Our motto is ‘an interesting blend of old and new,’ ” says Sally O’Neill, who owns the Andes Hotel with her husband, Ed. And they live up to it. The hotel was originally built in 1850 and operated as such for 160-odd years (“There was a short period when it was a paint store — I don’t know why,” O’Neill says). The O’Neills took over 13 years ago when they relocated from the New York Metro area. The hotel has 10 freshly decorated rooms, a restaurant (Ed is CIA-trained, and the quality of his food proves it), a catering hall, and a tavern decked out in New York Yankees paraphernalia. Visitors and locals alike flock to the Summer Shack — an outdoor pavilion with live entertainment every Friday night. And the room rates won’t break the bank either: $85 for a single bed, $105 for double. $125 for a triple, and $145 for four. Kids under 12 are free.
The town of Andes itself holds its own appeal. “We definitely see that Andes is on an upswing; it’s located right on the main thoroughfare from Kingston to Cooperstown, so there is a certain amount of traffic every day,” says O’Neill. Main Street itself could also be described as a “blend of old and new.” Among the new: Two Old Tarts Bakery and Café. They recently relocated from Bovina and started selling their sweet and savory wares in the mid-summer. Don’t miss Tay Home, a tearoom-meets-fashion-boutique that opened its doors about seven years ago. For the old: A number of antiques shops dot the street. One, Andes Antiques and Art, requires you to ring the front doorbell before traipsing around to the showroom in the back. Paisley’s Country Gallery is an adorable boutique housed in a storefront that was built in 1873 as an apothecary’s shop; behind the counter, the drawers still have their original labels — things like sassafras, pix burg, and zingiber. When we asked O’Neill for her favorite shop, she was hard-pressed to pick. “They’re all really cute and they’re all different,” she says. But her favorite aspect of Andes is the diverse people who give the town its charm. “You could be sitting next to a stonecutter on one side and talking to a producer on the other,” she says.
It’s easy to access several other Delaware County towns from Andes. We thoroughly explored Andes as well as Hobart and Margaretville all in one day. Only a 20-minute drive from Andes, Hobart is home to a variety of unique shops. We particularly liked the Sheep’s Nest, which sells wool products and handmade home decor.
About 15 minutes from Andes and 30 from Hobart is Margaretville, which made headlines in 2011 after being devastated by Hurricane Irene. But the cozy Main Street has been rebuilt, and most of the buildings have a fresh look to them. A fine place to pause for lunch (the egg sandwiches are excellent) is the Cheese Barrel. Though in business for 25 years this November, they had to move to a different location after Irene and only recently returned to their original building. In addition to a hefty café menu and myriad coffee flavors, the eatery stocks more than 40 cheese varieties, many imported; a local favorite is Toma Celena (which has a nutty flavor) from the Cooperstown Cheese Company.
After all that adventure, we were certainly happy we had a comfy hotel to go back to.