A Grande Dame hotel is reborn in Rhode Island


For the guest, the Ocean House is a refreshing antidote to a number of luxury beach hotels, with their indistinguishable swim-up bars, marble bathrooms, and chicken Caesar salads that have all but erased the feeling of membership. With understated sophistication inspired by both Royce and Watch Hill, and a blend of old and new, the Ocean House has created a new kind of luxury. “We wanted it to be a fantasy of what customers would think of when they envision a Rhode Island beach resort,” says Boston-based interior designer Peter Niemitz, “and also a design for the future for attract a whole new level of customers. ” Namely, Royce’s personal art collection, which includes previously unseen pieces New Yorker cover sketches as well as a number of works by Ludwig Bemelmans (author and illustrator of the Madeline children’s books), covers the walls of public and private spaces. “I wanted to convey a social experience and the designs are deeply personal and authentic,” Royce says. In the bedrooms, Niemitz paired high-end Scalamander fabrics with a more modest New England vernacular in wood paneling.

The beach, just a three-minute walk from the hotel, has both cabanas (left) and a small restaurant (right).

Matt Hranek captures the comeback.

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And like the decor, the cuisine combines the classic with the inventive, and is the only reason to visit the property. “I wanted two menus: one that was really top notch and a bistro menu that you could have five nights a week,” says Royce. This means that in addition to the delicious multi-course tasting menu (strong in local ingredients) at Seasons, the formal restaurant, there is also mac and cheese in the Winter Garden and a spectacular traditional raw bar at the Verandah. The dedication to hotel ritual contributes to the hotel’s sense of romance: here, people always dress for dinner – there are no baggy denim shorts in sight – and the martini glass has recovered its proper proportions (small and deep enough to maintain the freshness of the cocktail while sipping slowly).

But for Royce, the ultimate charm – and success – of the Ocean House comes down to the sea and the summer life that revolves around this enchanted cliff. And indeed, it’s easy to imagine early 20th-century couples strolling under umbrellas, doing pretty much the same thing as today: eating oysters, sipping cocktails, playing croquet after a day. to the beach. “I love what he brings to the community,” Royce says. “It has become a community center like 30, 40, 50 years ago.

To stay

Ocean house to the west ; 401-315-0579; double starting at $ 295.

Watch Hill Inn to the west ; 401-584-7400; double starting at $ 555.

Weekapaug Hostel to the west ; 401-322-0301; double starting at $ 190.

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