Experience a well-known place as if you've been coming for years. The Anti-Tourist!
Funny how places around the world get boxed into categories and generalizations the way people do. Of course, there is always merit to reputation but most often an underside -- a "real" experience in a place that otherwise can be known to be shallow or 'jet set' to those who aren't familiar with the destination.
Last August (2009) I was in dire need of an extended break from work. On the brink of entrepreneur's burn-out, had I not committed to treating myself well, likely I'd have fallen very ill. At the time I was living in London where I'd been residing for 8+ years. Having the world at my fingertips and no particular cap on budget (within reason!) I chose to spend 3 weeks in East Hampton. Having grown up on the East Coast, lived in NYC as a young adult and come and enjoyed friend's Hamptons homes many years while living in London...this was an obvious choice for me. Funny that most of my London-based friends were miffed asking why of ALL the places I'd choose around the world . WHY they asked The Hamptons in August?! Isn't it so busy, crowded, trafficked, full of pushy New Yorkers, not relaxing/ stressful ...
No. No and um No!
Here I am again this Summer. We live in Connecticut and again, could have gone anywhere in the world. I travel quite a lot for work/ pleasure so must admit a 2 hour drive is very attractive. And, yes - it can be experienced in the ways described above - but not if one knows how to avoid all of the noise which is relatively easy to do and figure out.
I've written about the places I love to stay here in other media (Whatsworthit.com and suzannesfiles.com) ranging from my fave B & B in East Hampton: The Baker House (Their Carriage House is divine) to other small properties and family-fun-friendly beach and marina resorts. My files of last year highlight some great foodie finds, restaurants and super services. But: here are some of this year's discoveries and off-the-beaten path tid-bits to know, whether you frequent the Hamptons or are convinced finally that this region is truly one of the most beautiful places to be with near-guaranteed great weather in August! These are examples of how to experience the natural, down-to-earth fun -filled Hamptons.
Outside of owning a home, staying at a friends, renting a house - here are little B&B's and an East Hampton Classic to stay I just experienced this Summer and recommend.
Hedges Inn - Can't miss this picture-perfect inn facing you as you arrive in East Hampton. This is boutique beach hotel at it's simplest best. Adorable Inn keepers (Carol being our favorite) with small but comfortable rooms that are quiet. Beach passes, chairs, towels and umbrellas provided - 15 min walk or 2 min drive to East Hampton Main Beach. Great EH base; 10 min walk to the gorgeous town packed with boutiques, restaurants and a movie theater. Breakfast is served in the dining room spilling out to their shaded terrace which is just lovely. No pool. http://www.thehedgesinn.com
Otter Pond House - One suite only inside the B & B owner's home with separate entrance filled with light, quiet and crisp & clean as could be. Very simple, a good base 5 min from charming Sag Harbor village - packed with great restaurants and plenty of boating activities. Owners are kind, helpful and prices are very fair. No pool. http://www.otterpondhouse.com
A Lighthouse on the Bay - (North Haven 10 min drive to Sag Harbor village) Extremely pretty setting with marshes and bay surrounding the property which the owners built themselves years ago. Steve and Regina are warm, kind and helpful; obvious they really enjoy meeting guests. The interior style on the main floor is not what I'd call "stylish" but it is impeccably clean and again - stunning 180 degree views. Do request any room on the upper floor - not the main floor. Sunday brunch a homemade medley of fresh-baked yummies from Regina's kitchen prepared with love and ingredients from her organic garden. Homey. No pool. Kayaks to lend. (no website. call 631-725-7112)
One to BE AWARE of: Box Farm in Bridge Hampton
The website makes this B&B look cute and country- quiet whilst it is in fact on the Montauk Highway therefore brimming with traffic noise. Rooms and outdoors are in need of complete re-vamp and clean up. Skip it. http://www.boxfarm.com/
Where to Eat
Lovlies that are chilled out / casual and atmospheric each in their own way:
"Navy Beach": Montauk (feet in sand watch the sunset) * get there by 530pm to park and secure picnic table on sand otherwise you're dining inside
"Tutto Il Giorno": Sag Harbour Romantic, festive, pretty and elegant. Great food. Annoyingly they don't take reservations so one must get there early to secure a table.
"1770 House": East Hampton. On a rainy or cool night the Tavern on their lower level is cosy and cool.
"Estia": Between Bridge Hampton and Sag Harbour. Freshest ingredients, GREAT varied menu. Super casual and as atmospheric at breakfast as for lunch and an easy dinner. Yummiest pancakes.
"Hampton Chutney Co.": Amagansett Town Square. You'll (like me) be craving their indian inspired wrap sandwiches and cardamom iced coffee long after summer. Easy lunch outside on shaded picnic tables overlooking village green. Cute!
"Yama-Q": Bridgehampton. Sushi/ Japanese/ pan -asian with great deserts! in a cute little box of a restaurant. Truly delicious.
The All-time-beats-any-restaurant best: BBQ or picnic on the beach. Get to the beach at 6pm and chill out .... Sunsets and Moonscapes you'll remember.
Events/ What to Experience:
The Retreat (a shelter for abused women, men and children and a wonderful organization in Suffolk County) hosts their annual car rally thanks to one of its benefactors who has a love and collection of classic cars. We enjoyed the people, the clues along the way driving backroads of all areas and the gorgeous and fun lunch at the end on the water in North Haven at a generous benefactor's private home. Do this solo, with your child or partner. You'll thank me ...Send them your email for next year. http://www.yourli.com/August-22--Third-Annual-Hamptons-Pursuit-Car-Rally/7690105
The Hamptons Classic: Bridge Hampton top-notch horse jumping in a gorgeous rural setting.
Bridge Hampton Polo: Gracious, passionate sport in a pretty setting. Bring a picnic and chat with friends.
Surf classes in Montauk with expert Corey. Call 516-639-4879 or 760-420-3733 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Junior and Adult tennis: Amagansett. Clinics with great drills and lessons at Sport Time on a drop-in basis. We like! http://www.sportimeny.com/Amagansett
Rent Bikes in most of the towns and ride in / around the hedged lanes of East Hampton/ Georgica beach and the wild farmland of Sagaponak.
New way to get to / from The Hamptons: Efficient, top-notch service and great for family or many in a group:
I can highly recommend this new service...Book a chauffeur driven 7-seater Mercedes Benz Van from Brilliant Transportation to be productive whilst getting here. Kitted out with 3G WiFi, 10xs greater signal & clarity cellular service than your phone, DirectTV, DVDs, more than 6ft in headroom. Maximize your time! http://www.go-brilliant.com/index.html
(Brilliant is brilliant for all kinds of company and family trips in the tri-state area)
Thinking to buy or rent a house here? I can't recommend highly enough Lynda Ireland. Experienced, knows nearly every property, kind and on the ball. Don't waste her time please ...
See you out here next Summer ....