Shelter Island, that bucolic beach retreat nestling between the north and south forks of Long Island, feels more like New England than the Hamptons. The ferry queues on peak summer days can be long, but it’s always worth the effort, especially now that The Chequit hotel – once the social epicentre of the island – has had a much-needed refresh.
I was sceptical about any hotel company being able to retain The Chequit’s original charm. Enter boutique hoteliers David Bowd and Kevin O’Shea, who together comprise Salt Hotels, a Provincetown, Massachusetts-based group specialising in stylish properties that nurture an authentic sense of place and history. Following the six-month renovation, the public areas and 37 rooms and suites (from $195 to $795), spread across three buildings (the main house, the cottage and the summer house), remain full of character – nay, look markedly improved, with a warm grey and blush-pink colour palette that “capitalises on the island’s spectacular light”, says Bowd. Every detail in our standard king room had been considered, from the 400-thread-count bedding to the CO Bigelow toiletries, and even the well-placed bedside electrical sockets.
Sustenance comes in the form of the Red Maple restaurant and the more casual takeaway spot, the White Hill Café – both located in the main house. In the latter, I loved the focus on delicious basics: sandwiches, wraps and sweets by Brooklyn-based Baked that made for a perfect Shell Beach picnic, taken to the beach on one of the hotel’s cache of cruiser bikes; or pea sprout and broccolini salads and simply grilled fish and steak served alfrescoat the convivial restaurant. The focus here is on locally sourced produce. I feasted on line-caught tuna steaks and beefsteak tomatoes from nearby Sylvester Manor farm, and the flavours of summer come through in every bite. I can’t wait to return in August simply to sip rosé and watch the world go by.
For the inside track on how another Hamptons regular spends her days, see Tory Burch’s Perfect Weekend, or for two other iconic destinations that have undergone masterful makeovers, see The Goring and L’Escargot.