From hip hotels to elegant restaurants and sporty clay courts to classic car tours.
Out of The Gilded Agethe new tv series Downton Abbey Creator Julian Fellowes, too A Newport summer, a suitably lavish new book by photographer Nick Mele and writer/interior designer Ruthie Sommers of Vendome Press, Newport and Rhode Island, kept us busy this summer. New England’s most elegant state, it seems, is finally coming into its own.
We had already heard about some of the new hotels, restaurants, and other interesting things coming up in the Ocean State, so this seemed like the perfect time to check them out. With all the attractions within easy driving distance of each other, as well as New York City and Boston, a road trip seemed in order; So we set course for Providence, the capital city that’s been attracting a lot of attention lately.
Much of this comes from The Beatrice, a cool new boutique hotel in the attractive Exchange Building that was built in 1887. Located in historic downtown Providence, the original architectural details have been stylishly incorporated into a contemporary design with industrial exposed brickwork and structural supports.
Decorative elements and interiors also honor the building’s storied 19th-century past with a modern flair that enhances rather than detracts from the care taken by ZDS Architecture & Interiors. The hotel’s spacious 47 guest rooms offer travelers a “tailor-made home away from home,” highlighted by high ceilings and large windows overlooking the historic district.
Also the star attraction for many is the Bellini Restaurant – the very first in New England – owned by Ignazio Cipriani, fourth-generation descendant of Harry’s Bar’s famous Cipriani family, and an exclusive private rooftop club for members and Beatrice hotel guests.
The restaurant’s ever-changing menu incorporates a “modern interpretation of Italy’s many specialties and classic dishes” as well as Cipriani signatures, with dishes like pappardelle “alla Bellini”, beef Milanesine alla Parmigiana, and sautéed clams alla Veneziana. And of course there’s Cipriani’s famous Venetian Bellini, a cocktail, a mix of Prosecco and fresh peach puree, invented by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1948.
The next morning we drove down to Watch Hill and the five-star Ocean House, New England’s most impressive and attractive historic seaside resort. Adjacent to Taylor Swift’s mansion, Ocean House is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux association of world-renowned hotels and resorts.
Since it was perfect beach weather, it was obviously wise to reserve a private cabana and order one of everything from the extremely tempting menu. The Ocean Club is justifiably famous for their F&B offerings and they have something for every mood. And with the recent debut of the property’s Théa at Dune Cottage, there’s even more to enjoy.
Our next stop took us to a place we had wanted to visit for a long time: The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences in Richmond. The ultimate athlete’s paradise, the brainchild of serial entrepreneur and nature lover Paul Mihailides, takes up a sizable chunk of Rhode Island real estate, encompassing everything from luxury homes to skeet shooting, fly fishing and equestrian sports.
On its 3,500 acres you will also find rock climbing, winter snowmobiling, a shooting range, an 18-hole executive golf course, hobbit houses, safari tents for cigar smokers, tree houses and an off-road driving course. It’s also home to world-class restaurants, led by the acclaimed Double Barrel Kitchen in the Main Lodge, which serves everything from lobster to pheasant bagged on the property.
You can book an overnight stay in a Cabin, Cottage or Lodge House and try as many activities as you like. During bird hunting season you can even put dinner on the table after a 5 star day of hunting. And thanks to a new partnership with Bentley, you can even pin a luxury car on the off-road course. All without leaving the property.
We left early the next day to tour The Breakers, one of Newport’s most famous mansions. As A Newport summer puts it succinctly: “Newport has an understated elegance that sets it apart from other resort towns.” It’s “one of the last bastions of American high society,” and the “grand Gilded Age homes that dot the ocean cliffs and.” that line the storied Bellevue Avenue,” like The Breakers, built by the Vanderbilts in the 1890s, “are largely untouched by contemporary renovation and taste.”
This was just the beginning of an epic day of sightseeing that also took us out on the water on an America’s Cup yacht. America’s Cup Charters is the outfit that whisks you away for a day on the water in a classic yacht with an impressive racing pedigree, passing oceanfront mansions and attractions like the famous New York Yacht Club. They operate the world’s largest fleet of America’s Cup winning boats.
For lunch, we dropped out at Bar’ Cino, a hip Italian eatery in the heart of historic Washington Square that brings some much-needed food Sprezaturra to the city’s gastronomic scene. Aperitifs and Italian wines complement upscale Italian street food options, including the grilled, thin-crust, rectangular pizzas that are cut with scissors. Opt for the one with roasted Rhode Island mushrooms, charred radicchio, fontina, parmesan and fresh herbs.
After lunch we were picked up by a stylish gentleman in a classic British Jaguar XJ6 in racing green – Bruce Spitzer from Newport Jaguar Tours. Nobody seems to know more about all Newport attractions than Spitzer, who can tailor tours to suit every client’s interests, from the fabled mansions and private clubs to a look at the Kennedys and their connection to the famous seaside resort. You can choose to do anything from a three-hour excursion to a full day, and Spitzer even offers a picnic lunch if you wish.
Dinner that night was at The Chanler at Cliff Walk, one of the few mansions in Newport where you can actually stay the night. One of New England’s premier hotels, the historic five-star hotel, built as a private home in 1865, is a bastion of old-world elegance with an incredible staff who make you feel like you own the place. It is a real paradise for architecture lovers and gourmets.
The Chanler is home to Cara, a Forbes five-star restaurant also ranked among the best in New England. Under the direction of Executive Chef Jacob Jasinski, Cara is conceived as a “hyper-intimate” dining destination that showcases blind tasting menus. Jasinki and his team guide diners through each dish, highlighting the best local and seasonal ingredients, and “paying homage to coastal New England cuisine” — you can see the ocean from the window.
After dinner we moved into The Vanderbilt, an Auberge Resorts Collection property, another historic gem that has recently been renovated and brought to life. Evolving from primitive to engaging with its sexy, dark new color palette, it’s another feather in the cap of the Auberge portfolio and SWOON design collective. The hotel’s main bar and dining room is currently the place to see and be seen in Newport.
We booked our overnight stay at Hammetts Hotel, a wharffront property that, while not historic in the building itself, fits seamlessly into Newport’s shipbuilding heritage. It has a nautical and industrial vibe that gives it a club-like, welcoming vibe, and it’s surrounded by the bustling activity of the shipyards, yet something of an oasis in its own right.
The property is home to the popular Giusto restaurant and bar — fine Italian cuisine is trending — with a large terrace and sea views, some high-end retail shops, and its own marina. The location is ideal and the light, airy rooms make the most of it. While it was perfect in summer, we can see how fall could be even more appealing if you prefer it a little less crowded.
And while the book that brought it all together, with its nods to the work of famous recreational class chroniclers, is called Slim Aarons and Tina Barney A Newport summerit also highlights the joys of September, so book your own Rhode Island road trip now.
Tags: A Newport Summer Bellini Cipriani Hammetts Hotel Jaguar New England Newport Newport RI Nick Mele Providence RI Restaurants Rhode Island Road Trips Ruthie Sommers Sailing The Beatrice The Breakers The Chanler The Ocean House The Preserve Sporting Club Travel Vendome Press Watch Hill