Something I love about living in the city is that I don’t have to drive. It’s a real convenience, except when you want to get out of the city for a day or two, in which case it’s not. But I’ve finally found the perfect place to take a day trip when I want to fill my lungs with something other than car exhaust and hot garbage, and it’s easy to get there without a car. It’s the small town of Hudson, just two hours upstate on an Amtrak train. Hudson is probably best known for farms and antiques, and the main drag feels kind of like Brooklyn with a lot more green space. What I really love is that it’s filled with amazing beauty buys.
To start, head down a flower and brick-lined alleyway to find The Quiet Botanist. Most beauty stores these days are light and airy—made to look like a Malibu kitchen, a yoga studio, or Bloomingdales. The Quiet Botanist is cozy and chaotic, like a pied a terre for woodland fairies who frenziedly fly in and out. Inside, there are natural, imperfect wood floors and sage green painted walls. Look up, and you’ll see what I assume is the building’s original moulding (many homes and buildings in Hudson date back to the late 1700s and 1800s). Antique weathered wood shelves and cabinets take up most of the free wall space, and are bursting with dried floral bouquets, which The Quiet Botanist specializes in. And then, underneath the petals, you’ll find a meticulously curated assortment of beauty products. J. Hannah nail polish sits by the register, a cake stand of French soap cubes in pastel hues by the entrance, and skincare products from plant-based lines like Furtuna (which I love) and High Sun Low Moon (which I’m intrigued by) in the back.
But the best thing you’ll find here are candles. There are so many good ones, at all different price points. Under delicate glass domes is the entire herbal assortment of Carrière Frères, the sister line of Cire Trudon. (Tomato is my favorite, but mint is unmatched for the bathroom.) It’s one of few places that carries Le Feu De L’eau, including their mix-and-match tea light set, which we included in our holiday gift guide a few years back and is still fantastic. They also have a brand I’ve never seen before called Samo, whose candles smell fresh, juicy, and a lot more expensive than they are. (The giant jars will only set you back $45.) Candles not your thing? Consider the stacks and stacks of Papier d’ Armenie incense, Hibi incense matches, and Incausa columns that burn slowly and satisfyingly. There is not one place to sit in this little jewel box of a store, but if there was, I’d have curled up there with a book.
Of course, you’ve got to pace yourself. The Quiet Botanist is not the only place in town to get a good whiff! Take a quick jaunt down the street and you’ll find Finch, an antique store started by two Brooklyn transplants with roots in the fashion industry. You must make time to ogle the fantastic finds, like a jawbreaker of an Italian Murano pendant light, or a perfectly refurbished mid century modern desk. All the way at the back of the store is a barber shop called Pugsly’s, which is open Tuesday through Sunday by appointment, and right outside of it is an edit of unisex personal care items. There’s a big Malin + Goetz display which doesn’t have everything, but does have the three best candle scents (Cannabis, Dark Rum, and Mojito) which is really all that matters. I spend more time than I should in front of the DS and Durga counter and leave a cloud of I Don’t Know What. Finch also has their own line of locally made candles, in angular votives of oceanic ceramic.
Another place to stop for unique scents is Source Adage, a niche fragrance house actually based in Hudson. Walking in feels like stumbling onto a juicy secret—the scents, all created in-house, are the kind of thing you’d smell somewhere, not stop thinking about, and never be able to match at a department store. Find a cheap pick-me-up at the apothecary bar, full of products scented with only essential oils: a hand lotion is just $9, while the square soaps are perfect for a powder room and cost under 20 bucks. Explore the eau de parfums, which feature unique notes like smoky pineapple and green apple fir. Then settle into the home scents, which they call their signature collection. My favorite is Great Plains, which is so, so green and sap sweet, which is the only kind of sweet I like in fragrances, and addictive. I also love Hudson 314, inspired by the town and slightly warmer and smokier—better for the coming months of burning wood and crunchy red leaves, maybe. The custom black vessels are elegant and design-y without screaming their presence.
Grab a quick bite (Baba Louie’s is solid sourdough pizza, Lil’ Deb’s Oasis somehow fuses every international cuisine in a way that works, Cafe Le Perche has the prettiest patio in town) then keep going. There’s even beauty at the Intentionally Blank store, the only outpost for the cool, reasonably-priced shoe brand that makes my favorite pair of fall boots. They’ve got Maison Louis Marie fragrances and Boy Smells candles. Batterby House general store is the spot for indie incense, bath salts, and a golden chunk of soap from Golda called the Hiba Cube, which I found to smell so delicious I couldn’t put it down. It’s made with fragrant and anti-microbial oil from hiba trees, and ancient and valuable Japanese cypruses that were historically used to build temples. Who knew!
On your way back to the train, make one last stop at Face Stockholm. Though it’s stocked all over, and had a landmark location on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 90s, for some reason the Swedish brand’s only US store is now in quiet Hudson. Explore the cream blushes (so smooth and pigmented) and consider a cult-favorite green correcting pencil, which spot-corrects breakouts by neutralizing redness. But don’t leave without their Cranberry Lip Veil, which, legend has it, was Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s go-to 90s sheer berry-brown lip. Just in time for fall back in the city.
Photos via ITG