From posh to cozy to nostalgic, here are our nominees for outstanding boutique hotels in New England.
By Ian Aldrich
Apr 19 2022
Field Guide | Best Boutique Hotels in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Courtesy Field Guide
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When you’re on vacation, you want to feel like you’re really getting away. That starts with finding the right hotel. New England offers many top-notch lodging options, but it shines especially bright when it comes to boutique hotels. From Maine to Connecticut, these properties offer beautiful accommodations with upscale service touches that make guests feel as though they’ve landed someplace truly special. Which are the best boutique hotels in New England? Read on for our favorites.
Industrial-chic design warmed with reclaimed wood sets the up-to-date tone for this 26-room Rockland hotel, which also boasts museum-quality works by contemporary Maine artists and midcentury-modern furnishings. Most rooms have harbor views and some have balconies, but all guests have access to the hotel’s rooftop deck, where daily afternoon wine tastings are held in good weather (otherwise, they’re relocated to the inviting lobby lounge). Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Boutique Hotel in Maine.”
Though the core of Whitehall in Camden may be an 1834 sea captain’s home, the building has progressively added rooms since becoming an inn in 1901. Reimagined in 2015 as a chic coastal getaway, the 36-room hotel and its rambling porches sprawl across green lawns between the rounded peak of Mount Battie and the lapping blue waters of Penobscot Bay. Touches like aged barn board and grass-cloth wall coverings produce a breezy contemporary decor that still echoes the leisurely rusticators of a century past. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Boutique Hotel in Maine.”
When boutique specialist Lark Hotels acquired the Hotel Portsmouth in 2015, it may have seemed there was little room for improvement. Ideally located a few blocks from Market Square, the 1881 Queen Anne mansion had been renovated and reopened just the year before, its 32 guest rooms smartly overhauled to blend Victorian courtliness with modern crispness. Yet Lark has managed to give us further reasons to return, from its signature curated small-plates breakfasts to a staff that acts more like a whole team of concierges. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Boutique Hotel in New Hampshire.” (Prefer your Portsmouth boutique hotel to include a loft-like feel? Lark also operates the cozy brick Ale House Inn, located in a former brewery warehouse.)
Ideal for folks wanting a bit more than a B&B but less than a traditional resort, Field Guide occupies a longtime inn that was completely renovated in 2015 by the Lark Hotels chain. Upscale country chic is on full display, from the tree-stump end tables and birch log “walls” in the lobby to the mounted (papier-mâché) deer heads and whimsical wallpaper. Downtown is minutes away, but should you choose to stay in, the on-site restaurant, Picnic Social, is a worthy stop. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Boutique Hotel in Vermont.”
Old-school accommodations take on a polished sheen at Ludlow’s hip boutique motel. Wood-slab headboards lend rustic charm to standard queen rooms, while family-sized accommodations include bunk beds for kiddos and multiroom suites that sleep up to seven. There’s no restaurant, but food trucks frequent the patio year-round, and visitors sidle up to teal-blue barstools for craft cocktails in the lobby bar. There, they mingle with locals seated as cocktail wizards build spirited beverages with small-batch Vermont booze. Weekend patio parties provide a hip spin on the campfire jams of yore, with live music and seating around a masonry fire pit.
While bigger than the other properties on this list, the 95-room Eliot packs an elegant, intimate feel. Built in the 1920s, and modeled after Paris’ Champs-Élysées, this Boston institution — with its vaulted marble lobby, restored antiques throughout, and plush linens — dials visitors into its world from the moment of entry. Should you want to venture out, the hotel is centrally located, overlooking Commonwealth Avenue, and within easy walking distance of such Boston highlights as the Public Garden, Fenway Park, and Symphony Hall. When it’s time to dine, head to Uni, the hotel’s highly acclaimed on-site Japanese restaurant.
Tucked away on a leafy Provincetown side street and featuring clean lines, a soothing white-on-white palette, and thoughtfully collected antiques, this is a handsome respite from the Commercial Street crush. On the lovely sun deck or in the shaded garden, you can enjoy daily breakfast treats such as a chorizo, spinach, and roasted red pepper frittata and homemade blueberry doughnuts. Like the luxe hand soap in the bathrooms? Pop over to the Salt Supply store to take some home with you. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Boutique Hotel in Massachusetts.”
In a sequestered, estate-like setting with an up-island feel, yet just a half-mile from the ferry dock and Vineyard Haven’s hopping Main Street, Simon and Annabelle Hunton strive year-round to convince guests they’re not staying at a B&B. The innkeepers’ personal guidance unravels the mysteries and diversity of Martha’s Vineyard. Ultra-contemporary, Zen-like interiors create the sense you’ve crashed an elite designer’s secret sanctuary. Spend your day luxuriating with breakfast in bed, wandering the gardens, borrowing bicycles, and exploring the island with authentic eyes. You’ll return to your expansive room unwound and refreshed.
With just 11 bright and pretty rooms smack in the middle of historic Salem, the Merchant is an unquestionably charming mix of history (George Washington once stayed overnight, and portions of the Salem witch trials took place on the property) and modernity. Eclectic accents like funky Lucite chairs and emerald cheetah-patterned fabrics contrast with fireplaces and wooden beams, while amenities such as complimentary iPads and a bustling, cushy guest lounge up the coolness factor. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Boutique Inn in Massachusetts.”
Sensitive restoration maintains the Nantucket authenticity of this former sea captain’s home while making way for the comforts and technology that 21st-century guests expect on the toniest of Massachusetts islands. A courtyard with firepits has a BYOB cocktail mixer bar, and an on-site café can steam lattes and cappuccinos to order. Named a 2015 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Island Inn in Massachusetts.”
Unless you have a designer’s eye, you probably wouldn’t mix bright coastal hues, nautical accents, and zebra stripes. Yet this playful combination works exceedingly well at the Attwater — and from the moment you set bags down in the hotel’s chic sitting room, your journey will take equally unexpected but delightful turns. Walking distance from Newport’s attractions and happening spots, yet far enough from the waterfront scene to be peaceful, this Lark Hotels property has a staff that’ll impress you with breakfast tapas and baked treats, and they’re smarter than any smartphone. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Boutique Hotel in Rhode Island.”
Superstorm Sandy’s wreckage of Maria’s Seaside Cafe and its handful of overnight rooms was a catalyst for the Bellone family to sink their Miscquamicut Beach hospitality roots even deeper. The late matriarch, Maria, would have adored the rebuilt restaurant and this cheery 31-unit boutique hotel, which opened last July in Westerly, across the street from prime sand. You’ll love it, too: Rooms are cottage-chic and spacious; breakfast is free; cute custom bikes are yours for the borrowing; and your beach bag and towels are waiting. Plus, you’re steps from your pillow if you overindulge on homemade ravioli … or margaritas.
Breeze out of this nautical-chic boutique hotel in Mystic armed with a complimentary cup of Dave’s Coffee, and the only thing that might hold up your wanderings is the Mystic River Bascule Drawbridge. It’s just outside and famously fun to observe. Sailing excursions, shops, restaurants, and “Best Baker in America” Adam Young’s Sift Bake Shop are a zero-to-five-minute walk. In 10, you can be at Mystic Seaport Museum. Mystic Aquarium’s a 1.8-mile hike, so borrow complimentary bikes. With an Amtrak station a seven-minute stroll away, Whaler’s is perfect for a car-free vacay.
With glossy magazine–worthy common areas, bold art on loan from the New Britain Museum of American Art, and champagne at check-in, Blue Back Square’s long-awaited boutique hotel is astonishingly sophisticated for its suburban location. Even visitors who aren’t staying in the quiet, natural light–filled guest rooms can book a restful session at the hotel’s European-style spa and savor farm-to-table fare at the indoor-outdoor restaurant Artisan, where the chef’s garden and dreamily illuminated pergola create the illusion that this is wine country, not West Hartford. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best New Hotel in Connecticut.”
Do you have favorite boutique hotels in New England that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated.