Hob Knob-ing around Martha’s Vineyard
I grew up, went to college, and spent nearly all of my twenties on the west coast; Seattle and Southern California will always be home. Now that I’ve been in Boston for five years however, I’ve started discovering things about the east coast that I absolutely adore.
Easy weekend getaways tops that list.
When you live in LA, weekend getaways are either boring (San Diego- essentially a smaller, more conservative version of LA), expensive (try going to San Francisco for a weekend for less than $2,000), logistically difficult (Las Vegas), or some combination of the three. Because of the hassle, Angelinos often end up rarely leaving the city unless you can get away for at least a week.
Not in New England. Short getaways are practically considered a birthright here, and people go away for two to four days as often as they can. I’ve slowly been adopting this habit, with recent weekend trips to New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Western Mass, and finally- this summer- The Hamptons. The last place left on my list? Martha’s Vineyard.
As of this past weekend, I can finally check that one off too! (Although now that I’ve been to the island I’m plenty happy to pretend I haven’t, if it means I’ll get to go back sooner...)
What I discovered about the Vineyard is that it’s nothing like what I expected. The beaches are beautiful, the antique homes picture-perfect, and the people delightful. Topping that off, I found a true gem among New England inns- a modern, eco-chic boutique hotel that also happens to have a rich history. I know it sounds like the illustrious unicorn, but trust me- it exists!
Martha’s Vineyard :: what (and where) is it?
Perhaps I’m a bit blonde, but before I went to The Hamptons this summer, I couldn’t have told you where in God’s name "they" were (and yes, I did watch Sex & the City!). Likewise with Martha’s Vineyard. Perhaps I just never paid attention because I didn’t think I’d be going there, but when I found out that "the island" (as islanders and New Englanders call it; Bostonians say "Mahthah’s Vineyehd") was less than three hours from Boston (part of that on a ferry), I was surprised- and felt stupid for not yet having made the trip.
Martha’s Vineyard is the largest island just off the southern coast of Massachusetts, directly south of "the armpit" of the land that makes up the Cape. You can get to the island by ferry or plane; the former being the most popular, as there are regular departures to and from the island many times each day.
The Vineyard is famous partly because of the many high-profile people who own houses on the island, or whose families have been ’summering’ there for generations. (Yes, ’summering’ is a verb in New England.) Among the list of who’s who of course are the Kennedys; remember that little bridge incident involving Edward and a young blonde? That was here... Unlike The Hamptons however, there’s more to summers here than the social scene- Martha’s Vineyard is much more relaxed and down to earth.
The high season runs from spring through summer, and many inns, restaurants, and shops are only open seasonally. Don’t let that fool you however- early spring and late fall are excellent times to visit the Vineyard. It’s then that you’ll find fewer people, but most of the shops and restaurants are still open- and as long as you know what to expect, even winter on the island can be beautiful. As a writer, I think it may be my favorite time to visit.
A rich History
Wanting to get away from the city for a few days, I ventured to the island with the hopes of "detaching" a bit from my normal routine and relaxing in a quieter, more peaceful place where I could reconnect with myself and write. The challenge for me was to find a place that offered modern conveniences and sophistication, while still holding on to its history, and a "Vineyard feel."
I found just that in The Hob Knob.
A 19th century Gothic Revival home, the Hob Knob recently went through a complete transformation from a classic New England inn to a fabulous eco-chic boutique hotel. Don’t worry- the designers retained the building’s architectural style and classic New England charm, but gave it a level of sophistication that makes it feel like a fabulous European B&B, combining the charm of the ’old’ with the elegance and style of the ’new.’ If the Hob Knob were in France, I’m sure it would be part of the Relais & Chateau collection; it’s that good.
The Hob Knob is named after the grandmother of proprietor Margaret "Maggie" H. White, an extremely talented woman and major presence on the island. The hotel has a rich history, and has welcomed guests for decades- some quite well known, including John F. Kennedy in 1947.
Eco-Chic (emphasis on chic!)
Staying at the Hob Knob, I realized how gay I actually am. As I toured the hotel, every time I went from one room to another I found myself saying, "Oh my God- it’s so cute!" The appeal of the hotel, however, is much more than superficial; the Hob Knob offers style and substance.
As part of the inn’s transformation- and in keeping with the Vineyard’s heritage of sustainability- Maggie wanted to "go green." As a result, the Hob Knob is now a model for other inns and B&Bs on the island- and around the country. As the only modern luxury boutique hotel on the island, however, it’s truly in a class of its own.
The Hob Knob is eco-friendly from top to bottom. Carpeting in the hotel is LEED certified, paint is low-VOC, cleaning products are eco-friendly, and green practices can be seen throughout the hotel. Of course they’ve implemented the now standard water-saving linen reuse program, but that’s just the beginning. The hotel has in-room recycling, all light bulbs are compact fluorescent, and rooms feature eco-friendly glass water bottles and (fabulous!) Aveda products in the bathrooms.
In the kitchen, the culinary staff uses local, organic foods and they compost food waste.