Perched high along the Narragansett Bay, just 15 minutes from downtown Newport, Rhode Island, sits Castle Hill Inn, a historic mansion commissioned by scientist Alexander Agassiz in 1874. An ideal escape for an August weekend or a fall getaway, this coastal cottage offers some of the area’s best dining and unbeatable views of the surrounding area. Here are five other things you need to know:
Rent a Car. Castle Hill has a prime location, perched on a hill and just a short walk from the scenic Ocean Drive, where many of the city’s grandest homes are located. But unlike the city’s other luxury properties, you won’t be within walking distance to downtown shopping and dining, or the Bellevue Avenue mansions from here. While the resort’s Mercedes house car can run you into town if the place isn’t busy, your best bet is to rent a car for the duration of your stay – parking is gratis, too.
Don’t Miss The Lawn. Locals and visitors alike will tell you that The Lawn at Castle Hill boasts one of the area’s most charming settings — Adirondack chairs dot the sloping hill overlooking Narragansett Bay — as well as the best lobster rolls in town. Plan your visit to coincide with sunset and pair that treat with a signature (spiked!) blueberry lemonade. You won’t regret it. Of course, all of the dining options at Castle Hill are top-notch — don’t miss the Dining Room’s Maine lobster hash at breakfast or the chocolate chip cookie dough soufflé for dessert, either. It should be noted that the inn is run by the same hospitality group, Newport Harbor Corporation, that spearheads a set of popular eateries in Castle Hill proper and downtown Newport (22 Bowen’s, The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar). Be sure to make a reservation for either establishment — these waterfront destinations are go-to’s all year round.
Try a Cottage. Castle Hill offers rooms and suites in both the main mansion as well as in two distinct areas — Harbor House, which overlooks the Newport Bridge, and the beach cottages and houses, which are located about 250 yards from the main inn on their own private beach. For summer stays, we love the privacy of the latter. You get the intimacy of a small home (with a personal porch, to boot), beach butler service, and a parking space, plus all of the amenities of the main inn such as a gourmet breakfast and guests-only afternoon tea. The larger beach houses also offer a gas fireplace and king bed. In the main building, we’d opt for the Turret Suite, which features a unique bi-level design in the historically renovated tower of the home — you can see the bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the Castle Hill Lighthouse right from your room.
Hit the Water. There’s no better way to take in Newport as it’s meant to be seen than from the water. Sunbathe on “Grace Kelly Beach,” named as such because the famed movie star stayed at Castle Hill while filming the 1956 film High Society with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. She loved the rocky beach so much that the staff built a staircase for her to reach the shoreline with ease. You can also take to the water on the resort’s own Hinckley Yacht, arrange a private sailing lesson or try a sunset cruise – we suggest a sunset harbor cruise on 12 Meter Charters’ Heritage, a boat that raced in the 1970 America’s Cup trials. By day, the resort also offers an hourly water taxi to town.
Say “I Do.” The inn is one of New England’s most popular destinations for weddings, and the property is frequently booked Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in high season for the blushing bride and groom. A massive tent is set up so you can party both inside and out in a nautical, upscale setting. It’s the perfect combination of a “tantalizing view” (sunset selfies, anyone?) and “total privacy” (about 50 yards from the main house) that makes this one of Newport’s finest places for nuptials. Fun extras such as an optional s’mores bar make the party pop, but pre-set packages such as the over-the-top Castle Hill Experience (four-course meal, five-hour event) or the more laid-back Elopement Experience (eight-course tasting menu for two, couples massage) make planning a destination affair a breeze.
Photos Courtesy of Castle Hill Inn