Weekapaug, Rhode Island
Understated New England elegance, $$$
I first visited the Weekapaug Inn over 30 years ago for a family reunion, and I'm pleased to report that not much — or at least none of the great parts — has changed in the slightest. Founded in 1899 in traditional Cape Cod style, the quaint inn was refurbished between 2007 and 2012, and the results are a perfect mix of low-key chic and authentic coastal charm, which have earned the inn accolades like “Best Hotels in the World” (Travel + Leisure) and “Most Charming Hotels” (Reader's Digest).
Set on the Atlantic Coast overlooking a serene salt pond and a barrier beach beyond, the Inn is an ideal escape for Covid-centric times. The property is surrounded by water, natural rock formations, and an expansive lawn that allows for complete social distancing, and the management seems to have thought of every possible safety protocol. Staff wear tasteful masks in keeping with the Inn's New England aesthetic, everything is religiously wiped down (even by the valet!), and space and fresh air are in ample supply. Read more about their safety protocols here. Guests don't need to fret about every interaction here, and can, instead, can focus on eco-explorations, long beach walks, or simply tucking into a good book from the comfort of an Adirondack chair.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Cape Cod kicked up ten notches. The cedar-shingled hotel — as well as its understated pool and fitness facility — meld seamlessly into the rugged coastal surroundings
Standout Details: The sweeping views of Quonochontaug Pond peppered with Optimist sailboats. Rides on the Quonnie Queen, the inn's electric Elco boat that can be arranged at the quaint water sports shack. Guided walks with the Inn's naturalist. Stargazing tours, fishing excursions, and swimming in the heated saline pool (a rarity in this part of the world) are all relaxing highlights.
This Place Is Perfect For: Outdoorsy couples and environmentalists of all ages who want to kayak, cycle, and swim in the Atlantic surf before savoring locally sourced, world-class cuisine. It's also perfect for families whose kids can sail, make jewelry, play shuffleboard, and devour s'mores around a fire pit come nightfall.
Rooms: The hotel has 31 guest rooms, including four two-bedroom Signature Suites with sweeping views of the Weekapaug Yacht Club's harbor and the Atlantic Ocean across to Block Island. Pond and cove view rooms are spacious and quietly elegant. with Matouk linens in neutral shades and a light, nautical design theme throughout. Extras include individually packaged snacks like malted milk balls and Goldfish crackers — in other words, the things you crave after a day in the sun and salt — as well heated floors and towel racks. SmartTouch iPads, and TVs are concessions 21st-century living, and one of the few things that has changed since the renovation.
On Site: The Inn is a wholly contained little world. The saline pool and fitness center are generally empty, as guests are busy exploring the outdoors. Small fitness classes and yoga at dawn are available, as are multiple dining venues (see below for more details).
The nature-inclined (isn't that everyone lately?) should get to know Mark Bullinger, the hotel's resident Naturalist and Director of Recreation, who grew up sailing, clamming, and fishing around here, as is clear from his extensive knowledge of the area, which will illuminate beach walks and expeditions on bike or boat, as well as bird-watching and stargazing sessions. Captain Mark (he has a U.S. Coast Guard captain's license) also oversees the boating center and waterfront activities: kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing. If you're sticking to land and don't want to pack gear to go hiking around, the hotel has a closet full of Hunter outdoor gear for guest use.
Food + Drink: Like its sister hotel down the road, Ocean House, Weekapaug Inn is a Relais & Châteaux hotel, which means the culinary program is a big reason why you're here. The Restaurant, the hotel's premiere dining venue, serves a modern take on New England coastal cuisine, with an emphasis on local ingredients: Cast Iron Baked Eggs for breakfast; New England Clam Chowder, Fish Burger, and Hot Lobster Roll for lunch. The dinner menu is divided by source: From the Pantry, From the Mill, From the Sea, From the Pasture, and From the Coop. Sunday is Family Pasta Night at The Restaurant. The culinary highlights are many, but grilled local peaches with housemade burrata, a local black bass aqua pazza, and a lobster salad that's enhanced by a minted pea emulsion and preserved Meyer lemon are not to be missed.
The Brasserie, which opened in February 2019, serves French and European dishes in a casual setting: steak tartare, duck confit, ratatouille. The Garden Room is the most relaxed, lounge-like option for drinks and the kinds of bar snacks that could easily make a stick-to-the-ribs comfort meal — fries, a Northeast Family Farms burger, and an artisanal cheese plate that celebrates local purveyors.
Weekapaug has two seasonal options, one casual and one fancy. The beachy Bathhouse serves delicious pizzas and burgers. This is where guests can permanently park it by the water's edge.The Pondhouse is a seasonal, open-air private brunch and dinner experience for up to four guests overlooking Quonochontaug Pond. The three-course menu includes ingredients from the pond (Quonnie Rock oysters, Narragansett lobster), the pasture (local Berkshire pork), and the fields (wild mushrooms, local goat cheese). Each course comes paired with a Champagne from Louis Roederer, an independent, family-run Champagne houses founded in 1776. A portion of proceeds is donated to the Ocean House Fund for Charitable Giving.
What to Do Nearby
Guests who want to explore the area should take one of the hotel's complimentary Volvos and head 15 minutes down the coast to bucolic town of Watch Hill. (The non-highway route down Atlantic Avenue offers a more scenic drive, offering local color and a side of fried Stonington sea scallops.) Once there, all the amenities and activities at Ocean House — including the amazing Oh! Spa for massages and games of squash, a legit croquet lawn, multiple restaurants overlooking the dramatic Atlantic surf, and Euro-inspired beach cabanas — are on offer.
The town of Watch Hill is full of New England charm. From the old-world Flying Horse Carousel to the homemade black raspberry ice cream at St. Clair Annex on bustling Bay Street, a stroll here feels like summer as it should be. T-shirt shops and more elevated boutiques such as KLW Design and JHuhn Custom Men's Clothing offer housewares and a range of coastal-themed gifts and looks.
Heading north from Weekapaug Inn, Dave's Coffee draws the caffeine faithful, while the Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingstown has the best littlenecks and cherry stone clams, as well as oysters from nearby Potter Pond. This spot is so popular that you will wait — just plan to settle in with a Narragansett lager and do some fantastic people watching on their expansive deck. If you're in need of retail therapy, head to Galapagos Boutique for its funky mix of shoes, accessories, and carefully edited clothing. Though really, you should just get back to the beach and savor every moment at the Inn.