Grand Dame

Perched on a rocky stretch of coast just south of Newport, RI, lies Ocean House — a storied retreat that harks back to days when Vanderbilts and Rockefellers came to summer by the sea

Story by Katie Riley  |  Photography courtesy Ocean House   

Ocean House, an award-winning hotel overlooking the Atlantic, combines modern-day comforts with the genteel civility of days gone by. With a five-star spa, award-winning dining and activities ranging from biking to boating, Ocean House sets the standard for coastal luxury.

Opened in 1868, just after the Civil War, the original hotel was a retreat for wealthy city dwellers seeking the restorative effects of a seaside escape. Ocean House welcomed guests for nearly 135 years, until it fell into disrepair in 2004 and had to be torn down. Through a $140 million rebuild, the new Ocean House has replicated the historic details of the original grand dame in great detail, down to the woodwork, window placement and sweeping oceanfront verandas.  

Accommodations at Ocean House exude understated luxury, and each of its 49 rooms have custom wood furnishings, muted colors and New England artwork. The hotel’s 20 signature suites all have private kitchen, living and dining areas.

For the ultimate splurge, opt for the Tower Suite, a four-level suite with extensive ocean views.
A wooden spiral staircase leads to a cozy den overlooking the floor-to-ceiling paneled living area, and a ladder leads to the hotel’s historically replicated widow’s walk. Families and larger groups can book one of the property’s seven standalone cottages, ranging in size from two to seven bedrooms, many of them located on the oceanfront. Cottages come with personalized concierge service and have full access to the amenities of the Ocean House, as well as the nearby Weekapaug Inn. 

Ocean House is renowned for its exceptional dining, and multiple formal and casual venues offer a variety of experiences. COAST is a Forbes five-star, award-winning restaurant serving a seasonally inspired four-course menu. For classic American brasserie cuisine, try the cozy Bistro restaurant or sample the area’s freshest seafood at The Verandah bar, a raw bar overlooking Little Narragansett Bay. During summer months, Dune Cottage restaurant offers beachfront dining, with a Mediterranean-inspired menu of sandwiches, salads and brick-oven pizzas. The resort has also partnered with Veuve Clicquot to provide two unique, pop-up dining experiences: The Fondue Village during the winter months and the Secret Garden Champagne bar during warmer months. 

For those who want more action, a dizzying array of activities can be had for all ages. Take a tour of the resort’s museum-quality art collection or a cruise on the hotel’s vintage yacht, The Dandy. Ocean House’s recently opened Center of Wine and Culinary Arts hosts more than 500 classes for hotel guests, most of which are complimentary. At the resort’s OH! Spa, guests are pampered with lavender body scrubs and coastal-inspired collagen treatments.

Although guests can indulge to their heart’s content with a vast array of fine dining and top-notch activities, it’s the heady allure of sea and salt air that beckons guests to return each year. A century and a half later, vacationers still dot the lawn, playing croquet or taking tea on the veranda, exactly as its founders intended.

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