Hotel Spotlight: Gurney's Newport - You'll Never Believe This Hotel On Goat Island
When I first got the assignment to head to the East Coast and write on the historic town of Newport, I knew Gurney's Newport the perfect backdrop for my story. The nautical-inspired hotel is a one-of-a-kind property located on a secluded island called Goat Island, just across the marina bridge from the main part of downtown Newport. Goat Island, named for its history of being used as a goat pasture by early Rhode Island colonists, feels like your very own private island.
The waterfront hotel surrounded by Narragansset bay offers the privacy and peace of being on its own private stretch of land, while being just a quick bike ride across the bridge from Newport's shops and restaurants. An exterior of soft whites and symetrical window panes hides inside a carefully designed aesthetic of navy blues and neutrals, in what I would call a modern nautical meeting of the senses. Large glass doors and windows in the lobby show off a peek of the ocean, and happy guests mingle around waiting for the rides, their room keys, or their cocktails. Gurney's Newport is really the kind of place you don't really believe exists until you're there.
When I arrived, I checked in and discovered my room had a stunning view of the bay. I could hear the ocean from my bed! After changing into some more comfortable clothes to explore my surroundings, I headed down to the lobby to grab a latte and go outside. The November breeze was chilly, but the ocean around me was so calm. I found my way to those quintessential East Coast lawns with the white Adirondack chairs by the water, and settled in to take it all in. It was my first time on the East Coast, and I was eager to see if it was just like in the books I had read. The rocky shore was just as I expected. The sky just as blue. And the ocean... was quieter here.
And just when I thought I had seen it all, I turned around to see a little white wooden palace about 10 feet high. What could that be? I approached it and peeked over the fence, and you guessed it - goats!! Turns out the property keeps two pet goats - William and Cornelius, two white baby pigmy goats. Their caretaker saw us and came by, and I nervously asked if we could pet them - he said of course! He also let us go in their palace and feed them, and then asked if I would like to take them for a walk. I screamed a very loud YES! After putting on their leashes - just like puppies - there we went.
As I walked across the lawn, bundled up in a cozy coat against the chilly New England air, the warm sun shining down, the ocean hissing around me, and goats in hand, I couldn't believe this was real life. Where else can you have scenery like this, and play with your own baby goats for the day? I knew then I was already in love with Newport.
After hanging out on the green lawns with William and Cornellius for an hour (or three) and learning that Cornelius likes to (lovingly) head-butt you, I decided to head into town and check out the shops. The great thing about staying at Gurney’s Newport is that you really don’t need anything other than yourself when you leave. The house cars take you anywhere you want to go, and leave from the hotel lobby to the Wharf every 30 minutes.
Bowen’s Wharf is where all the action happens. It’s also sort of the “face” of Newport, where all the famous shops, cute restaurants, and sail boats are. The photogenic port is just as charming in real life: pastel vintage bikes leaning against colorful storefronts, patio tables and chairs outside restaurants, families walking happy, fluffy golden retrievers, colonial style buildings adorned with red shutters, crewmen running to and from the boats getting ready for the next sail, all lulled by soundtrack of excited conversation and the occasional yell about a fish.
We sat down for some lunch at the historic Clarke Cooke House, and by lunch I mean french fries with champagne, while people-watching by the docks. This time of year is beautiful in Newport, before the snow comes and the sun is still warm enough to fight the cold sea air. We decided to go see the famous Gilded Age mansions in the afternoon, so after grabbing a few souvenirs (art from a local gallery) we headed out. The mansions are true palaces built by the elite during an era of great financial wealth, and contain to this day many antiques, collectibles and works of art. We got to visit The Breakers, probably the most famous one, which has seventy (!) rooms and is built in an Italian Renaissance style, with intricate balconies, doors on every side, and one grand entrance. The sculpted iron gates surrounding it are so majestic it could be something out of Narnia.
I heard the Cliff Walk was a must see, so made sure to leave enough time in the afternoon for a hike. The Cliff Walk is a 3.5 open walkway bordering the shore line, with views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and beautiful mansions on the other. The Breakers mansion is on the easy side of the hike, while the northern part can be a little more rugged. It takes between two and three hours, and you’ll want to bring your dog, and watch for Poison Ivy!
Later, back at Gurney's, I stopped in at a very lively Regent Cocktail Club bursting with live music, and grabbed a glass of wine and blankets to sit down at the fire pits by the water, and reflect on the trip. Trying to take notes on a place like this is like trying to capture a thousand fireflies in a jar all at once.
The one thing you need to know about Newport is that this is a place of both well-preserved history, and modern-day entertainment - and locals are very much aware of this fact. Local businesses, of course, want to cater to visitors, but there is an aura of careful respect for the properties, buildings, and the nature surrounding the small town. Even being there as a visitor I felt protective of Newport. I was torn between wanting to share the beauty and quaint charm with the world, and not wanting too many to find it and potentially disturb the idyllic island. In the end, sharing won, but I hope that anyone who is lucky enough to visit is in as much awe as I was.
Where to stay: Gurney's Newport
Don't miss: Yoga on the deck
Must Eat: Panna Cotta at Scarpetta
Must Drink: Fig Old Fashioned at Regent Cocktail Club
Don't leave without: Petting the goats! And having a glass of good wine by the ocean.
Best Current Deals: Gurney's Newport Winter Weekend Travelers package, which includes a bottle of Champagne upon arrival, upgrade based on availability and $50 credit, Weekday Spring Getaway (late checkout, $50 credit, and welcome amenity), or the Spa Getaway ( breakfast for two, two 50 minute treatments, and 20% off additional treatments).
Must see around Newport: Gilded Age Mansions tour
Must do: Sunset sail on the Madeleine
CUTE SHOPS YOU WANT TO VISIT: KIEL JAMES PATRICK (for high end coastal clothing) CLARKE COOKE HOUSE (for people watching and great fries), Sheldon Fine Art (for local art), Anchored in Pink (lily pulitzer clothing), 22 Bowen's (tavern on the water).
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