A seaport town that I couldn’t pinpoint on a map, let alone did I expect to visit. That is, until we were invited to attend a wedding in this charming town last weekend.
D has always talked about Rhode Island as the home state of his parents and extended family, but beyond that, I didn’t know much about it. As soon as the invitation came in, I began planning our impromptu weekend getaway to Newport, not only because we wanted to witness our friend’s nuptials, but also to escape the oppressive Texas heat that sets in mid August.
After a stop-and-go 2-hour drive south from Boston, we arrived in this hoppin’ tourist destination and was surprised to find that Newport was PACKED! It was almost as if Newport never knew Covid existed, which in our case was a welcomed surprise. There were bachelorette parties, yachties, and families alike, all vying for time near the water and the illustrious “Best Lobster Roll in Town.” Alas, I’m pretty sure we did indeed find the best lobster roll in town, but more on that later.
We chose to stay at the Newport Marriott for a couple reasons– 1.) its proximity to the wedding events and all that Newport has to offer is unmatched. The Newport Marriott is right on the water, walking distance to the main tourist spots in town, and 2.) The going rate for hotels during the weekend was anywhere from $600+ bucks, and the Marriott had a deal with points! Jackpot! Our weekend stay ended up costing us $83 bucks, and that was mostly for parking.
While it wasn’t the most luxurious place in town, it was clean and had been “updated” fairly recently. It did have that ridden hard and put away wet feel to it, meaning, it was more than gently used, but again, clean and a top notch location at a cost that was next to nothing… I’ll take it.
My one complaint, and I can’t really get over this, is why is Marriott still not doing daily housekeeping? Is that a staffing issue? I mean, the place is packed, no one is masked, the hotel is at full operation, and yet, I gotta make my own bed? It’s kinda annoying, particularly when you’re likely paying a premium at some of these Marriott properties. So here’s my plea– MARRIOTT! Bring back daily housekeeping! Ok, moving on.
If I was to go back (and D is confident we’ll be going back soon!) I would look into staying at Hammett’s Hotel Newport which I’m confident comes with a hefty price tag, but again, you can’t beat the location and the hotel sings to my design-loving heart. I’m also now considering painting my siding this color…
The other option would be The Vanderbilt, an Auberge Resort, which is more boutique in style and a block or so up from the main areas of town. It has a more residential feel, but I’m such an Auberge fan that I’m sure lodging at the Vanderbilt would be top notch. We were lucky enough to attend a welcome reception here for the wedding couple, and the cocktails, mini lobster rolls, as well as the grounds and, well, everything was perfection. Of course you’ve seen my love of the Solage in Napa and Chileno Bay in Cabo, so knowing the Vanderbilt is from the same family makes me want to visit this property even more.
While there are MANY amazing dining options in Newport, we were happy to have seafood galore, and that was in the form of east coast oysters and lobster for every meal. While walking through town, every bar, restaurant and pizza joint (yep, for real) boasts “The Best Lobster Roll in Town.” It’s kinda like when Will Ferrell walks into the coffee shop in the movie Elf and said, “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT! World’s greatest cup of coffee!” I found my self thinking that every time a random restaurant would advertise a lobster roll.
I learned a few things this weekend, one is that I’m obsessed with pedicabs, and the second, is that warm lobster on a lobster roll is key. Once D made it known that hot lobster was his personal barometer for lobster roll success, it was hard to see past it. Who wants a hot, buttery roll and some cold-ass lobster? Well, now I sure don’t. However, I would prefer great, cold lobster, to a roll that is made with a bunch of mayo and sub-par meat. I’m sure there are many personal preferences out there, so leave me a comment as to what you think the “best lobster roll in town” would look like.
So, in order of best to great (because lets be honest, they’re ALL pretty darn delicious)…
The hands down winner, and also the most tragic situation. D and I SHARED this roll (*gasp*) because we had just arrived into Newport and didn’t want to spoil our dinner. Stupid. We’re total morons.
The lobster was chunky and plentiful. The buttered roll was hot and soft. There was no celery or rogue condiments to be found. Just happiness and an alarming amount of “yummmmms” and moans coming from our table.
Now this ranking may be debated if you ask D, but per usual, my blog, my pics, so Newport Lobster Shack comes in at number 2.
Just down the street from the Marriott, is an unassuming parking lot with some little trailers. It turns out one of the trailers is a seafood market and the other two are the kitchens which serve up fresh lobster dishes. I’m so jealous of the locals who are able to go purchase the amazing ingredients right there off the dock. I would be cooking up a lobsta storm if I lived in that area.
The kitchen opens at 11:30am and a line begins to form at least 30 minutes in advance of opening. Not to worry, the staff is very efficient and the lines move quickly. We ordered and received our food within 5 minutes.
D ordered the twin lobsters ($32), I got the (you guessed it) lobster roll, and we shared a lobster bisque. The roll was filled with super fresh meat, and had two pieces of rogue celery. The lobster was cold which makes for the #2 ranking, but delicious nonetheless. I also love supporting local business, and it doesn’t get more local than picnic tables, a trailer of fresh lobsters and a view of the boats on the water.
The Lobster Pot.
While the Lobster Pot comes in third on my list, I need to be honest and say all of these options are winners. My only negative thoughts on this place is it had that Joe’s Crab Shack feel that made you think you could be in a tourist trap. I will say, they take reservations, the views of the water are awesome, and the service was great. It’s also in an incredibly busy area of town, so be prepared!
We both chose the special lobster roll (I think it’s called Bonnie’s?) and it was awesome! Supposedly they only make 30-40 a day and they routinely run out towards the end of lunch service. This roll is plentiful, but served…. cold…. and doesn’t have any random ingredients either. The meat is a mixture of claw and tail meat, so made you feel like you were really ordering something special.
Again, all of this is personal preference and you really can’t go wrong here… although I should note that I suspect that random pizza joint on Thames Street may not have the “best lobster roll in town.” I could be wrong…
Things to Do.
We tried to get on a boat trip but were told they were sold out, so a server mentioned to us to hop on the Newport Harbor Shuttle! This ended up being one of the best tips we received, as it was only $12 per person and you could ride all day. The ferry picks up near the Marriott, and makes stops at Bowen’s Wharf, another wharf further down, goes out past the New York Yacht Club, stops at the fort, Goat Island, and then back to the Marriott. The journey is about an hour round trip and there was a boat coming by ever 10 minutes. It was such a great way to see Newport from the water, and get out on the bay on your own time. Of course, I was yacht-spotting and dreaming of how to make enough money to afford my own yacht. I did see one named “Stay Salty” which may just be the perfect name for my yacht one day.
With the amount of traffic in Newport, we found the easiest way to get around was a Newport Pedicab. The first night we hired one to take us to the welcome reception since I was wearing wedges and have historically had issues walking on cobblestone streets. We met a lovely Pedicabist (is that a word?) names Ezra, who drove us up the hill. He wasn’t familiar with the exact location of the Vanderbilt, so we ended up getting a mini-tour of the historic neighborhood surrounding the Vanderbilt. Ezra was very apologetic, to which we assured him we were thrilled with his lack of direction sense.
The next day as we planned our way to the wedding location, we happened to see Ezra driving another couple through the streets. He was stopped at a light and we yelled out, “EZRA! Marriott at 6pm!” He was like ok!!! I had my doubts that he would show up, but low and behold, Ezra was out front when it was go time. We felt so glamorous being chauffeured throughout town in our wedding attire, while Ezra’s bluetooth speaker sang Bob Marley tunes. He navigated the crazy traffic and was able to take us through parks and path ways that weren’t accessible to other vehicles. We made it with time to spare, and had a BLAST getting there. I highly recommend booking a tour or just waving down a pedi-cab if you see one!
Castle Hill Inn.
A short drive from town is Castle Hill Inn and it’s everything you’ve read about. Make dinner reservations well in advance, or arrive early to try to secure a seat on the lawn. We got lucky on Sunday morning when the weather was slightly less than perfect, so we were able to walk right in, found two available Adirondack chairs and a cocktail.
It’s such a picturesque spot to watch the boats drift by and the people watching is fairly epic. I would definitely return and stay for a meal, as the outdoor dining area looks so beautiful. It’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon… if you can get in! Their hydrangeas and gardens are also stunning, so make sure you have your camera ready.
And lets not forget the reason we were in Newport to begin with, the Marken WEDDING! Here are some pictures from Jane and Sanjay’s beautiful celebration at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We had so much fun dancing and celebrating the officially official Markens, and I’m a bit afraid of some of the pictures that may surface from the night…. that photographer was the perfect wedding paparazzi. Jane and Sanjay… I’m sorry in advance. :)
Jaime’s Weekend Attire:
- Saturday Sundress: Loft
- Wedding Dress- Karen Millen
- Shoes: Stuart Weitzman
- Sunglasses: Quay
- Earrings: Lele Sadoughi at Revolve
Happy travels, friends!