Old inns got fresh new looks across New England this summer

It’s looking like a hot haute hotel summer in New England this season packed with refurbs, pop-ups and new eateries.

Leading the pack is Nanutcket’s storied, 100-year-old White Elephant (from $375), which in May debuted a multimillion-dollar complete remastering of its 66 harborside rooms and 11 cottages, each of those individually decorated.

Designed by Boston’s Elkus Manfredi Architects — whose clients include the Peninsula Chicago and Harvard University — the redo features colors, patterns and art that play well with the local waterside setting, maritime traditions and artistry.

Elsewhere on island, the Nantucket (from $395) has revealed a new coastal modern lobby and an indoor-outdoor tapas restaurant, both designed by Michael Thomas, who redid Gurney’s Montauk in the Hamptons not long ago. A Saks Fifth Avenue occupies Faraway Nantucket‘s (from $795) Federal Suite through Aug. 4.

Martha's Vineyard's three-centuries-old Kelley House
Martha’s Vineyard’s three-centuries-old Kelley House has been reborn as a Faraway hotel.
Courtesty of Kelley House

On Martha’s Vineyard, the coming weeks see a sophomore outing from Faraway (from $895) in picture-perfect Edgartown’s 18th-century Kelley House.

The building may have been welcoming guests since the 1700s, but designers here took a note from the free-spirited artistic culture of the island in the 1970s, imagining a 58-room hotel that Carly Simon and James Taylor, who lived on the island, would love.

Nearby, Lark Hotels, which already had four hotels in Edgartown, including the newly renovated 76 Main, adds another this month.

76 Main in Edgartown
Truck yeah: Edgartown’s newly renovated 76 Main.
Lark Hotels

The eight-room Coco (from $149) found inspiration in the turn-of-the-20th-century seafaring style of its original owner, Charles Fisher, who built the white-shingled Victorian pile in 1892.

Meanwhile, at the waterfront, the family-friendly Winnetu (from $325) resort, sister of the Nantucket — where Barack Obama kicked off his 60th birthday weekend — designer Smith has created a new lobby and a game room that feels a bit like a 1970s rec room, in the best way possible.

At the very tip of Cape Cod, in the arty LGBTQ+ capital of Provincetown, the mid-19th-century harborview Gifford House (from $239) welcomes new ownership and a renovation of its 33 rooms plus bars, lounges and nightlife venues. Having already played host to celebs including Billy Porter and Murray Bartlett, the various living room-like public spaces of the hotel — the town’s oldest still standing — promise entertainment aplenty, both naughty and nice, all summer.

The Four Seasons Hotel Boston
The interiors of the Four Seasons Hotel Boston come courtesy of designer Ken Fulk.
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Boston

Back on the mainland, the public areas at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston (from $900) got the glam Ken Fulk treatment, and the series of newly intimate spaces now sport botanical murals recalling the nearby Public Garden; a plush new bar/lounge/restaurant; and fringed and tufted, velvet upholstery.

A few blocks away, the 147-room Raffles Boston (from $97) will open on Sept. 1 in a 35-story, $400 million, LEED-certified mixed-use tower in Copley Square. The first Raffles in North America, it impresses with rooms and suites designed by Stonehill Taylor as well as ultra-luxe residences.

Down the coast, in the storied Westerly, RI, enclave of Watch Hill — a second home to affluent New Yorkers since the Gilded Age, and now also home to Taylor Swift — the iconic, turn-of-the-20th-century Ocean House (from $925) adds to its fleet of “cottages” (read: extraordinary private mansions). Best in show? The 10,400-square-foot, nine-bedroom, waterview Oceanic. The hotel also has a new suite and gallery devoted to the illustrations of Ludwig Bemelmans — of the Madeline picture books and Carlyle hotel mural fame. The gallery will be home to the world’s largest collection of the artist’s work on public view.

Blind Tiger is Lark's new 14-room Burlington, Vt., outpost.
Blind Tiger is Lark’s new 14-room Burlington, Vermont outpost.
Matt Kisiday

In New England’s northern reaches, meanwhile, Burlington, Vt., welcomes a branch of Lark dubbed Blind Tiger (from $249), a follow-up to the original in Portland, Maine. The 14 individually decorated, residential-feeling rooms here, occupying a former private home built in 1881, exude authenticity. Filled with antiques, artisanal pieces and other one-of-a-kind items — like a settee with a quilt-like pattern purchased from a shop nearby — all hand-selected for the project, every space speaks to the hotel’s setting.

In New Hampshire and under new ownership, the 150-year-old Wentworth (from $159) inn — on the edge of White Mountain National Forest, with views of Mount Washington — kicked off the season after completing a $4 million top-to-bottom redo of everything from its bar, restaurant and spa to its 61 rooms and suites. All feature pitch-perfect chic New England country house decor blending original details like a grand fireplace and an antique phone booth with more modern furnishing and amenities.

As for Maine, the Bush family’s summer escape of Kennebunkport — about 90 minutes past Boston on I-95 — will see the arrival of see-and-be-seen NYC sustainable sushi spot Rosella at the Grand Hotel (from $209).

The pool at York Beach Surf Club
Go poolside at York Beach Surf Club for $285 a night.
Read McKendree

And in nearby York, the son of mid-20th-century East Coast wave-riding legend Sonny Perkins reimagined his dad’s surf club as a brick-and-mortar destination, taking over a 1963 waterfront roadside motel on Long Sands Beach and giving it a Scandi-mod redo. Now, the York Beach Surf Club (from $285) tempts 21st-century travelers with 52 relaxed-feeling guest rooms and bungalows, a heated saltwater pool and a restored 1964 International Harvester milk truck that’s newly home to an oyster and cocktail bar.

The Norumbega in Maine
Rooms at the castle-eque Norumbega start at $369.
Harry & Lyss

Further up the craggy coast, the new stewards of Camden, Maine’s tony Norumbega Inn (from $369) — a landmarked 1886 castle-like stone mansion turned hotel — will keep it open year round, the better to show off the results of its eight-month redesign. New interiors celebrate the property’s stylish past and monumental architecture, while also lightening things up across all 11 sun-filled rooms with ensuite marble baths. That’s also true of its grand hall, solarium turned bar, glass-enclosed porch and new Peruvian small-plates restaurant from a top local chef.

Finally, all the way up at the foot of Maine’s Acadia National Park, with views of Hull’s Cove in Bar Harbor, the year-old Salt Cottages (from $360) starts its second summer with 10 new king and double queen rooms in the just-renovated and reopened mid-century motor lodge on its 15-acre campus. These join the 30 retro-cool freestanding cabins that opened to great acclaim Fourth of July, 2022.

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