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Hudson Valley Fall Getaways and Vacations 2011: Hotel Fauchère in Milford, PA

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Milford, Pennsylvania, is a charming town of 1,100 people nestled between the Sawkill and Vandermark creeks, a short drive from the Delaware Water Gap. The layout was designed by John Biddis, a judge who founded Milford after the Revolutionary War; the broad, tree-lined streets are named for his kids.

Surrounded by natural splendor, Milford has always been a magnet for aesthetes. Many prominent architects — including Calvert Vaux; the fabled firm of McKim, Mead & White; and, more recently, Peter Bohlin — have contributed buildings to the borough. Silent filmmaker D.W. Griffith used Milford as a setting for his pictures, and the town was a favorite of Mary Pickford, the most famous (and wealthiest) movie star of her day. And Gifford Pinchot — the visionary conservationist who built Grey Towers, a gorgeous manse in the hills overlooking the town — enjoyed visits from Teddy Roosevelt.

When staying in a town The Atlantic once called “the prettiest county seat in America,” the place to stay is — and always has been — the Hotel Fauchère. Like Milford itself, the Fauchère has a long and storied history.

Its founder, Louis Fauchère, a native of Switzerland who came to the United States in 1851, was master chef at Delmonico’s, then the most celebrated restaurant in New York (its name still conjures up images of decadent splendor). That Fauchère was friends with the Delmonico brothers — and that they visited him in Milford — contributed in no small way to the success of the operation. Among the luminaries who have stayed at the Fauchère are the poets Robert Frost and Ogden Nash, actresses Mae West and Sarah Bernhardt, industrialists Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford, and baseball legend Babe Ruth.

The current hotel, a gorgeous Italianate building, was built in 1880; the original saloon was removed to the rear.  Fauchère, known about town by the misnomer “The Crazy Frenchman,” died 13 years later. His family ran the hotel, to his exacting standards, until 1976.

Closed for 25 years, the Fauchère was purchased in 2001 by Sean Strub and Dick Snyder, who spent five years restoring it — but adding inspired touches of their own. “We kept or recreated much of the architectural detail, but neither one of us thought the world needed another over-the-top Victorian-style inn,” Strub explains. “So we sought a more spare and sophisticated look that blends the historic legacy with contemporary amenities and style.”

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hotel fauchere delmonico roomThe Delmonico Room is named after the brothers who operated the fabled Delmonico’s in New York

The 16 guest rooms are exquisite, with heated towel racks, marble bathrooms, Frette linens, and Kiehl’s beauty products. But the Fauchère is more than just a place to stay. 

A collection of Hudson River School paintings hangs on the walls in the public areas; visitors come just to marvel at the artwork. Some of them invariably hole up at Bar Louis for a drink, where they can enjoy a cocktail while taking in a gigantic Christopher Makos photograph of Andy Warhol giving John Lennon a peck on the cheek. “We wanted something that was contemporary and sleek, to contrast with the 19th-century architecture and Old World feel of the hotel,” Shrub says. “Bar Louis is more International style — a sort of timeless, almost minimalist look that might be found in any sophisticated outpost in the world.”

If there was any doubt about the sophistication of the Fauchère, one needs only to dine at the Delmonico Room. In this traditional dining room, guests are served creative and delicious dishes by master Chef Christopher Bates, a worthy successor to Louis Fauchère. 

Speaking of Fauchère, his portrait hangs in the Delmonico Room, where he smiles approvingly upon the new look of his old hotel.

Rates: $275-$425 per night (two-night minimum on weekends)

What to do:

  • Grey Towers. The former estate of Gifford Pinchot, founder of the National Forest Service and onetime governor of Pennsylvania, is a National Historic Site. No stay in Milford is complete without a visit.
  • Art After Dark. On the second Saturday of every month, take a evening tour of Milford’s galleries. There are multiple art openings and live music, and the boutiques stay open late.
  • Delaware Water Gap. Milford is at the north gate of this 70,000-square-mile national recreation area. There is no better place to enjoy the multicolored majesty of peak fall foliage (usually the first two weeks of October).
  • Marvel at the architecture. Milford has many great examples of architecture by a number of prominent draftsmen. Richard Morris Hunt designed Grey Towers; Calvert Vaux, the old post office; Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., Milford Cemetery. And fans of Frank Lloyd Wright can spot private residences in the Usonian style.
  • Black Bear Film Festival, Oct. 8-10. Come to historic Milford Theater and watch the best new independent cinema releases.

» Return to Hudson Valley Fall Getaways 2011
» Visit Hotel Fauchère in Milford, PA
» Visit our Hudson Valley Travel Guide

 

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