Winter is known in the hospitality industry as the low or off-season, but for those with wanderlust easily satisfied without airfare, it can be the perfect time to experience champagne tastes on a seltzer budget. For starters, the properties themselves are everything: your room isn’t just a home base, it’s the main stage, and pricing that could be unaffordable during peak season may now be within range. It’s a low-stakes way to sample high-end places that you may later deem worthy of a summertime splurge – or not. This is the kind of trip that can soothe the soul – there’s time to read or just be without the guilt of forgoing sun time; even better, no flight delays or connections to fret over.
For a small state, Rhode Island has a host of wonderful places offering specials to entice folks out of hibernation. No matter the scale, the common denominator here is a sense of history and reverence for the property and setting, and for putting local makers and brands front and center in everything from guest favors to room keys. Here are nine properties worth pursuing for your own getaway.
A summer ride down Matunuck Beach Road bustles with the exuberance of an Independence Day parade; in winter, not so much, so for those seeking solitude by the sea, Admiral Dewey Inn is the perfect place to both escape – and embrace the cold. Enter the inn on a blustery afternoon to be greeted by innkeepers Emily Burns and Emily Riendeau and a warm plate of cookies at the front desk. Built in 1898, the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places has had many iterations through the years. Current owner Kevin Finnegan has given interiors boutique appeal with each room designed in a different style. The living room is mid-century mod and features legged velvet furniture in jewel tones and a Sputnik chandelier, while the loft suite is a blend of farmhouse and coastal with a gray and white palette making the most of the pitched ceiling and water views. The exterior is pure cottagecore with butter yellow cedar shakes and blue shutters. Openings for the peak season get booked early, especially with beaches and spots like The Pub, Matunuck Oyster Bar, and Theatre by the Sea nearby. While the inn has modern amenities like WiFi, most rooms don’t have TVs, but there are plenty of board games, books, and a record player in the common area. A breakfast buffet of sweet, savory, and healthy options awaits, with coffee from Mills Coffee Roasters.
If you enjoy a city stay in an elegant boutique hotel, The Beatrice has your name on it. Located in the Exchange Building in downtown Providence, each of the property’s 47 rooms have soaring ceilings with tall window views to match. While nightlife is around every corner, the first level houses the elegant Bellini Restaurant, open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. High above, there’s the private Bellini Rooftop club for members and guests. Pro-tip: don’t miss golden hour for a stunning view of the skyline. In addition to low-season rates, The Beatrice offers special packages and runs a winter warm cocktail special with rotating live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
A folding sign pitched at the edge of the curve of the circular driveway reads “Come and warm up at the hot chocolate bar.” Through April 2, there’s no reservations required and complimentary parking is complimentary. Off season at The Chanler at Cliff Walk seems more approachable than at first glance by welcoming visitors to enjoy cups of artisanal cocoa by the fire pit. Recently awarded a World’s Best designation 2023 by Travel + Leisure, let’s be real, the 19th-century mansion – and only hotel on Newport’s famed Cliff Walk – looks a little intimidating. Accommodation options at the five-acre estate include villas, signature rooms, estate rooms, and manor rooms, outfitted in – dare I say – Gilded Age style, replete with custom draperies, paintings, fireplaces, chandeliers, and those little steps to reach the fancy bed. Rooms look very much like they should be behind velvet museum ropes – but they’re not – and amenities are meant to make guests feel relaxed and very much at home. The Chanler has two on-site eateries: The Cafe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Cara, a Forbes Five-Star restaurant serving dinner only Thursday-Sunday; there’s also The Lounge, a handsome room for handcrafted cocktails and vintage spirits. With Easton’s Beach below, the property offers views of the Atlantic so majestic, you might just wish to get snowed in. The Chanler generally has different Getaway Packages which make the already discounted winter rates (less than half the price of summer) even more palatable.
The term “grande dame” comes to mind when entering Graduate Providence. Formerly the Providence Biltmore, the entire place imbues a cinematic glamor, from the ornate lobby with its glass elevator to a colorful front desk set-up that would make Wes Anderson swoon. Built in 1922, the landmark is a part of the city’s history, and thanks to Nashville-based owners AJ Capital Partners, the mindful renovation keeps the iconic letters on the building. On the main floor, there’s Reiners Bar and Game Room, which also handles in-room dining and drinks, and across the lobby is Poindexter Coffee, a fabulous joint for java and street-level city views. The Retreat Package encourages a visit with massages at the on-site Norwich Spa. Special rates include government, university, and alumni visitors.
Smack-dab in the thick of the action along Newport’s America’s Cup Avenue is the striking Hammetts Hotel on Commercial Wharf. Subtract a 20 percent discount off for Rhode Island residents from already significantly reduced wintertime rates, and you’ve got yourself a chic destination for a song. Giusto, a popular spot for Italian cuisine and cocktails, is mere steps away. Consider a quick stroll to Bannister’s Wharf before returning to the Hammetts’ lobby, a comfortable area seemingly sprung from the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog with tufted leather sofas, wingback chairs, and cool tripod floor lamps. Revelers take note: Hammetts is along the St. Patrick’s Day Parade route.
One of the benefits of an off-season stay is that depending on the day of the week, there may not be a minimum number of nights required to make a reservation. This is the case at Ocean House, the historic seaside destination in Watch Hill lovingly restored into a 5-Star Luxury Beachfront Resort. Even a single night (at half the cost of peak-season) offers plenty to revel in. Special packages include Winter by the Sea where guests are welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine and receive a $100 resort credit for each day of the stay, swag like logo mugs, and a coffee table book on the history of the Ocean House, plus complimentary access to planned activities – of which there are always many! Another offer is to stay three consecutive nights and get the fourth night free, valid on all room types through April 6, 2023 (not valid with any other offer or group rates). Wander the expansive property to take in the many permanent collections of art, including original illustrations from Ludwig Bemelmans for his Madeline children's book series. Bundle up and venture outside to the private beach accessed by key, and return for a cozy meal at on-premises dining options COAST and The Bistro, or the seasonal Gondola Village (through March 26). Feel like shopping without leaving the grounds? Stop by the Boutique, a small store filled with a mix of gifts for all ages. At check out, a little bag of sweets fulfills the OH’s promise of a fond farewell.
Ever wonder what Block Island is like during winter? Locals enjoy its slower pace of life and visitors can expect to bask in the serenity of uncrowded beaches and nature trails, or marvel at breathtaking sunsets sans crowds. While most shops and restaurants are either closed or have limited hours and seatings, the concierge has updates on what’s available. Rates are significantly discounted all winter (by hundreds of dollars) and include daily continental breakfast, free parking, and wine and cheese in the afternoons. All rooms have TVs and mini fridges. Coastal-enthusiast travelers may compare the 1661 to the Wauwinet on Nantucket.
Aside from the swimming pool being closed, you might not realize it’s the off season at Weekapaug Inn. As soon as the property reopens in mid-February from a brief winter pause for refurbishments, the award-winning Five-Star historic inn is bustling with guests and staff – indoors and out. The Weekapaug has had many lives, originating in 1899 as a summer B&B for neighbors; it was rebuilt, suffered hurricanes, and ultimately closed until it was reimagined in 2010 as a year-round resort by the same visionaries behind the Ocean House’s epic transformation. Amenities and thoughtful touches are everywhere, from the Hunter boots-borrowing closet for sandy jaunts along the Quonochontaug, to a Stickley desk (from the original inn) ready with postcards and pens, to chocolate patties from Cranston-based Seacoast Sweets on pillows for turn-down service – but without pretensions. The term “barefoot elegance” is echoed in conversations with staff, all of whom appear to have a genuine pride of ownership in an atmosphere that could be described as LL Bean-meets-luxury. The inn has a dedicated naturalist ready to take guests on walks and shoreline Jeep rides to explore, learn, and appreciate the area. After a meal at the fine dining restaurant, weather permitting, guests can find a roaring blaze at the fire pit with all the fixings for s’mores, including house-made marshmallows. Bring your winter gear because you don’t want to miss stargazing at night: with barely any light pollution, the dark sky is an enchanting screen of sparkling stars.
Sitting on 2.7 acres near the tip of Sakonnet Point, the Stone House Inn is a four-story building built in 1854 as a private residence and converted to an inn during the 1920s. Named to the National Register of Historic Places, it recently underwent an estimated $12 million renovation where many green technologies were implemented. Each of the 16 guest rooms and suites – most with fireplaces and soaking tubs – have interiors as different as their names. The Staycation Package offers Rhode Island residents 30 percent off the inn’s best available rate March through Memorial Day weekend and includes a bottle of wine upon arrival, lite bites in the evening, and s’mores by the fire pit.
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