The Roxbury, Roxbury, NY


The motel room comes with its own back story. It’s written on an aging scroll pasted on the wall next to a 400-gallon saltwater aquarium, wherein lionfish and puffer fish circle a replica of Cleopatra’s tomb. The scroll tells the story of archaeologist/adventurer Elton Reynolds, who stole the queen’s sarcophagus from the Nazis in the 1930s and whose collection of antiquities now decorates this elegant three-bedroom cottage, staged like the set of an Indiana Jones movie, called “the Digs.” It’s one of 28 wildly designed theme rooms at the Roxbury Motel.

2258 County Road 41
Roxbury, NY
(607) 326-7200

The Digs is the most deluxe accommodation at the Roxbury, but not the most elaborate design at this boutique motel that is as committed to comfort as it is to style. Ten years ago, proprietors and former theater professionals Greg Henderson and Joe Masa bought the rundown motel in the rural Delaware County village of Roxbury, and have since created an output of fantasy inspired by the pop culture of the ’60s and ’70s that takes “over the top” to a whole other level; it pushes past “fabulous” into “extraordinary.”

The foyer of the Digs faces a giant stone door. On the other side of it lies a spare bedroom, pebble tile underfoot, with a Mayan calendar relief carved into the rock wall and a Murphy bed cleverly hidden behind the face of a massive Mayan god. There’s also a bedroom with a canopy of bullwhips, and one styled like a pharaoh’s palace, with stone wallpaper like the inside of a pyramid. The Digs has two bathrooms (one appointed in fabulous gold tile and gold fixtures), a full gourmet kitchen, and a private courtyard overlooking the east branch of the Delaware River babbling just below. (There’s also a secret passage—a full-on hidden room in which you can spy on other people in the cottage—but pretend you didn’t know that.)


The Amadeus’s Bride suite, based on the film Amadeus, is an opulent throwback to the rococo style of the 18th century, with gold-leaf moldings framing dozens of mirrors, a large crystal chandelier, and an oversize mural of Mozart’s wife, Constanze. The two bedrooms—one up a spiral staircase—are covered in velvet-flocked silhouette wallpaper from Osborne & Little. Henderson, who conceived of the designs for the rooms, sources the motel’s bespoke materials—gilt wallpapers, custom-designed lighting, midcentury modern furniture—from suppliers across the U.S. and Europe. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the Internet,” says Henderson. Masa, a former set designer, oversees the fabrication of Henderson’s whimsical fantasias.

If you’ve always wanted to crawl inside Barbara Eden’s lair on “I Dream of Jeannie,” the purple-and-gold harem of Genie’s Bottle will delight. Access your inner Trekkie in the Final Frontier, a suite with Captain Kirk chairs and a fiberoptic ceiling that re-creates the warp-speed effect from “Star Trek.” Take a trip back to swinging London in the Austin Powers-inspired Shagadelic Suite. The Addams Family is ready to adopt you in the Noir Boudoir, a slyly sinister take on the TV show’s Victorian mansion. Still dreaming of dancing like John Travolta? Just turn on the colored lights and disco ball in Tony’s Dancefloor and live the dream. Other rooms include George’s Spacepad (“The Jetsons”), Angel Hair (“Charlie’s Angels”), the Wizard’s Emeralds (The Wizard of Oz), and Fred’s Lair (“The Flintstones”).

And the most mesmerizing room? It’s got to be Maryann’s Coconut Cream Pie—the room makes you feel like you’re inside a pie. The ceiling is an upside-down meringue. Each of the hundred or so upside-down peaks is an individual sculpture, crafted by Masa, screwed into the ceiling, shaved into shape, and then covered in successive layers of fi re retardant, paint, and gloss. They’re all encircled by piecrust crown molding. Below the stalactite meringue sits a circular bed with “SOS” written in seashells on the headboard.

While not everything is real at the Roxbury, the signed photograph of Dawn Wells, who played Maryann on “Gilligan’s Island,” is authentic. But that story about Elton Reynolds fighting the Nazis for his loot? They made it up. Disappointed? Don’t be. It’s all part of the intricately crafted fantasy at the Roxbury.

Next: The Roundhouse, Beacon, NY

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2 responses to “The High-Design Hotel”

  1. […] Germantown farmhouse, a renovated 1980s contemporary bachelor pad near the Ashokan Reservoir, and a bevvy of fabulous high-design hotels in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, including Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa, depicted above. […]

  2. […] Note: This piece was originally published in the Upstate House Spring 2014 issue. It’s been reposted here with the author’s permission…my permission! I wrote it! […]