I love a hotel with history. If you’re staying at Watch Hill Inn in Westerly, Rhode Island, then you’ll experience the comforts of modern accommodations that definitely doesn’t feel cookie cutter. This is an historic property smack dab in the middle of a quaint seaside village, and it’s the perfect place to call home for your family’s next New England get-away.
Since I'm a history nerd (and former history teacher), let me give you the quick rundown. Established in 1845, the hotel was originally operated by the village’s first lighthouse keeper – how cool! Old school celebrities like Clark Gable and Henry Ford were some of the more famous guests. Sadly, the inn fell into disrepair after a devastating hurricane, but was given a grand makeover in the 1980’s (along with sister property the Ocean House) after being purchased by architect Peter Catalano. In 2006, both hotels were again fully remodeled to include modern amenities, catapulting the two into the luxury destination spotlight.
Watch HIll Inn is an annex to the Ocean House, sharing amenities and dining options. It’s impossible to give a comprehensive review without also including a shout-out to its iconic sister resort, located just around the corner. While the Ocean House echoes the affluence of Gatsby parties of the past, Watch Hill Inn instead reflects a quiet beach house feel. It’s a perfect balance of luxury and laidback, and is the (relatively) more affordable option between the two. This hotel review will detail more about the guest experience at Watch Hill Inn, and why it’s an excellent choice for family travel.
For your Planning Purposes
Getting there: Watch Hill Inn is 2.5-3 hours from NYC and just under 2 hours from Boston. There is an Amtrak station in Westerly, located 10-15 min away. As a special perk, Watch Hill Inn has a partnership with WingsAir, a private helicopter company. If you wish to arrive in style, you can take a helicopter from any Northeast location and land in Westerly, RI.
Getting around: It’s not absolutely necessary to leave Watch Hill village during your stay – many of the activities are all within walking distance. However, if you have your own car, it’s worth spending a day at (yet another) sister property, Weekapaug Inn.
When to visit: For that classic New England experience (lobster rolls and all), summer is the best time to visit. For a warm weather visit, plan ahead and book early -- Watch Hill Inn and Ocean House tend to book out months in advance. The inn closes in the winter, opening again on May 1st. Note: Ocean House remains open for a longer season if you’re interested in an off-season visit. However, do keep in mind that many of the shops are closed for the season.
The name might be a giveaway here!
Watch Hill Inn is located in the village of Watch Hill, which is part of the larger town of Westerly, Rhode Island. You’re steps away from local shops, boutiques and restaurants. Napatree Point Conservation is also within walking distance, which is a peaceful place to have a morning or sunset walk.
The inn sits 25 feet above sea level, overlooking Little Narragansett Bay. This is where everyone gathers (with ice cream from St. Clair’s in hand) to watch the spectacular sunsets turn the bay shades of red, pink and purple! As a special perk, most of the rooms at Watch Hill Inn have a front row seat!
Hotel Highlights For FAmilies
The sister property Ocean House is the “crown jewel” resort of Watch Hill – she's hard to miss with her head-turning bright yellow exterior, massive wrap around Victorian porch, and inviting grassy lawns. However, the prices can run steep in the summer, especially when you need extra space to accommodate all your family members.
Watch Hill Inn is a short 2 minute walk away, and offers (relatively) more affordable rooms. If you’re looking for more room to spread out, but still want to experience luxury living (you are on vacation after all), then Watch Hill Inn is the place to book. Here’s why families will especially find Watch Hill Inn a perfect choice.
- Apartment layouts and luxuries - All the rooms have fully equipped kitchens, and separate living/bedrooms spaces. This means that after the kids go to bed, mom and dad can still hang out! There are 1, 2, and even 3 bedroom apartment options. As an added bonus, there are washers and dryers in many of the units. Win win!
- Proximity to town - If you've travelled with kids, you've already learned that proximity to...anything...matters. A hotel that’s a 10 minute walk into town can equal 30 minutes in toddler time. Luckily, you won’t have that problem at Watch Hill Inn. The hotel sits directly in the hub of the village, making it easy to pop out and explore.
If you’d like to learn more about the rooms and amenities at Watch Hill Inn, keep reading below.
Watch Hill Inn Amenities
When you book a room at Watch Hill Inn, you’ll get the best of both a hotel and vacation rental property experience. You’ll enjoy the privacy, space, and apartment amenities of a rental, but also appreciate “hotel touches” – like housekeeping, and breakfast baskets delivered to your room.
That being said, the property of Watch Hill Inn just includes the rooms; so, when you're ready to leave your comfortable Rhode Island abode, pop over to shared resorts Ocean House (2 min walk) and Weekapaug Inn (10 min drive) to check out what they offer guests.
In fact, when you arrive, your vacation will technically begin at the Ocean House -- all Watch Hill Inn guests check in there! You may even be swayed to stop for lunch at The Verandah before you head to your room.
Amenities at Watch Hill Inn
At Watch Hill Inn, there is daily housekeeping, free wifi, in-room breakfast delivery, and on site parking.
As a nice touch, they surprised Claire with complimentary bath toiletries, and a hand crafted wooden puzzle. Moms and dads, you can also request diaper pails, beach pack and plays, and bottle warmers if needed.
Amenities At The Ocean House
At the main resort, you’ll find a full sized croquet court and outdoor shuffleboard, wine/cheese classes, and a movement studio where guided yoga classes take place. You’ll also have full access to the private section of East Beach, and complimentary beach toys for kids. Don't forget to schedule yourself a spa appointment at the full service Forbes 5-star spa called OH Spa. The Ocean House also has 6 dining options, ranging from formal tasting menus, to casual seafood bars, to beach-side dining, and ice cream shops.
Amenities At Weekapaug Inn
Located 10 minutes away from Watch Hill inn is another sister property, The Weekapaug Inn. Watch Hill Inn guests can use their private beach, kayaks, paddle boards, and canoes. There is also a complimentary boat tour around Quonochontaug Pond, and guided nature walks. The wide open grassy lawn has a fire pit for night time s’mores, regulation size shuffleboard, bocce ball court, and a small playground for kids. Lastly, they have a heated outdoor saline pool and jacuzzi, with stunning views of the marsh and pond. I definitely recommend coming to spend a day enjoying the perks at Weekapaug Inn.
Watch Hill Inn Accomodations
All 19 rooms at the Watch Hill Inn have fully equipped stainless steel kitchens, separate living areas, luxury linens and very comfortable furnishings. The rooms reflect the history of the inn, but with updated modern nautical interiors. If helpful for family-vacation planning, Watch Hill has floorplans available online. There are 3 different room categories to choose from.
- Simple - The “simple” category offers 1 bedroom suites with separate living areas, full kitchens, private terraces, and gas fireplaces. Some of these rooms have views of the bay.
- Suite - The “suite” category has options with a little more space, accommodating up to 5 guests. Each suite has 2 bedrooms (King and Queen beds), full kitchens, and washer/dryers available. Some suites also have private terraces.
- Seriously Suite - If you’d like to feel like a celeb, then these “seriously suite” options are the Red Carpet choice at Watch Hill Inn. They accommodate up to 8 guests (2-4 bedrooms, depending on the room), and have private porches for viewing the awesome sunsets on Little Narragansett Bay.
- There are two sections of Watch Hill Inn – the main building and historic building. The main building does have elevator access, but the historic building does not. When you make your reservation, make sure to inquire about elevator access if you need it.
- That being said, I think the best sunset views are in the historic building -- so get ready to conquer the stair master! Rooms in the historic building have unobstructed views of the bay.
- We stayed in Eagle’s Nest and loved this space! The sunset views were incredible, and we had plenty of room to make ourselves comfortable.
- Are you brining a small toddler just learning to walk? You may want to inquire about a baby gate for the top of the stairs.
Watch Hill Inn Restaurant & Food Options
While there are no on-site restaurants at Watch Hill Inn, they do deliver a complimentary boxed breakfast every morning. If you don’t want to run out first thing to grab a bite to eat, then it’s a yummy way to start the day in the comfort of your own kitchen and pj’s.
When you’re ready to get out the door, both Ocean House and Weekapaug Inn have excellent restaurants to try.
Restaurants at the Ocean House
The Ocean House opens bright and early for breakfast, featuring a full brasserie style menu at The Bistro. We spent many mornings here, enjoying a cup of tea with ocean views outside the window. It’s also where Claire learned the art of holding a baby teacup and now asks me everyday when she’ll be able to have tea too.
For casual dining, guests can enjoy New England classics at Verandah Raw Bar – this is the seasonal restaurant located on the gorgeous Victorian wrap-around porch. It’s seafood focused with a raw bar and fresh lobster rolls.
If you’re already at the beach, you can order pizza, burgers, and sandwiches from Dune Cottage. They have cafe seating in the sand, or can deliver lunch straight to your lounge chair on the beach.
Afterwards, head to the ice cream shop, Below Deck to cool down from the summer heat. When it’s time to dress up for dinner, you’ll want to make reservations way in advance for COAST, the fine dining option (note that children must be at least 8 years old to attend). If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, Ocean House also offers seasonal lobster bakes and boils held on the main lawn.
Looking For Some Restaurants In Town?
At Watch Hill Inn, you're located steps away from plenty of bakeries, restaurants, and cafes. Check out the article for a full run down of restaurants you can find in town.
Restaurants at Weekapaug Inn
The SeaRoom at Weekapaug Inn won my award for favorite restaurant of the trip! This seasonal restaurant has gorgeous views of Quonochontaug Pond featuring incredibly fresh “sea-to-table” food. As you enter the restaurant, your eyes will rest on the views, your nose will smell the outdoor grill firing up, and your taste buds will become antsy with anticipation. This is a family friendly restaurant, that doesn’t stick the kids at the back! On the contrary, we had the best seat in the house with a toddler in tow, and the children’s menu looked just as delicious as the adult’s.
In addition to the SeaRoom, Weekapaug has a few other dining options for guests and visitors. The more formal option is The Restaurant, serving a French-brasserie style cuisine. There’s also a delicious pool menu (with killer lobster rolls), and a private dining option to eat near the pond with a separate “pond-to-table” or “pasture-to-table” menu. If you’re spending some time at Weekapaug’s private beach, you’ll find a small concession stand with pre-made sandwiches and salads available for purchase.
That's a Wrap
We loved our stay at Watch Hill Inn – it’s where we first fell in love with this town! Our room at the inn hit the jackpot, and checked every box we were looking for when traveling with a 2 year old -- luxury, comfort, space, and convenience! With access to both the Ocean House and Weekapaug Inn amenities, it felt like we experienced 3 hotels in 1! We will most definitely return for another trip – and next time I’ve got my eye on the Admiral’s Suite (a mom can dream!)
I hope this article has inspired your own family getaway to Watch Hill Inn in Westerly, Rhode Island. If you have any questions, or your own travel tips, please leave them in the comments below. Also, don't forget to sign up for the monthly newsletter, packed with travel tips, upcoming news, and access to FREE destination itineraries.
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