Newport, Rhode Island, is still very much the playground of the privileged—but tourism is increasing across the board in this small state, and with it, a boutique hotel boom. Recently, a number of Newport properties have undergone multi-million-dollar renovations or have been created from the ground up. Hoteliers show no sign of slowing down; several new properties are already slated for 2019.
Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina sits on 10 acres of Goat Island, surrounded by undisturbed views of Narragansett Bay and Newport Marina. Designer Peter Max Bowden envisioned a sophisticated maritime aesthetic that incorporated Goat Island’s color palette. This eye-catchingly tall, geometric property opened its doors in summer 2017, claiming the title of Newport’s only true four-season resort. Each of the 257 rooms and 18 suites comes with waterfront views. Gurney’s became a local favorite thanks to its copious outdoor space for lounging and its four restaurants (including Scarpetta and The Pineapple Club, an upscale take on local favorite, Pineapples). Guests can dine seaside at the Windward Coastal Grille or breathe in the salt air during light bites and cocktails on Five33 Lounge’s wraparound deck. This sprawling resort has everything imaginable: a 22-foot marina, indoor and outdoor pools, a full-service spa, the largest amount of event space in Newport (27,000 square feet total), a lighthouse, its own water taxi to town and… goats. Gurney’s pets and mascots are two brother goats. Cornelius and William live in a miniature replica of the Vanderbilt mansion (complete with a beautiful sunrise view of the Newport Bridge).
It’s no coincidence that Hotel Viking’s sprawling brick façade looks much like one of Newport’s famous mansions. When the Vanderbilts and Roosevelts needed a place for their guests to stay (not everyone got an invite to the mansions, after all), they sold com stocks to the Newport townspeople for the building that would become Hotel Viking. “Newport’s original hotel” just re-opened last April after a $100 million renovation. It didn’t lose its unique historic feel, thanks to décor touches like the building’s original 1926 brass letterbox and interior dolly. Its true gems are its stories—all kinds of dignitaries and celebrities have stayed at Hotel Viking, making for some fascinating historical gossip. Weekly jazz brunch at Hotel Viking is a Newport staple, while the rooftop Top of Newport Bar and Kitchen provides scenic views of the water and nearby Gilded Age mansions. The main restaurant, One Belleview, will undergo a slight refurbishment later this winter.
Castle Hill Inn, perched mightily on its own peninsula of rocky outcroppings, is a true Newport icon. This decadent estate began as a shingled “cottage” house in 1874 built by Harvard marine biologist Alexander Agassiz, then went on to serve as an impromptu WWII naval officer base and later Grace Kelly’s home during the filming of High Society. The property’s pièce de résistance is its turret, home to the mansion’s Turret Suite (famous for its decadent bath area and 270-degree views of Narragansett Bay and the Long Island Sound). Novelist Thornton Wilder described the suite as “a magical room” in Theophilus North. It looks different (but no less magical) now thanks to its recent complete overhaul. Other areas of Castle Hill Inn underwent extensive changes, as well. The property’s spa, The Retreat at Castle Hill by Farmaesthetics, has a newly added relaxation area for guests outside of its treatment rooms. The Inn’s oceanfront Beach Houses were also redone and updated.
In the heart of Newport’s Broadway restaurant district, the new Fifth Element Hotel is being built around the already popular restaurant of the same name. Plans for this 40-room boutique hotel include a roof deck.
The Long Wharf Hotel, located at the intersection of America’s Cup Avenue and Long Wharf, will be a five-story, 57-room brand new construction. The property is scheduled for a summer 2019 opening.