Rhode Island’s Weekapaug Inn combines Yankee charm and unparalleled service
As I drove south to the Weekapaug Inn, the landscape has become increasingly bucolic – highways have given way to small villages of pretty Victorian houses dotted with rolling farmland. The weekend getaway looked like it had already begun. Finally I saw the ocean, then the Weekapaug Inn.
The inn dates back to 1899, when Fredrick and Phebe Buffum opened a small inn on a small spit of land in Weekapaug, Rhode Island, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Quonochontaug Pond on the other. The inn has been rebuilt twice – once on a more sheltered side of the saltwater pond after the original hotel was destroyed in the 1938 hurricane, and once in 2012 when the owners Current have modernized the building with luxuries like heated bathroom floors and air conditioning, while maintaining the building’s original floor plan.
The Weekapaug Inn is a member of Relais & Château, a coalition of over 560 hotels and restaurants. All are independently owned and operated and committed to the same vision: to provide their customers with the most authentic experience possible. Whether on the other side of the world or nestled by the sea in New England, Relais & Château hotels offer their guests a strong sense of place, as well as first-class service and amenities. Each is a perfect destination for a romantic Valentine’s getaway.
From the outside, the inn is a humble New England-style structure, clad in dark cedar shingles and crimson shutters. Guests enter the cozy Garden Room, flanked by a log fire at one end and a bar at the other. This terracotta tiled room was a gathering place for early 20th century guests. When their bags were taken upstairs, guests greeted friends they hadn’t seen since last summer before going upstairs to check in at reception. The inn has hosted many esteemed guests over its century and a quarter of operation, even seeing a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt and her two boys in 1926.
The second-floor lobby has another fireplace and plenty of cozy seating, and the comfort continues in the 27 guest rooms and nine suites. Skylights flood the rooms with light and the furnishings, designed by Weekapaug-based interior designer Nancy Taylor, keep regional details front and center. Modern details like marble bathrooms and feather beds complete the subtly plush accommodations.
The inn’s restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an emphasis on farm-to-table dining. Some of the ingredients couldn’t have been fresher – from our dining table we could peek out the window over the pond where the oysters we were eating had lived. And eating in season was a treat. Local root vegetables and shellfish abounded, and the butternut squash soup with sage and pickled apples was something to write home about.
During the warmer months, Weekapaug also operates the Pondhouse, an intimate outdoor dining experience by the pond, seating up to four people, and offering lunch or dinner using local produce, accompanied by Louis Roederer champagnes.
Cooking isn’t the hostel’s only exciting event – Weekapaug has no shortage of activities for every season. The inn’s private stretch of unspoilt beach (with an adjacent public bath for refreshments and clean towels) provides hours of beachside relaxation, while a seasonally heated outdoor saltwater pool and hot tub overlook the pond, if that’s more your speed. During the summer months, you’ll also find water activities like free kayaks, paddle boards, and sailboats.
Weekapaug’s on-site naturalist, Teddy Beahm, is the beating heart of the Inn’s outdoor recreation. He’ll take you on a ride to explore local wildlife and secluded beaches via a shallow-draft motorboat, or on foot on guided hikes and birdwatching excursions. Set amidst beaches, pond, swampy areas and glacial rocks, Weekapaug is gracefully enveloped in nature. During my cold stay, the cool ocean air outside further enhanced the warmth of the hot tub and the glow of the fireplaces.
Warm-weather guests receive free tickets for a trip on the Quonnie Queen, an intimate electric teak Elco boat evoking the hotel’s Golden Age beginnings. And when you’re on land, the hostel’s lawn offers plenty of room to stretch out, enjoy the salty breezes, and play lawn games like shuffleboard or bocce.
An afternoon at Weekapaug’s sister property, Ocean House, offers even more fun. Fifteen minutes away by car, the Watch Hill property offers daily activities for Weekapaug guests, such as wine and cooking classes, croquet clinics and the five-star OH! Spa. A stately Victorian resort, Ocean House is Rhode Island’s only five-star Forbes hotel.
After learning about natural wine with the Ocean House sommelier, touring the historic building’s art collection, and having lunch overlooking the Atlantic, we returned to Weekapaug for another enjoyable evening. Relaxing with a cocktail from the bar’s skilled mixologist and roasted marshmallows over a crackling fireplace, I didn’t know what else I expected: lying on my feather bed that night or waking up the next morning to the sun shining on the water right outside my window.
Closer to home
Fancy a weekend getaway a little closer to home? Discover these three options right here on the North Shore.
Salem Waterfront Hotel
Located on Salem’s Pickering Wharf, the Salem Waterfront Hotel is steps away from all that Salem has to offer: shopping, dining, the EMP and some of the most historic sites in the country. Offering the services of a metropolitan hotel, the Salem Waterfront features an outdoor heated swimming pool, beautifully appointed guest rooms and the on-site Regatta Pub. 225 Derby Street, Salem, 978-740-8788, salemwaterfronthotel.com
Briar Barn Inn
Situated in bucolic Rowley, the Briar Barn Inn offers elegant rooms with the comforts of a country inn. Their post-and-beam restaurant prepares local dishes, while the upscale spa services pamper themselves with all-natural ingredients. The inn’s rustic charm, understated elegance and country setting will have you relaxing in no time, just a short drive from home. 101 Main St., Rowley, 978-653-5323, briarbarninn.com
The Archer’s locations across the country welcome guests with luxurious rooms and amenities and an industrial-chic atmosphere. Their Burlington location is on fashionable Third Avenue, and the interior is equally stylish — find an indoor pool, lively cocktail bar, and local art. Plus, the beautifully appointed rooms include plush bedding, night blankets, and Nespresso machines. 18 Third Ave., Burlington, 781-552-5800, archerhotel.com/burlington