- Whimsical Scandinavian chic
- East Hampton hideaway
- Scenester's summer camp
- Into the woods
- Breezy beach house
- Sedate Shelter Island
- Clapboard colonial villa
- By-the-beach Hamptons village
- Big Kahuna cool
- Hip Montauk
- 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.
Mansion is the magic word in the Hamptons. The first settlers may have been a group of English Puritans in 1640, but these days mega estates outnumber normal-sized homes. The largest is the ocean-facing compound of billionaire Ira Rennert in Sagaponack. This humongous house has 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms and a dozen chimneys, as well as a bowling alley, basketball court and a few tennis courts. Not bad for a potato patch.
- 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).
- Tipping culture
- 15–20 per cent is standard, but stick towards 20 per cent to keep up.
- Siesta and fiesta
- In the Hamptons, people dine out early unless they’re planning on partying through the night. Restaurants tend to shut between 10.30 and midnight. Clubs (and their selective doormen) get busy around midnight.
- Packing tips
- Wide-brimmed floppy hats for girls and boat shoes for boys; some preppy designer gear generally (Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, etc). In winter, you’ll need books, DVDs and a collection of chunky knits to hole up by the hearth with.
- Recommended reads
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald for a satirical slice of sparkly ‘20s society life. Uncover the East Hampton-based existence of wildly eccentric Edith Bouvier Beale, first cousin of Jackie O, with My Life at Grey Gardens: 13 Months and Beyond by Lois Wright, or MemoraBEALEia: A Private Scrapbook About Edie Beale of Grey Gardens. Or just watch the Grey Gardens DVD.
- Miles of coastline means mountains of freshly caught Atlantic fare. Clam bakes and big-buck barbecues tide over the locals and weekenders through the summer months. Clamman (+1 631 283 6669; www.clamman.com) is a seafood-stocked market selling wild shrimp, organic salmon, local caviars, and chowders made from Hamptons clams. You can also pick up fresh dipping sauces or ask them to cater full dinners on the beach. For quirky local-blend tea, such as Sagaponack Sunrise and Montauk Mint, look out for shops selling The Hampton Tea Company selections, or for deliciously innovative chutney creations try the Hampton Chutney Co. (+1 631 267 3131; www.hamptonchutney.com).
- US dollar ($).
- Time zone
- Eastern Standard Time: GMT -5.
- Dialling codes
- US: +1; area code for the Hamptons: 631.
- 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.
Don't go home without...
Depending how far you’ve got to travel, a bucket-load of clams or some caviar to make sure the high life continues at home. For something less likely to perish, pick up some made-with-love Fat Ass Fudge in East Hampton (+1 631 324 6540; www.fat-assfudge.com).