Off the Beaten Path in Sharon Springs New York

The 2nd floor balcony at the American Hotel in Sharon Springs NY.
Main Street in historic Sharon Springs NY.
Main Street in historic Sharon Springs NY.

Travel takes us to places that are out of the way and interesting. Sharon Springs in New York State may not be considered exotic; it is interesting and out of the way.  Located three hours Northwest of New York City, it is close to Cooperstown, NY, home to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Glimmerglass Festival, a world renown opera, and theatre venue.

What took us to this historic town was not the restorative healing waters frequented by the American Indians. We were attracted because it has become a destination for many established LGBTQ community of persons who have come to realize that they are looking for a less fast-paced lifestyle. In Sharon Springs they have found they enjoy the company of other well educated and creative souls in a community that can be easily commuted to and from major northeast cities.

Beekman 1802 Mercantile the shop that sells items from the Beekman Boy's farm in Sharon Springs NY.
Beekman 1802 Mercantile the shop that sells items from the Beekman Boy’s farm in Sharon Springs NY.

It is that sense of community along with gorgeous farmland vistas that attract many. Like lifestyle icons the Beekman Boys, who have a goat farm nearby and a mercantile in town, selling their world-famous products.

While Josh and  Brent (aka The Beekman Boys) have become a hot ticket, the real town fathers are Doug and Garth, another couple who settled in Sharon Springs in the 1990’s purchasing several properties including a dilapidated historic hotel. These gentlemen are the economic engine that has inspired others and attracted investment back to this hard-scrabble, historically agricultural part of New York State.

Historic Route 20 in New York State. Sharon Springs is one of the towns along the road.
Historic Route 20 in New York State. Sharon Springs is one of the towns along the road.

Sharon Springs is along historic Route 20, a travel route used by Indians and settlers, and later as the automobile took hold, by travelers heading west. While today the interstate highway 90 has bypassed the fast paced traffic, this scenic byway still holds many wonders of the Empire State.

While the town of Sharon Springs is small, there are some hotspots that one should not miss while visiting:

The American Hotel, the center of Sharon Springs."<yoastmark

 

Once well-known, The American Hotel has now become the heart and lifeblood of the Sharon Springs community. Rescued and reconceived in the 1990’s, the hey-day of home-grown Bed and Breakfasts and small country inns. Today the American is an intimate and cozy hotel, no matter if you are straight or gay. While not the largest of the town’s hotels, it is responsible for the rebirth of Sharon Spring’s vitality. With only nine guest rooms, a tiny, and we can we say adorable, copper covered bar, (just five bar stools) it adjoins a dining room that attracts guests from all over.

A delightful patio at The American Hotel in Sharon Springs NY. Perfect for dining alfresco.
Located behind the American Hotel is a delightful patio. Perfect for dining alfresco, or a late night aperitif.

Staying at the hotel may not be a five-star experience one might expect, from other chic inns around the country. The American provides a welcome and warm experience from the staff and owners. Staying overnight and eating breakfast on the patio, or just stopping by for a drink at the bar, or dinner in the dining room.

204 Main Street and the Black Cat Cafe

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These are two of the other eateries in town, the Black Cat Cafe is a breakfast and lunch stop, while 204 Main Street is more for lunch and dinner.  On opposite sides of the street, in the center of town, both provide delicious locally sourced food.  While not the fanciest of decor, expect an artistic and contemporary experience as well as finely prepared delicious meals.

Signs abound throughout the Sharon Springs NY talking about community and history.The Springs Art Gallery

The Spring Gallery, open in season has revolving shows from various local and national artists. Curated by a West Coast native with international art world connections. Be it photography, watercolor, pen, and ink or innovative sculpture.

Theater in the Park

Sharon Springs Town Park is where live theatre happens.Creative experiences include live theater, in the town’s park. And this year it was As You Like It, a well-known production that became the talk of the area, and provided free to attend performances. While a fundraising campaign helped support the project, much came in kind from the local community.

The Sharon Springs Village Gift Shop

Cobbler & Co is an eclectic gift shop in the heart of Sharon Springs NY.
Cobbler & Co is an eclectic gift shop in the heart of Sharon Springs NY.

The gift shop Cobbler & Co. features many eccentric and useful gifts. Crammed packed with interesting items that you might not think you would find in a rural town, each room has a theme, be it pets, kids, men, or women’s fashion, as well as decorative household items. Here you can find almost anything to fit any budget, for a fancy occasion or that perfect gag gift.

Beekman Boys 1802 Mercantile

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You can’t come to Sharon Springs and not leave without a visit to The  Mercantile. Even if you have never heard of the Beekman Boys before, after visiting you will be following their latest cookbook, internet feed or product release.

Josh and Brent became a reality show sensations after winning the Amazing Race. Investing their winnings in the Beekman 1802 brand, named after the farm they own outside of town.  Here you will find soaps, salves, and lotions made from goats milk from their farm.

The TePee, Dairyland, Icons on the American Road

The Tepee stands as an icon to motorcar travel on Route 20 outside of Sharon Springs NY.
The Tepee stands as an icon to American auto travel on Route 20 outside of Sharon Springs NY.

While not technically in the village of Sharon Springs, the Tepee is a must stop “tourist shop” on any American road trip in the mid-twentieth century.  Yes it is shaped like an Indian Tepee, and yes it has tourist chachkies, interestingly enough, some things you will want to take home as mementos, as you might not find them anywhere else.

You will find plenty of items with Bears at the Tepee.
You will find plenty of items with Bears at the Tepee.

 

Dairyland is where you go for ice cream cones. On Route 20 just as you come to Sharon Springs NY.
Dairyland is where you go for ice cream cones. On Route 20 just as you come to Sharon Springs NY.

As classic a road trip stop, as there is on any roadway in America.  In New York State, along historic Route 20, a visit to Dairyland is a must! Where else would you go on a summer’s evening for ice cream or a quick meal with a date? Dairyland is how you envision the original fast food places along the highway. All we need now is a 1957 Chevrolet BelAir!

Come Visit

Etched into the sidewalks in Sharon Springs are the names of the town's businesses from long ago.
Etched into the sidewalks in Sharon Springs are the names of the town’s businesses from long ago.

A tiny town resurrected by gays may seem odd in the conservative farm country of New York State. It is often gay men who buy and spruce up areas that have fallen upon hard times. Many areas have benefited from the efforts of the LGBTQ community. Gay men, Lesbians,  Transgender, and others have created inclusive communities bringing life back to neighborhoods, as well as increasing property values to areas once forgotten.  No matter what your proclivities might be, a visit to Sharon Springs is well worth the drive and will give you a wonderful neighborly experience, which is not often found today.

Enjoy the Adventure!

Gardens are wonderful accents to the Sharon Springs NY town.

A wall features signatures in the Cobbler and Co.

Antique Stores are a New York State commodity.
Antique Stores are a New York State commodity.
Welcome signs are frequent sights in Sharon Springs NY.
Welcome signs are frequent sights in Sharon Springs NY.
Delights for the senses and the eye at Beekman 1802,
Delights for the senses and the eye at Beekman 1802,
Beekman 1802 now features MacKenzie-Childs products.
Beekman 1802 now features MacKenzie-Childs products.
Hello Neighbor, Beekman 1802 features many goat milk based products.
Hello Neighbor, Beekman 1802 features many goat milk based products.
The Beekman 1802 store has great displays.
The Beekman 1802 store has great displays.
Historical road markers give history of the Sharon Springs NY community.
Historical road markers give history of the Sharon Springs NY community.
Classic buildings are a hallmark of Sharon Springs NY.
Classic buildings are a hallmark of Sharon Springs NY.
Tastefully classic furnishings are found throughout the American Hotel in Sharon Springs NY.
Tastefully classic furnishings are found throughout the American Hotel in Sharon Springs NY.
Real Keys are how you enter the American Hotel.
Real Keys are how you enter the American Hotel.
Route 20 features small town intersections like this one in Sharon Springs NY.
Route 20 features small town intersections like this one in Sharon Springs NY.
Sharon Springs has a rich American heritage, and is proud of it.
Sharon Springs has a rich American heritage, and is proud of it.
Dairyland is where you go for ice cream cones. On Route 20 just as you come to Sharon Springs NY.
Dairyland is where you go for ice cream cones. On Route 20 just as you come to Sharon Springs NY.
Beekman 1802 Shop is home base for the Beekman Boys, as well as their lifestyle brand.
Beekman 1802 Shop is home base for the Beekman Boys, as well as their lifestyle brand.
Sharon Springs is in the heart of agricultural farm land in New York State.
Sharon Springs is in the heart of agricultural farm land in New York State.
Words and Photos by William West Hopper.

Adventures to the Big Easy – New Orleans

The front of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans from their website

Queer4Travel is off to visit New Orleans Louisiana. We are arriving prior to Southern Decadence or Gay Mardi Gras.  While we will not be in town for the Labor Day parade and celebration, we will be checking the city out for a future post about travel to the Big-Easy. We have not been to visit for over fifteen years and look forward to seeing the changes since Hurricane Katrina.

A Historic New Orleans Hotel

From the Bourbon Orleans Hotel's website, their street sign.
From the Bourbon Orleans Hotel’s website, their street sign.

We thank the New Orleans Hotel Collection who have graciously comped us two nights at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, we look forward to their salt-water pool and modern amenities. Well located adjacent to two landmarks, the St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.

Sightseeing and adventuring

Plans are to ride the streetcars, with Judy Garland singing in the back of our mind, as well as stroll Magazine Street in the Garden District to window shop the many antique stores.

The courtyard pool at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel from their website.
The courtyard pool at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel from their website.

No doubt we will find delicious meals and imbibe in fine libations as we experience the city for two days. Check out our Instagram and Twitter posts for updates, or tweet us with suggestions and ideas of where we should go.

Though we are going to be there for only a day or two, we expect to see some things we missed on our last trip to town. Most of all, we will be having fun!

We will be traveling on Southwest Airlines, and using the Uber Car sharing app to get to and from the hotel and MSY airport.

We look forward to Enjoying the Adventure!

Words by William West Hopper,
Photos courtesy of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel’s website. 

Royal English Elegance in a City that Fought the British

Housed in a historic bank building the British Hotel Langham provides an elegant experience.

The Langham Boston Hotel

British red awings let you know you are at the Langham Hotel Boston.
You know you are at the Langham Hotel Boston by the red awnings.

“One if by Land, Two if by Sea.”  Paul Revere’s words to the Massachusetts colony.  Thus it was fitting as took a few days in Beantown before boarding a cruise ship sailing from Boston’s Black Falcon Terminal at the Flynn Cruiseport to spend a few days in a British hotel, The Langham Hotel as part of a pre-cruise package.

 

 

 

The Norman B. Leventhal Park is like a backyard to the Langham Hotel Boston
The Norman B. Leventhal Park is like a backyard to the Langham Hotel Boston.

I choose this property for a couple of reasons: One, I had not heard of the Langham before. Two, there is a city park, Norman B. Leventhal Park located next to the hotel. For luxury travelers in the know, The Langham is synonymous with luxury accommodations since they opened Europe’s first Grand British Hotel in London in 1865. Be it a property in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, Middle East, or here in North America this British Hotel brand is one that brings smiles and comments from those in the know about upscale accommodations.

British Hotel Arrival.

In quintessential British hotel style a doorman dressed in a blower hat makes sure you arrive in style.
In quintessential British style, a doorman dressed in a blower hat makes sure you arrive in style.

Upon arrival at the Langham Hotel Boston, a woman dressed in a strikingly classic pink suit welcomed us. A bit surprised that it was not a doorman. After check in she lead us to our room, conversing with us about where we would find the different hotel amenities. Later, as one would expect in a British hotel, a team of bowler-hatted doorman were at the door welcoming guests and providing valet service.

 

 

 

A short walk from the Langham British Hotel and you will find limited shopping.
A short walk and you will find limited shopping.

As it was a summer afternoon, we took a relaxing walk in the park next door. Which during the day is a haven for the office workers to get out for a break or lunch? We saw morning and afternoon yoga classes in action as well as book groups and other gatherings happening on the green. Being an area that caters to businesses, I found basic shopping nearby, a drug store and a couple of wine stores within walking distance from the hotel.

 

The Hotel has plenty of public space.

Many famous Americans from Boston are on display at the Langham Hotel Boston.
Many famous Americans from Boston are on display at the Langham Hotel Boston.

The lobby and public spaces that are spacious and elegant while not being ostentatious, with the registration desk to the right and The Reserve, a lobby bar, to the left. A hall flanked by images of famous Bostonians connected to a more private library space in the rear of the building where guests could retreat to read a book or gather privately in a library like setting. While not a convention hotel, this property is perfect for that shareholder, corporate or association board meeting with formal meeting rooms separate from the hotel’s public spaces.

You will find many things in the colour of pink, one keepsake the Langham Hotels signature pen.
You will find many things in the colour of pink, one keepsake the Langham Hotels signature pen.

Pink, is not by coincidence, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, as it conveys an aura of classic, understated elegance. The colour is not overwhelming, though you will find it throughout the hotel. In the rooms, staff members uniforms, on the cover of the Langham’s in-room directory of services, as well as the “private kitchen” room service menu.  Even a box in the desk drawer that contains postcards, linen stationery complete with pink lined envelopes, and the signature pen, which no doubt leaves as a desirable keepsake in the purses and pockets of guests.

Relaxing guest rooms.

Spacious rooms make a stay at the Langham British Hotel Boston an enjoyable experience.
Spacious rooms make a stay at the Langham Hotel Boston an enjoyable experience.

The rooms are quiet from both outside, and inside distractions, with comfortable firm, non-pillow-top bedding made up with crisp, fresh white linens and soft and dense pillows. Our party stayed in two separate, unconnected rooms; a single king and a double queen, both overlooking the Norman B. Leventhal Park. Rooms are not just one size; the double is larger by about half of the single. The room had a cabriole legged desk, two comfortable upholstered arm chairs as well as the beds and side tables. A well-appointed marble floored bathroom with step in tub/shower combination. Storage consists of a large double closet and chest of drawers, a cadenza with a minibar and safe, and a Keurig coffee machine.

You will find plenty of Chuan Body + Soul Spa products in the Langham Hotels guest bathrooms.
You will find plenty of Chuan Body + Soul Spa products in the Langham Hotels guest bathrooms.

Chun Spa items are in the bathroom. Including a dental kit, comb, manicure set, and more. As well as Chun Spa branded body wash, soap bars, shampoo, conditioner and Body lotion.  In the closet, you will find thick, luxurious terrycloth robes and slippers.  Before bedtime, slippers are placed on a towel beside the bed, along with the following day’s weather forecast, and of course chocolates. The surprise is ice in the ice bucket for you as well as bottled water.

Plenty to do in this British hotel.

Langham British Hotel offers a full fitness center, with a pool, hot tub, sauna, exercise room and spa.
Langham Hotel offers a full fitness center, with a pool, hot tub, sauna, exercise room and spa.

The property has an indoor swimming pool, exercise room and features the Chun Body + Soul Spa, as well as several restaurants. Bond, Café Fleuri, and The Reserve lobby bar. While the exercise room entrance is evident, getting to the pool is not. You enter through The Chun Spa’s locker rooms, once in the locker rooms, you will also find a sauna, showers, and plenty of towels. While the pool and hot tub area are not large, they are relaxing, with plenty of chairs and chaise lounges. No matter the weather, a greenhouse roof allows for natural light or at night, moon light. Clean, modern locker rooms connect to an up-to-date, well-maintained workout room. Chun Body + Soul Spa offers signature massage, Thalgo facials scrubs and wraps, couple’s treatments and wax services

Dining in the hotel.

Club-like elegance while still intimate is the best way to describe Langham British Hotel Bostons Bond Restaurant.
Club-like elegance while still intimate is the best way to describe Langham Hotel Bostons Bond Restaurant.

On property dining options were plentiful. The Reserve encompasses a part of the marble floored lobby. Entrance to the Bond or Café Fleuri is through the back lobby where you can either ascend separate gracious staircases or use the elevator tucked into the side of the back lobby. While room service is an option, the in-hotel options are an experience one should not miss. It is worth taking the few steps out of the suite to indulge in them.

The hotel’s three restaurants differ as do the meal experiences that they serve. Café Fleuri is in a second floor large atrium, which no doubt doubles as a convention space. Bond is a more formal space and a beautiful retreat for dinner or late night libations. The Reserve is the place for both a formal afternoon tea or cocktails.

Cocktails and Tea at The Reserve Bar in the lobby of the Langham British Hotel Boston.
Cocktails and Tea at The Reserve Bar in the lobby of the Langham Hotel Boston.

All three are very visually different and worth experiencing. Bond featured top notch, well-presented food, and drink. Even with a towering ceiling, crystal chandeliers and grand décor, Bond is still very intimate, so no matter if you were having a dinner for two or 20, you will feel comfortable. Both the food and service at Café Fleuri are as tasty as they are quickly served, which helps if you are short on time. While the Reserve, where we stopped for Friday afternoon tea, was, as we had heard  “the place” to go for Tea, turned out to be the only service disappointment we experienced at the hotel. 

Historic and modern.

Langham British Hotel Boston has plenty to do without ever leaving the building.
Langham Hotel Boston has plenty to do without ever leaving the building.

Langham Hotel dates back to 1865 when the first “Grand British Hotel” opened under the name in London. Thus, they have named their rewards program after that year, with three tiers Gateway, Voyager and Destiny providing an ever-increasing benefit package with as middle as three stays upgrading with five to the next level, and their upper-level Destiney is by invitation only.

 

 

We enjoyed a park view out of our window at the British Hotel The Langham Boston
We enjoyed a park view out of our window.

The building appears squat in comparison to the towering skyscrapers that surround it. Which makes the park feel like the hotel’s private back yard.  In converting this historic building, they added an upper floor pyramidal greenhouse offering aerial views from the guest rooms. Our rooms overlooked the park, though, for others it could be a city view from their rooms.

When in Boston.

No matter how you arrive, you will be treated well. Langham British Hotel even has an EV Charger.
The Langham Hotel even has an EV Charger.

Our experience at the Langham Boston was outstanding, pardon the one misstep of a new server at Tea. That first impression is one that can leave you wondering.  Ours was warm and friendly, and one where we knew we would be well-cared for and pampered.

The Langham cared for us very well. At checkout, guest services listened to our concerns over poor service at tea and were open to hearing our experiences.

Langham’s hallmark of personal attention is why this British hotel is must for any traveler staying in Boston’s financial district.

Enjoy the Adventure!

Words and images by William West Hopper

Welcome to Queer4Travel

Set sail, be it on land, water or air, for new experiences and adventure.
Set sail, be it on land, water or air, for new experiences and adventure.

Welcome to the world of travel, you do not have to be LGBTQ just Queer4Trave to join us. While we will have an LGBTQ focus, as we are gay.

The world is an amazing place, and so many things to see and experience, no matter who you are, who you love, just enjoy the travel.  As the trip is often as exciting as the destination, and often better than the day-to-day world we all live in.

About Queer4Travel

Queer4Travel hosts Bill and Dave who have been a couple for more than 30 years.
Queer4Travel hosts Bill and Dave who have been a couple for more than 30 years.

Welcome to Queer4Travel!  While we are not going to post the most “Gay” travel destinations, we will be posting places that we have been to and reporting on how friendly they are.

You don’t have to be LGBTQ to enjoy a friendly travel destination, and we are always looking for places to visit that are fun, educational and welcoming.  Join us in our journey.

Bill & Dave