Those familiar with the iconic seascapes of 19th-century painter Winslow Homer may well have been captivated by the dramatic Atlantic coastline of Prouts Neck, Maine, just 20 minutes from downtown Portland. Today, his studio still stands and is open to the public, and the tiny seaside town is a quintessential New England escape – from the shingle-style beach cottages, atmospheric lighthouses and lobster rolls, to the old-school Black Point Inn (pictured).
During my two-day summer stay at this boutique hotel, in a spacious suite with spectacular ocean views in every direction, life seemed to slow right down. Black Point has been welcoming travellers since 1878 and retains a feeling of Golden Age glamour. The 20 rooms and five suites (from about $350) are filled with chic antiques and updated with flatscreen TVs, WiFi, power showers and deep soaking tubs.
From the oceanfront location, the 1.5-mile walk along the craggy coastline is an activity not to be missed, but there are plenty of reasons to stay put, too, including the geothermal heated outdoor pool and sun porches stocked with board games. Our post-cliff-stroll cocktails – Dark and Stormys, comprising Gosling’s black rum and ginger beer, garnished with lime, and spicy Casco Bay Bloody Marys – on the Inn’s sweeping front porch were accompanied by a stunning deep-red and purple sunset over Western Beach.
This porch setting is a Black Point Inn highlight and guests and locals alike consider it a gathering place for both drinks and dinner. We sampled a little of everything: starters of local Damariscotta oysters, chopped surf-clam chowder – made with cream in Maine, as opposed to the tomato base found in other parts of New England – boiled twin lobsters, served simply with corn-on-the-cob, and a classic BPI burger for my friend. Our feast was capped off by a thick slice of house-made blueberry pie – an area speciality – served à la mode with lemon-verbena ice cream and brown-sugar crumbles.