Sunday, May 30, 2010

Idyll at Castle Hill

Castle Hill. Just the name brings back memories of an old Austin favorite, now sadly closed. Castle Hill Cafe off Lamar Blvd. You are missed.

But this Castle Hill. This inn and resort in Newport, Rhode Island. Our place to create new memories. From the minute you drive past the little gatehouse and are greeted by name at the front desk, you feel coccooned by comfort and privilege.

The 1874 main mansion built as a summer cottage for Harvard marine biologist, Alexander Agassiz, sits on a 40-acre peninsula. We chose to stay in a beach cottage, a bright, airy space with its own deck and a stunning ocean view.

The cottage with its interior white-painted planks and beams was perfectly beachy. The view unparalleled. But the bath. Oh my word. The bath. Easily four times the size of our tiny master bath at home. With an enormous jetted tub and separate shower. The delight of showering without banged elbows or concussions. Frabjous joy, that bath!

Every detail from the L'Occitane toiletries to the Frette bedlinens to the Perrin and Rowe and Grohe fixtures bespeaks luxury. Every afternoon, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and icy bottles of water are placed in your cottage. The evening's turndown service leaves a tiny gilt box of chocolate from a local chocolatier.

The complimentary breakfast is no sad buffet of cold cereal, oily pastries, and congealed scrambled eggs. Not at all. Served in a room with panoramic views of the water, this week's menu items included lobster hash, eggs Benedict, and a couture french toast. With a miniature fruit smoothie and slice of banana bread. The complimentary afternoon tea was a lavish spread of savories and sweets with crustless sandwiches, scones, biscotti, fresh fruit, and clotted cream.

We enjoyed one dinner at Castle Hill's restaurant. This was the only meal for which jackets for gentlemen were gently encouraged. Otherwise, attire was quite casual. Not flip flops and shabby tees casual, but polo shirts and chino capris. During this meal, the kitchen didn't put a foot wrong. Every flavor. Every texture was perfection. Their interplay delightful.

In the evenings, we sipped cocktails, on crisp white Adirondack chairs dotting the manicured green lawns. We watched the sun set, casting rose-gold glimmers across the rippling water. Sailboats glided past, noiseless in the breeze. We sat on the private beach steps from our door, watching the surf tickle our toes. Or we walked on sun-dappled, wooded paths to the historic lighthouse on site.

All our stresses. Work, renovations, last year's cross-country move, children. These simply melted away. Bliss.

(Very important note: This bliss would be impossible without Grammy and Pop. Who flew from Texas to feed, wash, chauffeur, and love the littles while their parents went to play. For this and much more, many, many thanks.)

A very relaxed blogger

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