Shelter Island is much closer to Manhattan that we realize. Yesterday on a whim, we decided to head down there for lunch. It took only an hour and a half from the City to the ferry at Greenport, then a relaxing five minute boat ride to the island.
We adore Shelter Island. Nestled between the North and South Fork of Long Island, it’s remained untouched by all the development that has exploded throughout the Hamptons over the years and still feels like a sleepy and idyllic island get away.
The first and only hip hotel on the island, Sunset Beach is part of the empire of hotelier Andre Balazs, which includes the famous Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, The Standard Hotels and The Mercer Hotel in Soho. We sometimes wonder if he opened this place so he’d have somewhere to go for a good glass of rosé near his own Shelter Island weekend house.
The hotel manages to make you feel like you’re somewhere between the South of France and St Barths. Beautiful, well travelled staff serve French inspired salads and rosé to a discerning Hamptons crowd who zooms over on the ferry to hang out in what might be the chicest place in all of the Hamptons. The open air restaurant looks at the beach across the road, which lends the place a French Caribbean feeling. That and the cooler than cool African and French music they play from the upstairs open air bar, just makes you want to pull up a stool and stay here all day.
Look closely and you’ll see that the cafe and restaurant walls have wonderful photo collages of some of the fun that’s been had at Sunset Beach over the years as well as beach scenes with the likes of Bridget Bardot in the South of France. These photos are really the essence of the place.
The hotel rooms are simple but stylish and functional and the location on the island can’t be beat. Right across from a gorgeous mellow sandy beach, wonderful for both swimming laps, kayaking and paddle boarding. There’s a pétanque court, table tennis and fire pit too, so there’s very little reason to leave the compound.
They have their own cute little boutique at the hotel and it’s the only spot on the island to get a fashion fix. One of the many reasons we love Shelter Island, as it’s not about shopping but, if like us, you sometimes desperately need a new pair of the latest sunglasses, an Isabel Marant summer dress, a Balinese sarong, a copy of the Paris Review to read and a Jonathan Adler candle (another island inhabitant), then the boutique has what you’re looking for.
As the summer gets in to full swing, the restaurant and bar get pretty crowded, so if you’re heading here for a meal, it pays to call ahead and book. Our favorite time to stay is mid-week. It’s charming and you get to experience the beauty of the island with just the locals.Sunset Beach Hotel. 35 Shore Road. Shelter Island. New York. 11965. Tel: 631 749 2001