Months of quarantine have left us chomping at the bit not only to get outside and explore but also to treat ourselves in self-indulgent-seeming ways we may have shied from in the past—luxury resorts, fabulous meals, sumptuous spas. To get you started, here’s a select list of favorite places to stay and eat on the Cape and Islands. Carpe diem!
The White Elephant
A short walk from the ferry, past shops and eateries announced by artful window boxes, The White Elephant welcomes both couples and families with a restorative graciousness cultivated since the 1920s. Whether you choose a harborview suite, a garden cottage or an in-town loft, the mix of high-end amenities; impeccable, friendly staff; and gloriously landscaped property deliver a state of contentment.
Venture in one direction to a serene beach and harbor full of activity, in the other to must-see historic sites like the Whaling Museum and the 1686 “Oldest House,” highly browsable independent bookstores and delicious, one-of-a-kind boutiques. Or relax and enjoy the myriad comforts that define “staying put” at this iconic resort like sipping a signature Lobster Bloody Mary with a water view at the Brant Point Grill or pulling a complimentary Radio Flyer wagon full of toys and toddlers to the heated outdoor pool. The White Elephant Spa by Darya offers a range of body treatments and facials using organic Amala spa products.
Fresh off a multimillion-dollar renovation that preserved and polished its inimitable history and charm, this 32-room inn on the pristine northeastern coast of Nantucket, with two private beaches and a wildlife refuge nearby, is the island’s only Relais & Châteaux property. Expect late-afternoon port and cheese, 400-thread-count Pratesi linens, vases of wildflowers, Priority Bicycles and the most extensive wine list on-island (some 20,000 bottles) at Topper’s restaurant.
Low key yet luxurious, peaceful yet pampering, Wauwinet encourages unwinding in a chaise lounge on the impossibly green oceanfront lawn, and this fall will offer activities like surfcasting, lobstering or taking a cooking class. Go all out and book the three-bedroom, three-bathroom Anchorage House, newly redesigned in Serena & Lily’s signature coastal. Exclusively, guests at this cottage receive the keys to a 2020 BMW SUV vehicle for use during their stay, which comes in handy if you want to zip into town.
Where to Dine
You can’t go wrong eating at either The White Elephant or the Wauwinet (meal reservations here include boat transportation if you’re off-property), but there are lots of other choices for dining-out in Nantucket.
Bask in the patio’s chichi and casual vibe at this prime people-watching spot on the harbor, widely considered the best waterfront location in town. Celebrate with Champagne and caviar or slurp down a dozen local oysters with a house cocktail like the Crucomber, made with vodka, lemon, cucumber and toasted sesame. The lobster rolls are legendary.
at the buzzy Greydon House boutique hotel, is operated by Italian food and culture buffs Andrea Solimeo and Taylor Oliver, the pair behind local favorites Ventuno restaurant and Pizzeria Gemelle (both also highly recommended). Venetian-inspired small plates highlighting Nantucket’s garden and sea bounty are served against a backdrop described as “eccentric sea captain.” Oliver suggests ordering crispy blowfish tails with green goddess crema or sauteed Nantucket bay scallops with vin jaune sabayon. A ginger margarita at the intimate bar hits the spot.
The Charlotte Inn
Now entering its fifth decade, and calling itself Behind the Times on Purpose (the title of a book about the inn), this English manor– style Relais & Chateaux property is old-fashioned in only the very best (and romantic) ways: gracious hosts Gery and Paula Conover, meandering brick paths through meticulously tended gardens, 19th-century art and original antiques. One of the 25 guest rooms in five buildings has a grand piano and another a half-ton porcelain tub and the innkeepers’ favorite pedestal sink from Paris.
Direct from France as well and presiding over the inn’s restaurant, The Terrace, is executive chef Patrice Martineau, via Beverly Hills, Tokyo, Manhattan and London, where he was the youngest ever Executive Chef of The Savoy. Some rooms have working fireplaces or private garden terraces; all have the old-world charm and supremely comfortable furnishings that cement its place in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
Cross the threshold of this classic 19th-century Victorian in Edgartown and be transported to a more tropical island where interior designer Annsley McAleer has chosen blues, purples and pops of coral along with bold-patterned fabric and wallpaper to achieve a “Vineyard meets St. Barths” look. Each of the 15 large, airy guest rooms offers coastal chic furnishings (think rattan, local pottery and handmade African baskets) in a setting of hardwood floors, high ceilings, chandeliers and intricate crown molding.
One of three Lark hotels on the island, The Christopher embraces the company ethos of “sense of place with imagination and a touch of mischief.” Plus, it has an enviable location, a block from the water and a two-minute stroll into town for dining and shopping. After a leisurely breakfast, rent a bicycle from auspiciously named Wheel Happy nearby, and later on gather with friends for a cold drink around the firepit in the outdoor courtyard.
Where to Dine
Local brothers Patrick and Ted Courtney are behind this fun and vibrant downtown Edgartown spot that gets rave reviews for its local Chilmark and Menemsha oysters and featured seafood like whole fried black sea bass, yellowfin tuna and pan-seared tautog. Late-night live music revolves around island favorites like, appropriately, Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. The high-ceilinged space with handcrafted furniture and an industrial vibe is perfect for dancing.
The main dining room is lovely and you can “lobsterize” anything on its menu with a portion of butter-poached island lobster, but you’ll want to head downstairs to the Brick Cellar Bar—an honored sanctuary for Vineyard regulars—to kick back for a beer and a burger from a menu with no less than 13 types, including the jalapeno-garnished Dante’s Inferno, the Payday with seared foie gras, or the Thai Shrimp Burger with sambal aioli. Truffle fries all around!
Chatham Bars Inn
Starting life as a hunting lodge for wealthy New Englanders in 1914, the iconic Chatham Bars Inn deftly marries modern luxury with Old World charm in a way that keeps both families and romance-seekers returning year after year. Set on 25 acres facing the Atlantic Ocean, there are green lawns for croquet and a surf-lapped, private beachfront, four dining venues serving local seafood and produce from the resort’s own extensive farm, and meticulously maintained flower gardens in every direction.
Not long ago, a $100 million renovation spiffed up its 217 guest rooms and 27 beach cottages yet maintained the period architectural details. With extensive programming—fishing charters, sunset sails, mixology classes, inspired children’s programs, and more—there’s no need to leave the property, but you would be remiss not to stroll or ride a resort-furnished bike the short distance to Chatham’s shop- and restaurant-lined Main Street (one of the best in the nation, according to USA Today), bursting at the seams with New England charm.
Some would say the coup de grace is The Spa at Chatham Bars Inn, a freestanding Japanese-Zen-meets-Scandinavian-chic venue with an adults-only heated outdoor pool with a hot tub and heated pool deck that are open all year. For the ultimate in indulgence in the comfort of your own room, treat yourself to a private spa suite featuring an oversized hydrotherapy tub, a sauna, steam shower, built-in massage table and fireplace. Try one of the spa’s seasonal spa specials such as the Organic Espresso Mud Body Scrub or Pure Results Organic Facial by Naturopathica.
Cape Cod’s only hotel with a Five-Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide (for the fifth consecutive year!), the resort’s trio of outdoor eating and drinking venues—LiBAYtion, Outer Bar & Grille, Verandahs at Twenty-Eight Atlantic—take full advantage of their breathtaking location overlooking Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. A perfect day would combine a stop at all three, interspersed with lolling at the pool and taking a sailing lesson or sunset tour arranged by the property’s Nauti Jane’s water sports center.
Most rooms, set in posh and cozy cottage buildings, have a water-view balcony or terrace. With two magnificent pools, two private beaches, four tennis courts, an 18-hole championship golf, boat rentals and private charters, there’s little reason to stray from this idyllic spot. Attention families: The award-winning Children’s Center offers day and evening educational, innovative and whimsical programming for children ages 4-12.
Where to Dine
Cuvée at Chatham Inn
Chef Brandon DiFiglio brings experience from such Michelin 3-star restaurants as Napa’s French Laundry and Spain’s El Bulli to Cape Cod’s only Relais & Chateaux restaurant. Enjoy an evening of globally inspired and Cape Cod–influenced fine dining at Cuvée, or stop by the inn’s immensely popular Wine Bar or its Bistro Terrace overlooking the town’s picturesque Main Street. From a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list, 32 fine wines are served by the glass.