Like visiting the Hamptons without an invitation

Like visiting the Hamptons without an invitation

Like visiting the Hamptons without an invitation

reform club hotel hamptons long island

reform club hotel hamptons long island

The first time I went to the Hamptons, I was invited by a friend’s parents to their summer timeshare. Wanting to be a good host, I offered to help in the kitchen. I was greeted with a sweet laugh and a hand guiding towards the pool. “Don’t worry dear, we have a chef,” I was told. That day I ate two fat lobsters for lunch, quickly learning how to vacation here. It’s safe to say that everyone in New York wants a friend with a home in the Hamptons.

With its grand gated mansions and astronomical rental prices – only further inflated by the pandemic – if you’re not lucky enough to receive a sparse invitation, the Hamptons can feel downright inaccessible. Made up of a series of historic villages and hamlets along the South Fork of Long Island, New York, it has been the haven of choice for the well-heeled ever since the Long Island Rail Road connected this former agricultural spur with New York City in 1834.

But the small enclave of Amagansett remained more discreet than its more flashy neighbors. The arrival of hotels like the Roundtree and the recently refurbished Reform Club have paved the way for visitors from further afield to experience the Hamptons without the proverbial Rolodex required, whether for a week or a long weekend; tagged for a fall city break when you can leave the energy build-up in Hallowe’en behind for cool leaves and cozy evenings.

the terrace of the Roundtree hotel

the terrace of the Roundtree hotel

You don’t even need a car; those of us without helicopters take the almost legendary Hampton Jitney bus, which has been transporting New Yorkers from Manhattan to the East End, as it’s called, since the 1970s. On the way, you will pass fields of wheat and rows of vines, a reminder that Long Island’s economy is still largely agricultural and offers some pretty good wine. The Jitney makes stops in every village: bougie Bridgehampton, where the Bridge, an annual gathering of world-class cars and contemporary art, is a highlight of the social calendar; East Hampton, a luxury retail center that houses Gucci and Manolo Blahnik; and then, before reaching the surfer’s paradise of Montauk, we arrive at Amagansett.

“The further east you go, the simpler it becomes,” says Sara Ringelmann, who works at Deep Blue Vintage, who recently opened a pop-up in a restored 19th-century coach house here (00 1 631 276 6778; deepbluevintage.com). The building is under the protection of the Amagansett Historical Association (the borough dates back to 1680), which was formed after successfully derailing a planned megamarket. Locals shop for groceries at a series of stalls or at Amber Waves Market, stocked with abundant seasonal produce from its adjacent 25-acre farm (00 1 631 267 5664; amberwavesfarm.org).

blond woman sitting on her back on a log looking out to sea - Berena Alvarez Fernandez

blond woman sitting on her back on a log looking out to sea – Berena Alvarez Fernandez

Hotels like the Roundtree, a few steps away, opened during the pandemic, are woven into the fabric of life here, rather than separated from it. There are only 15 rooms, spread over a number of suites and cottages, and while a delicious breakfast is served in the pretty flower garden, there is no restaurant or bar, which keeps it distinctly quiet and at the same time encourages guests. guests to support nearby facilities. The Reform Club also offers suites and cottages, but no on-site restaurants (00 1 631 267 8500; reformclubamagansett.com).

Main Street, despite only extending two blocks and a town square, has a concentration of restaurants. Wölffer Kitchen is bright and group-friendly, and even better to drink the famous Wölffer Estate rosé, made in the Hamptons (00 1 631 267 2764; wolfferkitchen.com).

Arguably the best cuisine in town comes from Il Buco al Mar, which opened after its successful summer 2021 pop-up (00 1 631 557 3100; ilbuco.com/pages/il-buco-al-mare). There’s an entire menu dedicated to seemingly trendy canned fish – also sold in the boutique next door Il Buco Vita – but go now for seared prawns in chermoula and lime or local sea bass with juicy artichokes. The owner, Donna Lennard, a longtime Hamptons resident who moved here full-time during the pandemic, keeps the restaurant open even in the quiet winter months, when the population drops as fast as the temperature.

moby hamptons restaurant

moby hamptons restaurant

More casual lunch options come in the form of dripping brie sandwiches from the Gourmet Cheese Shop in Cavaniola (00 1 631 267 5608; cavaniolas.com) or tacos from La Fondita (00 1 631 267 8800; lafondita.net), to be enjoyed best with a frozen margarita from the adjacent Coche Comedor (00 1 631 267 5709; cochecomedor.com).

But you’re here for the beach, really. Atlantic Avenue Beach’s large stretch of golden sand gives everyone some space. It’s only a one-mile stroll from town, but you can make the most of Roundtree’s Beach Buggy service, which transports you and your gear back and forth. Or, when it’s too cold to sit on the sand, borrow the blue beach bikes and cycle to the equally spectacular Indian Wells Beach along the coast.

Afternoons can be spent in front of the abundance of well-curated boutiques, which show that while the atmosphere can be relaxing, the clientele is still unbridled. Come evening, it’s all about bonfires on the beach (the Roundtree can facilitate this tradition for you) or a night at the Stephen Talkhouse, which has hosted the likes of Sting, Paul Simon and Coldplay (00 1 631 267 3117; stephentalkhouse.com ).

On Fridays, the place to be is Moby’s, on the road to East Hampton, long loved for its Amalfi-style restaurants (00 1 631 604 2227; mobysny.com).

It’s easy to get into Amagansett’s carefree life – sign up for an outdoor yoga class on the plaza or join the obligatory morning beach walk. Everyone in New York wants a friend with a house in the Hamptons, but these days you don’t really need one to take a vacation there.

How to do it

The Roundtree (00 1 631 267 3133; theroundtreehotels.com) offers doubles from £ 437 per night. Hampton Jitney (hamptonjitney.com) departs 59th Street in Manhattan, from £ 33 one way

Tempted to visit the lesser known Amagansett of the Hamptons? Let us know in the comments section below

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