by Lissa Poirot
Thirty miles off the coast of Cape Cod, and an hour by high-speed ferry from Hyannis, Mass., lies the intimate island of Nantucket. Within steps of the historic center of its cobblestoned streets awaits the White Elephant, consisting of 52 guestrooms and 11 garden cottages in the intimate hotel, and one- to three-bedroom “homes” in its special Residences.
The main hotel features a cozy library, relaxing spa, dining room overlooking the Nantucket Harbor, and a grand harborside lawn. The residences feature one- to three-bedroom “cottages,” complete with front porches, in-room fireplaces, SubZero kitchens, dining areas, and special concierge service. These are not to be confused with the hotel’s “cottages,” which also feature one- to three-bedroom accommodations.
Whether staying in the hotel or the residences, families can truly enjoy the essence of Nantucket charm. Days will be spent riding bicycles around the island, lounging on Brant Point or Children’s beaches, eating homemade ice cream, sailing in the sound, and sitting on the front porch and watching the fog roll in. It’s a quiet vacation, set amidst the luxury of the White Elephant.
Our Editor Loves
- Close to beaches and center of town
- Harborside lawn
- Provide home away from home
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The White Elephant Hotel features 52 guestrooms, of which the Shoreline Suite is the only standard room suitable to families, with king bed and pullout sofa. For a stay at the hotel, select instead one of the 11 cottages, ranging from one- to three-bedrooms. These cottages include living areas and sometimes a dining room with kitchen, to make a stay more like home.
Hotel rooms and its cottages feature DVD players, small refrigerators, and free Wi-Fi, as well as beach towels and chairs.
Residences feature gas fireplaces, MP3 docking stations and stereos, gas fireplaces, SubZero, full-size refrigerators, Panini maker, toaster oven, microwave, blender, dishwasher, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, free Wi-Fi, and free bottled water. They also provide complimentary bicycles, beach chairs, towels and umbrellas, and have a library of videos, as well as Xbox and Wii that can be borrowed. The residences also have its own fitness center and private pool that welcomes children, including a 3 p.m. daily ice cream social.
Both locations provide complimentary mini muffins and coffee in the morning, with the Residences also providing afternoon cheese and port to its guests.
Came to Nantucket for the first time and was very happy with this choice of hotel! Lovely and spotless hotel with the best staff ever! We especially loved Alice at the front desk. Check in was a breeze and they offer free shuttle service while staying there so we were driven by Kevin to town and he suggested a place for lunch while our room was getting ready for us. The lunch was perfect with harbor views! We then got a text that room was ready and so we called for a drive back! Once we got the lay of the land we realized that we could walk everywhere. This hotel is a great location near town . It’s very upscale and totally worth it! We will absolutely stay here again.
by Jennifer S
We visited Nantucket and the White Elephant hotel for our Anniversary week getaway. We loved everything about our stay. From the people at the front desk, concierge, restaurant staff, bartenders and car drivers, all are kind, professional, warm and helpful. We arrived to find a chocolate mouse cake decorated with flowers and a "Happy Anniversary" greeting. The last night of our stay we got a knock on our door and Prosecco and strawberries from the staff. We were greeted every morning, helped with reservations, directions, and excursion ideas.
The rooms are perfect for Nantucket. Beautiful, cozy bed and light colors create a happy room. The bathrooms are not extra large, but they are modern, white, and clean. The towels and robes are plush and the bath products lovely. We stayed in two different rooms during our stay and saw a third. The rooms above the restaurant look out over the lawn and the water. There is a sitting area outside the room where we enjoyed our morning coffee. This room is probably the best value and we found it to be quiet and perfect for a few hours each day. Another room we saw was a suite near this restaurant. This room is similar to the first with an attached living area that probably could hold a child. The bathroom in this room was smaller. Finally, we did get to stay in a harbor view suite due to the storms. This room is gorgeous, with a separate living area, fireplace and patio with whicker furniture looking directly at the water. We did not want to leave!!
What makes White Elephant even better is its location just a short walk to town. We never used a cab our entire week other than to the airport. The hotel has bikes with baskets to borrow and we rode to a different beach on the island everyday. They give you towels and water and maps as you head out. One day, my husband broke his bike as we rode and they arrived in a van and with humor and kindness got us back home in no time at all. As an aside, ride the bikes to Milly's and enjoy a lobster quesadilla and a margarita and then walk the beach to the tip of the island. The sunset here is the best!
We loved to rest at the very quiet, beautiful pool after riding bikes and visiting beaches. The food at the pool is healthy and very good. The chairs are comfy and it seemed like a great spot for families with children.
The hotel provides coffee, tea and pastries in the morning. We loved picking this up and enjoying it on the deck as the boats took off on the water. They also offer Port and cheese in the afternoon. We ate twice in the restaurant and found the meal to be very good and the view perfect.
My husband played golf on the Island and enjoyed it. We visited the must see Whale Museum. He managed to sing 4 or 5 songs at Karaoke in town. We spent hours exploring the cute shops and stopping for lunches of lobster rolls. (Cru on the docks has a delicious lobster roll).
I believe at weeks end, we had explored most of the Island and agreed that we would return to the White Elephant.
The hotel, cottages and residences are as welcoming as a cottage rental, providing a luxurious and comfortable home away from home. However, the accommodations are not the reason behind the visit to Nantucket, and thusly, they don't try to compete. You won't find kiddie pools or kids programs here, but within walking -- or biking -- distance are places kids will enjoy, including:
Just across the street from the White Elephant Hotel is a small beach geared specifically toward families. Shallow and calm waters are perfect for little ones, and a playground and restrooms are also on hand. Around the bend is Brant Point Light house and Jetties Beach, a larger stretch of beach along the Nantucket Sound.
In the summer, this up-and-coming theater offers a Young Actors Theater Company for children ages 5 to 14 for week-long programs. The Dreamland Foundation is a non-profit looking to restore the Dreamland Theater as a place to celebrate performing and visual arts. The theater shows kid-friendly films, family-friendly concerts, and even Yoga for Kids programs.
Discover the fascinating history of Nantucket as the former whaling capital of the world through the Nantucket Historical Association's Whaling Museum. Guided tours, exhibits, a children's Discovery Room and children's programs will give kids and parents a glimpse into island life, which began with the Wampanoag Indians. Be sure to pick up the Family Guide, which gives kids a scavenger hunt and activities connected to the exhibits.
Brant Point Grill
The only onsite restaurant is Brant Point Grill overlooking Nantucket Harbor. Children's menus with coloring books can occupy little ones in a setting that deceptively appears to be unfriendly to children. It may take you a moment to realize there are children present in the restaurant, as children of all ages are enjoying quiet meals with their families, unlike some loud chain restaurants where kids can be louder than the Muzak playing overhead.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features a fantastic Sunday brunch complete with carving station, waffle station, omelet station, pastries, fruits, hot foods and desserts. At lunch and dinner, surf and turf is the restaurant's forte, with a fresh selection of seafood and decadent cuts of beef.
A special kids' menu (and sippy cups) are available for young guests, and there is a Kids' Corner with kid favorites and an ice cream cart during the Sunday brunch.
The restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch and opens for dinner at 5:30 p.m. Sunday brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The White Elephant is operated by Nantucket Island Resorts, which includes the Relais & Chateaux Wauwinet property. The Wauwinet's Topper's restaurant is considered one of Nantucket's best restaurants, as is top-ranked across the U.S., as well. Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, save this one for a special date night and enjoy stellar wines from its wine cellar. A one-hour cruise from Nantucket Town to the restaurant is available seasonally, and is complimentary with dinner reservations.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
A movie library, bicycles and a fitness center are onsite for guests to use.
Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available.
The resort provides complimentary van transportation to and from the ferry docks.
The Art of Smart Timing
Nantucket is a seasonal island favored in its brief summer months of July and August, when rates are at its peak. April's Daffodil Days kicks off the spring season, which can be a fickle time to visit, with weather ranging from sunny and clear to foggy and cold. Nantucket's Christmas Stroll is a step back in time and keeps the season going beyond fall, which is truly a fantastic time to visit, as the weather is often cool but sunny and the crowds have dispersed. Most restaurants and attractions close between January and March.
Nantucket has a small airport serviced mainly by Cape Air, with flights originating from Boston or Hyannis. A word of warning, however: Nantucket's sea air is fickle and may fog over in the blink of an eye, grounding flights and sending stranded passengers to snatch up seats on the ferries. The Hy-Line Cruises Fast Ferry from Hyannis is only an hour trip and not too pricey. The Steamship Authority's "slow" ferry departs from Hyannis or Woods Hole, and takes two to three hours, respectively, but at about half the cost of the "fast" ferry. Both options disembark in the heart of Nantucket.
Nantucket Town is intimate and walkable, with most stores, restaurants and accommodations within a 10-block radius. To sample other beaches or explore residential areas lined with former sea captain residences, a bike will be all you need. Cabs are available if you'd like to venture further or do not want to walk, so a car rental is not necessary while enjoying the island.
For Mom and Dad
The White Elephant Spa features just four treatment rooms but the serenity and luxury found at any great hotel spa. Massages, facials, body treatments and other revitalizing treatments are worth the time-out from the kids.