Conjure images of the classic New England beach escape and you'll likely think of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, but there's another, more unassuming seaside hideaway that's making a phoenix-like comeback this month. The Ocean House hotel is a partial replica of a 142-year-old timber property that stood on the same site in Rhode Island's picturesque Watch Hill, a half hour from Providence. Most of the old hotel was too far gone to comply with new building codes, or even for simple upgrades such as the installation of proper air-conditioning. It was demolished in 2005, but the new version is a sensitive facsimile, faithfully reproducing about 60% of the original.
From the 12,000-square-foot OH! Spa to the open-air, farm-to-table Verandah restaurant (from which Block Island can be seen on a clear day), the hotel's interiors make the most of its dramatic perch high atop a white-sand bluff spying the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 49 guest rooms painted in apropos colors like sea foam and shell pink, and equipped with marble soaker tubs all but three have front-and-center ocean views.
iPads, loaded with the latest flicks, are loaned for in-room entertainment, but beach vacations are ultimately about sand and surf, and the Ocean House has its bases covered, including surfside cabanas, yoga sessions on the sand, boogie boards and paddle boards and a pristine stretch of coastline. At night, the beach is the site of a signature summer pastime: a bonfire-fueled clambake.
Rates start at $260 in low season, and $495 at the height of the summer. For more information, go to oceanhouseri.com.