When I think of the Hamptons, I think of the rich and famous, mansions, polo and charity events populated by all manner of glitterati, but it is the large expanse of white sand beaches that have drawn people to the Hamptons for generations, and for season after season. For those without their own home or a rental property, or without a friend with an invitation to their Hamptons house, another way to enjoy the area, is with a stay at the Southampton Inn. Located at 921 Hill Street in the heart of the Village of Southampton, this inn offers both comfort and convenience, with a casual and beachy vibe. The 90 rooms on two floors include amenities that make it much more than just a place to put your stuff.
The grounds include tennis courts, plenty of tables, chairs and umbrellas for al fresco dining and relaxing, and plenty of outside space to enjoy a stroll.
OSO, the Inn’s restaurant (featuring Mediterranean cuisine this coming season) looks lovely, although it was closed when I visited. There is a heated pool in season, starting in mid May.
For guests with children, a nice family room with video games, a soda bar, and other delights for kids is situated close to the pool area (also heated and open in season).Babysitting services are also available.
The main lobby houses “the library,” a large, open, airy room with a high ceiling and outside deck space, where guests can enjoy complimentary coffee and tea day and evenings, and pastries in the morning . However with free WiFi and a small business center area, the Southampton Inn also attracts a fair number of business travelers. There is an entire downstairs area with meetings rooms, a grand ballroom that seats 130, and room on the 5.4 acre property for tented events as well. According to Denny Pierce the Inn’s General Manager, weddings are very popular at the Southampton Inn, as are other celebratory events. 65% of the guests are repeat customers and in season, the Inn runs close to 80% occupied. The friendly staff will also arrange all sorts of recreation, from bicycle rentals to fishing, golf and even tours of historic and cultural sites.
If you’re coming to the Hamptons with your kids, the Inn is also good for families, although the room are meant for a maximum of four people. Each is different, in king or double bed configurations. Roll outs are available for a free, cribs are free. The room I stayed in on the second floor was spacious and very clean. A small refrigerator allows you to bring in snacks and cold drinks. The rooms are decorated primarily in light colors and with beachy themes. There are no safes in the room, and since the Inn is over 40 years old, there may be a bit of a noise issue, depending upon how considerate your neighbors are. You can hear some conversation, and footsteps. This would be the same in any Inn, but since the room are configured in quartets of two up, two down, opt for a second floor room (and some say, facing the pool) if you want a quieter experience. And if you want to bring your furry friends, the the Southampton Inn is pet friendly. I was told that you could even bring a cat or cats, as long as they were caged. Most Inns will not allow cats. This March, the Southampton Inn is having a two day “Pooches & Pampering” Event where you can bring your furry friends for 50% off ( just $24.50 each — limit two per room), while enjoying a range of services for your dog, and even come without a pet, and leave with one you’ve just adopted!
You can walk to town in literally, minutes, eliminating the need to drive to shopping, services and dining, but perhaps the most compelling reason to choose the Southampton Inn if you’re planning to bake on the famous beaches, is the Inn’s 12-person “bubble van” (so called because of the colorful dots all over it) that runs daily to take guests approximately 1 mile to and from Coopers Beach (one of the nicest in the area). At a parking fee of $40 per day, the convenient shuttle makes the Southampton Inn even more of a bargain.
All this being said, my husband and I visited the Southampton Inn in February, which is definitely the off season. We wondered what we’d do, since even a short walk on the beach, is brisk to the point of freezing. What we found was a delightful mix of culture, dining, shopping and more that, in the off season, was accessible without any crowds or fuss.
Getting to the Hamptons however, especially in season, can be stressful. Our trip on a Friday afternoon took over three hours in traffic, but we revived quickly with dinner at 75 Main, located right in the heart of Southampton Village. Although the restaurant is very spacious, it was uncrowded and we were able to enjoy a romantic, quiet, unhurried dinner. The modern decor features large windows that look out onto one of the main streets in Southampton Village, perfect for people-watching. 75 Main’s interior is also decorated with a variety of works by famous artist Chris Brown and Sports Illustrated photographer Raphael Mazzucco.
In season, there are lots of famous people who probably would have been sitting nearby (you can see photos of some of the celebrities that like to hang out at 75 Main on the restaurant’s web site), but we loved being treated like VIPs in our own right. The heart of the restaurant features a very large and attractive bar, at which a few people seemed to enjoy hanging out for quite some time.While the breakfast menu at 75 Main features favorites such as omelettes, waffles, and fresh fruits, the lunch menu has staples of salads, panini, hamburgers and pasta.
The dinner menu at 75 Main is a mixture of Italian and contemporary American. Specialty dishes include Soft Shell Crab; Smoke Salmon Fettucini; and Bone in Veal Milanese. While the r menu was full of tempting options, we each chose the very reasonable, price-fixed (under $22.00) three course dinner that is offered in the off-season. We shared an additional appetizer of fragrant and succulent PEI Mussels. We both ordered the skirt steak. It was so tender, it was almost silky on the tongue. Also worthy of note were the very nicely prepared martinis. We ended our meal with a rich, Italian-style cheesecake and a creme caramel, complimented by rich and frothy cappuccinos.
75 Main is open 7 days a week 8:00 am to midnight, with breakfast, brunch lunch: 11:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, and 10:00 am to 4:30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Dinner starts at 4:30 pm till 10:30 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 4:30 pm till 11:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The lounge is open on Friday and Saturday from 10:30 pm to 4:00 am. The word is that the nightlife scene is very popular, and it can get pretty wild on the dance floor. Live Jazz is also a feature at 75 Main, although there wasn’t any at the time we were dining there. If you are in Delray Beach Florida (where the owner Zach Erdem was on the night we visited Southampton), you’ll be happy to know that there is a 75 Main branch there, as well. To make a reservation for the Southampton 75 Main call: 631-283-7575
After a long drive to the Hamptons, we weren’t planning to stick around for the Lounge, so we were back at the Southampton Inn, in just minutes. The beds at the Southampton Inn feature extremely comfortable, Tempur-Pedic mattresses, so we had a restful night.
In the morning, after coffee and pastries, I toured the entire property with Denny Pierce, who also was kind enough to take me for a a quick spin the the shuttle down to Cooper’s beach. Along the way we were able to enjoy a tourist’s view of some very huge and beautiful mansions. After the tour with Denny, since it was nearly lunch time, John and I headed to the nearby Lobster Grille, where we enjoyed succulent raw oysters and clams, while watching the seagulls and ducks paddle around outside in the water by the docks …very picturesque.
After lunch, we visited the new exhibits at the Shinnecock Indian reservation. The cultural center was hosting an open house, and we enjoyed learning about the Shinnecock Indians from a man who was himself a Native American of the Shinnecock tribe. These indigenous people were skilled whalers, farmers, artisans, and hunters. Some of the descendants of the Shinnecock Indian tribe are still on the reservation. Then, as the sun started to sink lower in the sky, we drove a few minutes back to the center of town, and wandered around the lovely shops in Southampton village.
In the off season, although some of the restaurants and shops were closed, all the shop-keepers we met were amazingly gracious. Since they weren’t inundated with crowds, they were happy to chat, and we left every store we visited, with a story. At Alex & Ani, where I picked up the latest charity bangle, I chatted with the young women at the register, who were eager to show me all their favorite Alex & Ani bangles, and show off their armloads of them. They were so excited that I’d actually met creator Carolyn Rafaelian At Christopher Fischer Cashmere, I admired the kitten-y soft and luxurious, high quality cashmere, but was called away from the racks by my husband, who spied some beautiful feral cats through the windows in the back of the store. The friendly woman in charge of the store told us that they have protected and fed these cats for a long while. A grey male cat was particularly unusual. He had an overbite that gave him a smile exactly like the one worn by the Cheshire Cat in Alice & Wonderland. I’ve never seen a real cat smile like that before! It was getting late and the stores were about the close, so we reluctantly left the cats and cashmere, , and were just about to head back to the Southampton Inn, when I saw a sign in Corwin’s jewelry store window indicating they checked jewelry settings. As I waited for a friendly young man to check and clean my jewels, I chatted with his mother, who told me that five generations owned and worked in the business. She pointed out photos of the original store that burned down in the 1920′s and we even chatted a bit about issues with siblings (I am known as “The Advice Sister” after all). I left with my rings sparkling clean, and even a promise of a recommendation of a reputable NYC jeweler who could properly fix an errant prong on one of my rings.
Within minutes, we were back at our home base, the Southampton Inn. After a rest, we headed out to the Southampton Publick House where they new only brew their own beers, they offer a wide range of “pub” foods. I had Long Island duck, and it was delicious.
The next day, after we checked out of the Inn, we drove around for a while. I had wanted to visit the Parrish Art Museum we realized we’d have to leave it for another time. While we certainly weren’t going to trespass on anyone’s property, the Winter months also mean that the hedges are bare, and you can see through them down long driveways to many of the mansions. Impressive in both size and quantity, we picked out our favorites. Many of the mansions are simply closed up in Winter, but there is plenty of life , and locals, in the Hamptons.
After checking out of the Southampton Inn the next day, my plan had initially been to visit the Parrish Art Museum, but we had a winery tour booked, and didn’t have enough time to do both. So we drove around looking at the mansions, and went back to the beach for a few minutes to look around.While we certainly weren’t going to trespass on anyone’s property, the Winter months reveal the huge mansions down endless driveways through the bare hedges. Many of the mansions are simply closed up in Winter, but there is plenty of life , and locals, in the Hamptons.
Our last stop was the Wölffer Estate Winery 139 Sagg Rd, Sagaponack, NY. There, we joined a winery tour with four women who were celebrating the 21st birthday of one of the group. After the tour, we joined these young ladies for some wine tasting. We were there for well over an hour, toasting and tasting, leaving with a couple of bottles of wine to add to our cellar.
By now, the sun was starting to set, and we had to head our car towards home. If we had been in the Hamptons during the Summer months, we would have enjoyed the beautiful beaches, but we learned that the Hamptons have a different kind of charm in the off season, and the Southampton Inn was the perfect “home base” from which to enjoy all this area has to offer in any season.
Getting there: Fly into LaGuardia or JFK International—or into Long Island’s MacArthur Airport—and then drive (rental cars are available at all the airports) to the Hamptons. The car trip from New York City will take between two and a half and three and a half hours, depending on traffic and it can be somewhat stressful for the driver. From NYC, train or bus is often the best option. The Long Island Rail Road offers a Friday-afternoon express train known as the “Friday Cannonball,” or otherwise, the train is definitely a “local.” The Hampton Jitney and Hampton Luxury Liner companies bus passengers back and forth from New York City. If you feel particularly luxe, you can take a seaplane to East Hampton from the Skyport Marina at East 23rd Street, or a helicopter, if your hosts have a place to land it! To book your stay at the Southampton Inn visit the web site: http://www.southamptoninn.com/ or call1-800-832-6500