Perched right over the water on Newport’s Easton Beach, The Chanler at Cliff Walk, a warm and luxurious boutique hotel, gives travelers a reason to visit the city all year round. In fact, for some, like myself, The Chanler is in itself the destination- a magnificent chateau that embodies all the history and graces of Newport, Rhode Island. Originally built in the 1860s as the summer mansion of New York Congressman John Winthrop Chanler and his wife Margaret Astor Ward (of the Astor fame), the home served as the socialite couple’s entertaining hub for almost 50 years, welcoming noteworthy guests such as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and president Theodore Roosevelt. Since leaving the Chanler family, the mansion has served a multitude of purposes from being a girls school to housing Navel officers. In it’s latest reincarnation, the mansion underwent an extensive renovation and reopened in 2003 as the preeminent hotel property in Newport. And outstanding it is- The Chanler was ranked first this year in Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards in the “United States Small Hotel Category” and and number 54 in “Top 100 Properties in the World.”
As a child growing up in New England, I’ve always had the fantasy of spending my summers in the picturesque seaside towns of the North East. Now as an adult living in New York City, taking weekend getaways is more the reality. The Chanler at Cliff Walk had captivated me ever since the first time I checked out their website last year- so a few weeks ago, I decided to venture out to Newport finally -to check in. Despite it being the off season, Newport was beautiful, romantic and relaxing. And The Chanler played such an important role in the experience- really showcasing the richness and character of the city and a large reason why I now consider this New England city a must visit for all seasons. Located on the famed Cliff Walk, The Chanler resides on one of the most romantic parts of town and just a stone’s throw away from all the beautiful mansions that line Newport’s eastern border.
From the second I drove into The Chanler gates, I could feel its warm hospitality- as if I were arriving at a good friend’s home. Guests are greeted with complimentary valet service and a welcome glass of their signature bubbly. Instead of a keycard, you’re presented with an actual room key complete with key-chain and then personally led to your room with a full tour. I stayed in the Mediterranean Room- a second floor suite which featured a gorgeous canopy bed, a full living area with working fireplace, a kitchenette, and an over-sized bathroom with a six foot double Jacuzzi tub, a windowed shower, antique stained-glass skylight and heated floors (See video tour below). Each of the hotel’s 20 guestrooms feature a different theme- from Gothic to Louis XVI- and expertly decorated with no detail overlooked. In fact, my only regret was not being able to tour every single room at the Chanler. Luckily, you can take video tours of all of the Chanler’s rooms on their YouTube page.
The Chanler also houses Spiced Pear restaurant, which is in itself a fine dining destination. The restaurant, which over looks the Atlantic Ocean, was bustling with activity the night we went. The warm ambiance felt like we were sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner and the open air kitchen at the helm of the restaurant made it feel even more at home. In addition to its a la carte menu, Spiced Pear is well known for their signature “New England Tasting Menu” which features six courses of local fare each night. I, for one, love tasting menus and the Spiced Pear did not disappoint- ranking amongst one of the top restaurants I’ve ever tried (and this foodie editor has tried many!). Each course also comes with its own wine pairing- which of course, makes it extra convenient to have your own room to retreat to after. For those who prefer to order off the a la carte menu, I would recommend the “painted hills” sirloin which is incredibly tender and flavorful and served with gratin duet, mushroom ragout, onion compote, and truffled jus.
The Spiced Pear kitchen also serves one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. As an incredible perk to hotel guests, breakfast is complementary for each room occupant for each day they stay on property. Now we’re not talking about a continental breakfast that you usually expect- but rather a fully designed menu including their signature “Spice Pear French Toast” made with caramelized banana, fresh berries, strawberry grand marnier butter. For those who prefer a savory breakfast, try the Garden Fritatta – egg whites, asparagus, pequillo peppers, mushroom, and gruyere cheese. I’ve always thought that breakfast should be the most leisurely meal of the day and it’s obvious that The Chanler puts as much attention into serving breakfast as they do dinner. As if we needed another reason to want to stay yet another day.
The Chanler was one of the most incredible hotels I’ve ever stayed at. It was almost as if stepping into a fairy tale mansion as I’m sure you can tell just from the images in this post- combined with attention to every detail and warm, flawless service to create a truly unforgettable experience. When I was waiting in the lobby for my valet, another guest asked me “Are you checking out or checking in?” “Checking out” I said. “Me too” she responded as we looked at each other regrettably. “I’ll be back.” That’s the thing about this place- it only takes one time to make you feel as if you’ve truly found your (dream) home away from home.