Faraway Nantucket lives up to its name on the eponymous remote isle, 30 miles off the Atlantic seaboard. Set amid downtown’s heritage buildings and clapboard houses, it’s within walking distance of the wharf, Brant lighthouse and the whaling museum.
Nantucket Memorial Airport, a 10-minute drive from the hotel, operates domestic flights from major cities along the east coast; the journey from New York is around 90 minutes and from Boston it’s under an hour. Visitors from outside the US will need to stopover in New York or Boston.
On account of Nantucket being an island, you could say train travel there is somewhat limited. However, in season (from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day), you can ride the CapeFLYER from Boston to Hyannis in Cape Cod, where you can easily catch a ferry. It allows you to skip the traffic and passes through quaint coastal towns and state forest, so you might even catch the start of leaf-peeping season.
Nantucket is cosmopolitan yet compact (the average commute for residents is a 12-minute walk), so it’s best to wander, cycle or take an Uber rather than use a car. If you really want to vroom around the place, you can catch the car ferry at Hyannis, which docks at Straight Wharf, a mere 10-minute walk from Faraway. The journey’s around 90 minutes, but it can be pricey (around $400 a roundtrip) with limited spaces, car hire on the island can run to a couple hundred dollars a day, and there’s no parking at the hotel.
You can catch the Steamship Authority and Hy-Line ferries from Hyannis in Cape Cod (the latter is the faster option) or from Oak Bluffs in Martha’s Vineyard. And, if you want to arrive in style, Blade run private flights from New York and Westchester.
Worth getting out of bed for
Beyond the limerick, there’s something very poetic about Nantucket, with its ephemeral fogs, forlorn lighthouses, Greek Revival houses and cobbled streets. Herman Melville never actually visited the island before setting part of his epic Moby Dick there, but even from afar, he could sense its promise of adventure blown in with the Atlantic winds. Whaling made the town rich and then a bougie brigade of celebrities and business scions mooring here for the summer made it even wealthier, but it’s held onto its simple pleasures. Most go about by bike and you can easily follow suit with the hotel’s branded fleet; Brant Point Lighthouse is close by to enhance your photo background (it’s still active so you can’t go inside), and Francis Street Beach is less than a five-minute cycle away for kayaking and sandy strolls. For more challenging rides, pedal for an hour to reach the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge on the east coast, a beauty spot bestowed with turquoise waters, undulating dunes and clusters of red cedar. Along the way, you’ll see the wetlands and scarlet stretches of cranberry bogs. The island can be prone to chilliness, but it has more than 100 miles of sandy shoreline; Jetties is busier than some, but popular for sunbathing and beachcombing for seaglass, while at Surfside Beach, the wind is an asset for boarders, and Madaket Beach might be too rough for swimming, but its picturesque isolation makes it ideal for romantic picnics and wistful walks. If you’re taken with the hotel’s historic nature, there’s plenty more of that to take in here – the Jethro Coffin House is the oldest on the island, built in the 17th century, the Old Mill still stands – and operates – by Mill Hill Park, and the grand Thomas Macy House (built in the early 1800s) is a fine example of Federal-style architecture – if the name seems familiar, it’s because the Macy descendents started New York’s famed shopping destination, and its signature red star is what their sea-faring ancestor tattooed on his hand as a nod to his navigation aid. The Whaling Museum tracks the travails and triumphs of the town’s greatest industry using holograms, skeletons, grottoes and more, and the Museum of African-American History details just how progressive the island was in its abolitionist and desegregation efforts. And day trips to VIP playground Martha’s Vineyard are easily done via the ferry. It pulls in at Oak Bluffs, a charming town famous for its ‘gingerbread cottages’: gaily dressed Victorian houses. And the island has more old-school lighthouses, beaches and undisturbed natural stretches to explore.
The whaling industry may have declined with the fashion of baleen-boned corsets and the invention of more creature-kind industrial lubricants than spermaceti, but Nantucket’s boats still sail out at the crack of dawn to provide its restaurants with fresh catches. Fish and seafood are the predominant serves around here, at restaurants such as wharfside Slip 14, which has a raw bar with oysters, tuna tartare and shrimp cocktail and the likes of clam chowder, lobster tacos and crab mac and cheese. Cru, also by the water, is the island’s premier oyster bar, shucking New England’s finest with tins of caviar and flutes of champagne to accompany. But, it’s not all a pesce-party, try Centre Street Bistro for smoky jambalaya, buttermilk-fried chicken with cheddar biscuits and whoopie pies.
The Handlebar Café knows their coffee (and teas), but that’s not the only wisdom they have to partake – it’s run by the operators of Nantucket Bike Tours, so they’re the ones to ask for local tips and lesser-known treasures. And, they hire staff based on personality rather than experience, so you’re guaranteed a warm welcome. And, to accompany your coffee, some of the island’s best doughnuts; the Downyflake only do five kinds (plain, sugar-coated, maple-glazed, and chocolate- or coconut-frosted), but locals and visitors alike keep coming back for more. And, if you want something more substantial, they have a vast brunch menu, with eggs in all the ways, pancakes, French toast, burgers, muffins, pastries, waffles and more.
If you want your drinks with more of a ‘yo ho, ho’, Òran Mór has a cosier, captain’s cabin feel, with its central circular bar and more traditional interiors. Their cocktail list plumbs the depths of imagination, with creative concoctions like the Beach Blanket Bingo with rum, cold-brew coffee, coconut milk and orange-flower water; or the Highland Island with Scotch, maple-barrel-aged bourbon, pineapple and sage tincture. For date-night drinks, the Proprietors is a little more polished yet still welcoming, and they’ve gained renown for pioneering craft cocktails on the island.