Fall Getaways 2011: The Mill House Inn in East Hampton, NY
The Inn Crowd
The Mill House Inn
31 N Main St // East Hampton, NY
(631) 324-9766 // millhouseinn.com
Distance from White Plains: 2.5 hours
If, like so many Westchesterites, you’ve made the 90-degree left turn into East Hampton on Route 27, you’ve probably noticed a few famous B&Bs lighting their welcome lanterns around the swan-and-lily-pad pond. Chances are, though, that—whether you’re in the Hamptons as a society gala-goer or a transcendentalist devotee of the abstract expressionists and osprey conservation—you missed the most welcoming of the inns hidden behind tall hedges on North Main Street.
The Mill House Inn, a cricket-quiet two-building compound (one house dates to 1790) a block from the town’s main stop light, is an ideal Hamptons spot—rustic yet pampering with reclaimed wood furniture, brushed-metal hardware, and brilliant porcelain fixtures. Its grounds are planted with lush sand-soil offerings (lots of evergreens, plus roses climbing a white pergola), and its service is beyond praise: when I arrived, in the early evening, the woman in the office said she’d try to get me a reservation for two at an often-jammed new restaurant. Within 10 minutes, she’d secured me a table for four.
My room—with its plush bedding, framed prints by local boys Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, blue-and-white-striped beach towels for the nearby ocean, mini -fridge stuffed with sodas and fresh milk, two flat-screen TVs (you can have movies and popcorn brought to your room), and a Teddy version of the Inn’s mascot Gordon Setter, Corry—was delightful. Room amenities vary, but many boast air tubs (with two bags of the Inn’s rosemary-and-eucalyptus bath salts at the ready) and two-head showers, plus gas-lit fireplaces. In autumn, the whole place is lit up by the golden glow (or the green one, in spring) that brought Pollack, Rothko, and many other artists out to the East End long before Steven Spielberg got his Gwathmey-designed house a few miles away.
The hotel’s amenities are enough to make anyone want to stay inside, but the town is a whirlwind of stores from Fifth Avenue, plus popular local boutiques (Bookhampton and ice cream shop Scoop du Jour always excite), quiet lanes for biking, and, of course, beaches with waves straight from the open Atlantic. At The East Hampton Grill (the new restaurant where I got a coveted reservation), a buttery and juicy Asian-fusion-style cod with sticky rice and bok choy received happily exclamatory raves from almost everyone around the table, while the heavenly biscuits with rosemary lived up to their name.
The Inn’s egg-centric-as-a-henhouse breakfast is a marvel and served either in the country dining room or beside a Japanese maple shading a pond with six fat koi. Enjoy it while you can: the worst thing about the Mill House is checking out.
The Nitty-gritty: During the high season, rates range from $695 per night for a classic room to $1,395 for one of the “extraordinary suites,” both double-occupancy. Off-season, the range is $225 to $895.