The Hamptons is composed around a dozen villages found on the south fork of Long Island with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the calm estuary waters of bays and inlets on the other. From the low-key West Hampton and Hampton Bays, through to the elegant white weatherboard town centre of Southampton all the way through to the wild and rocky beaches of Montauk, the entire area is only 50 kilometres long and 15 kilometres at its widest. Traditionally dominated by farming, fishing and whaling communities, the Hamptons became a haven and magnet for artists in the late 1800’s and soon after a favourite holiday destination for well-heeled New Yorkers.
With houses to rent for up to $250,000 for the summer and a more reasonably priced selection of inns, small boutique hotels and surf lodges, there is accommodation for every taste. Rarely do art, food, beautiful landscapes and money all come together as they do the Hamptons but there are still places to avoid the hurley burley and bunk down for a sand-in-your-bathers and thongs on your feet type of holiday – just head to Montauk.
WHERE TO STAY
CAPRI AT SOUTHAMPTON Just opened this year the Capri provides the perfect accommodation for young fashionable singles and couples who will enjoy the ‘updated retro’ vibe. With a ‘Bathing Club’ and outdoor bar, attractive staff in striped Lacoste T’s and a Cynthia Rowland’s shop on site, you could happily spend a lazy summer here. Nightly star spotting and exceptional seaside fare at the adjoining restaurant Nobu completes the package.
THE 1770 HOUSE This small inn has six beautifully appointed guest rooms and a two-story private carriage house. With Frette Italian bed linen and personalised service you are assured a wonderful stay. Enjoy an aperitif in the garden courtyard then dinner at their award-winning restaurant where Chef Matthew Birnstill serves contemporary American cuisine accompanied by a wine list second to none in the area.
THE REFORM CLUB INN The Reform Club is an ultra private boutique hotel that opened in 2009 and is designed to help its guests feel restored and re-energized. It has seven suites and the three cottages which are all separated from each other by a maze of 7 foot hedges. The owner delivers fresh fruit to the kitchen daily from his property nearby which is transformed by the Chef into a selection of delicious fresh muffins, fruit pies and cobblers for the guests. The suites and cottages are decorated with original art works, often on loan from the owner’s private collection and coffee table books such as ‘de Kooning paintings 1960-1980’. Hand-made Duxiana beds, and custom made rain shower heads from nearby ‘Urban Archeology’ ensure maximum pampering and friendly staff are happy to attend to your every need.
RUSCHMEYER’S Perhaps the coolest place to stay on the south fork, Ruschmeyer’s opened this year and caters to the ‘anti-Hamptons’ crowd of surfers, young couples with dogs, hip families whose children don’t follow the same bedtime rules as others and gorgeous-young-things who love the wild naturalness of the Montauk coastline. Found on the furtherest tip of the South Fork, Ruschmeyers has the feeling of adults escaping life’s pressures to live for a time in a summer camp inspired haven. The interior and grounds were created by an eclectic mix of film-makers, artists, illustrators and art directors – under the direction of Rob McKinley and include The Electric Eel bar, a lively restaurant with an excellent menu, outdoor table tennis, bocce in the sand. The grounds are decorated with a central tee-pee and lanterns, sculptures, swings and wicker chairs hang from the trees.
C&O THE MAIDSTONE America meets Scandinavia in this gorgeous boutique hotel opened three years ago with 19 guest rooms. With lime washed wooden floors, Marimekko soft furnishings, and a constantly evolving and off-beat exhibition program, this hotel offers luxe-with-a-difference. From the moment you enter you feel like you could be in the set of an intriguing play, with waiters in light blue bow-ties and the maitre d’ in a black-feathered fascinator. Quirky and whimsical, each room is individually designed around the theme of a great Scandinavian luminary. Inside the bathroom of the Jacobsen suite is a dolls house installation with miniature Jacobson reproduction furniture decorating the rooms. With several guest cottages, free use of bikes, complimentary yoga, a personalised beach butler and picnic service and an organic on site restaurant, this is the place to stay for everyone and their dogs (separate dog menu available). Attractive Autumn and Winter packages are available.
GALLERIES & MUSEUMS
TRIPOLI GALLERY Owned and operated by the youngest and arguably the coolest curator on Long Island – Tripoli Patterson. 26 year old Trip grew up in the bosom of the Hamptons art world, surrounded by artists who were friends of his parents including Salvador Dali, who was best man at his parents wedding and Lisa de Kooning who was his Godmother. Trip has a sophisticated creative instinct and a well-honed bullshit detector and has attracted a stable of young artists to his gallery including Lola Montez Schnabel and Eric Freeman.
PARRISH ART MUSEUM The museum’s philosophy is to support the work of American artists. It has a collection of over 2500 works including those by local artists William de Kooning, Eric Fischl, April Gornick, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Their soon to be opened new space is designed by Herzog & de Meuron.
THE SOUTHAMPTON HISTORICAL MUSEUM displays a collection of historic dolls, artifacts and furniture. The grounds of the museum are dotted with historic buildings which illustrate the lives of the early settlers in the area.
LONGHOUSE RESERVE The private home and public museum and gardens of textile design great Jack Lenor Larsen is found on a 16 acre property in East Hampton. The grounds display his permanent sculpture collection as well as changing exhibitions. A small gallery on the grounds exhibits the work of well known industrial and furniture designers.
RICHARD DEMATO GALLERY shows the work of emerging American artists who are otherwise not represented in the area, such as Haley Hasler, Devorah Jacoby, Andrew Kowch and Amy Sherald, the gallery is a must see for art lovers and collectors.
RESTAURANTS & FOOD STORES
TUTTO IL GIORNO This new Southampton eatery is a second loaction for the already successful Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor. The restaurant is co-owned by chef Maurizio Marfoglia and Donna Karan’s daughter Gabby Karan, who designed the restaurants interior.
NOBU AT CAPRI Excellent seafood based menu with all the signature Nobu themes – light, sophisticated, delicate and appealing.
A soothing cream and white interior, set inside the grounds of the new and groovy Capri Hotel and Bathing Club, this is one of the Hamptons best places for people watching.
SANT AMBROEUS Sister of the Milanese flagship restaurant, Sant Ambroeus serves one of the best coffees in the Hamptons and serves finely sliced prosciutto in a way rarely seen outside Italy. With a narrow and charming outdoor eating area, fresh homemade ice-cream to go and a pasticceria bar with myriad home made fruit tarts and treats under glass, Sant Ambroeus corners a sophisticated Southampton market.
DURYEA The place to go for a classic American style Lobster Roll or take away fresh Lobsters. Order a Lobster roll for $20 and you will eat it on cheap plastic table settings on a wooden deck with a water view. People travel for miles and line up patiently at night to sit with their BYO wine or champagne and tuck into the freshest ever lobster.
THE LIVING ROOM This restaurant is run by Executive Chef James Carpenter. The menu mixes American favourites with Swedish flourishes and is served by lovely chaps in white shirts, black pants, braces and blue bow ties. Try the Sweet Pea and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli in a truffle and carrot broth. If you come back for breakfast but do not plan a day on the beach in a bikini order the Vasterbotten cheese and spinach omelet served with Long Island breakfast potatoes.
RUSHMEYER’S – THE RESTAURANT A fun place to eat if you are in Montauk. Dinner service starts at 5pm and quickly fills up with young families and children starving after a day at the beach. Casual, noisy and fun, with an excellent menu designed by Executive chef Greg McCarty and a biodynamic, organic and sustainable wine list by Craig Atlas. Try one of the many signature cocktails. After dinner families often wander into the grounds of the hotel and children play in the tee-pee set up on the grass.
THE AMERICAN HOTEL More like a fascinating private club, the hotel bar and restaurant are one of the most atmospheric places in the Hamptons. A favourite of both locals and visitors, the bar is framed by original Tiffany’s stained glass ceiling lights and bars stools suggestive of another time. Their wine list boasts over 2,500 selections while their food is matter-of-fact and unsurprising.
THE SLOPPY TUNA If you want to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the 70’s-style beach town of Montauk, you should also have a beach break and beer at The Sloppy Tuna. Right on the sand, it has a casual café downstairs lined with surfboards, an outdoor bar manned by an Aussie from Sydney and an excellent restaurant upstairs – The YellowFin.
LOAVES AND FISHES Specialty food and homewares store, catering and cooking school, this one has the lot and is a local favourite, especially for Mums who want a break from cooking.
TATE’S BAKE SHOP Freshest morning baguettes and biscuits, home made fruit tarts and heavenly chocolate croissants. A sweet cottage shop-front with several tables and chairs out the front for breakfast with the kids, this bakery keeps many up-market food stores in constant supply of choc-chip cookies and other delights.
HOME NATURE A homemakers haven with tasteful furniture, throws, accent pillows and tableware. Almost all in natural shades and materials, the store stocks supplies to those who prefer the understated in Hamptons interior decorating.
URBAN ARCHEOLOGY Urban Archaeology finds and restores important historic architectural elements and also custom makes pieces for clients. It creates several additional ranges its own lighting, cabinetry and bathroom accessories ranges.
URBAN ZEN Donna Karen’s Sag Harbor store stocks casual clothing from natural fabrics, hand made jewelry and accessories and a line of furniture and interior wares for the home. Set inside a charming seaside cottage, the store smells as it feels – relaxing, and restorative. Urban Zen is actively involved in philanthropic projects around the world that promote health and well-being and assist children and the underprivileged.
THE WELL NEST Found in a charming historic captain’s house built in the mid 1700’s The Well Nest is a store focused on health and well-being. With original timber beams, and a cream and white interior and a thoughtful mix of organic clothes, vitamins and tasteful homewares, this shop is a must see in Sag Harbor.
ROBERTA ROLLER RABBIT A lovely store found in a white weatherboard shop in Southampton with homewares in all patterns and colours as well as clothes for women and children designed by New Yorker Roberta Freymann. Roberta has a home in the Hamptons and her style epitomizes the colourful freshness of a typical Long Island summer.