Gilded Age mansions abound in Rhode Island. The coastal towns are where it’s at, and the Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport enjoys a brilliant position perched directly on the water’s edge. John Winthrop Chanler, a New York State Congressman, built what is now an upscale boutique hotel as a private summer residence, the first on the cliff walk, in 1873. It then underwent many transformations – a reform school, a museum… even a tenement house for the navy in the ‘40s – until the new owners purchased it in 2000. To see it now, restored to its former intended glory, is heartwarming.
Although everything new was deliberately designed to look as though it dates to the house’s origins, a refined sense of modernism playfully dances with nostalgia in every nook of the hotel. The new owners spent two years and $25 million renovating the property. Each of the 20 suites and villas at The Chanler is uniquely appointed. All are bold in their choice of textiles and textures. Many, including The Block Island Villa (which houses a fireplace, full sauna and Jacuzzi), offer mesmerizing views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Every detail is carefully laid out. The Spiced Pear’s cuisine is a reflection of that consciousness: It offers an “inventive interpretation of classic New England dishes and French influences,” while remaining true to its surroundings and sourcing the freshest local ingredients.
When winter gives way to spring, you may want to shift views as dining on the patio is essential, coupled with a lazy afternoon and a bottle of wine on the lawn. The intentional planting of over 100 species of plants in the manicured gardens gives The Chanler the privacy its guests demand, and offers a sense of place by gently guiding the eye down the undulating lawn to the roiling sea just below. The Cliff Walk itself leads you down a path of similar stately mansions on one side and surfers riding the waves on the other: a three-and-a-half mile journey into everything Newport is all about, a rich tapestry of tradition caressed by the wild call of the sea. thechanler.com
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