The clapboard-fronted Eben House was built by its namesake, Captain Eben Snow, way back when (in 1776, to be precise). In homage to its history (it’s one of only three Federal brick homes left in the area), this bed and breakfast hasn’t skimped on traditional touches – expect teak-stained floors, traditional portraiture and a neat, shrub-planted garden. Since the Captain’s 18th-century tenure, Provincetown has enjoyed quite the transformation: once the site of the Mayflower’s landing, it’s now a hip-hippie hive populated by artists, musicians and a thriving LGBTQ community. Eben House has followed suit with quirky, modern touches – such as mismatched furniture, mosaic-tiled bathrooms and the odd flamboyant chandelier – that link this heritage building to its bohemian community.
11am. Earliest check-in, 4pm, but flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £222.14 ($280), including tax at 14.45 per cent.
Rates include Continental breakfast, WiFi and parking for one car (there’s more parking off-site, five minutes’ walk away). A state and local tax of 11.7 per cent isn’t included in rates; this will be added to your bill.
Keep your eyes peeled for the portraits of Eben Snow and his family, which local artist Michael Gredler has rendered in traditional, 18th-century style. These works of the Captain and his nearest and dearest can be spotted all around the hotel and in every room.
Eben House closes its whitewashed shutters from Sunday to Thursday in low season (29 October to 31 March) and over Christmas and Thanksgiving.
At the hotel
Saltwater pool, breakfast conservatory, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, TV with more than 180 cable channels, C.O. Bigelow bath products. Some suites and higher-tier rooms have a working fireplace, seating area, balcony and soaking tub.
Our favourite rooms
Seven of the hotel’s rooms are in the main building, five are in the yellow-painted Victorian house next door and two are in the Carriage House out back. All are decorated in breezy, New England style: expect whitewashed walls, striped linens and teak-stained floors. Our favourite is the Carriage Suite, tucked away on the ground floor in the Carriage House (natch) – outside, there’s a private, trellis-hidden terrace dotted with trees, ferns and potted flowers; inside, a collection of blue-and-white squashy sofas and armchairs are grouped around a working fireplace. Perhaps the most romantic room is the Terrace Suite, which – as well as its sweeping, namesake terrace with views of Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument – has a freestanding bath tub at the foot of the enormous, king-size bed.
The outdoor, saltwater pool – set to open in summer 2017 – is surrounded by privacy-providing ferns, comfy chairs and outdoor tables. It’s unheated, so you’ll want to keep refreshing dips to the summer months.
Go for classic Americana with a flash twist, a nod to Provincetown’s colourful heritage: crisp white shirts with chandelier earrings in the summer; dark-wash denim and a neon puffer jacket when the temperature drops.
Due to the winding stairs in this period property, it’s not a suitable stay for guests with mobility issues. No pets are allowed at Eben House, but the hotel recommends the Provincetown Pet Resort a 10-minute walk away (www.provincetownpetresort.com).
Eben House only accepts guests over 16 – it’s better suited to romantic getaways than family holidays.
Eben House’s pretty conservatory is very lovely, but so is breakfast on your private balcony.
You’ll be off to explore New England’s bustling streets and sandy beaches before long, so a sundress and sandals (with your bikini underneath) will fit the bill. Boys, dress the part in striped shirts and docksiders; golden tan: optional…
Eben House doesn’t have a bar or a restaurant, but Continental breakfast is served everyday in the white clapboard conservatory, where potted ferns dot the mosaic-tiled floor and mismatched chairs sit higgledy-piggledy around wooden-and-marble counters. Fill your plate with ham-and-vegetable breakfast burritos, carrot muffins and other treats that feel too naughty for breakfast: home-made strawberry trifle, anyone? Munch your way through the cooked specials whipped up by Chris (check the enormous blackboard for daily details), while examining the room’s eclectic curio collection, which includes vintage oars, miniature mirrors and gilt-framed prints.
Breakfast is served from 8am–10.30am daily.
‘Breakfast in bed’ (Eben House’s version of room service, at no extra charge) is served from 8am–10.30am, and usually consists of tea or coffee, yoghurt parfait topped with house-made granola, and freshly baked pastries.
Eben House is located in the heart of trendy Provincetown, at the northern tip of Cape Cod’s curve.
International travellers should fly to Logan International Airport in Boston, a three-hour drive from the hotel. If you don’t mind getting two planes, hop on a 30-minute connecting flight from Boston to Provincetown Municipal Airport, then drive for 10 minutes to reach Eben House.
The CapeFlyer runs from Boston to Cape Cod on summer weekends, normally from Memorial to Labour Day. The closest station is Hyannis, an hour’s drive from Provincetown. You don’t need to book tickets in advance; an adult return costs around $40 (www.capeflyer.com).
Wheels are useful if you’re planning on exploring the area (and with its sweeping beaches and picturesque towns, it would be practically criminal not to). Rent a car at the airport, then follow the MA-3 S from Boston, and Race Point Road from Provincetown.
Getting the ferry from Boston to Provincetown is a piece of cake: the Bay State Cruise Company runs daily services, it’s around $88 for an adult return;the journey takes an hour and a half. From Provincetown Harbour, it’s a 10-minute walk to Eben House (www.baystatecruisecompany.com).
Worth getting out of bed for
Provincetown is pretty laid back, with a whiff of cheekiness: this corner of New England kicks the area’s classic propriety to the curb in favour of flamboyant colours, alternative arts and LGBTQ culture. Pack your leathers (this is no Martha’s Vineyard) for the annual celebrations, which include ‘Bear Week’ and a Springtime hoedown called ‘Gays for Patsy’. June is Pride Month, and the perfect time to see the town at its best. Provincetown’s history encompasses more than the swinging Seventies, however – explore the Schoolhouse Gallery, a 19th-century former school that now houses a modern art collection, including works by photographer Amy Arbus and painter Ted Kincaid. If it’s good ol’ outdoor fun you’re craving, the mile-long Beech Forest Trail is a nature-packed excursion; brave Smiths might want to rent a 4x4 and drive the dunes instead, whizzing past the artists’ beachside huts. Of course, Cape Cod is famous for its beaches and Provincetown is no exception: Herring Cove has calm waters perfect for leisurely dips.
Pint-sized deli Pop+Dutch is nearly as famous for its naughty history as for its buttermilk biscuits and super-stuffed sandwiches – if you’re not into whips and chains, close your eyes (they sell saucy bedroom treats on the counter – a nod to the town’s fun-loving reputation). Victor’s (only open in the summer months) has the best seafood in town; be sure to sample their coconut-crusted shrimp and crispy calamari. If you’re chasing down a particular New England classic, however – the lobster roll – head straight to The Canteen, which also serves up a mean clam chowder on the bunting-covered terrace.
Get your paws on the award-winning coffee at Wild Puppy, a local favourite thanks to its organic beans, unusual teas and freshly-baked pastries. Kohi Coffee Company is another renowned locale for caffeine-lovers; Scandi-stylings and a beachside location make this an ideal spot for your morning cup of Joe.
When the sun sets, head down to Aqua Bar for spectacular sea views (and mean cocktails to boot). Monkey Bar on Commercial Street (+1 (0)508 487 2879) is a neon-hued hangout serving equally lurid drinks: make your way here in the wee hours for wild dancing.
Boutique bed and breakfast Eben House sits in Provincetown, a tiny seaside hub situated on the northernmost tip of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. It’s a place with a unique jumble of identities. As the site of the Mayflower’s first landing, P-Town – as it’s fondly referred to by locals – has all the historic charm befitting a quaint, colonial-era setting. However, it also stands out as a long-time haven for artists and members of the LGBTQ community. White picket fences, saltbox houses, federal-style cottages, and old-school ice-cream parlours stand side-by-side with gay clubs, rainbow flags and contemporary art galleries. I’d heard about P-Town’s lures for years, and, with a stay at Eben House imminent, I couldn’t wait to experience it all firsthand.
From downtown Manhattan, my best friend (a stand-in ‘Mr Smith’ for this trip) and I set out on the open road. We were looking forward to the quick jaunt, especially while traffic on the cape was still bearable. (We’d set off just a few days before Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of the summer season, and would have likely doubled our five-hour drive.)
We arrived without issue and promptly checked in at Eben House, a three-year-old hotel born from a restored, federal-style brick house built by Captain Eben Snow in 1776. More ‘inn’ than hotel, Eben House quickly won us over with its friendly staff, and stylish, homey feel. Our King Superior Room, though snug, had all the charms of an antique home (albeit a well-appointed one for modern travellers), most especially in the wide, wooden-plank floors, and sweet little fireplace to cosy up to. Starving and ready for lunch, we descended down to Commercial Street – just a block away – which comprises P-town’s pedestrian-heavy drag of restaurants and businesses. We decided on Bubalah’s by the Bay, a casual all-day dining spot, where Mr Smith ordered a fried-fish sandwich, and I opted for the ‘famous fish soup’, a spicy tomato broth brimming with assorted cuts of the day’s fresh catch – perfection.
Afterwards, we ambled down Commercial Street, scouting out possible options for dinner. An abundance of signs for the following weekend’s Memorial Day activities – live music, cabaret acts, dance parties – furthered the sense that we were seeing the town in a state of calm before the storm. Speaking of storms, a quick spell of rain set in just as we arrived back at our room. We turned on our fireplace and enjoyed some wine we’d purchased en route (rooms don’t have minibar, as such, but each does come with a small fridge). For dinner, we walked back down to Commercial Street over to Joon Bar, where we intended to stay for just a glass of wine and a small nibble before moving on to another restaurant, but the low-key setting and delicious menus quickly won us over. A must-order: the baguette with parmesan-mashed fava beans.
The next morning, we headed to the hotel’s conservatorium where breakfast awaited us: a scrumptious buffet of fresh fruit salad and yoghurt, frittata, pastries, muffins, and gluten-free granola, all prepared daily by the chef. The breakfast and bottomless cups of bracing coffee alone are worth the stay at Eben House. Then Mr Smith worked for a bit while I picked up gifts of saltwater taffy and local fudge at one of Commercial Street’s old-timey candy shops. We rendezvous’d for lunch at the Lobster Pot, an old-school, New England-style establishment, where the menus are massive and the ‘lobstah’ – ordered every which way – is abundant. Mr Smith went for the lobster bisque with a supplement of additional lobster meat, while I chose the mountainous crab, lobster and kale Caesar salad. A feast that, while delicious, necessitated a long stroll afterwards. When we returned to Eben House, we decided to take advantage of the summer-y weather with a glass of wine on the hotel's rooftop deck, overlooking the pool. Or maybe it was two glasses…well, we were on vacation.
Before dinner, we wanted to see some local sites so we headed for Race Point Beach, a scenic area along the coast that comprises the north part of Provincetown. There were dunes, bike trails, and a picturesque lighthouse. For dinner we were craving burgers and we had intel that Local 186 is the P-Town place to hit. This cosy casual spot had a big front porch to dine on and various combinations of burgers and toppings, with different types of meats, as well as the option to custom-build your own. I wasn’t bold enough to try the fried avocado with my veggie-burger patty, but the feta tzatziki was at once perfectly rich and tangy.
The next morning’s breakfast was another awesome spread of house-made goodies: berry danishes, coffee cake, peach-blueberry muffins, single-serving frittatas in the form of egg muffins, and fresh fruit and granola. It would be our last meal in town before checking out, so we made sure to fill up.
Though I didn’t even want to think about eating anything more, a trusted source told me I couldn’t leave the town without a trip to Portuguese Bakery, a somewhat nondescript-seeming spot on Commercial Street. Faced with too many options, I took the advice of the shop employee and purchased a rabanada (a cinnamon-sugar-coated slab of bread somewhat reminiscent of French toast) and some trutas (sweet potato-filled fried-dough crescents, further sweetened with cinnamon sugar and whiskey). While the next morning’s breakfast back in my Manhattan apartment wouldn’t be half as resplendent as the one at Eben House, I took comfort in knowing I’d still have something sweet from P-Town to wake up to.