A long weekend in the USA? Yes, it can be done, says Country Life's travel editor Rosie Paterson, who headed to Long Island and returned almost before anyone noticed she'd escaped from the office. (Almost.)
‘Are you visiting from the city?’ asks the concierge. He means Manhattan, of course. Long Island’s south fork and most easterly town, Montauk (together, colloquially known as the Hamptons), are to New Yorkers what the South-West is to Londoners.
Weekend visitors from the UK are, however, growing in numbers — my British Airways flight departed at breakfast on a Friday and had me back at my desk the following Tuesday morning. From JFK, you can travel by train, hire car or helicopter. A journey down the A303 has taken me longer and, in the case of the Hamptons, sun at the end is pretty much guaranteed.
A fishing town, Montauk’s traditional, clapboard houses sit next to boutique hotels and booked-out restaurants. On Saturdays, The Surf Lodge — a hotel, beach bar and chic shopping site in one, popular with famous faces — can cause a mile-long line of parked cars.
Despite its gentrification, Montauk boasts an amazing sense of space. Greenery exists in abundance, there are few tall buildings and houses sit on generous plots. This is especially true of the beaches — swathes of surf-bashed sand with spectacular sunset views.
Return flights with British Airways (which celebrates its 100th birthday on August 25) to New York currently start from £279 — www.britishairways.co.uk
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Where to stay
Gurney’s first hotel was in Newport, Rhode Island; and Montauk is the site of their second, the recently-opened Star Island Resort & Marina, in what was once the town’s yacht club. The hotel occupies 35 acres of enviable waterfront land, overlooking sheltered Lake Montauk (paddle out on one of the complimentary kayaks) and the fairy-light-festooned marina.
A shuttle service will ferry you between stops in town and Gurney’s Montauk resort, the well-established flagship hotel. Interiors sit on the right side of nautical — I love the walk-in, wood-clad showers with matte-black fittings — and there are ample dining options, from sustainable restaurant Showfish to a poolside bar serving sriracha-slathered lobster rolls.
From $600 (about £495) per night, in the summer season — www.gurneysresorts.com
What to do
Explore the mix of interiors shops, designer labels and surf-style stores. Hit the water with Corey’s Wave (www.coreyswave.com), for surf lessons for all abilities, or have a picnic ashore.
Walk through the state park, then visit Montauk Point Lighthouse, a popular spot come sunset.
Food and drink
Gurney’s is home to Hamptons icon Scarpetta Beach — a seaside sister to Scarpetta Manhattan — and Sette London. Feast on bowls of pasta with lobster and a too-good-to-miss deconstructed cherry tart with corn cream.