Common spaces at The Break are a treasure trove of intriguing elements.
Photo Credit : Kim Knox Beckius
Sponsored by The Break
The black-and-white photos displayed in the lobby of Narragansett’s only boutique hotel look like they were shot in southern California at the height of the ’60s surfing craze. A bikini-clad surfer with glistening skin and determined eyes conquers a breaking wave. A Volkswagen Beetle sports a “WESURF” license plate. These nostalgic moments are, however, as Rhode Island as can be. Each was hand-selected from the personal photo albums of local surfing legend Peter Pan.
Just as you could ride a wave without ever contemplating what lies beneath its shimmering surface, you could stay at The Break or dine in its Chair 5 restaurant and simply appreciate how well it all works: the color schemes, the retro aura, the whimsical touches, the flavor combinations, the interplay of coastal and cozy. But begin to notice the multitude of small details—the work of talented Rhode Island designers, builders, artists, and chefs—and you’ll understand why this one-of-a-kind hotel so effectively helps guests exhale.
Whether you’ve come to the Rhode Island shore to celebrate a special occasion or to repair your spirits, the first “ah” might escape as you’re peering through the lobby’s luminous fish tank. The next during a facial or full-body treatment in the petite spa. Another while you watch the sun set from the rooftop lounge, as Newport Bridge lights up for the night and competes for your gaze with the golden glow of Point Judith Lighthouse. With its quiet, residential location and just 16 guestrooms—all with gas fireplaces—The Break feels like a place of your own where you can be exactly who you want to be.
Entrepreneurial Rhode Islanders Jim and Becky Durkin, whose own love story began a tenth of a mile down the street at the Bon Vue, came to build this romantic retreat somewhat accidentally. But from the moment they committed to the project, every decision was made with thoughtful intent. Their goals? To welcome visitors to an ultra-chic beach house with a throwback, ’60s surf culture vibe. To anticipate guests’ divergent needs and desires. And to showcase the Ocean State’s finest products and people.
An all-Rhode Island, all-star team—architect Frank Karpowicz, Bob Poulin and his R.A.P. Builders colleagues, and Jocelyn Chiappone of Newport-based Digs Design Company—brought the Durkins’ vision to life in time for the 2015 summer season. For design enthusiasts, The Break’s rooms and common spaces are a treasure trove of intriguing elements: midcentury-inspired furnishings, vibrant textiles, colorful Kohler sinks by Jonathan Adler, stenciled stairways, shark sculptures.
As you sip Rhode Island-roasted Dave’s Coffee and savor breakfast tapas like Caprese frittata and banana chocolate chip scones, notice the restaurant’s blown-glass chandeliers crafted by RISD graduate Tracy Glover. Providence native Chris Wyllie’s painted beach scenes brighten white wood-paneled walls. Even the heated bar was poured on-site by Rhode Island artisans from Livingstone Concrete Studio.
No one embraces the hotel’s local focus more passionately than chef Tyler Demora, who transforms even the blandest edible—oyster crackers—into a zesty, chipotle butter-seasoned treat. Sprinkle them on clam chowder loaded with skin-on potatoes and drizzled with basil oil made in Demora’s kitchen. You might learn his secret, multi-step process if you book a cooking class during your off-season stay. Menus feature familiar beach food—calamari, fish and chips, lobster rolls, fish tacos—made with handcrafted attention to detail and flavorful twists. Raw bar selections haven’t traveled far from farm to plate: Demora likes the tide-washed freshness of Bluff Hill Cove oysters, cultivated two miles away. And sure, you’re by the shore, but that doesn’t mean seafood is the only star. Demora sources top-notch meats from Weatherlow Farms and dries and cures his own charcuterie.
Memorable on-site dining and a saltwater pool, heated year-round, make The Break a destination for travelers who want to throw their car keys in a drawer until check-out time—particularly those craving a dose of sea therapy when winter weather chases all but diehard surfers from nearby waters. Early fall is an ideal time to visit, when the Atlantic remains surprisingly warm, but the vacationing population subsides like the tide, leaving beaches tranquil and deserted.
Even in the summertime, you need not wander far from your homelike digs at The Break. Shop for cute, beachy attire in the hotel’s own Therapy boutique. Hear live music weekend nights on the rooftop. Walk to clam shacks or to Scarborough State Beach. Or bike—NBX delivers rentals to the hotel—along popular paths, to farmers’ markets, or to Narragansett Town Beach for a surfing lesson or yoga on the sand.
You might not tuck any photos from your stay away in an album. But pause in front of the illuminated porthole mirror in your room, and take a mental snapshot of how you look: relaxed, refreshed, sea-soothed.
The Break Hotel. 1208 Ocean Road, Narragansett, RI. 401-363-9800; thebreakhotel.com