The Vanderbilt Grace
The Vanderbilt Grace in Newport, Rhode Island, was built by a scion of the supremely wealthy Vanderbilt clan during the so-called Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th Century, and as such is one of the only famous Rhode Island mansions now operating as a luxury hotel.
There are 33 light and airy rooms and suites in total, ranging from the 300 sq ft State Rooms to the huge 940 sq ft two-bedroomed apartment-style Vanderbilt Grace Suite, and the hotel is designed to feel like you are a guest in a private residence, albeit with facilities of a slick modern hotel. The homestay feel is probably best experienced in the elegant ground floor Christy Room, which still has many of its original Beaux Art features, and is the perfect place to relax with a book or to enjoy afternoon tea.
Another case in point is the fine dining restaurant Muse, created by chef Jonathan Cartwright, a New England native, where the focus is on fresh seasonal produce. Less formal is the Conservatory restaurant where guests can also eat on the lovely garden terrace and in the garden itself during summer. Meanwhile, The Bar, next to Muse, is the perfect place to relax pre- or post-dinner and enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail (try the signature Grace, a blend of pear vodka, pear puree, apple juice lemongrass and honey syrup) to a jazz age soundtrack.
There are two pools at the hotel, one tucked away beside the garden terrace and a perfect summer sun trap, and the other a heated indoor pool adjacent to the spa and fitness centre in the basement. The spa itself offers a wide range treatments from facials and manicures to massages.
Guests at the Vanderbilt Grace might be tempted never to leave the 'compound', but the lovely waterfront in Newport is just a few minutes' walk away and the perfect place to wander around before returning to this extremely comfortable haven.
Why We Love It
The Roof Deck at the Vanderbilt Grace is the perfect place to see beautiful sunsets across Newport harbour, cocktail in hand.
On the crest of Beacon Hill lies the XV Beacon, set within a 20th century Beaux Arts building in one of Boston's most historic districts. The historic façade conceals a modern boutique hotel, where slick service and personalised experiences are the order of the day.
XV Beacon houses just 63 guestrooms over seven floors, furnished with an amalgamation of modern and antique pieces and crisp linens in earthy tones. All guestrooms feature the necessary tech to keep you in touch with the world, alongside homely touches such as cashmere throws for those cold Boston winters, and commissioned artworks on the walls. Ensuite bathrooms include heavenly rain showers, heated towels racks and a second TV, with jetted bathtubs in Studios and Suites.
The in house Mooo Steakhouse offers a contemporary take on a US classic, under the watchful eye of chef Jamie Mammano, and is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Mooo also houses exclusive dining venue the Wine Cellar, a subterranean venue where vaulted ceilings and stone walls house an impressive collection of rare and fine wines. In-room dining is also available 24/7, and includes the opportunity to order from the complete Mooo restaurant menu.
There is no pool at XV Beacon, but the rooftop terrace is a great spot to unwind, and enjoy the views of the Boston skyline. You're just a short walk from the leafy banks of the Charles River, gold-domed Statehouse, Boston Common and Public Garden, but should you feel the urge, make use of the courtesy in-town Lexus chauffeur service to explore the city, or transport you to your chosen dining spot as night falls.
The XV Beacon is a fusion of history and modernity, where the customs and service of a grand hotel meet the needs of a modern day traveller, from the brass buttoned bellhops that greet your arrival, to the 24 hour concierge who can be contacted through the XV Beacon smartphone app, on hand to advise on your choice of dining, art exhibits, museums, or whatever takes your fancy, really.
Why We Love It
XV Beacon has a fantastic location in the heart of historic Boston, as well as a spot on (and tech savvy) concierge team.
Mayflower Inn & Spa
The Mayflower Inn & Spa is a quintessential country house hotel in rural Connecticut, surrounded by 58 acres of gardens and woodland and just two hours' drive from New York City. There are 30 rooms in total, spread across four main buildings and all with antique four poster beds, marble topped baths, 18th and 19th century art and oriental rugs for that sense of staying in an extremely comfortable private house.
The fine dining restaurant at the Mayflower Inn & Spa is Muse, after the success of the same restaurant at the Vanderbilt Grace in Newport Rhode Island, based on the simple premise of using the finest seasonal produce to create classic New England dishes. In summer, diners can eat on the lovely terrace. For more pub grub-style food and ambience, head next door to the fun, informal Tap Room.
The food is good, but the main event at the Mayflower Inn & Spa is the huge (like 20,000 sq ft huge) Mayflower Spa, which offers tailormade spa programmes and a la carte treatments including body scrubs, massages and their signature Elemental Body Therapies using algae, herbs and essential oils. The facilities alone are impressive, with a private pilates studio, an outdoor meditation and yoga garden, several treatment rooms, a salon for beauty treatments and even a spa shop.
Away from the spa, guests can explore the estate gardens and walk the many trails in the nearby Steep Rock Preserve, or enjoy tennis, fly fishing, archery and kayaking, with or without instruction as required. With the Big Apple so close by, as well, it's possible to combine the two for the ultimate rural/urban long weekend.
Why We Love It
The spa here is a destination in its own right, and we're rather partial to the Japan Red Flower Treatment Ritual, which involves exfoliation, tapotement massage with cherry blossom scented organic rice, a mimosa algae wrap and finally some lime silk oil shiatsu.
The Fairmont Copley Plaza
Located in Boston's historic Back Bay district just steps from the Boston Public Library, Beacon Hill and the Freedom Trail, the Fairmont Copley Plaza is one of the grand dames of the city, which has been a Boston landmark since its opening in 1912. Following its 100th anniversary, the guestrooms underwent a complete renovation ensuring that the hotel leaps well and truly into the 21st century, whilst retaining the historic façade and grand lobby which has made it such an icon.
Guestrooms and suites are spacious, combining modern and traditional décor in shades of sky blue, grey and plum, with luxurious marble bathrooms. Contemporary sketches of the city adorn the walls, whilst rich fabrics and dark wood furniture add a more classic feel to the design. Some guestrooms enjoy city views, whilst others look out over peaceful interior courtyards.
OAK Long Bar and Kitchen is an American brasserie style restaurant, with vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, and a long copper topped bar dotted with studded leather bar chairs. Enjoy sipping handcrafted cocktails and fine wines, accompanied by sharing plates created from the freshest local produce, or a la carte dishes. Due to the central location of the hotel, there is also an array of fantastic dining options within walking distance.
The Fairmont Copley Plaza offers all of the amenities expected of a luxury city hotel; concierge service, babysitting and laundry, as well as a state of the art Rooftop health club, with panoramic city views. Unlike many large US cities, Boston is particularly pedestrian friendly, and the Fairmont Copley Plaza's central location makes exploring, shopping and dining out a breeze.
Why We Love It
The hotel offers all of the services and amenties expected of a luxury city hotel, along with a few unexpected ones too, like Catie and Carly Copley - two black Labradors who greet guests on arrival, and can be taken for walks and runs by hotel guests who are missing their own canine companions back home.