Urban Writing Retreat
Ithaca, New York
October 17-21, 2022

Introduction | Top

The editors of Chestnut Review invite you to a special retreat in Ithaca, New York! Experience one of the most livable cities in the country during fall colors!

This retreat is designed for work-in-progress, whether it’s a novel draft, CNF or story collection, poetry cycle/manuscript, or something hybrid: regardless, our goal is to provide you with actionable, helpful critque and move your project forward. If you feel you’re stuck, or you can’t get enough good reads on how your work comes off, join us and we’ll deliver!

Ithaca, New York is the our base for this retreat.  Nestled at the southern end of Cayuga Lake and home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, its streets have been trod by writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, E.B. White, and Alison Lurie. Local bumper stickers remind you that “Ithaca is Gorges” due to the numerous waterfalls that surround it, two within easy walking distance of your accommodations.

Despite being a comparatively small town, Ithaca boasts more restaurants per capita than New York City! Its dining scene is electic and ever-evolving, and we will do our best to introduce you to a variety of cuisines and restaurants while on this retreat.

We will subdivide into at least two working groups of no more than six people, but there will be combined activities and our dinners will be taken together. This small size will allow for intensive discussions and plenty of time for everyone’s voice (and writing!) to be heard.

Retreat Leaders | Top

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Accommodation| Top

We are offering two options: stay in the main venue (a B&B) or select your own accommodation, be it hotel, motel, or AirBnb. Local writers are also invited to join without worrying about housing.

B&B: Our home in Ithaca will be the William Henry Miller Inn, a B&B located in the former Stowell family mansion right downtown. The Inn features breakfast and evening dessert daily, and will be our workspace for the retreat. Our aim is to fill the inn with writers so that we will all form a community where nearly everyone you meet will be a writer just like you! 

Find-your-own: Ithaca has a number of accommodation options that you can find on any major site like hotels.com, Airbnb.com, and others like Ithaca’s tourism site. Whatever your choice, if you will not have a car you should be in walking distance of the William Henry Miller Inn (303 N. Aurora St.) for maximal convenience. 


What’s Included? | Top

Because we are offering two options, what is included depends on which accomodations you choose.

All writer participants receive:

  • Pre-trip orientation: once the group is formed, we will arrange a Zoom meeting to explain the schedule and answer any questions.
  • 3 lunches 
  • 4 dinners: each night we will take on the town at a different restaurant, celebrating our day’s work and giving us an opportunity to connect as a writing community. Alcohol purchases are at your own expense.
  • 3 guided excursions:
    • Cascadilla Falls and Cornell University campus
    • Ithaca Falls
    • Robert H. Treman State Park/Lucifer Falls
  • 3 sessions of craft discussion and workshop (9 hours total, Tuesday-Thursday). This will be a combination of writing exercises, craft discussion, and workshopping your writing.
  • 1 private 30 minute consultation with your group leader about your work

Participants staying in the William Henry Miller Inn receive all above plus:

  • 4 nights accommodation in private ensuite rooms. We will assign rooms based on preferences and on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • 4 breakfasts 
  • Pickup from Ithaca airport (ITH) and transport for departure

For all categories the following are excluded: meals/snacks outside those listed above, flights to/from Ithaca, individual excursions, souvenirs, alcohol purchases


Cost | Top

All prices are in US dollars. For cancellation policy, see below in the FAQ. Payments may be made over two months at no extra charge.

If staying at William Henry Miller Inn:

  • $1599 early-bird rate, single room, per person
  • $1699 regular rate, single room, per person
  • $799 shared room (2 beds) for two writers rooming together, per person
  • $499 shared room, non-writer friend/partner rate for second person
  • Initial deposit is $500. Deposits before June 30th earn the early -bird rate.

If staying elsewhere/local writer:

  • $699 early-bird rate, per person
  • $599 regular rate, per person
  • Initial deposit is $300. Deposits before June 30th earn the early -bird rate.
  • Non-writer partners are included in all non-writing activities listed above: meals, excursions, transport.

FAQ | Top

What about Covid?

New York has had fairly low infection rates and the county has a 78%+ vaccination rate at this writing (April, 2022). But of course, we know that Covid is here to stay and so we do require that all participants be vaccinated and boosted. Masking will depend on any local guidelines.

Can rooms in the B&B be shared?

Yes! Simply complete a preference form for each participant and indicate the writer you will be sharing with. We do need each person to state that they will share with another, and we will confirm by email before booking two writers together. There are only four of the nine rooms that have additional beds or sofa beds, and they will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

I have dietary restrictions. Can I participate?

Most definitely. We will take into account any restrictions you have, but of course have no control over whether private restaurants can or cannot accommodate them. Extra expenses are your responsibility, but we will do everything we can to make your experience successful.

How do I get there?

Ithaca has a smaller airport (code: ITH) that we highly recommend you use, as it is just 10 minutes to the downtown and entry/exit is very easy and unstressful. The next largest nearby airport is Syracuse, about an hour and fifteen minutes by car. The trip cost for B&B folks includes pickup and dropoff from Ithaca airport, which is served by Delta, United, and American.

What is the refund policy?

Deposits/payments are fully refundable until August 30th. After that point, no refunds will be issued for cancellations. You may wish to purchase trip insurance.

Can I plan my own activities?

Absolutely! You’ll receive the weekly schedule at orientation and can make arrangements of your own for unscheduled times. We are happy to consult on how to spend your extra time. You also might wish to stay over the weekend after the retreat to explore.

Can I stay at the B&B after the retreat?

Of course! Participants may stay longer if they wish, but these arrangements are your own responsibility. You can book online, but be aware that weekends have higher demand than midweek.

What if I have mobility issues?

The William Henry Miller Inn is wheelchair-accessible and has one ground floor room in the Carriage House (the other rooms are on the 2nd and 3rd floors).

Can I bring a partner/family?

Absolutely! This is a family-friendly experience. We ask as a general rule that you do not bring children under 18, who may demand more attention than you can provide while participating in the retreat. As for the B&B, we have reserved the entire building, and are striving to create a quiet, contemplative space that wouldn’t work with the natural bustle of young children (do note that the Inn requires guests to be over age 12). If you have any doubts, just ask. Please note that not all rooms have multiple beds and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The signup form will collect any preferences you have regarding extra beds.

What will the weather be like?

Expect nice fall weather with daytime temperatures between 55-65 and nights about ten degrees cooler, though of course you can have quite warm days in the low seventies and chilly ones hovering in the 40’s.

Register | Top

In order to secure your place, please fill out the registration form here. We’ll then be in touch to confirm and with instructions for paying the deposit.