By Jamie Larson
The small city of Hudson leaves visitors wanting for little. Warren Street's center is lined with world-class art and antique galleries, restaurants that rival Manhattan's (or at this point, Brooklyn's) best, bars, spas, niche boutiques, and eclectic theaters a block or two away. All that plus a richness of historic architecture and sweeping waterfront view of the Hudson River, with the Catskills beyond, makes the city almost a hallucination of urbanity plopped in the middle of the countryside. The complete package--almost.
As the city has grown into the vibrant metropolitan destination it is today, one big problem remained. There just weren’t enough places to stay. All there was when it came to itinerant bedding was a number of elegant bed and breakfasts, which filled up incredibly quickly, and an old motel and hotel whose best days were so far behind them that they are often not spoken of in polite conversation. Many years into Hudson's resurgence, and there still wasn't a hotel that catered to its needs and sensibility.
Until now. The Barlow Hotel, which opened this past June, has come to the rescue, and it’s about time. Situated right in the heart of Hudson’s business district at 542 Warren Street, the 16-room Barlow offers visitors all the creature comforts, style, and privacy expected of a modern boutique hotel, while incorporating the character and feel of this unique river city.
Owners Russell Gibson and Duncan Calhoun bought a home in Hudson back in 1992 after Calhoun stumbled onto it when he got lost trying to find a yard sale, and five years ago they opened their own B & B next door, the Croff House. They obviously cottoned to the hospitality trade; their experience in it and and love of the town combined to create a hotel that fits so snugly into the local tableau that one might think it has always been there.
“The B & B was really the catalyst for us to do the hotel," Gibson says from behind his desk in the high-ceilinged lobby, a fireplace to his right, and a huge yet understated painting of the Hudson River by local artist Tony Thompson behind him. “We knew people wanted a hotel but needed the right building and location. And here we are."
Calhoun and Gibson have taken efforts to retain the historic details of the repurposed Barlow-Osborn Building, built in 1927, including its elegant staircase with Art Deco lines. The rooms are well decorated with queen- or king-sized beds, flat-screen televisions with Direct TV service, gas fireplaces in every room, coffeemakers, refrigerators, safes, and chic bathrooms with some of the highest-end showerheads you're likely to find in a fifty-mile radius.
“What we’ve tried to do is combine the architecture and the charm of the city with the technology today's traveler demands and the comforts they don’t get at home." Gibson says. “Though we’re contemporary, you don’t forget you’re in Hudson."
As comfortable as the hotel is, Gibson and Calhoun hope guests will see it as an extension of the town itself. “We’re a European-style boutique hotel," Gibson elaborates. “We want you to experience the entire hotel and we also want you to go outside the hotel and experience Hudson." To that end, The Barlow has partnered with dozens of local businesses to create the “Privilege Partner" program for its guests. When a guest shows their electronic room key at any of the participating shops, restaurants or spas, all within walking distance, they receive a discount.
"Duncan and I went up and down Warren Street talking with merchants and city government," Gibson says. “The business community was very pleased we opened the hotel and the city has been very supportive along the way."
And there's still more to come. Some renovations are still underway, including a future gym and conference room. “We’ve noticed that the demographic of the Hudson visitor has changed as Hudson begins to be more publicized," Gibson says. “There’s more expectation that service be of a higher quality."
“Our weekend home morphed into our full-time home and into a new life," says Calhoun. “We’ve watched that same pattern happen to more and more people." Gibson and Calhoun both say they wouldn’t be surprised if some hotel guest that very night ends up being their neighbor in the near future.
The Barlow: A Hudson Hotel
542 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534