If granted unlimited holiday allowance, we’d spend summer’s final weeks feasting on plump lobster rolls, paddling through glassy rivers and posing in front of weathered lighthouses. The spot to indulge in all of these saltwater-tinged, coastal delights is Maine. As if out of some sort of maritime fable, one storybook seaside town after the next climbs up the craggy coastline of this natural paradise.
Bunk in Kennebunkport among historic cottages and grand summer mansions. Stop in Portland where a vibrant arts scene and creative community of designers, artists and chefs has emerged. Wherever you explore, you’ll be the envy of all those you’ve left behind as you post one glorious shot after another of briny oysters, frothy local ales, handsome sailboats and miles of sandy shoreline. And, we of course know just the boutique hotel in Maine, the problem will be choosing just one…
CAPTAIN FAIRFIELD INN
Style Design-minded den
Setting Nautical neighbourhood
Given the 19th-century exterior of this Federal-style home in Kennebunkport, the contemporary makeover within (design lust alert: the breakfast room wallpaper shown here) seems that much more daring. Even the original toile wallpaper in the entryway works with the disco-ball silver pendant lamps and fisherman-slicker yellow chairs. Antique hand-loomed rugs and a portrait of the original homeowner – Captain Fairfield himself – imbue a sense of tradition. We’re sure that the dashing captain would be pleased to see what’s become of his old homestead, now an intimate nine-room inn that turns out an impressive gourmet breakfast in the morning and stocks a well-selected wine cellar to fuel fireside chats in the evening.
THE INN AT ENGLISH MEADOWS
Style Country revival
Setting Village by the sea
The marks of a gracious host are usually acquired after playing guest countless times. So when seasoned travellers and fine dining enthusiasts, Eric and Liz Brodar, decided in 2010 to become innkeepers, no detail was overlooked in their transformation of a vintage coastal home in Kennebunk. Beyond a coat of paint and a decorative pillow swap, the couple stripped wallpaper, updated fixtures, freshened up carpets and furniture and set out to completely overhaul this Victorian Greek Revival style farmhouse. If your idea of playing guest encompasses tasteful interiors like this welcoming sitting room, smart bath products, cosy in-room fireplaces, home-made cookies daily and a well-tended garden then you’ll feel right at home.
THE WHITE BARN INN
Style Coastal cottages
Setting The Maine event
Perched on a prime plot of Atlantic coastline, this Kennebunkport hotel captures the region’s nautical spirit without resorting to sailor stripes and ship-inspired design. Airy riverfront cabins and the 19th-century guesthouse set on the Kennebunk River often include dual-sided fireplaces, marble bathrooms and antique furniture. As for the namesake barn, it’s home to a local-centric restaurant, which serves some of the best food in all of New England. Oh, and don’t miss out on some time at the spa – especially the soothing massage using Kennebunk river stones.
Style Red brick, reinvented
Setting Coast with the most
A short stroll from the shore and Portland’s Old Port, this reimagined 1823 mansion is now a chic B&B with nine distinctly decorated rooms – like this Eastern Promenade corner room – many looking out at the harbour, and nearly all with a wood-burning fireplace for cool New England nights. The historic building has plenty of common spaces, too, including a Prohibition-era billiards room, gardens, a rooftop cupola, a cheery breakfast room and a second-floor lounge with a balcony, where the staff cultivate a small herb garden.
Style Technicolour art escape
Setting Well-heeled West End
As bright and colourful as the fruit for which it’s named, this Portland B&B is a spunky arts haven in the centre of the tony West End neighbourhood. Set on a serene residential street, the eight boldly-styled rooms are entirely unique with iris-decked walls inspired by Van Gogh or flowers that evoke Matisse. Artwork from local and international talents is showcased throughout this Victorian-manse-gone-bohemian, making this seem as much a private art gallery as it is a comfortable stay.
Sail out on one of the boats bobbing in a harbour, head for a hike in pine-populated woods or, simply make yourself at home at one of these cosy stays in Kennebunkport or Portland that demand you do nothing more than sit by the fire with a good read.