Past Most Perfect
Four gracious historical getaways.
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If you could turn back time when you travel next, wouldn’t it be especially enchanting to bring along such up-to-the-minute indulgences as remote-controlled, gas-burning fireplaces, oversized whirlpool soaking tubs, and flat-screen TVs? Now you can. These four elegant, historic hostelries artfully marry the best of old and new: authentic period ambience and details with just the right dollop of 21st-century decadence. The result? Time travel most delightful.
A stately early 20th-century castle is one's home away from home at Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate on Long Island's Gold Coast.
A GATSBY-ESQUE GETAWAY
Steal away to a stately early 20th-century castle on Long Island’s glorious Gold Coast-and gallivant like Jay Gatsby himself.
Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate, Huntington, NY
One hour from White Plains
Drawing inspiration from the great châteaux of France, this exquisitely restored castle recalls the delightfully decadent days of the Gilded Age of the 1920s. The second largest private residence ever built in North America (the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, is reputed to be the largest), it has charmed everyone from Nicole Kidman and Kevin Kline to J-Lo and Jay-Z with its sophisticated European ambience, gourmet fare, and discreetly attentive service.
Design: Wrought-iron gates swing open to reveal 23 manicured acres originally designed by the two sons of Central Park landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. Set among them is an honest-to-goodness castle, built in the 1920s as a summer home by financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn. In 1984, a $30 million restoration was undertaken to preserve the property’s authenticity and return it to its original grandeur.
Dine: Until such time as an on-site restaurant is established, dinner service is available by advance reservation only. Enjoy white-glove service as you dine on a three-course repast ($125 per person plus tax, service, and beverages) custom-created by Executive Chef Christopher Cappello (New York State Restaurant Association “Restaurateur of the Year” in 2000) and Executive Pastry Chef Daniel Andreotti.
Do: Tour other nearby historic mansions and gardens such as the Vanderbilt Museum, Old Westbury Gardens, and the Coe Hall & Planting Fields Arboretum and sip your way through Long Island’s North Fork vineyards.
Details: Oheka Castle, 135 W Gate Dr, Huntington, NY; (631) 659-1400. Cost: $395-$1,095 plus tax per night including made-to-order complimentary continental breakfast and a basket of treats.
The opulently styled Louis XVI Suite, one of four signature suites located in the Chanler Inn of Newport's French Victorian manse.
Vacation like a Vanderbilt at an opulent late 19th-century seaside manse.
The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, RI
Three hours from White Plains
You need not trace your lineage back to the Social Register to experience the legendary upper-crust enclave of Newport as it was during the glorious Gilded Age. Set overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this luxurious historic hostelry offers opulently styled period interiors, superb cuisine, and gracious service reminiscent of times gone by.
Design: The property’s showpiece, a grand French Victorian mansion, originally built in 1865 as a summer residence for New York Congressman John Winthrop Chanler and his wife, Margaret Astor Ward, underwent a meticulous three-year restoration and refurbishment before launching as The Chanler in 2003. Each of the grand guest quarters is beautifully styled to reflect a unique historical theme or time period—French Provincial, Greek Revival, Louis XVI, Empire, etc.—with authentic period furnishings, custom fireplaces, and sumptuous fabrics, window treatments, and linens. Oversized bathing chambers feature handcrafted marble or granite and hand-painted and -glazed tiles and murals.
Dine: Soak in the stunning seaside views while savoring seasonally inspired New England cuisine at its lovely Spiced Pear Restaurant, regarded as decidedly “splurge-worthy” by Bon Appétit. Its wine cellar received a 2009 Wine SpectatorAward of Excellence.
Do: Indulge in an in-room massage in front of your own crackling fire or leisurely soak in your oversized Jacuzzi-for-two. Should you wish to venture outdoors, tour the island’s many other historic mansions (newportmansions.org) or explore the famed three-and-a-half-mile Cliff Walk, featuring stunning views of the Atlantic and the mansions' back lawns.
Details: The Chanler at Cliff Walk, 117 Memorial Blvd, Newport, RI; (401) 847-1300. Cost: $259-$1,299 per night including gourmet breakfast.