Nantucket, United States

Blue Iris by Life House

Price per night from$248.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD248.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Cedar-shingled summer house

Setting

The Grey Lady

If a summer cottage on Nantucket is now the preserve of weekending billionaires, we’d happily settle for a stay at the Blue Iris by Life House. Set in a handsome Greek Revival-style mansion, it’s the shortest of strolls from downtown, on a quiet street of cedar-shingled houses, weathered to an equable dove grey. Inside, New England puritanism gives way to pattern and colour, inspired by a fictitious former resident; a 19th-century patroness of the arts, with a stash of bibelots from her travels. It could all feel a trifle contrived, but instead seems delightfully in keeping – and steers commendably clear of the usual maritime stripes.

Smith Extra

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A bottle of wine on arrival

Facilities

Photos Blue Iris by Life House facilities

Need to know

Rooms

12, including three suites.

Check–Out

3pm, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 11am. If you’re arriving after 11pm, check-in is at sister hotel Faraway, just around the corner.

Prices

Double rooms from £273.56 ($293), including tax at 17.944 per cent.

More details

Rates include a simple breakfast (think coffee, croissants and juice) served between 8 and 10am, and an early-evening cocktail hour with free drinks.

Also

In the early evening (5-7pm), there are free cocktails; sip a cockle-warming Noman’s Land, laced with Massachusetts-made dark rum. The lower ground-floor deluxe suite is wheelchair-accessible, as are the garden patio and drawing room.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, lounge, garden patio with firepit, beach towels to borrow. In the rooms: Le Labo toiletries, TV, fridge, air conditioning

Our favourite rooms

Every detail in the rooms feels beautifully considered, from the block-printed fabric blinds to the brass bedside lamps. Most feature splendidly-carved wooden beds, with a painterly print on the headboard, along with scalloped lampshades, antique desks and pleasingly old-fashioned bathrooms, with hand-made tiles, brass taps and marble-topped teak washstands. The raised ground-floor suite (no.4) is perhaps the most charming, thanks to its elegant living room and sweet second bedroom. The deluxe suite on the floor below follows the same layout – and though there’s less natural light, there is a small secret terrace.

Packing tips

In summer, stash a small cool bag for beach-picnic lobster rolls and rosé, and loose linen trousers for cycling across the island. And swap Moby Dick for something less weighty by Elin Hilderbrand.

Also

Check-in is via the hotel’s app (though staff are on hand to assist), and guests print their own plastic keys at the reception desk.

Pet‐friendly

You’re welcome to check in with up to two pets per room, at a flat rate of $75 each. See more pet-friendly hotels in Nantucket.

Children

Little ones are – in theory – welcome, with no extra charge for under-17s. With no cots or rollaways, families need to book the suites, which have multiple beds and more space to spread out.

Best for

Though families are welcome, this is a small hotel in a historic building. Sound carries, there’s no lift for buggies, and a spirited toddler could wreak havoc, with the sticky fingers, spills and general mischief-making that beautiful interiors inspire.

Recommended rooms

Along with its handsome master bedroom, the deluxe suite has a smaller second bedroom, with a daybed for kids to sleep on. Up in the attic, the two-queen suite feels more secluded, and has two bedroos under the eaves, each with their own bathroom.

Food and Drink

Photos Blue Iris by Life House food and drink

Top Table

A nook on the terrace, or capacious banquette in the charismatic dining room.

Dress Code

Nonchalant coastal cool, whether that’s sun-faded chinos and Breton stripes, or a hand-embroidered kaftan.

Hotel restaurant

There’s no restaurant at the Blue Iris, but Sister Ship at the Faraway – run by the same group – is two minutes’ walk away. It’s an all-day affair, with a languid courtyard and a persuasive way with island produce; heritage tomatoes with smoked salt and stracciatella, perhaps, or saffron- and fennel-spiked fish stew.

Hotel bar

There’s no bar here, although Smith guests receive a bottle of wine on arrival. Instead, chart a course for the courtyard at nearby Sister Ship, with its cane chairs and seagrass lanterns, where tall tales are spun into the night over mezcal-spiked Faraway Mermaids.

Last orders

The bar’s open until 1am, though the kitchen shuts up shop at 10.

Location

Photos Blue Iris by Life House location
Address
Blue Iris by Life House
10 Hussey Street
Nantucket
02554
United States

Welcome to downtown Nantucket, with its cobbled streets, clapboard houses and air of unruffled calm. The harbour and wharves are a few blocks away, and dune-sheltered Steps beach is a ten-minute stroll.

Planes

Domestic flights land at Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK), three miles away. For international travellers, there’s generally a New York or Boston stopover, though there are seasonal services to other cities (including Washington, Chicago and Philadelphia). It’s just over ten minutes’ drive from the airport to the hotel.

Trains

Speed past Cape Cod’s summer gridlock aboard the weekends-only CapeFlyer. It’s a seasonal service from Boston to Hyannis, with shuttle transfers down to the docks for ferries to Nantucket.

Automobiles

If you really need to drive, there’s a car ferry from Hyannis – but prices are steep, and once you’re on Nantucket, parking spots are few and far between. Bicycles (electric or otherwise) are better suited to island life, and readily rented in town. For quick hops, the new Sandy Pedals bike share scheme has a fleet of cherry-red electric bikes and 60 pick-up points.

Other

The standard ferry from Hyannis, on Cape Cod, takes two hours and a quarter, compared to an hour aboard the high-speed services. In summer, Seastruck runs a once-weekly service to Nantucket from New York, calling at Martha’s Vineyard, which takes just over six hours.

Worth getting out of bed for

The island’s history is a colourful one, dotted with whiskery sea-captains in search of ‘greasy luck’, and willing to risk their necks on a Nantucket sleigh ride (a boat pulled along at breakneck speed by a harpooned whale). Whale-hunting was a bloodthirsty business, but brought the island untold wealth – a tale told with considerable panache at the Whaling Museum, surveyed by the bleached bones of a 46-foot sperm whale. Get your bearings from the museum’s rooftop deck before hitting downtown’s cobbled streets, lined with old-fashioned storefronts and hip new arrivals, like surf shop Stoke ACK and the locally-minded Green Market

By the harbour, stroll the 18th-century Old North Wharf, with its old warehouses, boat-builders’ workshops and shingled fishermen’s shacks (which, tiny as they are, can change hands for millions of dollars). Real-estate dreams thwarted, pedal to Brant Point for an obligatory shot of the lighthouse, then onwards to Steps Beach. Steep wooden stairs descend the grassy dunes to a powder-fine stretch of sand, with cloud-scudded views across Nantucket Sound. Further afield, you’ll find the placid waters of Miacomet Pond and the surf breaks at Cisco Beach, or – for high-summer solitude – the beautifully remote Ladies Beach. Come sunset, head west to Madaket, with a stop-off at Millie’s for tacos and margaritas.  

On the eastern side of the island, Siasconset (AKA 'Sconset) is implausibly pretty; a former fishing village, with grey-shingled cottages half-hidden under climbing roses. At the end of Front Street, a narrow path is the start of the ’Sconset Bluff Walk, which casually cuts by – or directly through – the gardens of millionaires’ mansions, and culminates (via Baxter Road) at the jauntily-striped Sankaty Head lighthouse

Local restaurants

When it comes to lobster roll, New Englanders are connoisseurs – and Bartlett’s Farm’s rendition, piled high on toasted brioche, is up there with the best. (While you’re there, raid the farm shop for beach plum jam; made from dune-foraged fruit, it’s the ultimate island souvenir.) Later in the day, stroll along the pier to the terrace at Cru, squeezed between yacht moorings, for superlative sunsets, French rosé and strictly local oysters. For dinner, claim a table at the tiny Òran Mór for fennel orecchiette, with baked-to-order madeleines for afters, or book well ahead at the Nautilus for terrific, Thai-inspired blue crab fried-rice. 

Local bars

For a sneaky second breakfast, Born & Bread: Mercantile and Bakery is two minutes’ stroll from the hotel. If the blueberry and lemon thyme scones have already sold out, go for a house-sourdough toastie, with apple-smoked bacon, egg and Vermont cheddar. For the island’s best ice-cream, join the expectant queue outside the Juice Bar, whose scoops are served in a hand-rolled waffle cone that’s worth every extra cent. 

Reviews

Photos Blue Iris by Life House reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this bijou New England bolthole and shaken the sand from their deck shoes, a full account of their adventures will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Blue Iris by Life House in Nantucket…

The sea – and the island’s maritime past – are never far away on Nantucket, and this handsome Greek Revival house was built for a whaling ship’s captain. Its latest incarnation is as a hotel, albeit on the smallest of scales, with 12 rooms and suites and a light-filled drawing room. Steering clear of coastal cliché, its interiors take their cue from an artistic (and invented) former resident, and the island’s globetrotting seafarers – which translates to stencilled walls, scalloped lampshades and Murano glass chandeliers. Outside, the pergola-framed patio nods to the Portuguese sailors who joined the whaling crews, with blue-and-white azulejo tiles, custom-painted with irises and seabirds.

Belongings stowed, embrace the simple pleasures of life as a Nantucketer, from summer shell-collecting by the lighthouse at Brant Point to wintery coastal strolls, retreating to the nearest fireside as the island’s fabled sea mists roll in. 

Price per night from $248.00

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