If you’re craving a vacation this summer, you could research destinations, book tickets, find someone to feed the cat, drive to the airport, and lug your suitcase to a hotel. Or you could hop in the car and take a quick trip to the ocean. The North Shore is replete with relaxing and comfortable lodgings that allow you to take a seaside break from your real life without the hassle and expense of traditional vacation travel. Whether you prefer a quaint inn or a luxury hotel, there is
a destination here for your ideal staycation.
Photo by Matthew Lovette/Courtesy of The Trustees
The Inn at Castle Hill Ipswich
Visitors to the Inn at Castle Hill, a 10-room bed-and-breakfast located on Ipswich’s Crane Estate, find themselves immersed in history and nature.
The inn itself is housed in an expanded shingled cottage originally built in 1849, which is decorated in a homey English country style: wood furniture, upholstered headboards, brick fireplaces. A veranda complete with rocking chairs wraps around the building, offering relaxing views of the nearby marsh and a possible glimpse of the foxes, deer, and turkeys that roam the property.
To help ensure guests truly escape from the cares of the outside world, the inn does not have televisions or phones in its rooms. “It is definitely a restful place,” says innkeeper Camilla Eagan.
Guests can tour the estate’s Great House, the spectacular 59-room mansion that tops Castle Hill, or simply wander about the grounds, enjoying the sweeping lawns, formal gardens, and scenic views. Paths that wind through the adjacent Crane Wildlife Refuge and lead to Crane Beach offer additional opportunities for strolling.
“There’s incredible walking through the marsh and onto the beach,” Eagan says. “You can go for miles.”
Photos by Rare Brick/Lark Hotels
Blue Inn Newbury
At the northern end of Plum Island, Blue offers a secluded oceanfront destination for anyone whose staycation goals include a lot of time on the beach. The inn offers 13 units (rooms, cottages, and suites), most of which face the sea, and all of which allow immediate access to the sand. “You can hear the water from your room, hear the waves crashing,” says general manager Briana Garodel.
Plum Island does not attract the same beachbound crowds as some other North Shore destinations—Garodel calls it a “hidden gem”—so visitors can enjoy relatively private strolls on the sand or meander through the trails in the adjacent Parker River Wildlife Refuge.
The inn has been thoughtfully designed to maximize guests’ relaxation. Beds in ocean view rooms face the water, so visitors can wake up to the sight of the waves. The building is decorated, inside and out, in a palette of white with blue accents, pulling the colors of the sea and sky onto land into its spaces.
“It’s light and modern with a hint of cozy,” Garodel says. “We’re really trying to get into relaxation mode.”
Photos by Peter Vanderwarker
Beauport Hotel Gloucester
If your ideal staycation involves drinks by the rooftop pool, then the Beauport is the destination for you. Opened in 2016, the Beauport replaced a long-abandoned frozen food plant with an elegant yet welcoming 94-room hotel designed to be a place where impeccable customer service meets comfort and relaxation.
Perched between downtown Gloucester and Stacey Boulevard, the hotel offers guests an easy stroll to Main Street amenities and scenic views. The Beauport itself overlooks Pavilion Beach, giving guests water views and easy beach access. “We’re right on the beach and we’re right downtown,” says Jeanne Hennessey, director of communications for the Beauport Hospitality Group, which owns the hotel.
A full-service restaurant with a spacious outdoor deck is available downstairs. Upstairs, the guests-only rooftop pool and bar hosts regular sundae socials, wine tastings, and even movie nights. Complimentary bicycles are available, allowing guestsa leisurely way to explore the museums, shops, and natural beauty of the area.
“It’s just a beautiful location,” Hennessey says. “It’s a world away.”
Photos by Jumping Rocks Inc/Courtesy of the Harbor Lights Hotel
Harbor Light Inn Marblehead
Couples craving an escape should consider booking a stay at the Harbor Light Inn. In the heart of downtown Marblehead, this family-owned inn offers a self-contained retreat for guests who want to leave the real world behind. “The atmosphere is very romantic,” says inn manager Cassandra Fedas.
All of the 20 rooms are decorated with a combination of classic New England style and contemporary colors and light; many feature a Jacuzzi tub or fireplace. An on-site tavern serves wine, beer, and a menu of favorite New England snacks and meals (think burgers and lobster bisque). In addition, every afternoon the inn serves house-made baked goods and iced tea or hot cider, depending on the season. Out back, a pool and small lawn offer opportunities for outdoor relaxation.
Should you choose to leave the property, there are plentiful options within an easy walk of the inn, including charming local shops, small beaches, and restaurants from the casual to the upscale.
“You can walk to everything,” Fedas says. “People can come and park their car here and never have to drive.”