Where in the World is Hawley, PA?
Hawley, Pennsylvania, is not a place many people have likely heard of. It’s a small, quaint borough in the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania. The town has a history of manufacturing and industry supporting the nearby coal mines, and a population of under 2,000 people.
Hawley may not be a well-known town, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. In fact, it contains a hidden gem for travelers in search of something special and out of the way: the Settlers Hospitality Group.
The Settlers Hospitality Group
The Settlers Hospitality Group is a family-owned hospitality company that has created a diverse portfolio of boutique lodging, dining, and shopping options in the Poconos. Their properties combine historic buildings with modern amenities and personalized service. The group has recently expanded beyond Hawley to include The Sayre Mansion in Bethlehem, and Hotel Anthracite in Carbondale.
Our Trip to Hawley
I work at Q4Launch, a hospitality marketing firm that manages the websites and digital marketing for the Settler’s Group. One of the perks of the job is our Q4Travels program, where we get a yearly travel allowance to visit one of our customers. Thanks to this program, my wife and I were able to plan an anniversary getaway to Ledges Hotel, one of the Settlers Group’s properties.
We went in April, which is a shoulder season for Poconos tourism. The forecast indicated winter hadn’t quite ended in the area, and we were initially concerned that would prevent us from fully enjoying the trip. We’re from South Carolina, so cold weather isn’t something we look forward to, and we made sure to pack our coats. However, the roads were clear and the weather was better than we anticipated.
There were a few outdoor activities (such as trail riding) that we passed on, but there was still plenty to see and do. And, an unexpected benefit of the colder temperatures was that we were treated to the beautiful sight of icicles along the waterfall behind Ledges Hotel!
Arriving at Ledges Hotel
As we approached Ledges Hotel, the first thing we saw was the imposing structure of the Hawley Silk Mill. This massive stone building (the largest Blue Stone structure in the world) used to be a functioning silk mill and is now home to a collection of charming shops.
We turned into the lot and drove down the narrow, winding lane leading to Ledges Hotel. Built from the same stone as the Silk Mill, the hotel juts out over an easygoing, tiered waterfall. Stepping out of the car, the first thing you hear is the water cascading down the rocks. It’s a relaxing sound that perfectly sets the tone for the entire experience.
The design of Ledges Hotel pays homage to the building’s history as a glass factory in the early 1900s. The bathrooms in the guestrooms make use of glass showers and sinks, and there is a display in the Great Room showing several pieces of glass that were made during the factory’s run in the early 1900s.
After checking in, we decided to stretch our legs from the drive and explore the scenery around the hotel, along with the shops at the Silk Mill.
The Hawley Silk Mill
The shops at the Hawley Silk Mill are small but worth visiting during your stay. We perused an art gallery (Art on the Edge), bought a beautiful art print at Shelter Interiors, and drooled over the baked goods at the Mill Market Bakery that were so perfect they looked like movie props. The Silk Mill also boasts a fitness center and Pilates studio for guests of any of the Settlers Hospitality Group’s properties.
The front desk staff were wonderfully helpful and offered us great ideas for things to see and do during our trip. One of their best suggestions was to enjoy dinner at Glass wine.bar.kitchen, the restaurant on the lower floor of Ledges Hotel.
Dining at Glass is a can’t-miss experience for anyone staying in Hawley. The bar area, in particular, is warm and inviting, with a large black stove heating the area, and comfy couches around natural wood tables next to windows overlooking the falls.
The menu provides a wide variety of options. While some of the dishes are big enough to order as an entree, our server recommended taking a shared approach and trying several different dishes. This is absolutely how you should experience the menu at Glass, because you’ll miss out if you only try a single dish.
We started with a ricotta gnocchi and, after taking one bite, immediately ordered two additional dishes because we knew we’d want to try more. After devouring the gnocchi, we were treated to two personal-sized skillets of freshly-baked mac and cheese, which was among the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve been to a literal mac and cheese competition).
Finally, we tried the braised chicken with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, manchego, and polenta. Though we were stuffed by that point, we couldn’t skip dessert and shared an incredible salted-caramel pot-de-creme.
Drinks at Glass were as impressive as the food. Coming from Charleston, SC, (a foodie city if ever there was one) we’ve enjoyed plenty of craft cocktails, but those offered at Glass could give any in Charleston a run for their money.
One drink that exemplified their creative mixology was a sensory experience called the Pineapple Express. The drink was sweet and flavorful, incorporating pineapple-infused gin and rosemary simple syrup. What made it unique was a sprig of burnt rosemary, which hit the nose with a smoky, earthy scent every time you took a sip. This contrasted and balanced out the sweetness of the drink itself. It was a highly original cocktail that was memorable for how it engaged multiple senses.
Experiencing Hawley, PA
We first ventured into Hawley the next morning for breakfast. While Ledges Hotel offers an assortment of freshly-baked goods from the Mill Market Bakery, guests who want a full, hot breakfast can opt for the “Bed and Breakfast package” which includes a full breakfast at their sister property, The Settlers Inn and Restaurant.
The Settlers Inn is an English Arts and Crafts-style, 23-room hotel near downtown Hawley. The warm decor, which features nature-inspired artwork and handmade pottery, perfectly complements the distinct exterior of the building. Our breakfast was delicious and there were plenty of options, from oatmeal to omelets, coupled with a steady supply of fresh coffee.
After our breakfast, we explored the area, first visiting one of the many area antique shops and then driving along the Towpath Road – a quiet, winding road the runs alongside the Lackawaxen River all the way to the New York border and the historic Roebling Bridge. It was a beautiful, relaxed drive and we even caught sight of a bald eagle fishing in the river!
My only caveat to other travelers would be to download an offline map of the area to your phone or GPS. Towards the end of the Towpath, there is no cell service whatsoever. While I was able to find our way with the posted signs, some travelers may appreciate the reassurance of their navigation system.
Cocoon Coffee Shop
Returning from this adventure, we enjoyed coffee at the Cocoon Coffee Shop, located right in front of the Silk Mill. The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed, and the walls are decorated with information about the building’s historic status as a home to the silkworms that provided the raw silk for the nearby mill. The coffee shop also featured a bookshelf along one wall with a robust library of books for patrons to read while enjoying their coffee.
The Dock on Wallenpaupack
After coffee, we were ready for lunch and, at the suggestion of the staff at Ledges, we made the short drive to The Dock on Wallenpaupack, the restaurant attached to Silver Birches Resort. The Dock offers seating overlooking the eponymous lake. We took advantage of their lunch special ($5 pizzas on Mondays) and filled up on delicious pizza and cappuccinos (we really like coffee, okay?)
The Settlers Restaurant
That evening we ventured back to The Settlers Restaurant for dinner. We were seated at a table by the window – the sill of which was full of lovely plants and flowers. Our meal started with a fresh loaf of “birdseed bread” from the Mill Market Bakery.
For dinner, my wife enjoyed a beautifully-grilled filet mignon with purple mashed potatoes, and I opted for the roasted duck with a cherry sauce and a rosemary and green pea risotto. Our server even surprised us with two glasses of champagne for our anniversary! It was a fun surprise at the end of a wonderful day.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
(Well, not quite, but a few hundred feet down at least.)
The next day, we had checked out of the hotel, but our flight wasn’t until the evening. We made use of the extra time to explore an attraction that’s truly unique to the area – a coal mine!
On the outskirts of Scranton, not far from the airport, is the Lackawanna Coal Mine, a museum and retired coal mine that now offers daily tours. The experience was unlike any other tour we’d been on, and for the paltry $10/person entry fee, you get an entertaining, informative, hour-long tour that’s hard to beat. It was a fun way to end our trip and, if you have time before your flight, it’s well worth it.
All told, we had a wonderful anniversary trip to a destination we probably wouldn’t have known about if not for my job. For as small as Hawley is, it has a lot to offer, from natural scenery to local attractions.
You can’t experience Hawley, PA without visiting at least one Settlers business. Every aspect of the Settlers Group’s properties was on par with lodging and restaurants in much larger tourist destinations. Their attention to detail and quality was impressive, and each of their properties offered a unique experience highlighting a different part of the area’s history and culture.
If you have a chance to visit the area, take it – it’s a perfect setting for a quiet retreat or anniversary getaway.
All images copyright Keegan Robbins, 2018. All rights reserved.