by Lissa Poirot
Situated on a 40-acre peninsula at the head of Narragansett Bay is Castle Hill, a stately mansion and resort property known to visitors for its great lawn overlooking the bay, sunset views, and launch point of many yacht races. The property’s mansion/inn was originally built in 1874 by Harvard marine biologist and naturalist, Alexander Agassiz. Serving as his original summer home, where he would come to study sea life, the home was converted into housing for Naval officers during World War II. After the war, Hollywood royalty and New York City’s elite social summer scene came to this resort, and to this day, it continues to be a place where those who want to see and be seen frequent. Castle Hill is a member of the Relais & Chateaux family of inns and hotels, and its great lawn, dotted with white Adirondack chairs is the place to be for evening sunsets over the bay, as well as during yacht races that frequent the waters in the summer months.
For families, the inn’s private beach offers calm waters and a quiet spot away from Newport’s summer crowds. Cottages provide vacation rental-like getaways, and the inn includes breakfast with all stays. It’s an old-fashioned getaway when you stay at Castle Hill, but one that is quintessentially New England.
Our Editor Loves
- Beach cottages
- Free breakfast
- Private beach
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Children 13 and younger are not permitted to stay in the Mansion, where the inn rooms are located. Families will need to look at the cottages and house offerings.
Located on the inn's private beach, the Beach Cottages feature a queen-size bed and a small sitting area. These cottages are 245 to 355 square feet in size and sleep three people. The Premier Beach Cottage is the only cottage that is free standing, and a favorite for families, as it has its own private deck. The other cottages are connected and share a deck, but work best for larger families who can book two rooms to sleep six. Some cottages offer gas fireplaces. Some cottages provide a bathroom with tub or just a shower, so be sure to request a cottage with a tub if you have young children needing a bathtub. All cottages offer a sink, microwave, Subzero fridge and espresso maker.
Above the inn's private event space are the Chalet and the Chalet Suite, which overlooks Narragansett Bay and Castle Hill Cove. The suite's bedroom features a king bed and a gas fireplace, while the siting room has a double pullout sofa, hardwood floors, and a wet bar. The Chalet room is 260 square feet and sleeps two, but the suite is 420 square feet and sleeps four. Both rooms can be booked together to become a two-bedroom suite for six people.
This small home is where Grace Kelly lived while spending a summer in Newport while filming "High Society" with Frank Sinatra. The house is tucked away near the rocky coastline with panoramic views of Narragansett Bay. It features a queen bed, hardwood floors, French doors to a semi-private porch, gas fireplace, small fridge and espresso maker. It is 255 square feet in size and only sleeps two people, so this house is best for grandparents joining family members on a vacation.
Just spent one night here for the first time and can’t wait to go back. This hotel is charming, romantic, cozy and luxurious. Plus the food is incredible. When I opened the door to our beach house room and saw the view of the waves crashing on the beach, I turned to my husband and told him I was never leaving. The room was modern with a small kitchenette, a large tub and a fireplace. I had a fabulous massage at the spa. Our dinner was exceptional and the service was excellent. On the downside the hotel does not have a gym. Otherwise it was love at first sight.
We held our daughter's wedding here, and let me tell you, it was fantastic. It's a perfect venue for all sizes of weddings. And a plus is the property and the restaurants are amazing. We had guests stay in the beach cottages, and they loved every minute in them. We also love the patio and lawn areas. Terrific place.
Castle Hill Beach
The property's main beach is a quiet arc of sand with shallow and calm waters, ideal for families with small children. Beach cottages flank the beach, and Castle Hill is Newport's only property with beachfront accommodations. During the summer, towel service, as well as food and beverage service, is provided.
Castle Hill Cove & Marina
With its waterfront location, the inn has a cove with docks for sunset sails, ferries to Newport's docks and the U.S. Coast Guard, which has a station on the property. The inn's Hinckley Yacht can take guests to Block Island, Cuttyhunk, Mackerel Cove, or even to the inn's sister restaurant, the Boat House, in Newport. The Mistress also provides daily launches from the cove to Bowen's Wharf in Newport from late June through early September. Kids 12 and younger are free; adults are $10 per ride.
Castle Hill Lighthouse
Built in the late 1800's, this lighthouse is 34 feet tall and once housed a 1,300-pound foghorn. While the lighthouse's primary purpose was to assist ships entering Narragansett Bay, it morphed into the starting and finish line for Newport's yacht races. Guests enjoying the property in the summer can watch the sailboats lining up to start their races and catch the winners before the rest of the town has heard the news.
Grace Kelly Beach
Named for the famed actress who stayed at the Harbor House as she filmed "High Society" in Newport in the 1950's, this rocky path to a rocky water's edge was her private retreat. Because the climb back up the rocks was tricky, the staff built her a staircase that, to this day, allows current guests to find the solace Kelly did in her day.
The inn offers bicycles, fishing equipment, board games and lawn games for guests to borrow. On Sunday evenings, from summer through early fall, the inn features an evening bonfire.
The inn features four dining rooms, as well as The Lawn, for al fresco dining with the best sunset views in Newport. The dining rooms are open for lunch or brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5:45 to 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on weekends. The lawn is open for lunch and brunch during the same hours, as well as walk-in dining from 3 to 8 p.m., depending on the weather. The Terrace, which is covered, opens daily at 11:30 a.m. and provides lawn dining service until 8:30 p.m. The chef has his own garden at Castle Hill, farming the vegetables and herbs used in his culinary creations. His dinners are prix fixe with three-, four- and six-course offerings of started, main courses and desserts.
A gourmet continental breakfast is included with a stay at Castle Hill, served daily in the dining rooms from 8 to 10 a.m. (Room service breakfast is available, at an additional fee.) Guests will find eggs, frittatas, pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt and a special lobster hash brown.
Afternoon tea is served in the dining rooms daily from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and is also included with the stay.
Planning & Tips
Children under the ages of 13 are not allowed to stay in the Agassiz Mansion, where the inn rooms are located. Instead, families must select cottage or house accommodations, which are better suited for them anyway.
Pets are not allowed.
The inn features Wi-Fi, at an additional daily fee.
The Art of Smart Timing
While Castle Hill is open year-round, its peak season is summer through Labor Day. While rates and occupancy are highest during these months, the inn has more offerings during this time. For a quieter trip, the Indian Summer months are the best time to visit, as the weather is perfect for exploring and the beach, but the crowds are gone. Springs can be hit or miss in Newport, perhaps warm enough to enjoy, or sometimes snowy and cold through the end of April. Winter can be a nice time to visit Newport, as the mansions are decorated for the holidays and have special events.
Newport, R.I., is conveniently located between Boston and New York City. Trains from both cities, as well as Providence are available. If flying, the T.F. Green Airport in Warwick is a small airport just 30 miles away, but flying into Boston and taking the train or renting a car is not a bad method, as Newport is only about an hour away.
Castle Hill provides free parking, including complimentary valet parking. The inn is remote from the main attractions of Newport, but provides ferry service to Bowen's Wharf, where families can dine, shop and walk to area attractions. While the ferry has a fee, it may be cheaper than parking in town during the summer months. The ferry is not available outside of summer, so guests will want to have a car to drive if visiting in the fall through spring.
For Mom and Dad
The Retreat at Castle Hill is the inn's wellness offering, featuring organic herbal products called Farmaesthetics. Guests can enjoy face and body treatments with Farmaesthetics in the comfort of a mansion suite.