Whether you’re booking your first Catskills getaway from New York City or whether you’re a veteran Catskills lover who has been vacationing in this beautiful region of Upstate for years, chances are you’re probably seeking out new and unique places to stay in the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley.

We have just the place for you, for your Catskills getaway long weekend.

In our opinion, what we’re about to describe is one of the best places to stay in the Catskills. There’s a few reasons for this!

In addition to being a perfectly-positioned getaway luxury cabin for a weekend, the location of this cozy vacation rental has no shortage of things nearby to do, in the Catskills.

What is the Joy Cottage Catskills vacation house?

We’re talking about Joy Cottage, an Airbnb and Vrbo vacation rental that’s great for groups, a family or a bunch of couples, only 15 minutes from the town of Catskill, NY, (and 22 minutes from Hudson, NY and the Olana State Historic Site).

The Joy Cottage is a new build, created with the feeling of zen in mind. It’s a Japanese-inspired minimalist house and looks like it’s right out of a scene in the Far East.

In the past, we’ve had quite the conundrum when deciding how to book accommodation for a trip. There are so many tempting places on Airbnb, but ultimately, it can be hard to find an affordable rental for a group trip.

At Joy Cottage, the main house has a living room (complete with a sofa, chairs, and sitting mats) with a big window that looks out into nature, and four bedrooms. Two additional bedrooms have their own entrances from the wrap-around porch, with separate keys and ensuite baths.

Now, we mentioned that this getaway house has a unique location: that is because it is located within the grounds of the Mahayana Temple Retreat, set on acres and acres of tranquil forest.

The cottage itself is located next to a small lake, where you can see morning mist rise in the early hours of the morning (it’s magical).

When you’re not watching the mist rise from the lake with a hot cup of tea in your hand while sitting on the front porch, you can explore the several Buddhist temples and the pagoda on the retreat property. We promise you will be enthralled!

Where is the Joy Cottage at the Mahayana Temple Retreat?

Joy Cottage is located in the Mahayana Temple Upstate Retreat in Leeds, NY. The house itself is set back about half a mile down a wooded road, and it’s completely surrounded by the forest and nature.

Leeds, NY, is a tiny rural town about 15 minutes by driving from Catskill, NY. If you drive onward across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, you can reach the town of Hudson in 22-25 minutes.

All in all, we found the Leeds and South Cairo area to be a great jumping-off point for visiting other areas of the Great Northern Catskills region, including Saugerties, Greenport and the nearby nature reserves and hikes.

As for the Mahayana Temple Retreat itself, it’s owned by the same organization that runs the Mahayana Temple of Manhattan, which has two locations in Chinatown, NYC. The Upstate Retreat is used to hold gatherings, events, memorials, services and culture programs.

Why is the Joy Cottage one of the best places to stay in the Catskills?

We may be biased, but we love an excuse to be in nature, but not be camping in a tent.

Staying in the Joy Cottage, we had all the luxuries of a king-sized bed, central AC and heat, a refrigerator with a camera so that you can see what’s inside before you open the door (!), a massive bathroom in the master suite and a red Japanese-style bridge right outside the door taking us across the stream to the other side.

What a dream!

Joy Cottage is for sure one of the most unique places to stay in the Catskills because, let’s be honest: where else can you say you stayed on the grounds of an active Buddhist temple retreat in Upstate New York, while also enjoying the luxuries of a Japanese-style zen getaway house?

Is the Joy Cottage a secluded or private style of accommodation?

We definitely felt secluded at the Joy Cottage, in a good way. At night, we knew no one else was around, and before 9 a.m. in the morning, we didn’t see any cars drive by. We felt like we were in a forest with a private lake (and the Jade Pagoda across it).

We liked that we felt very independent during our stay, and the host was only a text message away.

To check in, we used a lockbox for self check-in, and it was the same for check-out. We just locked up our keys in the box and drove off to finish out our Catskills road trip.

Could you work remotely at this upstate getaway house?

Yes, you for sure could work remotely at this vacation rental house upstate. Each room has a desk, and there’s WiFi throughout the home, so we had no problem working remotely and being connected to the Internet the entire time. Also, it was fast!

The fact that there’s verified WiFi at this vacation rental is crucial because we both lost cell service almost immediately when we left the main roads off the highway.

You could definitely add this place as an option for places for traveling and working remotely at the same time.

Also, it is super quiet and isolated (whenever there are no events going on at the temples). You will never get street noise, ambulances, fire trucks or any of the sounds you’d typically experience in NYC (which is where we live).

Is there free parking at this getaway house for my upstate weekend trip?

Yes. There’s one spot inside the house gate, but it’s really only for tiny cars. Right past the gate, there’s a larger parking lot that’s great for your bigger cars and where multiple cars are able to park.

At the Mahayana grounds, there is a big parking lot and all parking is free.

What’s the kitchen like at the Joy Cottage vacation house?

The kitchen was one of our favorite parts of Joy Cottage.

If you’ve read the rest of our website, you may know that we seek out kitchens on our trips, as one of our ways of staying healthy during travel. So, being able to prepare and heat up our own meals and feel at home was key.

The other times we’ve stayed upstate by Airbnb’ing in Beacon and staying in hotels during our trip through the Adirondacks, we didn’t have full kitchens for only us.

At Joy Cottage, we enjoyed the full kitchen amenities of a fridge, microwave, freezer, oven, range and dishwasher, along with a full set of cooking utensils and eating utensils, ways of making coffee in the morning (we’re obsessed with making coffee when we travel), a toaster, hot water kettle and full dining table for meals.

With all these features and amenities combined, it’s more value than you’d ever get at any of the Catskills resorts or hotels.

What are the bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms like at Joy Cottage?

In short, Joy Cottage’s owners have done a great job of creating a beautiful minimalist space in which everything feels clean and new.

All the bedrooms are simple, to get you feeling really zen’d out. There’s no excess for distraction, and no frills. Each room has a bed, wooden mid-century style furniture and modern bathrooms with glass showers and windows for natural light.

The master bedroom has a king-sized bed, with a double closet, shelving, plenty of windows and a master ensuite bathroom with double sinks and a huge shower. Have you ever used a Japanese toilet (the TOTO washlet)? You’re in for a treat.

Among the four bedrooms in the house with the main entrance, the master bedroom has a king-sized bed, two other rooms have full or double beds, and one room has two twin beds. There are two rooms with private entrances to the left of the main entrance, along the front porch.

If you’re with a group of friends looking for a place to stay, Joy Cottage can do the trick of giving everyone space for sleeping and hanging out without feeling cramped or tight.

What was our favorite part of staying at Joy Cottage?

Our favorite part of staying at a unique vacation rental like Joy Cottage was that we felt like we were staying somewhere really unique that we couldn’t wait to tell friends about.

If you would like to check the boxes of “best places to stay in the Catskills” and also “things to do in the Catskills,” you can get both these wishes by staying at a getaway cabin that’s already located at a place of interest: Mahayana Temple.

Our other favorite part of staying at Joy Cottage as our upstate getaway weekend house was that we had easy access to nature right outside our door, and didn’t have to walk more than five steps to feel surrounded by trees, foliage, wildlife and culture.

How can you book Joy Cottage for your next Eastern Catskills getaway with a group of people?

Joy Cottage can be booked on Airbnb or on the vacation rental website VRBO.

Helpful Tip

If you need a $25 off welcome discount for Airbnb, use this referral link.

To learn more about the Mahayana Temple retreat, see their website, and then follow Joy Cottage on Instagram and on Facebook.

Heading to the Western Catskills with a group, whether the same trip or a different one? Check out our guide to Livingston Manor to see another recommendation of group-friendly accommodations.

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