A brand new designer inn in High Falls, The Gray Barn offers luxe comfort, vegan breakfast delicacies, common areas infused with natural light and stunning views, and a cast of several hundred unique hosts with memorable personalities and dramatic survival life stories.
Since moving to its 150-acre High Falls location in 2015, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has been thriving. They have built new facilities to house their 380 resident rescued animals, grown their membership to 1,500 humans, and won accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries for their humane, individualized care and exceptional education and outreach.
At the sanctuary’s former location in Willow, the group ran a small but popular guesthouse on the premises, but none of the existing buildings at the new farm made sense to house visitors. A place to welcome guests overnight was on the wish list.
Then two years ago, WFS was awarded a grant that allowed the organization to build a custom five-room inn at their scenic new location from the ground up. “We’re a very grassroots organization, and this was a wonderful gift from a foundation that wanted to see us be sustainable,” says Rachel McCrystal, the sanctuary’s executive director. “We need to be here for these animals for decades. We felt very lucky to be able to build this from scratch! It’s been very exciting.”
The nonprofit worked with award-winning architect and upstate-dream-home designer Marica McKeel of Studio MM to create a sleek barn-inspired contemporary. “She’s done mostly residential and she’s really got the feel and look of Hudson Valley down,” says McCrystal. (Here’s a profile we did on McKeel’s own Kerhonkson home.)
The Gray Barn’s five guest rooms, each with private terrace and bath, are appointed with cozy, ethically sourced, eco-friendly linens and luxurious personal care products. Lounging and dining spaces are intimate and peaceful, with lots of glass to bring the outdoors in. Breakfast is fine fresh vegan cuisine. (If nuts or gluten are an issue, just let your hosts know.) The inn can also be reserved for small private events and retreats.
Guests get a private VIP tour of the Sanctuary in action, complete with lots and lots of animal stories and education, and are welcome to explore within reasonable limits. “We have 2,500-pound steers here, so there have to be rules,” says McCrystal. “And this is their home, you know? As long as you don’t cause a fuss, you’re welcome to come and spend time.”
Farmed animal sanctuaries are far less common than shelters for cats and dogs, and Woodstock Farm Sanctuary welcomes 15-20,000 visitors each season for weekend tours. “I know we function as a sanctuary for humans too, especially some of the urbanites who come to tour and volunteer,” McCrystal says. “Our mission—amplifying the voices and stories and personalities of these animals—is powerful. We want people onsite as much as possible, getting to know these individuals that we’re not supposed to get to know. The Gray Barn offers a great way for people to come and spend some serious time.”
The Gray Barn’s spacious deck is cantilevered out over the goat pasture where Zia, Pia, Harper, Atticus, and their friends like to feast and chill, with the Shawangunks in the background.
“Come, meet the animals and relax,” says McCrystal. “We’re super excited to be able to share the experience all year round, and I hope we get all kinds of people here.”
All the profits from The Gray Barn go to the care and feeding of the Sanctuary’s residents.