Bucolic & Walkable: Stonehill's Inn in Accord | Lodging | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

"Walkable" and "bucolic" aren't usually words that are thrown around together, but that combo is exactly what Stonehill’s in Accord offers. Adjacent to Arrowood Farms and Westwind Orchard, the inn and wedding venue has been flying under the radar since opening quietly in 2019. Their Instagram profile reads, “We are word of mouth. Tell your friends.” Word has spread, and now on Friday nights, the inn draws crowds of locals and guests to its barn for cocktails and food pop-ups in the barn.

Industry Hop

In 2019, Alicia Gauthier went from tech sector to innkeeper in a matter of months. The native Californian moved to New York City in 2014 to build out Squarespace's creative and engineering teams. But after a few years, she glitched. “I had an existential crisis in a way,” she says. “I wanted to make something outside the internet. I had flipped a couple houses in the Long Beach area back in California and I wanted to do something physical and creative.”

She drew a 100-mile radius around New York City and started hunting for properties. In February 2019, she visited a dilapidated bungalow colony in Accord that dated back to the Borscht Belt era. The 20-acre property had a main house, which was occupied, a farmhouse, seven bungalows, and a historic barn—and the price had been recently lowered. “It was in total disrepair,” says Gauthier, but seeing the potential, she purchased it and set about turning it into an inn.

Gauthier’s uncle, then between jobs, moved east to help her with the reno and later, the running of the inn. “It was all completely different,” she says. “The main house looked like a modern Greek Revival house—modern as in from the late ’80s. I ripped everything out and started there.” She changed the footprint of the second floor to modify the layouts of the rooms and to add a bathroom to each of the four guest suites. In summer 2019, they opened for bookings as Stonehill’s, a name borrowed from an off-Broadway theater troupe that used to stay in the bungalows for summer residencies in the ’70s.

Eschewing the ’80s vibes inherited with the main house, Gauthier opted for a more Colonial look, installing a fireplace and a bar, adding vintage-look wallpaper and beadboard accents, and tiling the bathrooms. “I was trying to make the house look older than it did,” she says. “I wanted it to feel like you went to your great aunt's house upstate with a bunch of quirky stuff but that all works together.” Most of the furnishings at Stonehill’s were sourced from antique dealers and shops in the Northeast. “Each piece has a story. I didn’t want to put a bunch of modern stuff in there,” she says. She plastered the walls and finished the wood trim with oil paint.

Beyond the aesthetic changes to the bones of the home, the amenities themselves also reflect old-world luxury. The sheets are organic linen from Australia. The bed throws are made in Belgium. “My dad always used to say, ‘Everyone needs to take five and rancho relaxo,’” Gauthier says. “So that’s our slogan now. We offer a high-end experience without being too serious. We want people to be able to travel and have all of the nice, organic, luxury amenities they’re used to, but not be so uptight. We are there to help and serve you, but we are not the Marriott.”

click to enlarge Bucolic & Walkable: Stonehill's Inn in Accord
Stonehill's general store.

Since opening to the public in 2019, Gauthier’s younger sister and mom have also moved out to join Stonehill’s team. They’ve restored the historic barn to become an event venue, where they host half a dozen weddings a year, and renovated one of the cottages to have two suites, which are open for booking. The remaining six cottages are nearing completion and will more than double the onsite capacity. And eventually the farmhouse, where the innkeepers are living now, will get its makeover as a four-bedroom rental.

The bucolic grounds feature lawn games and fire pits, veggie and cut flower gardens, free-range hens, and rescued farm animals including sheep and goats. “The animals are more for the kids, or people from the city who have never seen a chicken before—they freak out,” Gauthier says. “We call it an animal sanctuary. Even our goats were working animals. They come here to retire.” The property is left as wild as possible, with fields of wildflowers and weeds offering habitat for countless birds and insects.

Eggs from the inn’s flock are for sale in the onsite general store, which also carries natural dry goods, housewares, bath/body products, and more, sourced from small producers and artisans across the nation and the world. “Everyone has everything local, so I’m trying to carry some stuff that is a little bit different,” Gauthier says.

Every Friday night, the barn is open to the public with drinks from the Catskills Cocktail Club and eats from rotating vendors. The first Friday of every month, the Brooklyn Oyster Party is onsite shucking up briney goodness. Other popular regulars in the rotation include Asian comfort food pop-up Two Five and Kerhonkson-based Mill & Main. Tonight, September 30, plant-based Indian food vendor Samosa Shack, a favorite of area farmers’ markets and festivals, will be onsite. Farm-to-table and gluten-free pop-up Misto heads to Stonehill on September 30, and the oysters will be back October 7. Two Five will be onsite doing the food for Stonehill’s Halloween party at the end of October.

The pop-ups are a COVID pivot. At first, Stonehill had its own food truck with a full-time chef. “We got to introduce ourselves to the neighborhood in that way, and we had quite a lot of local traffic,” Gauthier says. “But then COVID happened and we weren’t allowed to be open. We had to part ways with our chef and got scared to hire someone else when we were opening up again. So we decided on hosting chefs and pop-ups.” The decision wasn’t profit-motivated so much as driven by a way to retain a connection to the local community. Visiting vendors don’t have to pay a fee and get to keep 100 percent of their profits. “Finding vendors has been a whole other challenge,” Gauthier says, “but introducing all sorts of different cuisine to the area has been really neat.”

Beyond Stonehill’s onsite offerings, a 10-minute walk through the woods brings you straight to Arrowood Farms brewery, distillery, and restaurant. “That’s probably our main attraction,” says Gauthier. Neighbors had told her of an old snowmobile trail connecting the properties and her first spring she got to work clearing it. “I went back there with a weed wacker and chainsaw, found the trail, and cut it back.” Arrowood property owner Let Lee liked the idea and helped establish and light the path.

The Friday night food offerings at Stonehill’s combined with the proximity of the brewery and nearby Westwind Orchard, with its hard cider, wood-fired pizza, and Italian food, mean that you can pretty well feed and entertain yourself all within walking distance—a perk for carless city folks who head upstate on a bus and Uber to the property. “If you're at the inn for two days and don’t want to leave, you can have a full weekend without having to leave our spot,” Gauthier says. Stonehill’s property, combined with Arrowwood’s 60 acres, offers plenty of space to romp around.

Gauthier has just opened wedding bookings for 2023, and is anticipating a crowd of fall leaf-peepers. In the meantime, the renovation of the remaining bungalows is underway. “This has been pretty grassroots—there’s no investment money,” Gauthier says. “It’s been a nightmare, but also more rewarding because we have done it ourselves. We let the business build itself as it makes money. I hope the momentum keeps going in the right direction.”

Marie Doyon

Marie is the Digital Editor at Chronogram Media. In addition to managing the digital editorial calendar and coordinating sponsored content for clients, Marie writes a variety of features for print and web, specializing in food and farming profiles.
Comments (0)
Add a Comment
  • or

Support Chronogram