Coastal Weekend Getaways in New England
Standard hotels put guests to sleep with snooze-inducing style, from a ho-hum lobby to nondescript guest rooms. But some hotels take a much different approach, incorporating destination-driven design and decor that inspires and invigorates, featuring special details that stay with guests long after the vacation ends. Blue–Inn on the Beach on Plum Island in Newbury, Massachusetts and Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine are a couple of coastal hotels that stand out for their unique style featuring ideas that can also work at home.
Like a masterfully crafted sand castle, Blue-Inn on the Beach seems to have risen organically from its stellar spot on the dunes of Plum Island. As you would expect at a true beach-focused hotel, every window, every porch, every chair is thoughtfully placed to give guests uninterrupted ocean views. “The beachside, ocean location is at the forefront of the hotel’s design in color palette, materials, and finishes,” says Blue’s designer, Rachel Reider of Rachel Reider Interiors. “Blues, off-whites, and sandy tones combined with casual linen, breezy sheers, and chunky seagrass rugs bring the outside indoors.” The result is coastal style that cleverly avoids nautical clichés.
Blue has 13 uniquely appointed rooms, suites, and small cottages. The One-Bedroom King Cottage, for example, has a private deck and woodburning fireplace, while the Blue Oceanfront Suite has two bedrooms, a wrap-around deck, and a private hot tub. No matter the accommodation type, the style remains the same. “Beachside living tends to be more casual, and we wanted to capture that feeling in the interiors,” Reider says. “We wanted to create spaces that guests would want to return to at the end of a day at the beach. All the furniture pieces are slipcovered so they are very relaxed in style and comfort as well as easy to clean after a day filled with sand and salt water.”
Guests who are feeling social can mingle at Blue’s outdoor lounge, featuring designer Adirondack chairs and sea glass gravel, or at the beachfront hot tub. “The outdoor spaces are the only common areas in the hotel,” Reider says. “They are great gathering spaces to come together and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.”
Hidden Pond: Anything but Cookie-Cutter
Hidden Pond is a 60-acre seasonal retreat within balsam and birch groves one-half mile from the Atlantic in Kennebunkport, Maine. The feel here is of a grown-up summer camp, with activities like biking, swimming, and hiking as well as morning yoga at the organic farm, nightly chats around a bonfire, and anytime treatments in the treetop spa. Instead of rooms, guests stay in one of 16 family-friendly two-bedroom cottages or 20 adults-only one-room bungalows. Set up like a well-planned and very private neighborhood, the hotel grounds are separated into two sections, with the cottages and a main lodge in one area and the bungalows and an acclaimed restaurant nearby in the other.
“All but two of the cottages were designed by different designers,” says Kristen Caouette, general manager for Hidden Pond. Each one- or two-story clapboard cottage has the same fundamental features, from a stone fireplace to an outdoor shower, yet each has a distinctly decorated living room, kitchen, and screened-in porch as well as unique bedrooms and bathrooms. Periwinkle cottage, for example, combines a bit of the Caribbean (sunshine hues and butterfly prints) with traditional Maine detailing (farmhouse furniture and clapboard walls), while Sweet Fern cottage has the surprise of a baptismal font-turned-sink in one of its bathrooms. “Having their own cottage or bungalow allows our guests their own unique space to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing getaway,” Caouette says.
Krista Stokes designed Hidden Pond’s Lazy Days cottage. In creating the rustic yet sophisticated space, Stokes was inspired by the surrounding woods and the seasonal colors of Maine as well as the hotel’s neighborhood-like setting. “It really lent itself to imagining kids riding bikes, screen doors being opened and shut with activity, and many families wanting to stay near each other but having their own space to return to,” she says. Stokes’s goal for Lazy Days cottage was to decorate rooms that feel like porches and porches that feel like rooms. To that end, the designer outfitted the screened-in porch with linger-longer details like a swinging chair and a large daybed. “You can be relaxed and approachable without sacrificing good taste and high standards,” Stokes says.
Louise Hurlbutt of Hurlbutt Designs was the creative force behind two cottages (Silent Pine and Andrea’s Gate), and she also worked with Hidden Pond’s owner, Tim Harrington, to decorate the 20 bungalows. Each large, one-room bungalow features a vaulted ceiling, stone fireplace, and built-in bar as well as a screened-in porch and outdoor shower. Meant as a romantic retreat for adults, the bungalows are “sophisticated with beautiful beds, comfortable chenille upholstery, and colorful lamps,” Hurlbutt says. “We used an ikat fabric to add to the fun, and custom woven rugs from India.”
How to Style a Good Night’s Sleep
Though Hidden Pond has activities and amenities meant to rouse guests in their rooms and around the grounds, it understands that proper slumber is essential to a satisfying hotel experience. “Our beds and bedding help ensure a good night’s sleep,” says Kristen Caouette, general manager for Hidden Pond. “Starting with a Serta Presidential Suite II mattress, we add an additional Cuddledown Perfect Nest mattress pad and pillows, and Frette linens to top it off.” Hidden Pond designer Krista Stokes adds that blackout blinds are a secret to help guests sleep. While sunlight should be kept out of a bedroom during times of slumber, some light can be a pleasant accompaniment. “The fireplaces in the bungalows, equipped with a timer, allow guests to fall asleep to the warm glow of the fire,” Caouette says.