At the eastern end of Long Island lies Montauk, the “anti-Hampton” village with a surfer vibe and a slightly more eclectic clientele than its closest neighbours. And while the town has gentrified over the years, it still attracts a group of tastemakers who are willing to put in the extra hour of travel time it takes to pass East Hampton and reach this sandy spot. Long popular with Brits, it attracted the attention of hotelier Chris Jones – a former Jones Lang LaSalle partner – who snapped up a run-down motel and transformed it into a Euro-chic bolthole for discerning Manhattanites.
He has succeeded with the Montauk Beach House, a bustling (by day and by night – be warned) 33-room hotel that features soaring spaces, two pools and a sprawling beachfront complete with cabanas. The whole setting brings to mind what I call the Ace Hotel aesthetic – lots of incredibly cool, artistic types milling about in a decidedly industrial setting with an English feel. There are three room types, and the light-filled Moonlight Suite tops the luxe list, with its cast-iron beds, elegant linens and Edison lighting, as well as 4m-high ceilings – I’m booking into this one for sure on my next visit.
For my first trip, however, the more subdued – but still lovely – Ocean Mist rooms provide the perfect solution for our family of four, as we require interconnecting spaces. However, this is not a kid-centric hotel (unless by “kid” you mean Mark Ronson), although the staff are helpful with any and all requests. These poolside rooms are ideal for a stay at the beach – the glass walls and water views, subdued colours, exposed subway tiles and vintage pedestal sinks create a relaxed, stylish scene.
The Montauk Beach House is just a year old and it’s still working out a few kinks, but the hospitality and amenities are wonderful. Days begin at the hotel’s espresso bar where Stumptown Coffee and freshly baked pastries from nearby Gurney’s Bakery are all on offer. Lunches are courtesy of No 50 – an on-site café that prepares exactly the kind of food you want to eat while you’re lounging in the sun, from a light Caprese salad ($18) to a substantial ploughman’s platter ($18) featuring Champlain Valley triple-cream cheese from Vermont and a rich Tomme de Savoie from France. There is no end to the possibilities for shared poolside snacks and assorted meze. A particular highlight is the outdoor grill that seems to go on all day, turning out thick, locally caught tuna steaks ($25) and crispy corn on the cob.
This place also offers total entertainment – from great surfing to unparalleled people-watching – but I look forward to returning in the off-peak season, when the crowds have thinned and I can stroll along the spectacular stretch of shoreline with nary another soul in sight.