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  • Coastline Well heeled wonderland
  • Coast life Holidays and high society

The high reaches of the destination pecking order, the Hamptons in New York’s Long Island is exclusive, fashionable and oh-so desirable.

This quaint colonial cluster on the South Fork of Long Island is where high society holidays. The classic getaway, New Yorkers leave Manhattan and head to the Hamptons for some laidback living. They may haul out some hefty city-related baggage with them but the resort’s traditional tranquillity will send even the most browbeaten urbanite off home with a lighter load. Unspoilt and brimming with rural charm, these seaside towns are where to escape if you’ve made it, or just want to think you have. Mingle with the bluebloods in the main hamlets of East Hampton, South Hampton and Sag Harbor, or in the smaller towns of Bridgehampton, Amagansett, Sagaponack, Water Mill, Shelter Island and Montauk, where flashiness and fame is disguised by flip-flops and hoodies. The Hamptons feels stuck in a time long ago – antiquated movie theatres, historic inns, roadside farmer’s stalls selling punnets of fruit and veg, crime-free streets where doors are left unlocked… it all feels like the way things ought to be.

Do go/Don’t go

As standard with any vacational playground, summer sun will bring the crowds – on holiday weekends such as Memorial Day or 4 July you could spend more time stuck behind your wheel than on the beach. Your social calendar’s likely to have a bit more glitter during these months, though. The chilly Atlantic waters mean winters do get cold – but you’ll be bundled up by a wood-burning fireplace.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes The nearest airport is Islip MacArthur (+1 631 467 3210; www.macarthurairport.com), 50 miles from East Hampton; JFK (www.kennedyairport.com) and LaGuardia are both around 80 miles away. If you’re feeling fancy, arrive at East Hampton Airport (+1 631 537 1130) by seaplane or helicopter delivering you from Wall Street and back with Sound Aircraft Services (+1 631 537 2202). Catch a flight from The Standard NY on their seaplane shuttle StndAIR with tickets starting at US$29 for off-peak trips(+1 855 786 3247).
  • Boats Shelter Island is linked to the South Fork by the South Ferry (www.southferry.com) and Greenport by the North Ferry (www.northferry.com). Boat-owning seafarers can take the Long Island Sound and moor up somewhere in Peconic Bay or Gardiners Bay, depending on which Hampton they are visiting.
  • Trains Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk line (+1 631 231 5477; www.mta.info) is likely to get you there the quickest and cheapest – it makes five daily trips and takes two hours and 40 minutes to reach Southampton from New York City. It takes about three hours to reach Montauk, at the end of the line. The Cannonball Express, departing on Fridays from Penn Station in Manhattan, is even faster.
  • Automobiles You could try to persuade a cab driver to take you beyond the city limits but it’ll probably cost you over $350. Bus options along the Long Island Expressway include Hampton Luxury Liner (www.hamptonluxuryliner.com) and Hampton Jitney (www.hamptonjitney.com). Taking your car or hiring one is a good idea – you’ll need it once you’re there as the towns are spread out.
  • Taxis The Hamptons is very spread-out so taxis are expensive. You’ll have to call in advance, but this can be a slow process. Book with East End Taxi (+1 631 324 0077), Sag Harbor Car Service (+1 631 537 7400) or Hampton Car Rentals New York (+1 631 329 1010).