Walking under the canopy of trees along Bellevue Avenue, one can easily sense what led America’s Gilded Age royalty to build their summer “cottages” in this quaint, colonial town. Tours of these lavish residences give a taste of high society life at the turn of the 20th century, but Newport is home to more than the Breakers, The Elms and Marble House. Rich in colonial and maritime history, the seaside escape is also known for its world-renowned folk and jazz festivals and a bounty of galleries, boutiques and local restaurants.
Many of Newport’s almost 100 Inns and Bed and Breakfasts also provide a chance to step back in time, offering intimate experiences in restored historic homes. Below are our picks for five of the best, based on local insight and consistently high customer ratings online.
Rates: Peak Season $420-560 / Off Peak $155-325
Steps away from the historic Cliff Walk–a path that wanders along the cliffside, offering views of Easton’s Beach and peaks into the back lawns of Gilded Age summer mansions–Cliffside Inn reigns as one of the top B&Bs on customer review sites. A stay in the 19th century Victorian mansion, once the home of the curious 20th century artist Beatrice Turner, gives visitors a true taste of Newport’s Gilded past, with modern comforts mindfully designed to match the vintage aesthetic. The award-winning inn’s 16 spacious rooms range in price and character: thirteen rooms are located in the main house and three suites comprise the sea view cottages, which are pet friendly. The Beatrice, a signature room in the main house, features floral paintings on the doors done by the artist, along with a Jacuzzi bathtub with a view of Easton’s Bay. Rise early and seize the day with such breakfast delights as French toast stuffed with mascarpone cheese and topped with caramelized pears or vegetable scrambles paired with avocado toast. Relax before dinner over complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres in this oasis, located within walking distance of the action downtown, but nestled into a quiet neighborhood, where you can sneak away from the bustle and feel at home.
Rates: $329-529 / Off Peak $129-279
The only B&B in Newport’s Mansion District, the Ivy Lodge is a late 19th century “cottage mansion,” rumored to have been designed by Standford White, the coveted architect behind the historic Rosecliff mansion on Bellevue Avenue. (If you take a tour of Rosecliff, notably where the 1974 Great Gatsby adaption was filmed, play historian and see if you can spot White’s architectural resemblances.) Be swept away by the grandeur of the gothic revival style entryway and staircase, made of restored English oak. Choose from their nine comfortable rooms, all with private bathrooms, some featuring Jacuzzis. The spacious Turret Room is especially loved for its grand canopy bed and fireplace. Each morning, enjoy a full continental breakfast, including their addicting homemade granola, along with a freshly made hot entrée. Favorites include the baked herb egg with asiago cheese and buttermilk pecan waffles topped with fresh berries.
Rates: Peak Season $295-575 / Off Peak $149-295
Taste a bit of history at the Francis Malbone House, nestled in the heart of Downtown Newport of Thames Street. The first mansion in Newport, built for the wealthy merchant Francis Malbone in 1758, has been transformed into a 20-room luxury B&B. Even the tiniest details matter here, from maintaining the original colonial aesthetic down to the colors of the era to ensuring guests’ every need is met to providing modern comforts like fine Italian linens and plush robes. Rest assured you’ll rise to a full gourmet breakfast, crafted by foodies, for foodies. Be sure to pop back in for fresh baked scones and goodies during afternoon tea. Insider’s tip: Craving a deeper step back in time? Book Harborside Room #2, which still contains all of its original 18th century woodwork.
Rates: Peak Season $279-$800 / Off-peak $180-$600
If you want to stay and play in Downtown Newport, check out the award-winning Almondy Bed & Breakfast Inn, a short jaunt from the shops, restaurants and attractions along Thames. Within sight once you step out the door are Bannister’s and Bowen’s Wharfs, from where you can set sail on a sunset cruise or stay on land in pursuit of the town’s best bowl of chowder. Make yourself at home in one of six guestrooms and suites (all with ensuite bathrooms, many including Jacuzzis) within the late 19th century Victorian, renovated to provide guests modern comforts, while maintaining its period charm. The newest addition is the third floor Captain’s Quarters, where the former Inn Keepers quarters has been transformed into a two-bedroom/two-bathroom suite, including a kitchen and private deck, from where you can watch the sun set over Narragansett Bay. Enjoy a continental breakfast Monday through Friday and full service, hot breakfast on weekends. Every evening, unwind during their complimentary wine and cheese social hour before hitting the town.
Rates: Peak Season $229 – $329 / Off Peak $125 – $200
A perk of staying at the Spring Seasons Inn is their Victorian Tea Room, where guests and locals alike can enjoy a tranquil afternoon tea. The Victorian, built in 1850, offers three charmingly themed guestrooms, two of which are spacious suites with seating areas and Jacuzzis. Electric fireplaces in each room complement the cozy atmosphere. Guests have the third floor to themselves in the nautical-themed Newport Suite, which also has a balcony. For those who crave not only the traditional attractions along Bellevue Avenue and Thames, but also a taste of a local’s experience, the inn is located near the historic Washington Square and also Broadway, where you can rub elbows with locals at a mix of restaurants and bars. Even so, the Inn, known for its award-winning gardens, is just far enough away to provide a peaceful escape. Wake each morning to enjoy freshly baked scones, along with such rotating dishes as Portuguese French toast and omelets, complemented by fresh fruit and friendly service.