As I drove south towards the Weekapaug Inn, the landscape grew more and more rural – highways gave way to small villages with pretty Victorian-era homes scattered across rolling farmland. The weekend away felt like it had already begun. Finally, I saw the ocean, and then the Weekapaug Inn.
The inn dates back to 1899, when Fredrick and Phebe Buffum opened a small inn on a small headland 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 during the 1938 hurricane, and once in 2012 when the current owners upgraded the building with luxuries such as heated bathroom floors and air conditioning, while preserving the original floor plan of the building.
The Weekapaug Inn is a member of Relais & Château, a coalition of more than 560 hotels and restaurants. They are all independently owned and operated and are committed to the same vision: to provide their guests with the most authentic experience possible. Whether on the other side of the world or nestled on the coast in New England, Relais & Château hotels provide guests with a strong sense of place along with first-class service and amenities. Each is a perfect destination for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway.
From the outside, the inn is a modest New England-style structure, clad in dark cedar clapboards and crimson shutters. Guests enter the cozy Garden Room, flanked by a wood fire on one side and a bar on the other. This quarry-tiled room was a gathering place for early 20th-century guests – as their luggage was being brought upstairs, guests greeted friends they hadn’t seen since last summer before going up a floor to check in at reception. The inn has received many esteemed guests throughout its century and a quarter of its operations, even a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt and her two boys in 1926.
The second-floor lobby has another fireplace and plenty of comfortable seating—and the fun continues in the 27 rooms and nine suites. Dormers flood the rooms with light, and the furnishings, by Weekapaug-based interior designer Nancy Taylor, keep regional details central. Modern details such as marble bathrooms and feather beds round out the subtly luxurious accommodations.
The inn’s on-site 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 look out the window at the pond where the oysters we ate had lived. And seasonal food was a treat. Root vegetables and local shellfish were plentiful, and the pumpkin soup with sage and pickled apple was something to write home about.
In the warmer months, Weekapaug also operates the Pondhouse, an intimate alfresco dining experience by the pond, priced for up to four guests, and featuring a curated, locally sourced lunch or dinner menu paired with Louis Roederer champagnes.
The kitchen isn’t the inn’s only exciting feature: Weekapaug has plenty to do for every season. The private stretch of the Inn’s pristine beach (with an adjacent bathhouse for refreshments and fresh towels) offers hours of seaside relaxation, while a seasonal heated outdoor saltwater pool and Jacuzzi overlook the pond if that’s more your speed. Also in the summer months you will find water activities such as free kayaks, paddleboards and sailboats.
Weekapaug’s naturalist, Teddy Beahm, is the beating heart of the Inn’s outdoor recreation. He will take you on a ride to explore the local wildlife and secluded beaches via a spirited motorboat with a shallow draft, or on foot via guided walks and bird watching excursions. Amid the beaches, pond, swampy areas and glacial cliffs, Weekapaug is gracefully shrouded in nature. During my chilly stay, the fresh sea air outside made the warmth of the jacuzzi and the glow of the fireplaces even better.
Warm-weather guests receive complimentary tickets for a ride on the Quonnie Queen, an intimate Elco electric teak boat reminiscent of the hotel’s beginnings in the Gilded Age. And if you’re out on land, the Inn’s lawn offers plenty of room to stretch out, enjoy the salty breeze and play some lawn games such as shuffleboard or bocce.
An afternoon at Weekapaug’s sister property Ocean House makes for even more fun. A 15-minute drive away, the Watch Hill hotel offers daily activities to Weekapaug guests, such as wine and culinary classes, croquet clinics, and the five-star OH! Spa. Ocean House, a stately Victorian beach resort, is the only Forbes five-star hotel in Rhode Island.
After learning about natural wine with Ocean House’s sommelier, touring the historic building’s art collection, and having lunch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we headed back to Weekapaug for another enjoyable evening. As I unwinded with a cocktail from the bar’s skilled mixologist and marshmallows roasted over a crackling fireplace, I didn’t know what I was looking forward to more: lying on my feather bed that evening or waking up the next morning to the sun shining. out of the water just outside my window.
Closer to home
Looking for a weekend away closer to home? Check out these three options here on the North Shore.
Salem Waterfront Hotel
Located on Salem’s Pickering Wharf, the Salem Waterfront Hotel is a short walk from all that Salem has to offer: shops, restaurants, the PEM, and some of the country’s most historic sites. Offering the services of a metropolitan hotel, the Salem Waterfront features a heated outdoor pool, beautifully appointed guestrooms and the on-site Regatta Pub. 225 Derby St., Salem, 978-740-8788, salemwaterfronthotel.com
Briar Barn Inn
Located in rural Rowley, the Briar Barn Inn offers elegant accommodation with the comfort of a country inn. Their post-and-beam restaurant cooks locally sourced dishes, while the spa’s premium services pamper you with all-natural ingredients. The inn’s rustic charm, refined elegance and rural setting will have you unwinding 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 greet guests with luxurious rooms and amenities and an industrial-chic atmosphere. Their Burlington location is on fashionable Third Ave., and the inside is just as stylish – find an indoor pool, a lively cocktail bar, and local art. In addition, the beautifully appointed rooms feature luxury linens, overnight beds and a Nespresso machine. 18 Third Ave., Burlington, 781-552-5800, archerhotel.com/burlington