These US beachside locations provide the coolest places to stay
Whether you’re a California dreamer or an East Coast bunny, there’s a US beach resort tailored to your summer lovin’ needs. Occupying a discreet niche along Miami’s epic stretch of pristine sand is 1 Hotel South Beach, a luxurious bolthole with a private beach club and pools with Atlantic views. Another haven away from home can be found at The Chequit, a refurbished inn on New York state’s Shelter Island. The ethos here is homespun comfort delivered in style, all within reach of the island’s sun-kissed bays. On the West Coast, Carbon Beach’s swanky residents now have to share the spotlight with guests of the Nobu Ryokan. Elegantly minimalist, it takes the concept of a Japanese inn to extravagant heights. Further down the Pacific Highway, the Paséa Hotel & Spa overlooks some of the finest surf beaches in the States. And Hawaii’s The Modern Honolulu offers an alternative American getaway, surrounding its pool with groves of exotic trees. It’s a beach holiday, but not as we know it.
The lowdown An über-chic retreat in a prime West Coast spot.
Best for Escapists who are into minimalist design and maximum pleasure.
Visitors to Malibu will have caught a glimpse of the A-list residencies that shelter along the sand like beachfront prima donnas. Until 2015, Carbon Beach was strictly out of bounds, with public access denied by the locals. But times have changed and now this spectacular crescent of coastline is home to the recently opened Nobu Ryokan – and to you.
Following an extensive renovation of a Fifties beach motel, the Ryokan sees the debut of the hotel brand’s offshoot, offering stylised accommodation in select spots around the globe. With 12 suites and five oceanfront bungalows, you can expect a remarkable degree of pampering with rarified privacy.
A modernist take on Japanese interiors produces jaw-dropping results, with shoji screens, tatami mats and generous tubs with sleek fittings.
Although only breakfast is served in the hotel, guests are welcome to dine at the adjoining Nobu Malibu, where signature dishes such as yellow-tail sashimi with jalapeño and rock shrimp tempura with ponzu go down as beautifully as the setting Californian sun. The hotel’s website offers no phone number, nor booking facility and all enquiries are by email only – this place is about as exclusive as it gets.
Book it Rooms from approx £1,446.
THE MODERN HONOLULU
The lowdown An adult-orientated leisure hub with a hipster vibe.
Best for Alfresco entertainment to keep you buzzing or blissed out.
Imagine laying in a hammock with an ice-cold mojito, swaying gently in the breeze with palm leaves overhead offering shelter from the sun. Now imagine snapping out of your reverie when you realise it’s time for lunch and then taking a few short steps across the warm sand to a poolside restaurant.
Say ‘aloha’ to The Modern Honolulu, where the best in Hawaiian hospitality is served up in a funky setting. Overlooking a marina located just north of Waikiki Beach, the hotel has set new standards for guest houses on the island.
With an array of broken surfboards displayed in the lobby, the vibe is immediately established. The suites are sleekly clean, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views across the blue horizon.
The hotel’s Ravish restaurant blends Hawaiian ingredients with modern Japanese cuisine, while a Polynesian flavour resurfaces in the Lather Spa, where the Lomi Lomi massage is based on ancient healing techniques.
For hedonists, the in-house Addiction nightclub pulls in bright young things from across the island, while those after a tropical tipple should wait for the lobby’s bookcase to swing open and reveal The Study, a bar-cum-live music lounge where the cocktails are named after literary classics. Anyone for a Catch 22? Don’t mind if we do.
Book it Double rooms from approx £259.
PASÉA HOTEL & SPA
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA
The lowdown A grand resort right on the seafront at Surf City.
Best for Wave devotees who like refined quarters with their rollers.
Never surfed before? Then this is the place to start. As well as hosting the US Open of Surfing this July (a great chance to watch some of the world’s best riding the waves), Huntington Beach offers beginners the ideal conditions for testing their toes out on the board. And if you want to do it in style, why not take advantage of Paséa’s dedicated Beach Butlers, who will arrange lessons for novice guests.
As well as putting in laps at the pools or setting off on one of the complimentary Cruiser bikes to explore the paths along the coast, you can enjoy a meditative massage at the in-house Balinese-inspired Aarna Spa, with eight treatment rooms, a private spa garden, sauna, eucalyptus steam room and salt-water whirlpool.
Almost all the rooms and suites have terraces with views over the palms, sand and sea, while the penthouse includes a kitchen and bar, eight-seater dining table and wraparound balcony. Frank Gehry-style wiggle loungers are dotted around the lobby, with neo-Bauhaus furniture and plumped-up Frette beds in the rooms.
Food-wise, expect fusion surprises at Tanner’s restaurant, with Latino and American staples spiced with South American salsas. There’s also a rooftop bar – just the spot to gaze out over the endless Pacific, sipping on a craft Junipearo cocktail (slow gin and spiced pear liqueur, since you ask).
Book it Rooms from £189.
SHELTER ISLAND HEIGHTS, NEW YORK
The lowdown A weatherboard inn revamped to recreate its heyday.
Best for Long Islanders after a low-key alternative to the Hamptons.
Are you one of those people who finds check-in times a tad restrictive? Prepare to be set free. Friendly staff at The Chequit will contact you a few days before you’re due to arrive, asking what time you’d like to have your room ready. So you’re free to enjoy the ferry ride over from either Greenport or Sag Harbor knowing you can relax the instant you take up residence in one of the hotel’s spacious and elegantly furnished rooms and suites.
Renovated in 2015, the three buildings that make up the hotel – the main house, Summerhouse and Cottage – have all been reworked in modern-classic style, taking their cue from Shelter Island’s Forties high point, when frequent vacationers from the Big Apple are said to have included Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.
That means chaise longues and velvet armchairs in the lobby, daybeds and potted palms on the terrace and loveseats and claw-footed baths in the bedrooms.
Crescent Beach is a short stroll away, but you should take time to explore all 20 miles of coastland here – some of the more secluded bays are truly gorgeous. Once back at the hotel, dining options include the inn’s Red Maple restaurant and White Hill Café for freshly prepared bites, perfect with picnics on the beach.
Book it Double rooms from approx £145.
1 HOTEL SOUTH BEACH
The lowdown Five-star accommodation with a distinctive eco vibe.
Best for Lovers of water sports and wellness treatments equally.
If picking your way through a crowd of loungers on the way to the pool is your idea of holiday hell, then this resort will have you hummin’ hallelujah. Occupying an entire oceanfront block, 1 Hotel South Beach makes the most of its footprint, with even entry-level bedrooms boasting 650sq ft of luxurious comfort.
Miami-based design firm Plant the Future has created green ‘moments’ that act as living art exhibits throughout the building, including a grotto garden in the lobby. Sustainability lies at the heart of the hotel’s experience, so hemp blend-filled mattresses and hangers made from recycled paper are just some of the resource-saving measures you’ll find here.
Fans of Brit wellness brand Daylesford Organic will be delighted to find a Bamford Haybarn spa set in the hotel rooms, alongside complimentary fitness classes ranging from Deep Detox Yoga to Core Body Burn.
Meanwhile, kids can be kept occupied at Basecamp, where activities include nature walks and seashell art. The fare varies from farm-to-table cuisine to Asian-inspired dishes. And since the hotel is set back from Miami’s more frenetic streets, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep, while still being within strolling distance of the top shops, bars and clubs, not to mention that awesome beach.
Book it Double rooms from approx £420.