Known for its iconic bright yellow façade, Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, stands austerely on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Narragansett Bay. The hotel is as revered today as when it was in 1868, when it welcomed its first guests and began its rise as the premier summer destination for generations of Americans with the means to travel in style.
In 2003, damage from the salty air and harsh New England winters finally took its toll on the grand hotel, and it closed after 135 years of operation — but not for long. The following year, plans were drawn up to re-create Ocean House as accurately as possible. Over 5,000 items were salvaged from the old structure to give the new one the character and charm of yesteryear. The rebuilt hotel features 49 rooms, 15 suites, an on-site spa, several dining options, and a number of luxe amenities. Ocean House is once again a sought-after New England destination, with accolades including a nod from Yankee in its 2015 cover feature “Sandcastles by the Sea” and a spot on the NewEngland.com list “10 Best Seaside Inns in New England.”
You don’t need to have the deep pockets of a Vanderbilt or Astor, however, to enjoy a taste of what’s on offer here. As a member of the Relais & Châteaux luxury property group, Ocean House prides itself on its fine dining experience — and you don’t need a room key to make a reservation. Whether you’re a hotel guest or merely visiting Watch Hill, nearly all of the hotel’s excellent on-site dining options (including those at its nearby sister property, the Weekapaug Inn) offer the perfect seaside lunch experience for summer.
WHERE TO ENJOY A SEASIDE LUNCH AT OCEAN HOUSE
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Seaside Terrace is an inviting spot for a casual late breakfast or leisurely lunch. Expect a variety of healthy options, such as summer melon gazpacho, citrus shrimp salad, and a spicy quinoa–black bean burger.
The Verandah Raw Bar offers sweeping views of the hotel grounds and the Atlantic, not to mention the seaside home of one of the world’s biggest female pop stars, which is sure to please the younger set. With a full raw bar and a menu featuring traditional New England fare like spicy corn chowder, heirloom tomato salad, and hot lobster rolls, this is the place to eat, see, and be seen.
Younger generations will delight in a visit to Below Deck for hot and iced coffees, pastries, 10 flavors of gelato (enjoy them solo or made into sundaes and milkshakes), and a selection of old-fashioned candies. There are also warm doughnuts, which you can enjoy in classic flavors — plain, cinnamon, powdered sugar — or go bold with glazed combinations like Cookie Crunch, which comes with a hazelnut glaze and crushed shortbread cookies.
Ocean House’s newest offering, Secret Garden, serves up an array of Veuve Clicquot champagnes in a casual-chic setting. Guests can enjoy ocean views while they sip bubbly and nibble finger foods such as goat cheese popcorn, gourmet hot dogs, mini lobster rolls, and French macarons.
Over at the Weekapaug Inn, you’ll find SeaRoom, offering dining both inside and out on the porch, where one can bask in the sun and look out over picturesque Quonochontaug Pond and the Atlantic just beyond. The seasonal menu features lobster rolls, fresh tacos, wraps, sliders, and salads (this writer strongly recommends the lobster roll — chilled with mayo, not buttered — on a brioche bun.) During summer weekends, there’s a raw bar featuring Pacific prawns, littleneck clams, and Watch Hill oysters with savory sauces.
Have you ever enjoyed lunch with a view at Ocean House?
Ocean House. 1 Bluff Ave., Watch Hill, RI. 855-678-0364; oceanhouseri.com