By PK Greenfield
“The winter is forbidden ’til December. And exits March the second on the dot.
By order, summer lingers through September. In Camelot.”
Continuing with our series on destination weddings near NYC, we’ve found the jewel in the crown of all venues. If the couple is looking for an elegant location in the spirit of Kate Middleton and Prince Harry without flying everyone to Europe, look no further than Castle Hotel & Spa.
Perched atop the cliffs facing the Hudson River in Tarrytown, NY, this medieval-style structure was built in two stages between 1897 and 1910 as a private home for General Howard Carroll — newspaperman, playwright and an apparently successful businessman.
After a multi-million dollar renovation, this hotel offers spectacular views, classic and comfortable rooms with remarkable grounds that are as close to Downton Abbey as you can get on this side of the Atlantic.
An attractive water fountain and impressive cul-de-sac entrance greet guests upon arrival. The lush grounds are manicured and the structure was architecturally based on the castles built in England and Wales, Norman-style. What exists behind the thick walls is even more uplifting: murals, tapestries, artwork and an ambiance fit for a regal wedding. It has everything a couple could imagine sans a moat
The ceremony will be held outside on the grand lawn at the back of the castle and the landscaping is stunning with its annual plants and flowers. The congregation will face the couple with the Hudson River in the background; views of the river are clearer during the fall and winter. There is the option to move the ceremony indoors if the weather doesn’t cooperate, which is typically decided the night before the ceremony. The event cannot be tented due to the preservation of the grounds.
There are several options for the reception: The Great Hall (above) and the Caramai Ballroom are two major spaces from which to choose. The guest list size dictates the options available for cocktail hour, dinner and dancing. I was impressed with the vaulted ceilings, multiple sconces reminiscent of Knights of the Round Table swords and a magnificent rose window. This room captures an old-world feeling but can be decorated with modern touches centered on draping and lighting. The theme and/or color scheme can be arranged with several select outside vendors.
The Caroline Suite is one of six luxury suites and the castle has a total of 31 rooms. The king-size pedestal bed is ultra plush and faces the Hudson River. The room is beautifully appointed with several original oil paintings and an elegant wrought iron, candlestick-style chandelier. Each suite has a wood-burning fireplace that can be stocked and lit by the hotel’s porter. All of the baths have been renovated with modern fixtures and walk-in shower.
EQUUS is the award-winning restaurant at Castle Hotel & Spa. The Oak room is handsome, spacious and as classic as an old-school library. The Garden Room (above) offers captivating views of the manicured gardens and river.
The menu is seasonal and built on popular cuisine for every taste — local produce is a priority.
The Amuse Bouche du Chef was a tasty way to start our meal.
On this particular visit, the chef presented a selection of fresh shellfish with a seasonal assortment of regionally grown herbs, greens and vegetables served on a bed of perfumed rice. The presentation was as amazing as the combination of flavors. In one word, delectable. I also enjoyed the Maine Sea Scallops served with mint, sweet peas, spring peas and Iberico. The scallops were seared to perfection and the sauce was smooth and flavorful with a buttery finish.
For entrée, I recommend the Grilled Kobe Styled Washu Beef Sirloin with aligot potato, bone marrow and chanterelle, fried shallot, and sauce bordelaise — the cut was as tender as filet mignon and the combination with crispy fried shallots atop the steak created the perfect texture and flavors. Mouth watering! While the prices are steep at Equus, the portions, presentation and flavors justify the experience.
This is the only dining option at the hotel but one fit for a royal feast. It offers an incredible breakfast too, and I give an honorable mention to their famous weekend brunch menu. All wedding guests will be happy with the cuisine but if you would like to offer other options, the downtown area near the train station is booming with many local places to wine, dine and celebrate.
Just a few steps down from the castle is THANN Sanctuary Spa. It’s the first of its kind in the U.S. and just opened a year ago. This tranquil and holistic spa offers unique therapies — it’s a modern facility with ancient customs for total body and mind relaxation and rejuvenation. The couple, wedding party and guests can indulge in a day of pampering in an environment that I would describe as Nirvana on the Hudson.
Read more about THANN: http://www.thannsanctuaryspany.com.
For all anxious brides-to-be and nervous grooms, Castle Hotel & Spa is as close to Camelot as you can get.
Castle Hotel & Spa
400 Benedict Avenue