As I drove south toward the Weekapaug Inn, the landscape became increasing bucolic—highways gave away to small villages of pretty Victorian-era houses sprinkled throughout rolling farmland. The weekend getaway felt like it had already started. Finally, I saw the ocean, and then the Weekapaug Inn.
The inn dates to 1899, when Fredrick and Phebe Buffum opened a small inn on a little spit of land in Weekapaug, Rhode Island, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Quonochontaug Pond on the other. The Inn’s been rebuilt twice—once on a more sheltered side of the saltwater pond after the original hotel was destroyed in the hurricane of 1938, and once in 2012 when the current owners modernized the building with luxuries like heated bathroom floors and air conditioning, while maintaining the building’s original floor plan.
The Weekapaug Inn is a member of Relais & Château, a coalition of more than 560 hotels and restaurants. All are independently owned and operated and committed to the same vision—offering their guests the most authentic experience possible. Whether on the other side of the globe or nestled by the seashore in New England, Relais & Château hotels provide guests with a strong sense of place, along with top-notch service and amenities. Each is a perfect destination for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway.
From the outside, the inn is a humble, New England–style structure, clad in dark cedar shingles and crimson shutters. Guests enter into the cozy Garden Room, flanked by a woodburning fire on one end and a bar on the other. This quarry-tiled room was a congregating spot for early 20th-century guests—as their luggage was brought upstairs, guests would greet friends they hadn’t seen since last summer before heading up a floor to check in at the front desk. The inn has hosted many an esteemed guest in its century and a quarter of operation, even seeing a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt and her two boys in 1926.
The second-floor lobby has another fireplace and plenty of comfy seating—and the snugness continues into the 27 guest rooms and nine suites. Dormer windows flood the rooms with light, and the furnishings, by Weekapaug-based interior designer Nancy Taylor, keep regional details front and center. Modern niceties like marbled bathrooms and feather-top beds round out the subtly sumptuous accommodations.
The inn’s onsite restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and emphasizes farm-to-table dining. Some ingredients couldn’t have been fresher—from our dinner table, we could glance out the window to the pond where the oysters we were eating had lived. And seasonal eating was a treat. Root vegetables and local shellfish abounded, and the butternut squash soup with sage and pickled apple was something to write home about.
In the warmer months, Weekapaug also operates the Pondhouse, an intimate open-air dining experience out by the pond, priced for up to four guests, and featuring a curated, locally sourced lunch or dinner menu paired with Louis Roederer Champagnes.
Cuisine is hardly the inn’s only exciting happening—Weekapaug has no shortage of activities for every season. The Inn’s private stretch of untouched beach (with an adjacent bathhouse for refreshments and clean towels) provides hours of seaside relaxation, while a seasonal heated outdoor saltwater pool and Jacuzzi overlook the pond, if that’s more your speed. Also in the summer months you’ll find water activities like complimentary kayaks, paddleboards, and sailboats.
Weekapaug’s onsite naturalist, Teddy Beahm, is the beating heart of the Inn’s outdoor recreation. He’ll take you on a spin to explore local wildlife and remote beaches via a zippy shallow-draft motorboat, or on foot through guided hikes and bird-watching excursions. Set amid the beaches, the pond, marshy areas, and glacial rocks, Weekapaug is enveloped gracefully in nature. During my chilly stay, the crisp ocean air outside made the heat of the Jacuzzi and the glow of the fireplaces better still.
Warm weather guests receive complimentary tickets to a trip on the Quonnie Queen—an intimate electric teak Elco boat evocative of the hotel’s beginnings in the Gilded Age. And when you’re on land, the Inn’s lawn provides ample room to stretch out, enjoy the salty breeze, and play some lawn games like shuffleboard or bocce.
An afternoon at Weekapaug’s sister property Ocean House, provides even more fun. A fifteen-minute drive away, the Watch Hill property offers daily activities to Weekapaug guests, like wine and culinary classes, croquet clinics, and the five-star OH! Spa. A stately Victorian beach resort, Ocean House is Rhode Island’s only Forbes Five-Star hotel.
After learning about natural wine with Ocean House’s sommelier, touring the historic building’s art collection, and lunching overlooking the Atlantic, we headed back to Weekapaug for another cozy evening. Winding down with a cocktail from the bar’s skillful mixologist and marshmallows roasted over a crackling fireplace, I didn’t know what I was looking forward to more—lying down on my feather-top bed that night, or waking up the next morning to the sun shining off the water just outside my window.
Closer to Home
Looking for a weekend getaway a bit closer to home? Check out these three options right here on the North Shore.
Salem Waterfront Hotel
Located on Salem’s Pickering Wharf, the Salem Waterfront Hotel is a short walk away from all that Salem has to offer—shops, restaurants, the PEM, and some of the most historic sites in the country. Offering the services of a metropolitan hotel, the Salem Waterfront includes an outdoor heated pool, beautifully appointed rooms, and the onsite Regatta Pub. 225 Derby St., Salem, 978-740-8788, salemwaterfronthotel.com
Briar Barn Inn
Set in bucolic Rowley, the Briar Barn Inn offers guests elegant accommodations with the comfort of a country inn. Their post-and-beam restaurant cooks up locally sourced food, while the spa’s top-notch services pamper with all-natural ingredients. The inn’s rustic charm, refined elegance, and rural setting will have you unwound in no time, just a short drive from home. 101 Main St., Rowley, 978-653-5323, briarbarninn.com
The Archer’s locations across the country greet guests with luxurious rooms and amenities and an industrial-chic atmosphere. Their Burlington location sits on fashionable Third Ave., and the inside is just as stylish—find an indoor pool, a lively cocktail bar, and local art. Plus, beautifully appointed rooms include plush bedding, nightly turndowns, and Nespresso machines. 18 Third Ave., Burlington, 781-552-5800, archerhotel.com/burlington