Far enough away from the busy streets of Manhattan to seem like another world, the hip resorts and boho joints strung along the coastlines of Long Island are the go-to destination for New Yorkers in search of sea, sand and serenity. Immortalised on film andiconic TV shows such as The Affair, Sex and the City and Something’s Gotta Give, the Hamptons themselves – a group of villages at the East End of the island – have been a fashionable resort for high society since the 19th century. While many choose to rent properties, hotels to stay in range from original, converted neo-classical houses, such as the top-end Topping Rose House and the family-friendly Maidstone, to purpose-built hotels and remodelled beach shacks catering for an edgy, urban clientele – checkout The Surf Lodge for watersports and The Chequit for a peaceful, laid-back escape from the crowds. Whatever your choice, though, expect a chic, sophisticated and seriously stylish experience.
Shelter Island Heights, Shelter Island
The lowdown A 120-year-old hotel set within a close-knit community.
Best for Frazzled families escaping the city for some quality time.
Set between the two forks of eastern Long Island, Shelter Island has long lived up to its name – being a respite from the more extravagant excesses of the crowds who flock elsewhere. In other words, the name of the game here is not conspicuous consumption. Instead, the local population of some 2,500 gently swells to around 9,000 in summer, which means everyone has time enough to get to know the beautiful surroundings. And The Chequit is the perfect spot to chill-out. The 31 rooms feature pastel colours, painted furniture and Native American rugs – barefoot boho chic for Brooklyners.
Once Livingetc had enjoyed a wash-and-brush-up, we checked out the Red Maple restaurant, which serves a seasonally inspired menu that includes tapas-style plates as well as staples like clam chowder. After-dinner drinks were enjoyed on the porch, while we watched boats chug across the harbour. We’re not in New York any more, Dorothy.
Topping Rose House
Bridgehampton, Suffolk County
The lowdown A ‘full service’ luxe hotel at the swankiest end of Long Island.
Best for Manhattanites with exquisite taste – and a budget to match.
Built in 1842 for one of Bridgehampton’s most prominent citizens, Topping Rose House spent the greater part of the 20th century as a restaurant and inn before being spectacularly transformed into a 22-room hotel in 2013.It boasts farm-to-table fine dining – with locally sourced seafood a speciality (the lobster tempura is great); a spa and wellness centre offering yoga, massage and reflexology by the pool; and a curated collection of modernist artwork on display, all available to buy.
The rooms and suites, including some fabulous new spaces within a recently built annex, are furnished in a New York-loft-meets-English-country style – think Saarinen tables teamed with Adirondack chairs – while the public areas are plush, without being overbearing.
And the staff are peachy keen, which means nothing, and we mean nothing, is too much trouble: when we asked at the desk if we could take one of the hotel’s Lexus SUVs out for a spin, the keys were delivered to the room before we got back there. Phew...
The lowdown A homely yet chic boutique hotel with a Scandi twist.
Best for Families with active children and canines in tow.
The Maidstone is everything we imagine a Hamptons hotel to be and then some. This joint not only looks great, but is a kid-friendly (the miniature furniture classics were a major plus for our design conscious troop, as was the yummy kids’ menu), dog-loving delight (get this: Butch was able to enjoy dishes from the Woof Menu with us in the dining zone before going off for a beauty treatment!). In a nod to the owners’ Swedish heritage, the 19 rooms and cottages are decked out with a ‘Scandinavian Cozy’ vibe.
Food in the aptly named Living Room restaurant, a stylishly snug affair, is wherever possible organic, seasonal, locally sourced and always delicious, with a few choice Swedish dishes such as Västerbotten pie on offer.
The natural world has a big role here – The Maidstone is dedicated to recycling and uses eco-friendly linen, paint and energy. After your yoga session, take a walk around the herb garden for an olfactory hit you’ll never forget. And be sure to borrow a Sweidh-made Kronan bike and peddle off to Main Beach, one of the area’s most awesome stretches of sand.