From socially distanced five-star dining experiences to artisanal hot-chocolate and a self-guided stroll along the legendary Cliff Walk, here’s how to make the most of a springtime visit.
Since the late 1800’s, New Yorker’s have been flocking to Newport, Rhode Island, eager for a getaway. One of New England’s most charming resort towns, while this tradition typically commences come summertime, when the beaches are bustling and the weather is slightly more hospitable, springtime and the weeks and months preceding and following Memorial Day – Labor Day, are an equally excellent (albeit quieter) time to visit.
Once a veritable playground for moneyed families including the Vanderbilts, the Astors and the Morgans who built their summer manses along Newport’s craggy shoreline in an age when opulence and grandeur reigned supreme, today you can still pay a visit to these glittering gilded-age homes, tuck in to some five-star fare, and stay in some seriously stylish seaside digs while you’re at it.
Now in its second year running, Hotel Week RI runs from April 17-30 and is a great chance to check out some of the area’s most beloved accommodations ranging from $100-$400 per night. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a low-key, socially distanced Spring Break, here’s where to stay, what to eat and how to make your next visit to Newport the best one yet.
Where to Stay
There’s no shortage of excellent accommodations to choose from in Newport. Ranging from charming inns to sprawling beach resorts and historic hotels, if you’re looking for something right in the heart of the action, Hotel Viking is one of the area’s most iconic places to post up and a great jumping off point for getting around town.
If you’re looking for an experience that will truly take your breath away with five-star dining to boot, The Chanler at Cliff Walk is just the ticket. Perched directly along the water, this 20-room mansion was originally built as a summer home for Congressman John Winthrop Chanler, and offers some of the most resplendent rooms and views in the area.
While each room offers a different theme, from the luxurious Renaissance room complete with private balcony and uninterrupted views over the Atlantic, to a Mediterranean-style suite on the top floor, for those seeking total privacy, this boutique hotel also offers a series of ocean and garden villas each with their own private entrances (and some with their own hot tubs).
The hotel is also the ideal starting point to take a leisurely stroll along the legendary Cliff Walk. Easily one of the most beautiful walking trails in town, the entry point is located right off the hotel’s back steps.
Whatever you do, don’t leave here without trying The Chanler’s signature hot chocolate which is available on the hotel’s heated outdoor terrace bar Wednesday-Sunday.
Where to Eat
Newport is a big food town, and while Covid has thrown a wrench in the indoor-dining scene this past year, hotels and restaurants have been proactive in creating socially-distanced spaces that are cozy and warm to boot.
A great place to stop for lunch, Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina is now offering a pop-up restaurant by Showfish in their newly constructed outdoor igloos. Available for lunch or dinner, if you don’t want to miss out on the views over Newport Harbor, it’s best to book during the day and indulge in the ingredient-driven menu including dishes like Butternut Squash Love Letters and Angry Lobster appetizer with a side of Truffled Mac and Cheese.
For a truly memorable experience that you’ll never soon forget, The Chanler at Cliff Walk is now offering a brand new dining experience called ‘feasts after the hunt,’ an ode to Scandinavian-cuisine with a local Newport twist.
True to its name, chef Jacob Jasinksi and his team have created a family-style feast, and from the roasted root vegetables to the homemade rye bread and crispy turkey legs, you really can’t go wrong. This is four-course pre-fixe dinner menu is a culinary experience well worth the visit to Newport in and of itself, and reservations should be made in advance. With only two ocean-facing private dining yurts (and a third yurt on the way) there’s a maximum capacity of five guests per seating and plenty of food and drinks to go around.
A vegetarian menu option is available, and if you can (and you really should) save room for the coffee kladdkaka topped with cranberries, citrus and whipped cream or Aebelskiver with vanilla buns and cardamom-spiced meyer lemon curd.
What to Do
Due to Covid, many of the activities in Newport are limited for the time being, however no trip would be complete without a visit, or at least a drive-by to see some of the area’s historic gilded-aged mansions.
Right now, Marble House is the only mansion open for tours daily from 10am onwards. Tours here are completely self-guided and free using the Newport Mansions app. Just don’t forget your headphones.
If the weather is agreeable, don’t miss a chance to take a stroll along Newport’s Cliff Walk. It’s a great way to see the area’s gorgeous gilded age homes and manor houses. You can even download a self-guided walking tour for $5 which will take you from The Chanler at Cliff Walk past the Forty Steps and on to see The Breakers, Rosecliff and Marble House.
On your way out, a drive along Newport’s legendary 10-mile drive past coastal scenery and stunning seaside manses will leave you feeling more refreshed and resplendent than ever.