This Newport, Rhode Island, Hotel is a Testament to the Glory of the Gilded Age

Credit: Auberge Resorts Collection

There’s something in the air in Newport, Rhode Island; who’s to say whether it’s the salty sea air, the aroma of freshly baked pastries and fudge around every corner, or just the historic quintessence of this New England city?

As the original birthplace of hospitality (pineapples are situated at every turn!), it may come as no surprise that since its settlement in 1639, socialites and America’s elite have flocked to the “City by the Sea.” During the warm months, Newport is transformed into a summertime playground, filled with sailing competitions, tennis matches, and galas. As the weather begins to cool, the city clears out, but it never loses its palpable character.

Credit: Auberge Resorts Collection

Nestled in the heart of it all on Mary Street is The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection. Originally constructed in 1908 by businessman and scion Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, what was once a historic Gilded Age mansion has in the last year been restored into a spirited resort, reinterpreted for the modern era.

Embracing the existing Georgian architecture and the delightful simplicity of American colonial architecture, the hotel draws inspiration not just from the namesake owner, but American socialite Doris Duke. The existing organic palette and textural elements are juxtaposed with dramatic colors and patterns that nod to the two historical figures’ inherent playfulness, seamlessly evoking a sense of both vivacity and warmth.

Credit: Auberge Resorts Collection

Guests are welcomed by two sweeping staircases laden with emerald green carpeting. Between them is a doorway framed by two jade-colored curtains leading to The Library, through which antique sofas, woven rugs, and walls lined with framed illustrations and bookcases beckon. Beyond stands The Conservatory, a verdant sun-dappled dining room that provides the perfect backdrop for enjoying Afternoon Tea on classic rattan armchairs while taking in views of the lush garden and outdoor patio.

Credit: Auberge Resorts Collection

Beloved signature restaurant The Dining Room at The Vanderbilt introduces a selection of seasonal fare from lauded chef April Bloomfield. The space pays homage to Alfred Vanderbilt’s affinity for outdoor pursuits, boasting a 1920s sportsman-inspired feel with elevated tavern offerings. Signature dishes include Vermouth-Braised Rabbit, Smoked Salmon with Duck Fat Potatoes, and a rendition of New England clam chowder by Chef Bloomfield.

Credit: Auberge Resorts Collection

Behind the bar, Chief Cocktail Curator Maxwell Britten mixes libations that playfully allude to the days when the city’s Gilded Age mansions hosted lavish gatherings. Expect imaginative seasonal cocktails and ingenious spins on old classics.

All the way upstairs is Newport’s best-kept secret: the acclaimed Roof Deck, which has been revitalized with a new bar and furnishings. Visitors can now order flavorful and approachable dishes off of the menu, ranging from a selection of local cheese, oysters, and lobster rolls to be enjoyed while gazing out at the sunsets over the harbor.

The property experience is further enhanced by bespoke offerings such as hot ale flips by the fire pits on the Garden Terrace and tea leaf or tarot card readings in the mezzanine.

Whatever travelers fancy, there is no shortage of eccentricities at this awe-inspiring auberge.

Top Takeaways

Location: Newport, Rhode Island

Rating: Four-Star

The Vibe: As a former mansion of Alfred Vanderbilt’s, this restored spirited resort is perfectly balanced between moody and dramatic yet playful and charming.

Food + Drink: The property boasts a number of culinary delights. The Conservatory is the verdant sun-dappled dining room that overlooks the garden and outdoor patio, providing the perfect backdrop for enjoying breakfast and Afternoon Tea. The Dining Room at The Vanderbilt pays homage to Alfred Vanderbilt’s love of the outdoors, with elevated tavern offerings and new spins on classic cocktails. All the way upstairs, The Roof Deck offers flavorful light bites inspired by the bounty of New England, to be enjoyed while taking in sunset views of Newport Harbor.

Property Amenities: 1 outdoor swimming pool; Spa; Pet-friendly; Fitness center; Room service; Bar; Parking

Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: The eccentric bespoke offerings create a unique touchpoint for travelers. Hot ale flips –– a traditional Colonial-era drink –– are distinctly crafted to be enjoyed by the fire pits on the Garden Terrace for a decidedly warming combination. Tea leaf and tarot card readings take place in the mezzanine each week, and the hotel is constantly introducing an array of different events, determined entirely by the vibes of the current season.

What’s Nearby?: Newport Harbor; Bowen’s Wharf; Newport Mansions; Thames Street; Trinity Church; Old Colony House

Any Neighborhood Recs?: The White Horse Tavern is the “oldest operating restaurant in the United States,” and acknowledged as the 10th oldest restaurant in the world. Being America’s oldest restaurant––the spot has served guests since 1673––it is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Dining here is like leaping back through time into the Colonial Era, enjoying contemporary New England dishes all the while. 

Rooms: 33

Starting Nightly Rate: $449

Closest Airport: Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport

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