When we were checking out of Castle Hill Inn in Newport, RI, we were asked a question that I’ve never been asked at checkout before – “If there was any one thing that we would be able to improve about your stay, before your next stay, what would it be?” Not “How did you enjoy your stay?” but “How can we improve your next stay?” This simple variation from the question one hears at every checkout caught me so off guard, that I stuttered, stumbled, and had to think about it for a second. They had eliminated my canned “wonderful” or “very nice”, and were forcing me to find something – anything – to complain about.
That’s when I realized that I couldn’t think of a single thing to improve about this place. Whether from simply being a better-than-most location and having the stars align for that one perfect evening, or much more likely, after being carefully honed and refined through hundreds of answers to that very question, our stay at the Castle Hill Inn was unquestionably one of the best stays of any of our travels. The staff was wonderfully accommodating, the property was uniquely charming, our food was astoundingly delicious, and our room, albeit an upgrade, was simply unbelievable.
The Castle Hill mansion was built by scientist, Alexander Agassiz, in 1874, and at one time had a laboratory on its premises. Agassiz purchased the 40-acre peninsula overlooking Newport Harbor to relax and study sea life, and while there was little scientific research done during our brief stay, we more than made up for it on the relaxation side of things. Eventually, the original mansion was renovated to feature nine amenity-rich rooms and a handful of luxurious suites. The property also features a number of small beach cottages with a wooded trail connecting them to the rest of the inn.
Our stay at the inn was unfortunately short – we were headed to Newport for a single evening to shoot a wedding, and didn’t arrive until mid-afternoon – but we made the most of our time and lounged in adirondack chairs on the manicured lawn of the mansion, watched sailboats on the Narragansett Bay, took a stroll to see the lighthouse on the rocks, and even had a chance to visit the sandy beach at the entrance to the property – all in less than 24 hours. I’ll let Meredith’s pictures do the job of describing our spectacular room, but given its comfort and our afternoon on the road, we opted to order room service for dinner, and enjoyed a fantastic burger, fries, bowl of clam chowder, and a decadent German chocolate cake that left us giggling in delight. Breakfast the following morning in the dining room downstairs rivaled that of another of our Relais & Chateaux favorites, the Fearrington House, and it was with great sadness that we eventually checked out, but not before a perfect pre-wedding lunch on the back lawn.
Our general rule of thumb for Map & Menu is to write only about the things Meredith and I truly enjoy, so it’s rare to find anything but praise in our stories, but when I say that our stay at the Castle Hill Inn was amazing, I earnestly mean just that – simply fantastic, without a single thing to change before our next stay… which if we have our way will be for a much greater amount of time, in the very near future.