Lodging in Maine: 12 Places to Stay
Five rooms overlook the water from The Maine House, an 1891 home in which guests congregate for a hearty, buffet-style breakfast and plan their days. Some, sensibly, linger for hours on the lawn or porch. Five contemporary cottages, with rooms, suites, and a few full condo-style units, hug the shore.
The Cliff House Resort & Spa, Ogunquit
The Cliff House looks more like a cruise ship improbably beached on a rocky outcropping than one of the oldest family-owned resorts in the East. That’s because fourth-generation owner Kathryn Weare has replaced all the older buildings, creating weatherproofed spaces, including a glass-walled spa pool and a two-story Grand Pavilion, from which guests watch surf pluming at Bald Head.
What hasn’t changed since 1872 is the view. The ocean, stretching to and across the horizon, is center stage in all 194 rooms, each with its own balcony. Patrons vary from families and dog owners, squirreled away in the less expensive Clifftop and Ledges buildings, to spa queens and couples, massaged with hot (local) stones and soothed in the inn’s luxurious Maine Wild Rose or Blueberry Body Wrap. Spa facilities include a heated clifftop pool with a “vanishing edge,” creating the illusion that you’re swimming out to sea.
The Driftwood Inn, Bailey Island
What a perfect name for this collection of weathered, gray-shingled cottages, gathered on the tip of a skinny finger of land, pointing out to sea beyond Casco Bay. The Driftwood is “Maine rustic,” once understood to mean naturally air-conditioned, with shared living rooms heated by fireplaces (there are also electric heaters), and guest rooms with shared and half baths (some are now private). Breakfast and dinner (BYOB) are served in a pine-walled, multiwindowed dining room at time-polished tables. A saltwater pool is tucked into rocks above a sheltered cove.
Guests return year after year to the same rooms in one of the three big cottages (two facing out to sea) and six housekeeping cottages. There were a number of places like this along the Maine coast when the Conrad family bought the Driftwood some 60 years ago. Now it’s one of the last of its species.
The Gosnold Arms, New Harbor
Guests wake to the putter of fishing boats, proof that New Harbor is still a working waterfront. Originally a saltwater farm, Gosnold Arms has been an inn since 1925, rambling along the water with ample rainy-day space and 10 guest rooms upstairs, eight with water views.
Many of the 20 cottage units overlook the water; six are smack-dab on the harbor. Pilot House, our favorite, is the smallest, replacing a rehabbed trawler wheelhouse. All the essentials are there: bed, bath, fridge, microwave, wicker chairs, and sliding doors to a deck facing out beyond the harbor entrance.
There’s an informal, caring feel to this place, owned by the Phinney family for three decades. Pemaquid Beach and Pemaquid Light are an easy bike ride away. And it’s a short walk to Shaw’s Wharf, a popular lobster pound that’s also the departure point for Hardy Boat Cruises for puffin watching out by Egg Rock and daily runs to Monhegan Island. The inn’s full breakfast is served buffet-style, the better to catch a boat.