Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island

Until I was 11 and we moved to the faraway land of Arizona, I lived in a little town called Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 20 minutes from the very famous Newport, home to the Gilded Age mansions.  There wasn't a lot to do in Portsmouth.  The big excitement on a long summer day was walking to Ferreira's corner store, buying candy cigarettes and walking back. 

When I went back for a wedding this summer, I took Andy to see the house I grew up in.  Have you ever done that? It just so happened that the house is being completely gutted and we were able to sneak in! I got to show him my old room.  Everything felt so small and it's incredible how many memories come flooding back.  It was the first time I had actually been in the house in almost 20 years. 

Here's the view from the house.

And here's the actual house being renovated-this little hill definitely felt more like a mountain when I was 5.

The wedding was at a gorgeous Newport grande dame, Castle Hill, which I mentioned here.  I realized I never shared my photos as I was prepping for going back to Rhode Island today for Thanksgiving.  It was everything I remembered. I loved the white adirondack chairs on the lawn, the best view of the Newport Bridge with water that looks like this only in New England, a common area that is a total throwback to the early 1900s without feeling musty, and classic rooms. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

The Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe

If you read this blog, you know that my hotel obsession in Santa Fe is The Inn of Five Graces (my post here). But the last time I was in Santa Fe, I remember having a drink on a cool patio, listening to music and hearing a fire crackle.  Turns out I was at the Inn of the Anasazi and didn’t realize it!  It’s such a local hangout that it’s easy to forget that it’s also a hotel, and a Rosewood hotel at that, one of my favorite brands.  
If you look at the outside, it looks like it is a tiny B&B, with maybe five rooms and a suite. But it goes way back and has over 100 rooms.  So it’s not really an inn at all, but a medium-sized hotel.  However, everything is designed for cozy hangouts, like the library and TV room with cookies and tea laid out.  
Library
The rooms I saw had great beds, cool Southwest touches like pink tiles, animal hide chairs and Native American blankets.  It’s tough for any hotel to completely dazzle after The Inn of the Five Graces but The Inn of the Anasazi is great for a sophisticated Santa Fe stay. 
The restaurant, Anasazi, is one of the best in Santa Fe (BUT DON'T MISS CAFE PASQUAL'S!) or you can hang out in the little bar, if you can snag a seat. 
Anasazi Restaurant

The Spectacular Inn of the Five Graces in Santa Fe

"Annie, where is the best hotel bathroom you've ever seen?" Answer: HERE, at The Inn of the Five Graces. As soon as I saw the bathrooms at this truly spectacular hotel, I had my answer. Not because of how big it was or how many shower heads there were.  But the hand-laid, bright, colorful tiles covering almost every inch of the bathroom was nothing like I have seen anywhere else. 
Beautiful painted pots from Afghanistan
In fact, every inch of every room is a celebration of beauty, peace, and taking you out of your normal life. Would my apartment or home look like this in real life? Of course not, but that's why I love checking into a hotel like this. 
Warning: The pictures absolutely don't do this place justice.  I had seen photos before and thought it was pretty but not as stunning as it actually is in person. 
Lobby at the Inn of the Five GracesThe Inn of the Five Graces Lobby Entrance
I fell head-over-heels in love with the inn within minute one of being there.  There are only 23 different rooms & suites but all have supremely gorgeous Middle East-meets-Southwest-meets-Asia decor.  I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, especially when I saw their most luxurious option, The Luminaria House. Part of the kitchen woodwork was hundreds of years old, as are some of the old adobe walls. 
Kitchen in the Luminaria HouseLiving Room at the Luminaria House
I'm from the Southwest and so each beautiful outdoor courtyard, breath of fresh Santa Fe air, and waft of wood-burning fireplace means a lot to me. 
Courtyard
And I'm already thinking of when I can go back. 
BedroomLove the detail and color on this headboard
The Inn's quiet street
After seeing The Inn of Five Graces, definitely pop over to Seret & Sons Furniture store, where a lot of the furnishings come from. Makes sense, since the Seret family acquired the property in 1993.  It became a Relais & Chateaux property later. 
Seret & Sons Table available at their Santa Fe store
I interviewed Travel Channel's Samantha Brown last week in Brooklyn and she gave me a few must-see's in Santa Fe, including this hotel. Samantha never steers you wrong! 
Don't miss a margarita at The Pink Adobe a stone's throw from the Inn!
Oh and what are the Five Graces? As the inn says: "The Five Graces refer to the Tibetan philosophy that we are graced with five senses to experience the splendor of the world." How very appropriate for a property like this. 

Off to Newport for a Wedding

little annie and lisa.jpg

I spent the first 11 years of my life in Portsmouth, a little town on Aquidneck Island 20 minutes from Newport, famous for its Gilded Age Mansions, sailing, historic cottages and that New England sea air.  This weekend, I'm headed back to Newport for the wedding of my oldest friend, Lisa.  Lisa's marrying a great guy, Rob, and we fortunately had the chance to reconnect in New York before they moved to San Francisco.  Lisa's family lived directly behind our house and I practically lived with her growing up.  Her mom would always have art projects, snacks, activities and movies ready for us.

Lisa & Rob are getting married at Castle Hill, one of Newport's most beautiful luxury inns, a Relais and Chateaux property.  Castle Hill is perched over the bright, blue water of Newport (compared to the gray, crashing waters of winter) and really takes you back to a 19th-century Victorian mansion, but modernized and with WiFi, keeping the panoramic vistas.  I can't wait to go back this weekend. 

castlehill.jpg

The 1708 House in Southampton

I never thought I'd be this person, but in the summer, all I want to do is go to the Hamptons.  I want to leave hot, sticky, crowded city life and hop on the L.I.E. to Route 27. There are the most gorgeous beaches, farmstands overflowing in the summer, friendly people, amazing restaurants & unbelievable houses.  There are a few uber-luxurious inns to choose from, but none of the five-star hotel brands have invaded yet. I hope it stays that way! 

Last time, I stayed at The Sag Harbor Inn, which was just okay. But when I took my mom and aunt to the Hamptons last week, we stayed at the perfect B&B, the 1708 House in Southampton. The gorgeous main house was built in 1708 but there's not a musty corner to be found. 

There's free WiFi, extremely comfortable beds, a cozy library and a nice breakfast included, with made-to-order omelets available.  You are a one-minute walk from Main Street in Southampton AND they throw in free parking passes to one of the best beaches in the world, Cooper's Beach, which is normally $40 daily in the summer.

You can get a room for about $250/night on weekdays in the high season and it goes up from there.  There are quaint cottages in the back with kitchens that are perfect for cooking up what you've found at the farms.  It's a great value for summer in the Hamptons compared to the other choices in the area.  For three of us, we stayed in a two-bedroom, with one twin bed and one double bed. 

Breakfast

Be warned, you're the first stop off the highway from Manhattan BUT you will have to drive to get to Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Montauk.  The traffic is not too bad on off-hours but it can be horrible during rush hours on Route 27. Learn the back roads or rent a bike!!

A Few Hamptons Favorites

Wolffer Estate Vineyards for a great glass of rose & Vine Street Cafe for a dinner that you won't want to leave

Round Swamp Farm for the most PERFECT fruits & vegetables you will ever see!

Climbing to the top of Montauk Point Lighthouse for Atlantic Ocean & Long Island Sound views. The lighthouse was authorized by George Washington in 1792 & you can almost see the ghosts of the whaling ships that have passed by and heard the fog horn.