For the hit-list summer vacations you didn’t take, it’s not too late: These luxury properties get even better after their most obvious season comes to a close.
HOTEL UNION ØYE
Originally built in 1891 in a beautiful, remote region of Norway, Hotel Union Øye is dreamy in its own right: The historic inn has 30 guest rooms outfitted with antique tapestries and claw-foot tubs, plus a verdant conservatory restaurant and lushly appointed common rooms, including a working library dedicated to mountaineering and exploration. But it’s the surrounding landscape—dramatic alpine peaks and a vast fjord—that makes this property breathtaking.
Norway’s flood of tourists comes in June, July, and August, when the days are long and temperatures are mild. But locals seem to be energized as the cold comes in, and visitors might find they are, too. The hotel lends out kayaks to explore the fjord in and distributes maps of some of the country’s most iconic hiking trails, which begin right here. A mountaineering guide can help more intrepid guests summit the Sunnmøre Alps, as generations of explorers have before them. (Helicopter tours are also available, if that is more your speed.) After an active day, a hot-cold circuit is reinvigorating: The hotel has a traditional sauna floating out on the nearby fjord, and dips in the water are encouraged.
Photos courtesy of 62°NORD (bed), Vaga Film (hotel), and Brandon Scott Herrell (kayak).
THE NEWT IN SOMERSET
SOMERSET, UNITED KINGDOM
Sister property to South Africa’s Babylonstoren, the Newt in Somerset is a country hotel on an 800-acre cider-making estate. The gorgeous limestone main house—the Hadspen—was built in the 17th century and remodeled for Georgian sensibilities in the 18th. Half a mile away in the Farmyard house, accommodations are a little more rustic but still luxurious and considered. There’s a private cabin, too, built into the stone wall that surrounds the property. The restaurant menu features Babylonstoren wine and whatever is fresh picked from the garden, and the spa offers yoga, sound baths, a hammam, and a very cool indoor-outdoor pool.
Peak season is summer, but perhaps the most exciting time to be on the farm is during the fall harvest. Guests might take workshops on mushroom foraging and cider brewing, and an annual apple festival draws locals to the property for a weekend celebration. That’s in addition to the activities offered year-round: Lift off in a hot-air balloon, brave a guided cold plunge in the lake, take a tour with the garden specialist, or go on a bee safari to learn about the property’s cherished colonies of buzzy friends.
THE SEA RANCH LODGE
SEA RANCH, CALIFORNIA
Recently reopened after major renovation, the Sea Ranch Lodge is built to blend in with the nature—miles of cliffy Northern California coastline—that surrounds it. And it invites guests to do the same. (Sea Ranch is a sustainable-lifestyle legend; the community was planned under the ethos of living lightly on the land in the ’60s.)
This is where people go to spend their morning in the sunroom with an especially engrossing novel, take a hike along the ocean bluffs in the afternoon, and lounge by a crackling fireplace and sip cocktails as the sun sets. It doesn’t hurt that the on-site restaurant, helmed by chef Eric Piacentine of Big Sur Bakery fame, is fantastic—or that the rooms look like that, with Brooklinen sheets, Bathing Culture toiletries, and a pair of binoculars in lieu of a TV.
Now’s the time to book: Locals know the best seasons on the NorCal coast are the shoulders, which offer warm days, cool nights, and respite from fog.
Photos courtesy of Adam Potts.
FARAWAY MARTHA’S VINEYARD
As the summer crowds clear out of Martha’s Vineyard, the island only gets more beautiful—calmer, cooler, and more spacious. Stay at the Faraway: a 300-year-old Edgartown hotel, recently renovated and skillfully balanced between a New England sense of propriety and a chic, modern sense of ease. The beachy interiors open onto private decks for lounging, the public spaces are high-ceilinged and swank, and the staff is friendly. It’s also right in the center of town, so you can walk or bike to everything.
Walk to breakfast at the Rosewater Market and snag a table in the garden. Borrow some of the hotel’s bikes and take the five-minute ferry over to Chappaquiddick; once there, bike over to the Mytoi Japanese Garden, which is a spectacular place to stroll. For dinner, head back to the hotel, which has two great restaurants: the Newes from America for full-on New England charm and simple but delicious American food, and the Pelican Club for garden seating, ocean air, delicious cocktails, and good sushi.
Photos courtesy of Matt Kisiday.
THE GREEN O
On the edge of dense forest that bumps up against a working cattle ranch, the green o is an adults-only collection of 12 sleek cabins, each designed for two, set into the trees and apart from one another for a romantic sense of seclusion. The property shares its 37,000-acre space with its sister resort, the family-friendly dude ranch Paws Up. Fall offers all the best of summer—fly-fishing, horseback riding, skeet shooting, backcountry biking, hot-air ballooning—minus the throngs of families that descend upon the Paws Up property during school breaks (which, of course, has its own charm if you like a sense of community). Come in winter, when the place is blanketed by snow, and you might try strapping on a pair of snowshoes for hikes, driving a dogsled of enthusiastic huskies, or pushing cattle in a game called cow croquet, invented here.
The on-site restaurant, Social Haus, is a highlight; chef Brandon Cunningham’s eight-course tasting menu changes daily. (Days you’re not feeling up to all that, behold: pizza delivery as room service.)
Photos courtesy of Stuart Thurlkill.
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