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Oddities

A Night at the Roxbury: Campy Digs in the Catskills

“Did you notice the crust?” This is not a question one wants to hear when talking hotel rooms. But it’s posed with utter giddiness when one is in room number 27 at the Roxbury in New York’s Catskills region, for this is “Mary Ann’s Coconut Cream Pie” room, a flamboyant space with a faux-meringue ceiling, a round bed and a hint of coconut in the air.

It’s the newest addition at the Roxbury, where room designs riff on movies and T.V. — Jeannie’s bottle, Charlie’s Angels, Maria’s curtains from “The Sound of Music.” You can book a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”-inspired blue jewel box of a room, or stay in the grander Wizard’s Jewels room, with its yellow glass floor tiles, mural of poppies and ruby-slippered feet sticking out from under the bed pillows.

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It sounds zanier than it is. The Roxbury is big on style and comfort; it is not a hyperactive theme-park experience. From the nice toiletries to the bowl of wasabi peanuts at reception, the owners’ loving attention to detail is palpable. The proprietors are a pair of New York City refugees who took a gamble on a downtrodden roadside motel, transforming a den of disrepair into a cozy place to rest your inner Fred Flintstone.

It may seem like a radical juxtaposition — a place that unabashedly embraces lime green and meringue ceilings amid placid Roxbury, population 2,500. Yet the motel sits harmoniously here, beside a trout stream with a barn in spitting distance. In the stairwell, one of the first things I notice is the huge chandelier made of what looks like a thousand neon orange drinking straws. It does not seem wrong.

The charm is in the details: chocolates, fresh flowers. Munch fancy soy crisps in the glittery spa ($20 per person for unlimited visits during your stay), or pepperoni Hot Pockets ($1 from the office). Copies of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies are available in the free-to-borrow DVD collection, as well as vintage “The Addams Family” episodes. What’s your rainy-day game: chess, or Operation?

Over breakfast on the sun porch, the various weekend leaf-peepers and hikers compare notes and offer suggestions for future room themes (one 9-year-old’s contribution: Sponge Bob). If you’re lucky, you meet the people in room 27, the friendly couple from New Jersey who invite you to come check out the digs. You go. You notice the crust. Delicious.

— written by Deborah Bogosian

By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of IndependentTraveler.com. Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

Email Sarah at sschlichter@smartertravel.com.

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