, custom built furniture and light fixtures bedeck the hotel’s interior; potbelly stoves, plush reading nooks, a fully-equipped kitchen and screened-in porch offer simple comforts away from home. Materials like wool, wood, and raw ceramic conjure up a feeling of nostalgia, clearly demonstrating Ray and Kim’s vision for a hotel that is not only beautiful, but indigenous to the geography it serves. The result is a luxurious space to feel at ease in, even if it’s just for one night, not to mention an attractive starting point from which to explore the historic breadth and natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley.
Photos styled by Katie Lobel
Set in a two-story 1920s movie house, the building’s original marquee is the first thing guests see before checking in. “We didn’t want the signing to feel out of place or in any way alien to the town, so we kept the feeling and colors from the previous motel that had stood for 40 years,” says Ray.
In the lobby, partitioned cherrywood walls designed by Workstead and built by Markus Bartenschlager were the perfect way to create different seating areas while letting in lots of light. “Working with Workstead was extremely natural and satisfying for us,” says Ray. “We were all on the same page from the very beginning.”
“We like public energy and it’s important to us that people interact with one another,” says Ray. “Relax, enjoy yourself, maybe meet some people, have a drink, sit by the fire—that’s it.”
“We knew we wanted a bright sunny kitchen and this Farrow & Ball color was just the right shade of happy,” says Ray.
So much at Rivertown is locally made, and because there are so many talented makers upstate, creating a separate retail gallery made all the sense in the world. “When I travel, I want to experience the place,” says Ray. “I want to try the food from there and buy the things from there. I want this place to be indigenous—to speak of the place it’s in—so we buy furniture and sell items from local craftspeople.”
“The most exciting thing about this project—and one of the major reasons we opened,” explains Ray, “is that we saw something missing in hotel culture, which was the true idea behind hospitality: taking care of people. In a hotel, I believe that people should be able to do whatever they want. You have to design a bed or a room that can take a licking. When you’re traveling and are immersed in something, our job is just to be here for you.”
Zak + Fox upholstered armchairs can be found in every room along with bedside tables, lamps, and brass sconces custom designed by Workstead. While the overall impression of Rivertown is one of understated luxury—even the doorknobs feel wonderful to the touch—the focus is on simple pleasures: great light, solid materials, warm tones and soft textures.
With the suite, Ray and Kim wanted it to feel a bit more feminine and dreamy for brides, so they splurged and had it bedecked with a simple iron bed from Anthropologie, a built-in pillow nook made custom by local craftsman Rowland Butler, and a deep soaking tub with raw brass fixtures from Waterworks.
“An incredible three dimensional textile from local artist Hiroko Takeda really made this room for us,” says Ray.
Ray and Kim collaborated with Hudson-based perfumery 2 Note to create a custom line of natural bath products for the hotel.
Since Ray and Kim didn’t want all of the rooms to be the same, there are five different types ranging in price. “We had four rooms with small and unusual footprints, so our solution was to create built-in beds,” says Ray. “These are now a guest favorite and almost always book first, despite the double-sized bed.”
A cedar ceiling, saddle leather bar stools by M Crow, a bronze bar top, and wicker cabinets make up the hotel bar. “The goal was to create a simple modern tavern,” says Ray, who tends bar as often as he can, relishing the opportunity to chat with guests and locals.
“Hudson is where both Kim and I had been coming to stay, so this project naturally made sense,” says Ray. “You want your work to be a natural extension of who you are.”