Rhode Island has long been known for its mansions, many of which you can tour. But to get a whiff of what it might have been like to live in Gilded-Age luxury, consider staying at the Ocean House or its more modest sister property, the Weekapaug Inn, both in Westerly.
While each resort has a unique style and feel, both overlook the Atlantic coast, and have myriad dining and recreation options and cushy accommodations. Moreover, both are Forbes Five-Star hotels, members of the exclusive hotel association Relais & Chateaux, and part of the Ocean House Collection.
Elegant and enticing
The poshest of the two resorts is Ocean House, located in the affluent village of Watch Hill. The property first opened in 1868 and, after a massive overhaul, now boasts forty-nine guest rooms, twenty signature suites, multiple restaurants, and the 12,000-foot OH! Spa. In addition to a private beach, Ocean House has a tournament-level croquet lawn, a fitness center, two squash courts, an indoor saltwater lap pool, and complimentary daily activities ranging from yoga to culinary classes.
While the hotel has state-of-the-art technology, amenities, and a stunning art collection (ask for a headset to take a self-guided tour), much of the renovated space retains its original charm. In addition to the original 19th-century elevator and front desk, the hotel has replicated the stately mantels, moldings, and chandeliers in period-appropriate detail. In fact, the property’s signature Victorian mansard-style tower inspired the design of the coveted Tower Suite, which has 360-degree views from its Crow’s Nest, a cozy perch within the suite reached by a spiral staircase.
During the holidays, families return to the resort to revel in the resort’s festivities and savor cold-weather cuisine at COAST, the resort’s fine dining venue. The Bistro offers more casual bites, along with The Club Room, a cozy red pub that looks right out of Paris. Come spring, warm weather options include the Mexican-inspired Dalia by Danton Valle, The Verandah for casual seafood, and Thēa for laid-back Mediterranean plates near the beach. And, for those who feel no vacation is complete without a bit of bubbly, there’s the Secret Garden, a pop-up Veuve Cliquot champagne bar.
1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill, Rhode Island, 855-678-0364, oceanhouseri.com
Cozy and casual
Offering a cozier, more casual vibe than Ocean House is the Weekapaug Inn, nestled on the edge of a shimmering saltwater pond and steps from the beach. A smaller property than Ocean House, the Weekapaug Inn has thirty-one guestrooms, including four two-bedroom Signature Suites. The Restaurant serves upscale Rhode Island fare, while The Bar offers small plates ranging from shrimp cocktail to a local cheese and charcuterie board. Warm weather brings The Deck for casual seafood, The Bathhouse for pizza and salads, and The Pool for soups, salads, and burgers by the hotel’s pool.
Like its sister property, the Weekapaug Inn offers a roster of daily activities, ranging from yoga and yard games on the front lawn to birdwatching and star-gazing with the onsite naturalist. The inn has bikes to explore Westerly and a fleet of boats to use on the pond. Beyond nightly s’mores around the fire pit, the inn can arrange a variety of excursions from private jeep tours to “Sand Bar Bites and Bubbles,” a low-bottom boat excursion to a sand bar in the middle of the pond to enjoy sparkling wine and upscale nibbles, like lobster bisque shooters.
25 Spray Rock Rd, Westerly, Rhode Island, 855-679-2995, weekapauginn.com