For anyone who has spent time driving in the Catskills, you know how lovely it can be to just keep driving. Be it for the flickering sunlight throwing shadows across the hood, the oddly comforting scent of country skunk, the lone stand selling strawberries, or the surprise of a sprawling meadow, hidden creek, or undiscovered trailhead. Keep driving. Because sometimes what you’ve gone out looking for can be found just a few miles farther down the road.
This is exactly how Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg found Spruceton Inn, the mellow 10-room motel that Casey runs in the foothills of West Kill Mountain in West Kill, NY. Two years ago, while driving around the Catskills in search of properties to buy and turn into a hotel, the couple had just finished seeing a horse farm for sale on Spruceton Road. Because the road was “insanely beautiful,” the couple just kept driving. A few miles later, cruising past a wide open sunny valley, they happened upon perfection: an old motel strip with a neighboring barn and farmhouse.
“Steven and I met in Morocco while studying abroad; that’s where I got the idea for a hotel,” says Brooklyn-raised Casey, who used to daydream of renovating an old “riad” into a guesthouse. “When we moved back to Brooklyn, the idea always stuck, and one weekend, while heading upstate to do some hiking, Steven turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t you just do your Moroccan hotel in the Catskills?’”
- Location: West Kill, NY
choice of standard or kitchenette style
Queen size beds
Fresh ground coffee by Cafe Grumpy
Library of maps and books
It’s no Morocco, but running a “bed and bar” on 8 acres of meadow and woods has been especially good to Casey and Steven, a writer/graphic designer and writer/children’s book illustrator respectively. Sharing a mutual appreciation for natural beauty, quiet relaxation, and outdoor adventure, the two have found their creative nourishment amid the rolling farmlands and mountainous streams of the Catskills. “I was missing that quite a bit while living in Brooklyn,” says Steven, who grew up in Bethesda, MD. “I needed some woods.”
First settled in the early 1800s, the property has had many incarnations, from a Dutch farm to The Schwarzenegger’s Sunshine Valley House to a private family home. When Casey became proprietor, the intent was on creating a clean, minimalist escape where the beer was cheap, the wood was dry, the stars were out, and the beds got made. “The inn is about returning to the simple pleasures in life and I wanted our rooms to reflect that.”
A standard room at Spruceton Inn comes furnished with a queen bed, lounging chair, mini fridge, microwave, and basic dishes and silverware. “Towels and linens are classically white, part of that luxury of crisp freshness,” says Casey. “Oh, and we hang and change around Steven’s original artwork in the rooms because that’s fun.”
In addition to putting down new floors, Casey also opted for bigger windows that could show off the sweeping views of the calming landscape. “The whole design goal was to keep the rooms purposely subdued so that the great outdoors could be the star.”
Six of the nine rooms come with Avanti kitchenettes complete with a set of pots and pans, dishes and glassware, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a custom built table to dine at in front of a big picture window. Steven used leftover barn wood that had been aging beautifully outside for two years to design and build all the benches, shelves and tables at the inn. “Drawing the plans were easy,” he admits. “He’s secretly a carpenter,” she adds.
Because the closest bar, market, or restaurant can be a good 20 minutes away (and driving late at night isn’t the best idea on such dark roads), guests can get their drink on in Room 1, or “Conan’s Corner,” a bar and canteen originally named for Arnold during the inn’s Sunshine days. Conan’s Corner offers a local selection of beer, cider, wine, and whiskey, as well as the perfect snacks for taking out to the campfire. Its doors are open to the general public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and when it’s closed, the room is often used as a comfortable meet-up spot for morning coffee and conversation.
Once checked in, there are so many ways guests can choose to adventure. “Some people are like, ‘Okay, we’re going antiquing, hiking, and tubing.’ Others are like, ‘We’re hitting the bar, we’re playing bocce, and we’re never leaving,’” says Casey. “Personally, Steven and I love the hike that leads to a waterfall called Diamond Notch Falls, and then we absolutely adore Brushland Eating House for a good meal.”
Fire pits, grills, lounge chairs, and hammocks are peppered throughout the property and bundles of firewood are kindly left at the doorstep of each guest’s room. “Steven is a campfire master, but my skills have improved significantly,” says Casey, who thinks whiskey, s’mores, stars, and friends constitute the perfect campfire. “I’d say kindling and matches help, too,” quips Steven.
Guests can opt for a beautiful drive to pick up local meats from a neighboring town, or simply pop by Conan’s Corner to purchase delicious beef patties sourced from a nearby cattle ranch.
At the end of May, Spruceton Inn hosted their first wedding, and on July 25th and 26th, they will be hosting the Phoenicia Flea, a curated makers and merchants market that pops up monthly at inspiring venues throughout the Catskills and beyond. When the weather cools, they’ll be accepting applications for their Artist Residency, a chance for six selected writers and/or 2D visual artists to spend a no-cost, week-long winter residency at the inn working on their craft. “Last year, someone got their final edit to their editor and finished their novel,” says Casey, who really wanted to find a way to stay connected to the artist/writer community in NYC. “We had such fabulous people here last time. I’m so excited to think about who we’ll meet this year.”