by Stephen Jermanok
This 33-suite boutique property might not feel like your typical family retreat, but its retro style and feel is so intriguing that some teens may even love this property more than the typical family resorts. It has the feel of a house party circa 1920 — guests might feel as if they’ve entered the set of “The Great Gatsby.” Bear in mind that the Vanderbilt is best suited for older, more mature children. Younger kids (ages 10 and under) and their parents may feel out of place.
Needless to say, Vanderbilt Grace is steeped in history. Alfred Vanderbilt, third son of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, was already in the midst of a scandal when he broke ground on Newport’s Vanderbilt Hall in late August, 1908. His wife Elsie filed for divorce that spring, claiming that Alfred had committed adultery with an actress, Mary Agnes O’Brien Ruiz. As reported in The New York Times, the two had met in 1906 in New York’s Central Park, when Mary was having trouble with her saddle and Alfred came to her assistance. At the time, Mary was married. Her husband filed for divorce in the summer of 1908 and rumor had it that Alfred was building Vanderbilt Hall for his mistress. Then, abruptly, the affair came to an end. When the Beaux-Arts style home was finished in 1909, it was donated to the YMCA.
Fast forward a century later and the red-brick building is now owned by Peter de Savary, the British hotelier who first ventured to Newport in 1983 to race in the America’s Cup. De Savary added his own distinct style when he purchased the property. That includes canvassing the walls images from “American Illustration,” many of which feature glam girls from the 1930s who once graced the covers of magazines. He also placed a gold-crested piano in the gastropub, and then added a teardrop pool in the outdoor garden and a rooftop deck from which guests can take in the glorious views of the waterfront.
Vanderbilt Grace’s location is within easy walking distance of the restaurants and shops on Thames and Spring Streets and the nearby wharfs on the harbor. You’ll need a car to travel to the local beaches and mansions, but it’s a short drive.
Our Editor Loves
- Central location
- 1920s elegance
- Lofts and suites for families
- Water Sports
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Vanderbilt Grace's 33 rooms include one- and two-bedroom suites (plus the swanky Vanderbilt Suite on the first floor, which is equipped with a full kitchen and a dining room). The bi-level loft features a sleeper sofa and a half-bath on the first floor, plus a king-size bed and full bath upstairs. Sunlight pours into the skylight above the upstairs bedroom (but there was necessary shade to darken the room during evening and early morning hours). The bathroom was also spacious, with a rainfall shower head. Both rooms had flat-screen TVs. Downstairs, there was a small refrigerator, a coffee maker, a microwave, and an ironing board.
by Emma C
I never write reviews unless my experience is either outstanding or terrible. In this case, it was terrible. I have worked in many resorts and also travel the country very frequently. When I saw this Auberge property I thought it would be a wonderful choice to celebrate my sisters birthday. I am beyond disappointed with the entire staff. The entire hotel staff need to be retrained because our treatment was beyond unacceptable. We felt so uncomfortable by the staff we did not use any of the amenities I paid for. When checking in, I was Interrogated. I was checking in, my name was on the reservation, and she told me my sister needed to be present for check in also. That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. She then continues to ask me 5+ times if we are the only ones staying in the room. When I told her we were taking the car and might find street parking later she told me we HAVE to valet the car. Every single time we left the room we were interrogated by staff members. I have never experienced anything like this. My sister and I were obviously profiled for some unknown reason, but if I were you I would save my money and stay at ANY other hotel in Newport.
By a chance of luck I stopped in to see if they had rooms. I have stayed at every other place in town in the past. This far exceeds any other. The room was amazing. The amenities , Gym, Pool, Sauna outstanding. The location is ideal.
Staff was great. The only strange thing to me was no front desk. So I was confused of where to check in. The staff was all friendly. Roof top is perfect. Vanderbilt made my day ! Can't wait to go back !!! This is the nicest place I have stayed.
Pool and Beaches
The hotel has a small outdoor pool and a far larger indoor lap pool, located in the basement of the house. Both are good spots to unwind after a day of sightseeingl. There's a lot to do in Newport, depending on the time of year. Easton's Beach, a crescent of sand on Newport's rugged coastline, is only a five-minute drive away. Much larger is Second Beach, technically located in neighboring Middletown but still a short ride away. Bring boogie boards, because this long stretch of sand features some of the best waves in New England. You'll spot surfers trying their luck at the far end of the beach.
The concierge will be happy to set up any excursions or tours of the many surrounding mansions. Start with the Breakers, built with the fortune of Alfred's father, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt Grace may have a refined sense of style, but the Breakers is as opulent as they come. For children, they offer a new audio tour about the indulgent lives of the wealthy Vanderbilt children.
Behind those mansions is the three-and-a-half-mile Cliff Walk, one of the great strolls in the country. The trail sits atop the rugged shoreline as ocean waves bathe the rocks below.
Conservatory and Garden Terrace
Guests can choose to have breakfast at the glassed-in Conservatory or outside on the Garden Terrace. The hotel offers an extensive menu of omelets, eggs Benedict, pancakes, fresh fruit, oatmeal and other breakfast fare.
The Vanderbilt Grille
Dinner at Vanderbilt Grille is a must. As soon as you enter the gilded-age room and listen to the sounds of the piano player belting out Gershwin and Cole Porter tunes, you know you're in for a highly original treat. The kids dove into the warm bread, served with a rich French-style butter. For entrees, seafood pie, lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels and fish are a few of the menu items.
The Roof Deck
After dinner, families can retire to the lounge chairs on the roof deck to see Trinity Church's steeple glowing in the moonlight and view the boats bobbing in the harbor and the expanse of Pell Bridge lit up at night. Feel free to grab Scrabble from the lobby and bring it upstairs for a game.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Service is impeccable at Vanderbilt Grace; there's always someone around to help with luggage, reservations or suggestions on how to spend the day.
The resort fee includes: valet parking, Wi-Fi, use of fitness facilities including steam showers and sauna and a nightly welcome reception.
Next door to the spa is a small fitness room featuring elliptical machines, running tracks and free weights.
The Art of Smart Timing
Rates can be high in the height of summer. But with its indoor pool, spa and top-notch restaurant, Vanderbilt Grace is an excellent place to stay in the off-season when rates are far more affordable. The shoulder-season months of June and September are also ideal; during these months, summer congestion is reduced and the beach beckons.
The hotel is about four hours away from JFK airport in New York and two and half hours away from Logan Airport in Boston. The closest metropolitan airport is in Providence, a 30-minutes drive away
A vehicle would be needed to tour around much of the area.
For Mom and Dad
The spa downstairs is a nice place to relax and have a couples' massage, manicure or body polish.