When choosing which storybook New England destination to land on for your honeymoon, allow us to remind you of one pertinent detail that sets Newport, RI apart: John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wed there. If that doesn’t solidify the “City by the Sea” as the frontrunner, perhaps its Gilded Age mansions and dozens of romantic hotels will help.
“Newport is steeped in history and was the original summer playground for America’s well-heeled characters and notable families,” says travel expert Tom Marchant. “In many ways it still is and it operates with a sort of discreet sensibility, one of the last bastions of a very particular kind of America’s ruling class—but the town itself is far from unwelcoming and brittle.”
Meet the Expert
Tom Marchant is the co-founder of luxury travel company Black Tomato.
“There is a distinctly romantic notion to the gentility and history of Newport, juxtaposed with a new generation who has arrived,” continues Merchant. “Newport’s dramatic cliffs dotted with legendary summer ‘cottages’ are utterly breathtaking, as is its nautical setting.”
Located only one-and-a-half hours from Boston and three-and-a-half hours from New York City by car, Newport is a no-brainer for an easy road trip. It’s also ideal for a honeymoon year-round, with each season providing a different draw.
The summer is prime time for Newport with outdoor activities like sailing, boating, golf, tennis, and more, but fall is when you want to saddle up to a fire pit and make s’mores, as Merchant puts it. “For honeymooners or couples, the fall tends to be a bit quieter, giving it cozy, hygge-like vibes and it’s especially pretty in late September when the leaves begin to turn,” he adds. And let’s not forget those mansion decorations come the holiday season. A snow-dusted Newport is a whole new level of striking.
Regardless of when you decide to go, Newport’s most romantic hotels will be ready for you when you do. Here are a few of our favorites.
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Relais & Chateaux’s Castle Hill Inn is perhaps the most storied destination in Newport, thanks to notable guests and a coastal backdrop, spanning 40 acres of pristine beach and cove. Playwright Thornton Wilder described the Turret Suite as a “magical room” in his autobiographical novel and Grace Kelly handpicked the hideaway during the summer of 1956 while filming High Society. “When she wasn’t spending time in her Harbor House accommodations at Castle Hill Inn, she would sneak down the rocky landscape to swim in the water’s edge, and sunbathe on the rocks undisturbed by autograph-seekers,” explains Marie Charles, director of sales and marketing at Castle Hill Inn. She spent so much time there that it’s now known as ‘Grace Kelly Beach,’ but there’s a staircase back up for ease these days.
Honeymoon dreams come true at The Chanler, one of Newport's (and the country’s) most romantic mansions-turned-luxury boutique hotels. Set high above crashing waves and sandy dunes, many of The Chanler’s 20 dreamy rooms boast private gardens, decks, and jacuzzis, but the lavish Signature Rooms inspired by Louis XVI, Renaissance, English Tudor, and Regency décor evoke a bygone era we desperately want back for the furnishings alone. There are manicured grounds fit for leisurely afternoons and fancied cocktail hours, award-winning restaurants Cara for dinner and The Café for never-ending brunches, even complimentary Tokyobikes for a stylish ride around town. End your nights with an aromatherapy bath from the comfort of your own quarters, toasting to the perfect New England getaway.
As Merchant describes it, The Vanderbilt is fantastic; a discreetly elegant enclave with a tucked-away feeling and a best-in-class food and beverage program. “Formerly the retreat of one of the scions of the Vanderbilt family, this meticulously restored Newport mansion is far from haughty,” he says. Adding that it’s warm, inviting, and you’re made to feel as if it’s a home away from home. “What makes this place especially appealing is its myriad of charming nooks and crannies to post up and read a book, have a cocktail, or play a game of cards.”
Live the quintessential resort life at Gurney's Newport, which is just as alluring as its Hamptons-based sister properties, but with more goats. They are located on Goat Island in Narragansett Bay after all, where these very friendly and very adorable creatures will greet your boat as you pull up to dock. Similar to Gurney’s Montauk locations, you can look forward to five-star dining at Scarpetta and Showfish, two indoor/outdoor pools, a stress-relieving couples message at Seawater Spa, and a general out of office mindset. Another bonus? Since they’re the only four-season luxury resort on a private island, you can skip the summer crowds and visit all year round for an equally enjoyable stay.
Nautical-chic vibes abound at The Brenton, which is as waterfront as it gets in Newport, at the intersection of America’s Cup Avenue and Long Wharf. 57 modern rooms and a penthouse-level suite have all the bells and whistles needed for a romantic stay: floor-to-ceiling windows for sunset gazing, balconies perched over the docks for harbor breezes with your morning coffee, on-site restaurants The Living Room and The Rooftop for light bites, and an unobstructed vantage point. They’ll even pack you a Champagne picnic to-go before setting sail on their private Hinckley Brenton One. Pack your best yacht wear!
Even if you’ve never been to Newport, you’ve probably heard of Hotel Viking—a Historic Hotels of America member and 208-room landmark that occupies One Bellevue Ave. This grande dame dates back to 1926 and has seen many famous faces waltz through its doors (Ella Fitzgerald and Bob Dylan were regulars), but million-dollar renovations year after year keep it far from antiquated. There’s a lantern-lit garden for romantic walks, stately suites outfitted in tassel-trimmed textiles, and a state-of-the-art wellness sanctuary made for self-care seekers. Spa Fjör’s larger-than-life Himalayan sea salt wall and CBD-infused treatments will keep you relaxed all weekend long, as will their heated indoor pool and hot tub.
Downtown Newport’s latest luxury lodging can be found at Hammetts Hotel, which is well-positioned for a romantic rendezvous in the heart of the action. For starters, the 84-room property boasts four spacious suites with views of America’s Cup Ave or the Newport Yachting Center Marina, plus Italian linen-covered beds you won’t want to leave. It’s their 9,000 square foot deck in the middle of The Wharf that makes accessibility to shops and restaurants (including their own Giusto) effortless, however, and a rotating roster of local artists’ work can also be seen throughout the common areas for purchase.
While opulent mega-mansions reign supreme in Newport, so do quaint B&Bs. Among our favorites, the unassuming, yet precious Gilded on Brinley Street. Aptly named after the age Newport came alive, this petite 17-room manor home is awash in bold hues and whimsical touches. A tapas-style breakfast buffet is served daily, as is a late afternoon "G and Tea" BYOB mixer bar to indulge in post-Cliff Walk—conveniently a stone’s throw away. For honeymoon-worthy suites (that start in the low hundreds, not the thousands), check into the Lark Suite or signature Gilded Suite.
For low-key couples looking to save on accommodations and splurge on activities, consider The Wayfinder. Situated right over the bridge in Newport’s North End, it’s quirky-cool and has amenities to boot. Outdoor pool? Check. Restaurant? Nomi Park, check. A summer calendar packed with live music, wine tastings, and art pop-ups? All the checks. The best part though is it was actually created by a group of local chefs, bartenders, and entrepreneurs, as a passion project, so it fits the theme for a passion-fueled trip. You can even bring your four-legged bestie along and take advantage of their Pups + Parks offer, or learn to surf with Island Surf & Sports.
As the first LEED Certified Hotel in Rhode Island, Forty 1° North sets the bar high for eco-friendly elegance. Its Thames Street waterfront address also provides plenty of ‘grammable yacht content and is close proximity to Bowen’s Wharf—a Newport hub for shopping and dining. Choose between posh rooms and suites with breathtaking panoramas, or for a more spacious sojourn, book their apartment-style lofts and cottages with full kitchens that will make you feel a world away from everyone else—before you head next door to Christie’s for martinis that is.
If your heart is set on a mansion district stay, The Ivy Lodge should not be overlooked. The 19th-century residence has been a haven for honeymoons and weekend trips for the past 30 years and features sumptuous suites with period antiques, four-poster canopy beds, wet bars, and French country accents. You’ll think you checked into a romance novel as soon as you step foot inside, but isn’t that the point of a Newport holiday in the first place? Situated around the corner from famed Bellevue Avenue, residing at this timeless retreat is always memorable.
Part of the Lark Hotels collective, along with Gilded and The Cliffside Inn, The Attwater's eclectic aesthetic was designed with artsy twosomes in mind. When you’re not exploring this little slice of Americana called Newport, pop a bottle of bubbly in honor of your nuptials on the hotel’s secluded back patio, or recharge in their all-day coffee cafe. A fitness center, loaner beach chairs, and gas fireplaces in the main hotel’s King Suites round out the list of perks.
For old-world charm in Newport's Old Quarter, look no further than Hydrangea House Inn, a homey bed and breakfast that may be a tiny 12 rooms in size, but is big on warm welcomes and thoughtful extras. Luxury Suites start at $258 and Standard Rooms at $205, but all are equipped with a fireplace while the premiere accommodations boast spa tubs for two and steam baths. Known for their over-the-top breakfasts and lovable owners, you’ll be treated like newlywed royalty the entire time. There’s daily wine and cheese in the drawing room and many packages tailored to lovebirds (think flowers, truffles, and in-room pampering!).
Nestled in between the Cliff Walk’s famed 40 Steps (at the east end of Narragansett Avenue) and Easton’s Beach sits The Cliffside Inn, a Victorian beauty with 16 well-appointed rooms and suites. There are verandas galore at this majestic inn that used to be Maryland Governor Thomas Swann’s summer house in 1876, hence its ’Swan Villa’ nickname. Today, the lovely respite hosts plenty of weddings and honeymooners. It’s no secret their gourmet breakfast is one of the best in Newport and being within walking distance of Newport’s largest home, The Breakers, makes it easy to pop by and tour.
One of the oldest B&Bs in the area, the Francis Malbone House dates back to 1760 and holds the title of Newport's only Five Star Diamond Award-winning bed and breakfast, right on Thames Street. All of the garden-side and harbor-side rooms mix modern appliances with old-fashioned fixtures seamlessly and like most Newport mansions, there’s no shortage of fireplaces to cozy up to. But if we had to play favorites, opt for the Counting House Suite with a private entrance and double jacuzzi or one of the Courtyard Rooms with direct access to picturesque patios.