Image courtesy Gurney’s Montauk Resort
 

The Hamptons provides a breezy, beachfront escape for residents of New York and beyond.

 

Image courtesy Gurney’s Montauk Resort

 

To the uninitiated, the Hamptons may seem like an idyllic summer vacation spot; a net of quaint hamlets and villages strung together from Westhampton to Montauk with miles of impressive mansions hidden behind boxwood hedges, white sand beaches, shore-side restaurants, and championship golf courses: a place where wealthy Manhattanites and savvy travelers can retreat among New York’s elite eastern end of Long Island for a short weekend break from the city via charter plane, personal car or train.

Although on paper, all the above is true, in reality, the Hamptons isn’t a destination or a place to visit at all … it’s a lifestyle.

It’s in the Hamptons where Wall Street brokers swap suits for Bermuda shorts and Lacoste polos, and airy linens line street-side cafés as pale pink glasses of rosé are poured more frequently than water, where afternoon strolls take place along the quaint Main Streets with either an ice cream cone or shopping bag in hand. Whether it’s among the chic boutique hotels that line the coast or at any of the countless award-winning museums, restaurants and cultural centers, the Hamptons offers a pace of life that encourages all who visit to be laid back and free of inhibitions.

Image courtesy Gurney’s Montauk Resort

STAY

Hotels in the Hamptons range from upscale B&Bs and surfer chic motor-instyle lodges, to grand oceanfront resorts and boutique hotels. The Baker House 1650 in East Hampton has become an icon in the region and remains one of the oldest continuously occupied structures in the United States. The building has been a home, tavern, and even town hall over the years, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the property was restored to its former glory and transformed into an elegant English-manor style inn with luxurious amenities — like L’Occitane, linens, robes, and slippers by Frette, and seven sumptuous suites. The Baker House Spa is one of the most sought-after spas in the Hamptons, and is only open to guests, where facials and body treatments provide the perfect way to unwind after a day spent lounging poolside or strolling among the vine-covered walls and 200-year-old wisteria of the manicured onsite English gardens.

Gurney’s Montauk and the Surf Lodge have loyal followings all their own, but few can compete with the faithful fans of the Shou Sugi Ban House. This 13-room retreat was inspired by the Japanese principles of wabi-sabi, where overnight retreats include daily morning movement classes and nourishing breakfasts. The healing arts play a big role in the property’s ethos, where three acres provide ample space for guided meditations, fi reside gatherings and nature walks. Guest rooms are equipped with private garden patios with views looking out on the saltwater pool. Organic mattresses, organic Sasawashi slippers and organic bath amenities lead the way to Hinoki ofuro soaking tubs or Bain Ultra Air Massage soaking bathtubs for nightly in-room seasonal soaks. The property produces its own line of tea while its plant-rich culinary program — designed in collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Mads Refslund of Noma — welcomes diners at set times every day in support of a natural circadian rhythm.

Image courtesy of Tate’s Bake Shop

EAT

The culinary scene of the Hamptons is a delightful mix of celebrity chef-run restaurants, beachside clam shacks and exquisite amalgams of cuisines. Every village, town and hamlet boasts favorites for capturing true Hampton’s cuisine, which can run the gamut from late night lobster rolls to chef-driven tasting menus. 

It’s in Bridgehampton where world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten operates his 75-seat restaurant from the Topping Rose House hotel. His breakfast, lunch and dinner menus showcase farm-totable cuisine, often sourcing ingredients straight from the property’s one-acre farm. Seasonal produce and local catches guide his menus for lunch and dinner, while his avocado toast with virgin coconut and argan oils topped with crunchy seeds and sprouts has become a favorite way to wake up for many restaurant guests. His restaurant is conveniently located nearby the celebrated Wölffer Estate Vineyard — famous for their exquisite rosé wines — in Sagaponack, where wine tastings are held just opposite the vineyards in a rustic chic setting (reservations encouraged).

Image courtesy of Tate’s Bake Shop

Hampton Bays offers the best of land and sea at Cowfish restaurant, where lunch is served with a panoramic view of the water, as well as a hearty portion of their beloved burgers or decadent sushi dishes. Save room for dessert, as their iron skillet cookie is enough to feed a crowd. Southhampton gave birth to the much-loved Tate’s Bake Shop, and their flagship store is a hot spot for scoring these crunchy cookies fresh from the oven and freshly baked pies and desserts. Southampton is also home to the newest location of Tutto il Giorno, (tuttoilgiorno.com) a celebrity-filled Italian restaurant run by designer Donna Karan’s daughter, Gabby, where pastas are made from scratch, and the catch of the day is baked in parchment paper.

Image courtesy Gurney’s Montauk Resort

PLAY

The sand and the waves are what have drawn visitors to the Hamptons for generations, and getting on the water is still a main attraction, even for veteran Hamptonites. Visitors can find a boat to rent or charter through Discover Boating or sample some water activities through well-respected local companies, like Hamptonsfly or Paddle Diva. Hamptonsfly is the only business offering fliteboard lessons through its exclusive Fliteschool, which gives visitors an exciting intro into these hydrofoil surfboards that are controlled by a hand-held Bluetooth remote controls. Paddle Diva offers adventure tours on the water with water-based fitness classes and tours all on paddle boards. Guests can paddle their way to Shelter Island or navigate their way to Navy Beach for a shoreside lunch after a day on the water.

Image courtesy Surf Lodge

Shopping the Main Streets of each village is another great way to get immersed in the Hamptons lifestyle, as boutique shops and designer storefronts sit side-by-side along quaint and walkable sidewalks. The shops of East Hampton are favored by many for their variety, but it’s just around the corner, on Newton Lane, where Gucci opened its first permanent location in the East End. The two-floor boutique features men’s and women’s lines throughout its more than 2,000 square feet, with exclusive offerings only found in the Hamptons.

Image courtesy Discover Long Island

Catching a show at the Bay Street Theater is a must, where it’s not uncommon to find Broadway stars, Hollywood celebrities, and big names in television strutting the stage for live performances at this Sag Harbor gem. The Hamptons have long attracted actors and artists, and legendary abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock was not immune to the region’s charms. Many of his masterpieces were actually created at his home in the area and can be seen at the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton.

Soaking in the lifestyle and joie de vivre of the Hamptons is as simple as sunbathing at Main Beach in East Hampton or sipping rosé in the warm sands of Sunset Beach. The pace is slow, the food is plentiful, and the air of casual elegance touches everything within this Long Island East End gem. 

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