All that’s new is old at the storied Troutbeck hotel. Floorboards still creak, even if plump area rugs soften their pitch. The paint, still wet in the former gun room, hasn’t quite covered the scent of gunpowder inside the cabinets. After December’s redesign by Alexandra Champalimaud, the renowned interior designer who brought us Bridgehampton’s Topping Rose House, Troutbeck is bound to be a spring sensation once again.
Located in Amenia, just a two hour drive from New York City, the Dutchess County estate dates back to 1765. What stands today is a soul-stirring, sylvan retreat overlooking the confluence of a tranquil river and creek. Picture-perfect bridges lead towards cottages set within thickets of trees. There’s also a lake and a pool next to horse stables, in between miles of forest trails.
As many estates do, Troutbeck has changed hands over the years, starting with its original owners, the Benton family. In the 19th century, while owned by Columbia professor and publisher Colonel Joel Spingarn, it became a weekend escape for his coterie of writers and progressives, including Ernest Hemingway, President Theodore Roosevelt and W. E. B. DuBois.
After Spingarn, the estate lay dormant for three decades. In 1978, new owners revived Troutbeck as a resort-style inn complete with tennis courts, a heated indoor pool and conference center. It functioned—despite its proclivity for brass, floral wallpaper and rugs—but lost its tenor, and eventually went without a sound. Troutbeck sat closed for yet another decade.
Troutbeck’s new generation is a family affair led by hotelier Anthony Champalimaud, along with wife Charlie S. Champalimaud. Anthony’s mother, Alexandra Champalimaud, refashioned the interiors while her husband, Bruce Schnitzer (Anthony’s stepfather, not to mention a notable private equity investor) handled most of the landscape design.
You can’t miss the odds and fabulous ends of Troutbeck’s heritage. The 36 guest rooms aren’t all in one place. They are split between the main, century-old Manor House and, just across the Webutuck River, the Century Lodge (an 18th-century tavern and inn updated with a modern annex).
Each room is different—and in the most delightful ways they tend to show off their age in a renewed setting.
“We did little to put its history on display in the way of portraits or markers,” said Anthony. “We’ve remained modest in this respect, a little private about it, though it’s there [in] subtle references.”
In the Manor House, expect original medicine cabinets and heated floors in the bathroom, paneled walls embedded with a working fireplace, bookshelves and a flat-screen TV. “What we did do was retain the original building fabric and details—in many instances, not even polishing well worn wooden details,” said Anthony. “The doorknobs are 100 years old!”
Guest rooms in the attic embrace wonky, wonderful layouts like cropped windows and sloped ceilings. Some have roof decks, others (perhaps the best) with enclosed, sun-drenched sleeping porches. Alexandra’s interiors mix and match both neutral and bold palettes. Think four-poster beds that pop in maroon white Frette linens, framed by nimble blonde bedside tables.
The remainder of the Manor House flows like the old home that it is with twisting staircases, wood-beamed ceilings, crackling fireplaces and leaded windows framing the hilly estate. “We furnished it with an eclectic mix, as though we’d accumulated favorite things,” said Anthony. “It all works very well aesthetically, but it’s a residential design approach rather than what you normally find in a hotel.”
A bright sunroom centers around a blonde pool table with an azure blue cloth, while an adjacent library is softly lit and chock-full of material. Shelves on all sides are stacked with dog-eared books (many of which are classics from the former estate) and precious knick-knacks that feel as though they were collected over time, from large geodes to a coral statuette.
Chef Marcel Agnez enriches the restaurant’s menu with valley-grown ingredients—starting with bread and butter—most sourced within a five-mile radius of the property. The space itself is a converted patio with exterior walls and stone columns smoothed over with curvilinear, army-green leather banquets and black wooden Wishbone Chairs. Order the baked oyster and leek chowder and your waiter will deliver a crock topped with an airy dome of pastry. Breakfast is a treat with seasoned eggs and local sausage, well-buttered bread and potatoes with crispy onions.
Come spring, Agnez already has a handful of ingredients in mind. “We’ll forage knotweed and ramps ourselves,” said Agnez, who also plans to shell the season’s first pea pods for a fresh purée, and flavor salad dressing with elderflower. “Desserts will for sure have wild strawberries and rhubarb.”
In a nook behind the copper bar, a white-washed pantry is stocked for off-hour cravings. Whether it’s coffee or tea, freshly baked oatmeal cookies or fruit-filled muffins, guests simply scribble their names and picks on a notepad so the crew can add it to their room’s tab. In the moment, it feels more like jotting a grocery list, and certainly feels like home.
Like any home, it’s a work in progress and Anthony is keen to add a bit more. “We will open Garden House this spring, a four bedroom cottage overlooking our Walled Garden,” he said. “At some point along the way, we’ll add additional rooms—nothing excessive, but, sufficient to balance with our expansive entertaining and public spaces.”