When a long holiday weekend approaches, after your kids are tweens or teens, grown or gone, one perfect prospect for Thanksgiving is to retreat to an enchanting, exquisite someplace. A B&B that offers luxe hotel amenities and marvelous nearby restaurants is ideal; when it’s an English manse in a glorious setting, it’s simply idyllic.
The Baker House 1650 is a 13-room B&B nestled behind ivy-draped walls in East Hampton Village. This masterpiece of Cotswold-inspired architecture — with its hand-hewn beams and wood-paneled walls — developed from a humble beginning as a mid-17th-century saltbox tavern. It’s located directly across the street from the Village Green, with its picket-fenced cemetery, landscaped pond, stone-fronted church, historic windmill and clapboard colonials.
My late husband and I first stayed at The Baker House shortly after it opened in 1996, as the J. Harper Poor Cottage (a cottage only in the Newport, Rhode Island, use of the word). I was researching a travel book Romantic Weekends: In and Around New York (Hunter Publishing, 1997). East Hampton was — and remains — a prime destination for its beauty, history, colonial character, celebrated restaurants, boutiques, art and antiques galleries, cinema and long, silky-sand shoreline fronting the Atlantic Ocean.
Beyond the foyer, reached through a back gate and a terrace bordering a pool and two-tier landscaped garden, there’s a mini-library and computer desk. It leads to a gracious entry and a spacious living room with wall-to-wall window seats on either end, enormous armchairs positioned in front of the tiled fireplace, and various seating areas, one with a significantly sized couch. Here, wallpapers and fabrics are designed by the notable William Morris, whose Arts and Crafts spirit gives the interior décor color and life. The tenet of that unique decorative period claims, “Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.”
On two former occasions, I’d stayed in spacious corner rooms here. This week, when the door opened to Hedges #13, I first noticed the view through large-paned windows above a comfy couch and the adjacent — albeit essential — armchair with reading lamp on the table, all backed by double shirred drapes. At second look, I saw the white, wood-paneled walls, the sleigh bed, distinctive end tables, matching lamps, the fireplace and marble-topped dresser. The flat TV had a flexible wall-mount, the minibar hid inside a lacquered white chest and the amenities are respected brands: Keurig coffeemaker, Frette robe and towels, Bose iPod deck and CD player and L’Occitane bath amenities. (In the closet: wooden hangers, slippers, robes, an umbrella, a safe, iron with ironing board and a foldable escape ladder.) The bathroom housed a claw foot tub and stall shower, plus multiple mirrors and shelves. Though decidedly smaller than some (there are enormous, 400-square-foot rooms and a larger loft-like suite), it was impeccably well-appointed, delightfully decorated in understated elegance and, best, a side door led out to a lovely balcony, complete with a love seat and close-up views of the Village Green.
The impressive Baker Carriage House, which houses six accommodations in the quiet rear of the estate, is reached via landscaped pathways beyond the gardens, at the end of the long, gravel-covered drive and alongside its own stunning outdoor pool. The decorative style here is country modern and ultra-chic. One of the upper bedrooms connects to a second, classic bedroom, and is perfect for a family traveling with a middle-aged child (10 and older are welcome). The Carriage House is the kind of “villa” one would dream of renting out for a destination wedding or a family reunion.
The Baker Spa, on the lowest level of the mansion, features a sauna, steam shower, a Jacuzzi and an indoor pool flanked by two massage tables — practitioners close the venue during private treatments. Passes to East Hampton Gym are available for a workout in a state-of-the-art gym, and the concierge will arrange bicycle rentals for fitness amidst a picturesque landscape.
Guests are served complimentary snacks at 5 p.m., tea and coffee during the day and have access to an honor bar with top drawer selections. Made to order breakfast choices are served between 8–11 a.m.
Although Baker House is most in demand in the warmer months, it is open year-round, with the exception of Christmas Eve. In summer, the inn supplies complimentary beach passes to some of the country’s best beaches. Off season, no beach passes are necessary, and, this morning, my friend and I were the only people on the beach, which appeared empty for miles. The East Hampton Public Library and Guild Hall museum and performance venue are just a short distance on foot. And famed historic venues are just across the Green: Mulford Farm Museum, Home Sweet Home Museum and the village’s newest gem, The Gardiner Mill Cottage Gallery. Of course, nearby vineyards offer tastings; shops and museums have ample opening hours; and there are actually tables available in the restaurants.
East Hampton enjoys a worldly reputation for its fine restaurants and Thanksgiving dinner will be served at two of the best: 1770 House and The Maidstone Hotel and Restaurant, which are each within an easy stroll of the B&B.
Bakers House 1650 in East Hampton, on Long Island’s East End, is 100 miles east of Manhattan and can be reached by car, jitney, train or private plane.
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With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
While we’ve become expert armchair travelers, at-home trainers, tutors and, well, you name it, here’s another project to put your energy toward: finally planning that bucket-list adventure with the family. Considering the logistics take some time, coordination and financial planning, having this time at home to plan, save, get organized and even pick up a few key phrases of the native tongue is a blessing in disguise.