Nadine Jolie Courtney Nantucket Main Street

The Wauwinet Hotel in Nantucket: a Coastal Escape


Doesn’t the very name conjure up images of money and summer and blazing white sand and the foamy sea?

“I worked myself to the bone in Nantucket last winter. And it’s so flashy and loud! Impossible place to relax,” said nobody, ever.

When Erik and I were deciding where to spend a few idle days in Massachusetts, Nantucket immediately sprang to mind. I’ve been dying to go there for years, and once we discovered there was an amazing Relais and Chateaux property called The Wauwinet on the island: ’twas done.

Nantucket is a tiny island–14 miles long and 3 miles wide–that’s only accessible by ferry or plane. The Wauwinet is about 15 minutes from the center of town, nestled at the far end of the island with Nantucket Bay at its back door and (mere footsteps away) the Atlantic Ocean at its front. There are 32 guest rooms and 4 cottages, and the whole place has the feel of a giant, rambling Victorian beach house. Basically, it feels like your rich grandmother’s retreat, and Erik and I were ready to move in forever.

The Wauwinet Nantucket Relais and Chateaux

The Wauwinet Relais and Chateaux Nantucket

The Wauwinet Nantucket

It’s all about the little things at The Wauwinet.

The Hunter wellie rain boots lined up by the front door…

The Wauwinet Hunter boots

The complimentary sherry, port, fruit and cheese offered every afternoon from 4 – 5 pm…

The Wauwinet port and cheese

The stack of board games in the library…

The Wauwinet board games

A complimentary BMW X5 during your stay for guests in the Coatue Suite

The Wauwinet BMW X5

S’mores by the fire at Toppers, the best restaurant on the island…

The Wauwinet smores Toppers

Cozy old world bedrooms with imposing wooden armoires…

The Wauwinet Nantucket bedroom

The world’s most comfortable bed…

The Wauwinet Nantucket bedroom bed

Amala products (my favorite!) in the spa…

Amala beauty The Wauwinet spa

A slower pace of life, where cell phone use is discouraged…

The Wauwinet Nantucket beach no cell phones

The Wauwinet wagon (there’s also a shuttle that goes into town/returns every half hour)…

The Wauwinet wagon

And blue skies, blue water, and white sand…

Nantucket The Wauwinet bay

The Wauwinet is the kind of place where regulars return year after year. Erik and I were there during the season’s opening week, so we heard many exchanges like this:

“Mr. Jones! Welcome back! How is your daughter Sarah? Did her stay in Paris go well?”

“We’ve missed you. Sarah sends her love. Where is Charlie? We noticed he’s no longer at the front desk…”

It’s like Cheers, where everybody knows your name–if Cheers were impossibly glamorous and filled with people who have arrived there by private plane.

The Wauwinet lobby at night

The Wauwinet NJC

The Wauwinet lawn view

The Wauwinet hallway

The Wauwinet porch

Erik and I spent our mornings writing and drinking coffee on the porch overlooking the expansive lawn and bay, and our afternoons exploring Nantucket. Nantucket is synonymous with preppiness and whaling (there’s a Nantucket Whaling Museum; also Ron Howard was in town filming Moby Dick). It was not only opening weekend but also the Nantucket Wine Festival, so the tiny Main Street area was overflowing with good cheer.

Nantucket Wine Festival

Nantucket whales and cobblestones

Nantucket island 50 miles away

Nantucket cherry blossoms

Nantucket Whale Museum

Nantucket whaling

Nantucket street

Nantucket island

Nantucket The White Elephant

Nantucket Coast Guard

Nantucket Ralph Lauren

Nantucket preppy

Nadine Jolie Courtney Nantucket

We spent our nights on property at Topper’s, where we had one of our favorite dining experiences ever….

Nadine Jolie Courtney Erik Courtney Nantucket

We were seated by the fire, chatting with the Maitre’d and waiter. At one point, Erik offhandedly said how lovely it would be if we had s’mores to roast. Twenty minutes later, as if by magic, the Maitre’d presented us with a plate of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. He’d called his girlfriend, who picked them up and drove them to Topper’s for us.

That’s the sort of place The Wauwinet is.

It’s one of the few hotels I’ve stayed at where you don’t simply feel like a guest: everybody there is family.

Nadine and Erik Nantucket

Erik and I can’t wait to return and to make it a part of our own family tradition!

Nantucket beaches

Disclosure: The Wauwinet Hotel offered us one night’s complimentary stay. E. and I paid for the second night ourselves, and also paid for our own meals, spa treatments, and transportation to/from the island. As always, all opinions remain my own.

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  1. So fun! I spent a summer in college waitressing on Nantucket. I think the place I worked has since closed but it was a great summer. Looking at these pictures really brings back memories!

  2. Nadine,

    I just covered this property for the magazine but have never been there. They should be buying your photos because they tell a MUCH better story than their image library does!