For city-folk like myself looking to escape the madness of Manhattan, The Hamptons serves as a white-glove-service getaway. Boasting pristine wineries, charming farmland, and endless activities spanning beach-bumming, antiquing, and noshing at some of the finest dining experiences for which you'll ever be so lucky to score a reservation, The Hamptons is like that perfectly-decorated, white-carpeted room in grandma's house saved only for special occasions (but that everyone snuck into anyway). And while a weekend visit to the high-class stretch of Long Island calls for a steep bill, its easy access from the city means young professionals are spending their summer weekends (and paychecks) out East hitting up hot spots like The Sloppy Tuna, The Surf Lodge, and Boardy Barn (or That Place on Instagram Where Everyone's Covered in Yellow Smiley-Face Stickers), all of which tend to get wildly rowdy—which is fine if that's the type of vibe you're going for. But if you seek a more relaxing stay on the shore sans impossibly long wait times and chaotic bar scenes, we recommend venturing across the bay to the North Fork. For one, it's riddled with impeccable wineries (the north lays claim to 55 wineries compared with the South Fork's three), adorable shops and boutique stores, a lavender field, an impressive dining scene, and a general more laid-back vibe than the uppity, pink's-out air of the neighboring south. Why, then, does the latter receive louder acclaim? The reason, we think, lies in the fact that, until recent years, lodging in the North Fork largely came in the form of outdated motels and inns. But with renovations and new buildings, the room-and-board scene has vastly improved, especially this past May with the opening of The Menhaden boutique hotel in Greenport.
I had the pleasure of staying at The Menhaden this past summer with two girlfriends, and suffice to say, it served as the perfect foundation for one of the best weekends of the season. From the second we pulled up to the stunning black-and-white property (a theme mirrored throughout the decor inside), we were met with top-notch service, from making sure that the room was perfectly comfortable to setting us up with a dinner reservation at the hotel's restaurant, The Merchant's Wife.
After having driven for a few hours, we were in deep need of a caffeine jolt, so we popped over to the grab-and-go café situated right off of the lobby. Aside from tasty coffee drinks, you'll also find fresh squeezed juices, tea on tap, and a selection of salads, sandwiches, and other items driven by the kitchen's rotating menu.
We then departed for a day of vineyard-hopping (Ubers are scarce, so hotel concierge referred us to a lovely taxi driver who took care of us for the day), then came back to freshen up for dinner. Our room was pristine, with crisp white walls and bedding, loads of natural light, and a gorgeous bathroom featuring black penny tile and a large glass shower stall. Each room also features abstract, nautical photography by local artist Scott Farrell, bringing a bit of color to the space.
Dinner was quite possibly the highlight, as a long day of sampling more wine than we care to admit left us starved for salty, decadent bites. Influenced by coastal Mediterranean cuisine, The Merchant's Wife boasts shared plates like grilled squid and charred octopus, a beet and artichoke salad with drippy golden egg yolk, lamb sliders, and our favorite, the scallops with minted pea salad, yogurt, and salsa verde. We sat outside on the sidewalk and people-watched, admiring the quiet neighborhood and how swiftly we cleared our plates.
After dinner, we retreated to the upstairs rooftop bar (the only of its kind in the North Fork) and sipped cocktails by the fire pit while taking in views of the swirling sunset. After enough time had passed and a few yawns escaped our mouths, one friend and I decided to call it a night, but were quickly rejected by the third friend, who demanded we walk to Claudio's outdoor bar and keep the night going. Turns out, this was a great move, as a live band was playing, so we danced the night away to '80s and '90s tunes overlooking boats coming in and out of the port.
After one of the most restful sleeps in recent history (seriously, the mattress was like a giant cloud gently cradling my body), I stumbled out of bed to the pantry (there's one available on each floor) and was met with a Smeg fridge filled with sparkling water and juice, and there's also coffee, pastries, potato chips, and other tasty snacks free for the taking. I grabbed some hydration for myself and my girlfriends (along with a few snacks) and we caught a few more hours of shut-eye to sleep off the previous day's fun before checking out and woefully saying goodbye to the staff.
While our visit was widely spent drinking wine and eating, there's so much more to offer, especially through the hotel itself: On site is an electric Moke car to take you around town or to one of the hotel's bespoke experiences such as boating, water sports, cheesemaking at a dairy farm, and DIY spirit-crafting at a local distillery, to name a few. There's also rooftop yoga and s'more making, all of which can be done for an added cost. You can also rent a complimentary bike to explore the town on your own accord, or ask for a custom bike tour if you'd rather the experts craft your trip. Whatever you decide, whether it's a day filled with activities or just a leisurely stay to enjoy the saltwater air, your visit to the North Fork will be made infinitely better with a room at the Menhaden, a stay punctuated by top-tier service, delicious food, and chic surroundings begging to be Instagrammed.
To book a room, visit The Menhaden website.