Manhattan is an island famous for its glamour, fashion, food, skyscrapers and New York grit that attracts millions of travellers to its shores each year. However, its Long Island neighbour often gets overlooked by international visitors and instead remains the playground of wealthy New Yorkers seeking white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and a respite from the buzz of the city.
Given the accessibility of the Hamptons from central Manhattan, Long Island provides the perfect year-round escape and it’s certainly worth adding a few days of coastal exploration to any big-apple break to ensure that visitors leave the state of New York having seen more than its urban jungle.
Cruise the Long Island Expressway until you find yourself surrounded by charming clapboard houses, white steepled churches and wrap-around verandas with rocking chairs. This is the Hamptons, which, for years, has been the sought-after holiday location for the rich and famous but remains largely undiscovered by international guests.
The Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton is the island’s only boutique hotel and consists of nineteen individually decorated bedrooms including three delightful cottages. The hotel is steeped in history that dates to the 19th century when it housed a tannery that welcomed overnight guests while their saddles were being repaired. Most recently the hotel underwent an extensive refurbishment led by Swedish owner and hotelier Jenny Baker, whose passion for art, photography and history is reflected in every space, which features an eclectic Hamptons style.
The hotel’s cottages are situated in the gardens of the main house and feature high ceilings, luxuriously deep bathtubs and piles of books for whiling away an afternoon indoors or spent out on the beach. A year-round destination, The Maidstone Hotel is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, and on a Saturday night, when live music welcomes the arrival of happy-hour, the downstairs bar fills with an eclectic mix of city dwellers, surfers and the Manhattan cosmopolitan set.
For dinner, look no further than the dining room of The Maidstone Hotel where the chef uses fresh seasonal produce to create dishes that offer a welcome lightness in comparison to many of the portions found on Manhattan. Fresh grilled tuna steaks, succulent lamb chops and sweet shishito peppers showered with sea salt are just some of the seasonally inspired dishes on offer. After dinner retire to the hotel bar to while away a winter’s night in front of the fire, or if it’s a balmy summer’s evening, take a stroll down to the lake and enjoy the idyllic serenity of this little town.
One of the island’s best lunch spots is, undoubtedly, the Inlet Seafood Restaurant where fresh mussels can be enjoyed overlooking the waves as they crash on to the expansive sandy beaches of Montauk. It wouldn’t be a trip to the Hamptons without a bowl of rich and creamy clam chowder and Inlet Seafood’s version is one of the best; thick, decadent and absolutely brimming with fresh seafood.
For those who want to take a drive up to the north fork of Long Island, The Greenpoint Fish and Oyster Market is an idyllic spot that feels like a pop-up but is actually a permanent fixture and the perfect excuse to visit the vibrant little town of Greenpoint. Fresh oysters sourced from the surrounding area are shucked and served on ice with a cold beer to be enjoyed by the sea.
The wine trails that run across the south and north forks of Long Island are certainly worth an explore and, while much smaller and more modern than European sommeliers will be used to, the ambience in the vineyard bars such as that of the Wölffer Estate are certainly worth a visit. The estate is most celebrated for its light blush rosé which can be enjoyed on the veranda overlooking the vines and accompanied by exceptional cuisine from the estate’s restaurant.
Wölffer is something of a wine institution on the island and is a regular weekend haunt for New Yorkers escaping the city for Sunday lunch, so waiting for a table can be inevitable but with a cold glass in hand and fabulous views it’s certainly worth it.
In a nutshell
Manhattan’s urban hum can prove to be addictive, but a couple of days surrounded by the natural beauty of the Hamptons provides the perfect recovery amidst fresh sea air and sprawling vineyards before heading back to the bright lights of the city.
Rooms can be booked from $395.
Address: 207 Main St, East Hampton, NY 11937
Phone: 001 631 324 5006