Free Wi-Fi, parking, breakfast, and afternoon tea for hotel guests
Popular wedding venue with multiple wedding packages available
Incredibly expensive rates, even in the off-season
Far from downtown Newport, the mansions, and the Cliff Walk (a pro for some)
No pool or fitness center
Castle Hill Inn was once the private summer home of a prominent marine biologist. Today, the 40-acre luxury property includes the original New England-style shingled mansion, along with private guest cottages, a beach, and a small marina. There are several different room types at Castle Hill, but all are outfitted with luxurious finishes such as hardwood floors and marble bathrooms. The hotel’s signature restaurant, the Castle Hill Dining Room, is highly regarded for its delectable seasonal menus and extensive wine list. Castle Hill is far from downtown Newport, and guests will pay a premium to stay here, but nightly rates do include free Wi-Fi, parking, breakfast, and afternoon tea. Travelers looking for a similar level of luxury closer to downtown should check out The Chanler at Cliff Walk, which often has comparable nightly rates.
Driving up the winding road that leads to Castle Hill feels a little bit like being thrown in the pages of a Daphne du Maurier novel. Waves break over craggy cliffs, tiny boats bob up and down with the current, and a canopied tree tunnel curves along the road to the hotel’s entrance. The main building at Castle Hill is the property’s original mansion, the former summer home of Alexander Agassiz, a Harvard naturalist and marine biologist. Today, the shingled stunner, with its grand turret and dark green shutters, looks much like it did back in 1875. Inside, the lobby still feels like a private parlor. It has a masculine look, with handsome dark wood paneling, tufted leather ottomans, thick oriental rugs, and an intricately carved mantle hanging above the fireplace. The crowd skews a bit older -- mostly well heeled couples who have come for a romantic getaway, but young couples meet with wedding planners in front of the fireplace and families enjoy breakfast in the hotel’s dining room. The place is abuzz as dozens of staff members prepare for the day ahead, and welcome guests as they arrive.
Castle Hill Inn is located on a private peninsula that juts from the corner of Newport’s western-most tip. There are no other hotels or inns in the area, giving Castle Hill a real feeling of exclusivity. The downside to such a location is its distance from downtown Newport. Guests need to drive in order to reach the shopping and dining on Thames Street (12 minutes), the mansions on Bellevue Avenue (13 minutes), the Cliff Walk (15 minutes), or any of the public beaches (20 minutes). T.F. Green Airport is 45 minutes away, while the city of Providence is close to an hour from the hotel.
There are three categories of guest rooms at Castle Hill: “on the hill,” “by the beach,” and “overlooking the harbor.” Rooms “on the hill” are located in the original mansion and range in size from 320 to 560 square feet. Each room is individually named and decorated, but all have beautiful fireplaces and luxurious finishes like hardwood floors, marble bathrooms, and large soaking tubs. The Turret Suite, is a bi-level suite that comes complete with a spiral staircase leading up to a circular sitting room. Here, guests can use a telescope to take in the room’s 320 degree view of the surrounding property.
There are two types of rooms “by the beach,” Beach Cottages and Beach Houses, both of which feature separate living and bedroom areas. Decor in the Beach Houses and Beach Cottages is clearly inspired by the sea. White beadboard and exposed white beams are accented by pops of blue and seafoam green. Natural stone fireplaces and woods floors are nice features, as are the marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and huge walk-in showers. Beach Cottages and Beach Houses are equipped with fully stocked kitchenettes that include everything from microwaves and mini-fridges to espresso machines and bottles of wine. Arguably the best part of staying “by the beach” are the rooms’ large private decks that overlook the ocean...some have stairs with direct access to the sand.
“Overlooking the Harbor” is the final room category at Castle Hill. The Harbor Houses, just a few steps from the hotel’s famed lawn, are smaller than all other rooms at the hotel and have a distinctly modern feel to them. Each Harbor House has a sleek fireplace, hardwood floors, and modern bathrooms adorned with glass subway tile and silver fixtures. French doors lead to semi-private decks that sport Adirondack chairs and have views of Newport Bridge. The Harbor Houses are built above the rocky enclave that actress Grace Kelly used to frequent when she stayed at the Castle Hill Inn while shooting High Society during the summer of 1956. The area is now referred to by the staff as “Grace Kelly Beach.”
Lots of freebies, renowned on-site restaurant, picturesque property with small beach
Though guests pay a premium to stay at Castle Hill, there are many “extras” included in the room price. The hotel offers guests free Wi-Fi and parking, and free breakfast in the dining room each morning and a free afternoon tea. The hotel has a small spa called The Retreat at Castle Hill; though it’s not as much a retreat as it is a one room spa with a few basic treatment options like facials and massages. The spa utilizes Farmaesthetics products -- a local Rhode Island line of “green” skincare essentials. There is no pool or fitness center, but there is a small beach with calm waters where guests can swim during the summer months.
Highly regarded on-site restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Guests of Castle Hill Inn can expect their dining experiences to be unparalleled regarding taste, quality, seasonality, and presentation. This also means that dining at Castle Hill will be expensive, and besides the free daily breakfast and afternoon tea, guests can expect to pay a premium for their meals.
The Castle Hill Dining Room is split over four rooms, the largest of which features a rounded wall of windows, giving it incredible views of the harbor, and a bright, airy feel. The dining room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, brunch on Sundays, and offers a chef’s tasting menu. The menus change seasonally, so guests are encouraged to check the hotel’s website for updates.
There are two bars at Castle Hill, one is part of the main dining room, and the other, the Terrace Bar, is outside overlooking Newport Harbor. During the cooler months, the Terrace Bar is semi-enclosed and heated, but is only open on the weekends.
With its manicured lawns and stunning scenery, Castle Hill Inn is a popular wedding venue. The hotel has its own event planners and offers a variety of wedding packages. Those interested in getting married at the hotel are encouraged to start planning well in advance, as available dates tend to fill up quickly, especially during the summer months.