Wouldn’t you love to summer in East Egg or West Egg? The names F Scott Fitzgerald uses for Great Neck and Port Washington in ‘The Great Gatsby’. These playgrounds of the wealthy and fabulous sound like a ball of elegant fun – even during prohibition, when the book was set. I think it was Gatsby that really created the idea of The American Summer for me. A long stretch of sunshine, sand and freedom where you could meet the love of your life, like Danny and Sandy from ‘Grease’, have a serious adventure, like the one that happened in Martha’s Vineyard with that shark, or come of age like Finn in the gloriously green film adaptation of ‘Great Expectations’ set on the Florida Coast. When I went on camping holidays with my parents, I dreamed of exotic American locations. I yearned to visit the Eastern Seaboard where, from my very limited knowledge of American history, I knew the Founding Fathers arrived, as did everyone emigrating, and the heritage of the South.
There are a few American Summers (East Coast obviously) I’d like to experience now I’ve grown up. There’s the Summer of Southern Charm, a New England Summer, the Perfect American Beach Break, Cape Cod – do I need to explain why? – and a summer somewhere Big and Spectacular. So I took my dreams to the travel experts at the Hotel Guru and this is what they picked out for me.
For a generous helping of Southern charm try leafy Charleston’s Zero George Street. Here you’ll find a small collection of restored Colonial era houses which are growing old gracefully. Inside the houses are 18 rooms, with high ceilings, original pine floors, wooden shutters and fine furnishings in cream, white and beige – worthy of the many interiors magazines the hotel has featured in. Rooms start from around $339 per night over the summer. See some more recommendations in graceful, romantic, friendly Charleston.
For New England chic at its peaceful best there’s the Beach House Inn, a luxurious B&B in Kennebunkport, an atmospheric, historic little port town close to some of Maine’s most beautiful beaches. From around $249 per night you can spend your evenings sipping wine on the old fashioned wraparound porch, enjoy a fancy afternoon tea or a hearty breakfast. There are 34 rooms, but you also have access to the facilities at the property’s sister hotel, The Breakwater Inn & Spa.
If you’re looking for the perfect beach break – white sand, palm trees swaying in a subtropical breeze and maybe a generous dash of local eccentricity to keep your evenings lively – The Gates hotel on Key West is about as good as it gets. Chic, just steps from the beach and very Florida, The Gates has smart white on white rooms an enormous pool and a lively poolside bar and restaurant. Starting from around $155 per night, this is also a great hotel for families. If you like the sound of The Gates, have a look at some other recommendations for the Florida Keys.
Nowhere says traditional US summer quite like Cape Cod, and if you’re looking for the classic Cape Cod experience try the Sea Meadow Inn. Built in the 18th century – which is really old for America – this house belonged to a captain, but has been converted to a stylish, yet homely, seven room hotel. There are views of Paine’s Creek Beach and the terrace overlooks beautiful, peaceful gardens. Of course they’ve gone for a nautical twist with the decor. Rooms start from just $155 per night including breakfast, afternoon refreshments, 24hr pantry and beach towels.For American small coastal town perfection you need St Michaels on Chesapeake Bay – there’s a strong maritime history and spectacular views over the bay and estuary. And you’ll want to stay at Wades Point Inn on the Bay, a collection of four elegant, white buildings connected by a shaded, sloping lawn which is right on the point of the bay, overlooking the ocean. The 26 rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated and have incredible ocean views. The hotel is slightly out of town but it’s worth it for the views, the best of which are in the rooms in the graceful main house. Doubles start from around $179 B&B per night.
There are 17 international airports on the US east coast, John F Kennedy and La Guardia for New York, Tampa for Florida, Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson Airport and Charlotte Douglas Airport are good places to start searching for flights, as well as internal flights to get you closer to your final destination.
When it comes to predicting the weather in the US this is a big country with a vast range of climates. But broadly, Florida is humid and sub-tropical, Maryland and Delaware enjoy long, hot almost sub-tropical summers too, but they see longer and colder winters, South Carolina and Georgia are known for the possibility of hurricanes and thunderstorms, but are also sunny and humid, and further north there’s sunshine and sunny-cloudy days through summer. It’s best to narrow down the American Summer you fancy and then go back to the Hotel Gurus for advice. That’s what I’d do. After all, it’s their advice which has gotten me this far.
The Hotel Guru has done your hotel research for you. We’ve commissioned a collection of leading travel writers and journalists to offer their recommendations on where to stay, found out all the important, and minute, details about each property, and then cross referenced that with guides we respect. So if having a hot tub is important to you you can search by that, likewise pet-friendly properties and hotels with a great wine list.