“The details are not the details. They make the design.” -Charles Eames
During one of our numerous walks around the Ocean House while we were staying there a couple of weeks ago, the above Eames quote came to mind, as it’s nearly impossible not to notice the many details that make the inn one of New England’s premier properties. Everything – from the stonework on the patio, to the expansive collection of art, to the OH branding that appears in unexpected places like the cozy throws & the railings, or even the custom Ocean House chocolates given to guests upon checkout – come together to create a truly enjoyable hotel experience.
We launched Map & Menu with the Ocean House near the top of our ‘Hopeful Reservations’ list and spent the last year diligently watching our go-to travel sites for the right opportunity to visit. In January we ended up winning a Luxury Link auction that allowed us to stay at the hotel for three nights. (It’s quite rare for us to spend three evenings anywhere without having to shoot a wedding and possibly a rehearsal dinner at some point during our stay. Three nights without work seemed too luxurious to be true!)
The Ocean House originally opened its doors in 1868 as a seasonal resort. Watch Hill at the the time was a booming vacation destination for New England families, and had a shoreline dotted with numerous Victorian grand hotels (of which the Ocean House was one of the smallest). Over time, additions to the Ocean House helped it grow in size and prominence, and by the end of the 20th century, largely due to fires and hurricanes, only the Ocean House and one other property remained from the original grand hotels. At this point, the Ocean House was largely outdated and behind modern construction code standards, so in 2003 it closed its doors and was sold. In 2005, faced with an almost impossible renovation, the new owners opted to demolish the old building and reconstruct an almost identical one its place. The reconstruction of the new Ocean House is a constant nod to the grandeur of the old building, maintaining the look and feel of a Victorian grand hotel, but with all of the comfort and amenities of the most luxurious of modern properties.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what we enjoyed the most about our stay at the lovely Relais & Chateaux property. Swimming laps in the 20-meter indoor pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean each morning is precisely how I wish I could begin every day for the rest of my life. Curling up in cozy, fireside chairs with the hotel’s seemingly endless supply of coffee table books at my dispose wasn’t an unfortunate way to spend a winter afternoon either. We strolled through each floor of the Ocean House, selecting our favorite works of art from each collection. (Michael & I enjoyed this so much that we’re putting together an entire post next week dedicated to the art collection at the Ocean House!) Our dinners in the French bistro-inspired Winter Garden are still on our minds weeks later, as we attempt to recreate a few of the most memorable dishes from our trip. An abundance of natural light seemed to fill most of the hotel’s rooms at all hours of the day, which perfectly complemented the inspired coastal aesthetic. The bathroom, complete with the most splendid of accents – subway tile, ticking stripes, marble, and mosaic tile – had a marble soaking tub in which I could have spent hours!
Had we been able to bring Orvis along, I’m sure I would have proclaimed that I had intentions of moving into the Ocean House at least once every five minutes. (The property is dog-friendly, but with a weight limit of 25 pounds, which Orvis greatly exceeds by about 60 pounds.) Our desire to pick up our pup was the only reason I didn’t leave the Ocean House in tears. Someday we hope to return when the hotel is alive with the bustle of warm weather and the grounds are blooming!