These Design-Forward, Coastal Hotels Ooze Made-In-America Charm
Jumping the waves. Lobster roll picnics at the beach. Sunset boating. For many, nothing says summer like being on the water. As life pivots to something resembling normalcy, it’s time to tap into old-fashioned, on-the-shore fun at some of America’s top coastal retreats.
The Wauwinet, Nantucket
Everyone knows White Elephant. A more secluded option is The Wauwinet tucked away on the island’s northeast shores. A recent top to bottom revamp by design firm Gauthier-Stacy brought contemporary oomph into the historic, 32 room hotel blending cool blue and seafoam tones with warm woods, wicker seating, and nautical antiques.
Two private beaches–one on the Atlantic Ocean and one on the Nantucket Bay plus proximity to Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge are draws. If not swimming, guests are sailing and kayaking, surfcasting, lobstering, or biking. The on-site restaurant, Toppers, is one of the best on the island known for oysters sourced just 300 yards from the property.
Starting rate is $255
Chatham Bars Inn, Cape Cod
When it comes to hotels, old school is often the best school, particularly when interiors are refreshed and classic design preserved. Case in point: Chatham Bars Inn, where a cluster of historic shingled buildings on the southeastern tip of Cape Cod remains as elegant as they were in 1914 when the property served as a hunting lodge for well-heeled Bostonians.
Sitting on twenty-five acres overlooking Pleasant Bay, the property has its own quarter-mile private beach and a fleet of boats. Bright interiors meld old and new with crisp white bedding, upholstered wingback chairs, wood paneling, oversized lanterns, and Maritime antiques sprinkled throughout.
Starting rate is $445
White Barn Inn, Kennebunk, Maine
- The Auberge-owned White Barn Inn suffuses a 150-year-old farmhouse history with contemporary verve, its 27 rooms an artful mix of spindle beds, Sister Parish wallpaper, and Fermoie lampshades. The storybook landscape is surely a draw. But, for many, the coastal-themed culinary program is the home run. Chef Matthew Padilla helms the fine dining restaurant known for hits like Grilled Kennebunkport lobster with carnaroli risotto and Asian pears as well as the newer casual eatery, Little Barn, known for seasonal dishes fashioned of local seafood.
Starting rate is $779
Ocean House, RI
On a bluff with sweeping views of Block Island Sound, this Watch Hill property which opened in 1868 (the original building was demolished and rebuilt in 2010) serves up a sumptuous iteration of New England charm. Lodgings range from maritime-luxe rooms to shingled, on-the-beach cottages with streamlined interiors awash in light coastal hues of grays, shades of blue, creams, corals, navy stripes.
Guests-especially families-come here year after year to take advantage of yachting, surfing, biking, tennis, and golf. Though lazing on the Gatsby-feeling Great Lawn (which boasts a championship croquet court) is always an option.
Starting rate is $775
Anchorage 1770, Beaufort
A Federalist mansion turned boutique inn serves up the perfect blend of Southern charm and coastal cool. The fifteen guest rooms boast twelve-foot ceilings, sleek four-poster beds, turn-of-the-century millwork, heart pine flooring, and Robert Adam-style fireplaces. This being the Lowcountry, porch lazing is de rigueur. The inn’s Carolina hanging beds overlooking Spanish moss-draped Live Oak trees will seem familiar to Pat Conroy fans. The writer lived in Beaufort and films based on his books were shot right in town
What to do? Swim and kayak in Port Royal Sound, bike to Hunting Island or visit the undeveloped barrier islands like St. Phillips by boat. For a swanky lunch, pop into Palmetto Bluff and then explore the lush coastal foliage and wildlife at The Conservancy where you can also view artifacts dating from 12,000 BCE. Essential sightseeing: Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, a clutch of historic sites which trace the challenges of integrating millions of newly freed slaves into society after the Civil War.
Starting rate is $250
Back in the 1930s, the tony Surf Club hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor. Now, it clocks in as the most luxurious hotel in Miami if not all of Florida. Architect Richard Meier designed the translucent steel and glass hotel hovering above the original Mediterranean Revival clubhouse to mirror the movement of the sun and clouds. Inside, Parisian designer Joseph Dirand conjured a quiet grandeur with custom built-in banquettes with travertine swivel tables set off by green Connemara marble from Scotland and white fluted cast-plaster walls
Dirand also transformed the former ballroom into the Lido Restaurant and Champagne Bar where the impact of the original arched mahogany ceiling, set off by massive brass lanterns by Brossier Saderne, and clusters of palms are nothing short of va-va-voom. Starting rate is $1350
Post Ranch INn, Big Sur, Ca
If sustainability and bio-architecture float your boat, this wildly chic Northern California bolthole (solar-powered, bottled well water) will thrill. Perched 1,200 feet above the Pacific, forty tree houses and cottages blend seamlessly into the rugged landscape. Earth-toned rooms, some circular, some with curved beam roofs carpeted with wildflowers, others with glass-walled bedrooms and outdoor soaking tubs – feature radiant flooring, a wood-burning fireplace, and expansive decks, a few cantilevering over the ridge.
Starting rate is $1,425
Island Inn at 123 West, San Juan Islands
In Friday Harbour, the modernist Island Inn at 123 West is a welcome surprise. Blocky buildings unified by Ipe wood siding, corrugated metal paneling, and stainless steel wire balconies are a bold contrast to the town’s timeworn establishments. There are sixteen Scandi-chic rooms. Book the penthouse where Brazilian teak hardwood flooring, Basalt countertops, fireplaces, and massive harbor-facing terraces express the hotel’s industrial meets Pacific Northwest vibe. Here, it’s all about hiking through woodlands, biking to driftwood beaches, kayaking through the Salish Sea, and seeing wildlife like wild turkeys, red foxes, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, seals, otters, and, if you’re lucky, an Orca whale.
Starting rate is $199
Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, Oregon
On the windswept north coast of Oregon nestled between Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Sand Lake Recreation Area, Headlands perches on a craggy stretch of the Pacific facing Haystack Rock, a gathering point for Tufted Puffins.
The decor is an homage to the surroundings, think cedar shingling and indigenous basalt stone-stacked porte-cochere along with cathedral ceilings crafted of local Douglas Fir. Sculptural furnishings lend a clean, contemporary vibe: a custom leather serpentine sofa, winds through the lobby beneath sleek, eye-catching pendant lighting and a panel of laser-cut metal adorns the reception area along with dramatic hunks of driftwood.
Rooms further underscore the PNW sensibility. There is Oregon hardwood flooring, fireplaces, custom Pendleton blankets (the company headquarters are in Portland) freestanding cast-iron soaking tubs, and groovy leather racks to accommodate bikes and surfboards.
A visit to this rugged pocket of Oregon is about dory boating, surfing, biking, hiking, tide pool exploration, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and crabbing. Then, chilling out at nightly beach bonfires.Starting rate is $500
10. Surfrider Hotel Malibu, Malibu
Smack in the heart of Malibu, this 1950s motel turned cool kid boutique hotel was designed by California native Matthew Goodwin and his wife Emma Crowther to conjure the quintessential California beach house. The twenty rooms ooze seaside soul with floor-to-ceiling windows, custom-made four-poster beds, stone, ceramic tiles, Bellino linens, and reclaimed wooden teak floors. Outdoor terraces (top floors have sea views) include hammocks handwoven by one of the last remaining tribes in the Amazon rainforest. Other perks include complimentary surfboards, wetsuits, and Mini Coopers to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. Starting rate is $350