Glamping in a Yurt in the Catskills

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Affordable Luxury Glamping in a Yurt in the Catskills

Published on November 13th, 2013 | by Charu Suri

14 Glamping in a Yurt in the Catskills

“What’s a yurt doing in the middle of the Catskills?” was my first question as my husband proceeded to book our single-day retreat at Harmony Hill in East Meredith.

It turns out that Harmony Hill Retreat was the only lodge for miles which had something that distinctive: the “tree house yurts” advertised on their site (they have three of them) looked elegant yet rugged, unusual and spacious. Since our family was not going to Mongolia anytime soon, last we checked, we decided to give the toddler, our au pair and us a sound education in glamping.

After a 3.5 hour drive on a Tuesday evening, the longest that I can remember, we left the city firmly in the rear view side of things, and entered a landscape with sporadic cows, horses, and apple trees studded with brilliantly-colored fruits of fall. Erika fell asleep within minutes as we departed the house, and woke up once we pulled into the retreat’s driveway.

Harmony Hill Retreat Yurt East Meredith

Our “Tan Yurt” in the middle of the woods

Harmony Hill Retreat Yurt East Meredith

The Labyrinth, made with field-cut stone

“Tan Yurt” said a sign, encouraging us to turn right past the retreat’s entrance, and we looked for a cylindrical tented structure in the middle of the barren thick of pine trees. We had booked the yurt right at the cutoff point, the owner Chris Rosenthal told us, since she shuts down the tents during the winter season.

We had to call an hour before we arrived so Chris would turn on all the space heaters and have the yurt comfortably heated so Erika wouldn’t freeze. Typically, yurts are not heated. Technically speaking, a yurt is a portable tent which is covered by fabric and sheep’s wool since they are erected by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia, where temperatures can plunge to subzero levels. Our yurt was every bit glamping, with a ceiling of ribbed wood, a ceiling fan in our Pantheon-like skylight, latticed framework, and plush furnishings including a table, chair and pull-out beds.

Harmony Hill Retreat Yurt East Meredith

Harmony Hill Retreat Yurt East Meredith

A gloomy, English-weather kind of day, but still beautiful

My bedroom was cozy, with a Queen size frame, a nightstand, but no phone (Matt eventually found a dusty, oversized phone stuffed in a cabinet). Our cell phones’ AT&T bars were nonexistent –this was off the grid territory. But we loved the hardwood floors, the chic iron fireplace (technically a fire stove), and our bed. The bathroom was so roomy that it took up a third of the yurt (you could waltz in there).

The Labyrinth, situated in an open field, was one of my favorite aspects of the retreat. The Hill’s fieldstone was cut and placed piece-by-piece in eleven concentric circles. It is peaceful just to walk along the path and take in the fresh country air.

I felt the landscape was something out of the English countryside, the same vibe as StoneHenge, which I had visited a decade ago.

For around $200 a night (we paid a bit more because we brought our au pair), we were able to listen to the crickets, see the stars, and go for a long hike around the property wood (70 acres goes a long, long way). Harmony Hill is so quiet you can hear every leaf crunch and sigh—it helped me unwind considerably from my city-induced stress.

Nomadic  glamping? I could get used to this.

Harmony Hill Lodging & Retreat Center

694 McKee Hill Rd, East Meredith, NY 13757

Phone: 607-278-6609


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