On leafy gardens that edge towards Chesapeake Bay (and include Maryland’s oldest holly tree), Inn at Perry Cabin hotel in St Michaels is ideally situated for long bike rides, sailing, fishing or just taking in the scenery. With classic clapboard good looks and comforting rooms gently peppered with antiques and a subtle nautical theme, the Inn is an effortlessly luxurious and peaceful seaside retreat.
Get this when you book through us:
A glass of wine each and one US$25 spa credit a room
Double rooms from £311.10 ($426), including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates don't include breakfast (from US$10) or service.
A local jazz trio plays big band favourites in the dining room some evenings at the inn's much-loved jazz nights. Linden Spa offers massages for couples, exfoliation treatments, yoga classes and a steam room. Mr Smith can get a hydrating facial or pedicure.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, gardens, free-to-borrow bikes free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, preloaded iPod with dock, and CD/DVD player.
Our favourite rooms
We loved the claw-foot tub and the river views in Room 80, but the Waterfront Master Suite is the showstopper, with a vast sitting room, floor-to-ceiling windows and gorgeous personality-packed antiques.
Surrounded by blossoms and lined with flowerbeds, the infinity pool is open in the summer from May to August.
Break out the deck shoes to play captain and the high-powered binoculars for skipjack-spotting.
From April to November, a two-night minimum stays apply at weekends.
Although the hotel isn’t particularly geared towards wee ones, there's no charge to borrow cribs, beds for older children are US$50 and babysitting is available for US$15 an hour.
The inn is working to regenerate the oyster population with the help of oyster spat floats, and most vegetables and fish are sourced from the kitchen garden and nearby waters, respectively.
In Stars, the roaring fireplace makes the surrounding tables romantic hotspots. Garden-gazing window seats are scenic and serene. Lunch on the patio is a must in summer.
Chinos and white linen button-downs for gents; ladies could rock a floaty DVF frock or skinny white jeans, nautical stripes and heels.
Stars is refined-but-relaxed riverfront dining room, with a neutral palette, old-school linen-dressed tables, garden views framed by floor-to-ceiling windows and a lighthouse-like beacon. The scallops, local beets and crisp pears come highly recommended. Between 3pm and 5pm each day, a trad English afternoon tea is on offer in the drawing room.
The snug, laid-back Pursers Pub overlooks the flowery courtyard. Choose your favourite tipple from the wall of spirits. To eat, fried duck drumsticks and crab, spinach and artichoke dip don’t disappoint. Wash it down with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever cocktail: herb-infused vodka, orange juice and grenadine.
Breakfast is 7am–10am; lunch, noon–2.30pm; and dinner is served up 6pm–9.30pm. Order bites from the pub menu until 10pm; sip cocktails till 11pm.
A full menu of meals, snacks and drinks is available 24 hours a day.
Major flight hub Washington Dulles is two and a half hours from St Michaels, and flies all over the place, including to NYC, LA and London. DC's smaller Ronald Reagan National Airport is a two-hour drive. Maryland's Baltimore Washington International (BWI) airport, which has domestic and international services from a variety of national carriers including BA and Air Canada, is 70 miles away.
Baltimore’s BWI Amtrak station, an hour from Dulles, can get you here from in Vermont and Philadelphia, Boston, New York and DC directly.
Parking is available on the waterfront and on the main shopping streets, including North and South Talbot Street. Rent a car at Dulles Airport through Avis for day trips and bridge-crossings, or pick one up in Easton.
Worth getting out of bed for
Graduate from skipper to first mate at Offshore Sailing School on the inn’s grounds. Learn the ropes of sailing and bareboat cruising at classes offered between April and November (+1 888 454 7015). Sip Maryland's finest vintages at St Michael's Winery(+1 410 745 0808).
A local favourite, St Michaels Crab & Steak House on Mulberry Street has tables on the water's edge and a chilled-out atmosphere, perfect for casual dinners (+1 410 745 3737). The premier restaurant in St Michaels and one of Maryland’s best, 208 Talbot’s first-come, first-served burger bar, 208 burger gets packed, so show up early. (+1 410 745 3838). Impressive reds and whites are on offer at Ava’s Pizzeria & Bistro on South Talbot Street (+1 410 745 3081). Bistro St Michaels serves local seafood and steaks, too; its chef David Stein started his culinary career at the Inn at Perry Cabin (+1 410 745 9111). Town Dock Restaurant, a casual dining den, plates up the day's catches paired with creative sides such as roasted red pepper coulis. Start with the blue cheese torte, made with naan, artichoke hearts and red onion (+1 410 745 5577).
A bewildering array of flavoured coffees (such as Highland Grogg – infused with butter liqueur, caramel and hazelnut) is served at Blue Crab Coffee Co on Fremont Street (+1 410 745 4155).
Foxy’s Harbour Grille on Mulberry Street, serves bloody marys made with a top-secret mix, as well as good seafood (+1 410 745 4340). Mosey over to old-school joint, the Carpenter Street Saloon for a brew with the locals (+1 410 745 5111).
It was an exhausting, late-night, four-hour drive from New York City that concluded with our entrance into the very welcome red-brick drive – flanked by towering oak trees – of the Inn at Perry Cabin. The mood of Mr Smith, who’d done most of the driving, was instantly improved on sight of this stately inn; even more so when a valet appeared to help with our bags. By now it was close to midnight, but the hotel’s upbeat concierge greeted us like it was 9am, checking us in smoothly and hinting towards the 24-hour room service in case we were peckish.
We were soon in our room, so stylish (nautically so) and well-appointed that I vowed not to leave unless for an emergency. The king-sized bed with its fresh, white lines beckoned to us, as did the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies left on the nightstand. The marble-tiled bathroom, too, prompted envy, with its double vanities, large shower and claw foot tub.
Back in the bedroom, we found the gas fireplace which we fired up to ward off the late-night chill, and perused the room-service menu. Yes, we thought, this place will definitely do for a romantic weekend away.
The next morning, I let Mr Smith sleep in while I enjoyed a free Nespresso coffee from our room’s machine, and sipped it on our balcony overlooking Chesapeake Bay. The hotel’s leafy, well-manicured surroundings looked marvellous by daylight, so I headed outside for a self-guided stroll. Lush green lawns led right to the water’s edge, with plenty of white Adirondack chairs to choose from for a bit of respite. Some were already taken, with people basking in the morning sunshine.
After soaking up the peace and quiet, it was time to meet Mr Smith for a late breakfast at Stars, the Inn’s centrepiece restaurant. Sitting in a sunlight-filled, airy room, we broke bread against a backdrop of sailboats bobbing up and down in the distance. Breakfast was on the expensive side, but with eggs benedict, gluten-free granola and bowls of fresh fruit, we were well satiated and ready for a day of exploring. Worth noting, too: as someone who is gluten-free, I really appreciated that the menu noted every dish suitable for me.
It’s hard to imagine visiting the Chesapeake Bay without sailing on it, so we took advantage of the unusually warm weather for April and arranged an afternoon on one of the hotel’s 38-foot sailboats. Not one but two captains greeted us on the dock right on the hotel grounds and escorted us onboard. Our vessel was a beauty to behold.
After a quick circuit of Saint Michaels Harbor, the charming historic town next to which the inn is located, we unfurled our sails and headed up the Miles River for two hours of gorgeous scenery, wind-whipped sailing, sunshine and fascinating local stories regaled by our two competing captains. Our only regret was that it didn’t last all day.
Although if it did, we wouldn’t have had the chance to spend the rest of the afternoon on bicycles (courtesy of the hotel). Borrowing a pair, we rode into town in search of a light lunch, cruising along Talbot Street, the main drag full of colorful Victorian homes, curated shops and cafes. Almost achingly quaint, the town also has a winery, brewery, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. After eating, we splurged on ice-cream at Justine’s, a mom and pop ice-cream parlor, before heading back to the inn.
At dinner there was a live jazz trio playing in the dining room, but since the weather was still warm, we took advantage to eat al fresco, with a view of the water. As the sun set, hotel staff lit candles in hurricane lanterns. We feasted on locally sourced oysters and fresh seafood, washed down with a crisp Sancerre. And we ended the evening with a nightcap beside one of the fire pits on the lawn. Nestled into a loveseat for two, we enjoyed the blissful warmth of the roaring flames.
If that hasn’t convinced you about the Inn at Perry Cabin’s relaxed and idyllic setting, then I don’t know what will. And I didn’t even mention the free yoga classes, extraordinary breakfasts and ample fishing opportunities. It was only a two-night stay, but we were refreshed and ready for our return to New York City. Even now, memories of the picture-perfect Chesapeake Bay bring smiles to our faces.