The proprietors of the Herwood Inn seem to have thought of everything. Bed platforms flush with the floor, so nothing can roll underneath, including dust. A curated vinyl collection and record player in each of the four bedrooms. Readily available yoga mats and blocks. The Herwood, which opened this September in Woodstock, has been designed and equipped with meticulous attention to detail.
Flexibility has also been included. Want to vacation with your cat or dog? Two of the units are pet-friendly, one with a completely fenced-in patio for your pup to run around. Arriving in a wheelchair? One room is ADA-accessible, with a roll-in bathroom and shower.
Add the sustainably-oriented, cruelty-free products used for cleaning and the essential oil diffuser in each room, and you have a 21st-century environment designed to make any with-it urbanite feel at home in the country. The inn is located on Tinker Street, two doors down from Upstate Films and a short walk from the center of Woodstock, so visitors can even arrive by bus.
Em Atkins and June Peterson bought the formerly purple, pink, and white hotel in April and started renovating in June, also painting the exterior a subdued, tasteful brownish-black, with blond wood trim. The four rooms already had attached baths, and the new owners gave each one a kitchenette (equipped with toaster oven, two-ring cooker, mini-dishwasher) and a private patio. By demolishing an old shed, they made room for communal outdoor seating with a cedar hot tub, firepit, and two tall patio heaters. When their favorite yoga instructor is in town, and the weather is agreeable, they offer free yoga on the patio.
In renovating, said Atkins, “We put in things we used to look for when we came up from the city.” The two women used to take Catskill getaways five times a year, when Atkins ran a non-profit theater and Peterson was a manager for New York City Airbnb rentals. They also started a project called Herwood, collecting scrap wood and furniture discarded on the street. “We wanted to get into woodworking,” Atkins recalled. “People throw so much stuff away, like furniture with one leg broken. We salvaged them for ourselves or friends or to resell online. We fixed them up in our one-room apartment.”
This experience not only informed their design sense but when they were ready to quit their jobs, the project also provided a name for the inn. Like the furniture, said Peterson, “We re-used it. We couldn’t find a name that worked better.” While some of the recycled furniture wound up in their own Woodstock house, they bought all new furnishings for the hotel.
Four units appears to be a good size for a two-person business. “It gets out of hand when it’s too big, and you’re including other people in the process,” said Atkins. “We do our own cleaning, and we built a laundry room onsite. Not having to outsource laundry saves costs, we know what we’re using to clean our sheets, and none of them go missing.” What they’re using is cleaning products from Seventh Generation, Everspring, and Method.
Appropriate to the Woodstock location and the ownership by women, all four rental rooms have the names of female music stars. The King Suite, named after Carole King, is the largest unit, with both a king-sized bed and a queen-sized pull-out couch, as well as a clawfoot bathtub. The Franklin Flat, named for Aretha, also sleeps four, with an extra half bath and a sliding door to separate the two rooms, ideal for a family with kids. Nick’s Nook, for Stevie Nicks, and Mitchell Manor, for Joni Mitchell, each sleep two people.
The units have minisplit air-source heat pumps for heating and cooling, with baseboard heat backup. There is shelving in the rooms but no dresser drawers or closet doors, minimizing the chance that guests will leave items behind. “Of course,” said Peterson, “they still sometimes forget things, but not as much.”
An iPad by the bed provides access to a portal with information on the room, from what the bedding is made of to how to operate the temperature controls, as well as links to area attractions and options for buying local items, including soap from the honey farm that supplies the hotel with artisanal hand soap. For guests who aren’t digitally oriented, a colorful printed flyer explains the most essential details of what’s on the iPad.
In addition to individuals, couples, and families, Peterson and Atkins hope to attract groups for such events as corporate retreats and weddings. “When we were designing,” said Atkins, “we thought of bachelorette parties. Some friends threw a baby’s birthday party, and the family rented three rooms. We can sleep 12 at the most, and it’s an intimate setting, but each room has its own bathroom, not like in a house you’d rent on Airbnb, where you have to share a bathroom.” A small lounge serves as a common area indoors, with a snack bar serving coffee and pastries.
Although neither of the owners has explicit training in design, Peterson learned a lot from running 20 New York City Airbnbs that she did not have the option to renovate, despite noticing ways they could be improved. Besides, said Atkins, “We were both raised by mothers who cared about their homes.”