Five Stylish Inns to Book for Your Next Maine Getaway
These design-forward lodging destinations are elevating Maine’s Vacationland reputation.
While plenty of big-name hotels offer serviceable rooms, sometimes you’re looking for more than clean sheets and a hot shower. Sometimes, you want a travel experience—to be surprised and seduced by your home-away. Time off is precious and should be savored, so next time you’re planning a long weekend, remember these visually enticing interiors. Some of the rooms are so good, you won’t even want to go out.
Located in Portland’s West End near the Portland Museum of Art and the Victoria Mansion, the Blind Tiger (owned by Massachusetts-based boutique chain Lark Hotels) aims to give guests the impression that they’re staying with a friend, the kind of person who is “always hosting low-key parties and connecting the most interesting people,” says Megan Kennedy, cofounder of design firm Elder and Ash and creative director at Lark. The building is a nineteenth-century Federal-style brick mansion that once, a century ago, housed a speakeasy in the basement. “The Blind Tiger has had many lives,” says Kennedy, who drew on the history of the neighborhood as well as the influence of the local maker community. While not all the art and furniture comes from New England shops, the team sourced quite a few one-of-a-kind pieces from Portland Flea for All, a beloved local thrift store. As a result, each guest room feels distinct. Some have leather woven headboards, others have black-painted turned wood. Some rooms have rattan armchairs, others feature soft weathered leather. To tie it all together, the design team brought in plaid blankets from Evangeline Linens for guests to use while sitting by the fire. To add another layer of local color, each room was named by a different Portland “host,” including local musician Spencer Albee and poet Gibson Fay-LeBlanc. Upon arrival, guests are given a letter from their room’s patron outlining a few things to love about Portland.
163 Danforth St., Portland | 207.879.8755 | blindtigerportland.com
York Beach Surf Club
Designer Chelsea Mortenson of Brass Tacks Studio in Chicago expresses awe at the idea of “a winter surfing culture, in Maine of all places.” And yet, this offbeat hobby gave Mortenson plenty of inspiration when it came to outfitting the guest rooms and bungalows at York Beach Surf Club, a resort located near Long Sands Beach. Set to open in early 2022, the property is owned by the Perkins family, who have lived and surfed in Maine for decades. “We found all these incredible over-saturated and kind of blown-out photographs from the 1960s. We had them restored, and we used those as the jumping-off point of the palette,” Mortenson explains. She had the images, which featured owner Taylor Perkins’s dad and his buddies with their boards, enlarged and framed to hang alongside macramé, potted plants, and pop art. Rather than the expected pine Adirondack chairs, Mortenson installed hammocks and swings outside for guests to kick back in. While this may sound a little kitschy, she kept the rest of the design sleek and understated, with lots of stainless steel, monochrome tiles, and white satin paint. The overall effect is “Scandi-nautical,” according to Mortenson. Gray-stained floor planks in the main areas mimic the stony shores of Maine, and touches of burnt orange add warmth and interest. “When you are at the York Beach Surf Club, it feels like an extension of the beach,” Mortenson says. “It’s not too ‘throwback,’ but wherever you look you’re reminded of the story of this resort.”
780 York St., York | 207.363.4037 | yorkbeachsurfclub.com
White Barn Inn
A few years ago, this famous inn (which comes recommended by the likes of Goop, Forbes, and Travel and Leisure) was purchased by the Auberge Resorts Collection, a group that owns luxury hotels around the world. With a new, globally minded ownership came a new, globally influenced look. Auberge brought in Jenny Wolf of Jenny Wolf Interiors in New York to update the classic Kennebunk destination (and their eponymous award-winning restaurant). The result is as preppy as ever, but with a more youthful spin. Think soft beige buffalo-check curtains, not cobalt-and-white gingham. There’s still plenty of beachy blue, but Wolf selected complicated, subdued robin’s-egg blue and smoky teal rather than the traditional delft blue for the walls and trim. Zebra skin rugs, taxidermy wall hangings, and fluffy white pillows clash playfully with black-painted Windsor chairs, giving the whole space a rather eclectic (yet still old-money) vibe.
37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk | 207.967.2321 | aubergeresorts.com/whitebarninn
Squire Tarbox Inn
Updated in 2018, rooms at the historic Squire Tarbox Inn toe the line between chicly minimalist and old-school austere. There’s something almost monastic about the Yankee decor, which relies heavily on quality solid-wood furniture and soft textiles to create a sense of under-stated ease. You may be surprised to learn that the new owner, Lisa Dalton, hails from Texas, but the items she’s sourced from down South feel quite at home in the white-walled rooms. Along with a collection of majolica pottery, Dalton has brought in vintage bowling pins and a chest covered in Texas cowhide to add texture to the space. “There are some whimsical things in there,” she says. “I wanted it to feel unfussy and outside-the-box.” The main building dates back to the 1700s (the nearby barn was built in the 1820s), and it shows; while there’s air-conditioning available and heat pumps to guard against the winter chill, Dalton opted to retain the dinged-up exposed beams and the wide, worn floorboards. This was the correct choice. There’s a lot of character and charm in the Squire Tarbox, especially if you’re willing to look closely. “We’re on Westport Island, a bit outside of town, but that’s part of the appeal,” says Dalton, who has been visiting nearby Wiscasset for years. “I really think it’s a hidden gem.”
1181 Main Rd., Westport | 207.315.5561 | squiretarboxinn.com
Seven Lakes Inn
For those who prefer fresh water to salt, the Seven Lakes Inn in Belgrade will come as a pleasant surprise. Rather than leaning into the camp look with brass bears and deer horns, the owners, mother-daughter duo Carolyn Walker and Jordan Shaw, decided to inject a little European flair into their slice of Maine. The striped linen bedding feels straight out of Provence, and “guests swoon over the finish of the plaster walls that I applied to the dining and sitting rooms,” Shaw says. “It creates a really cozy, soothing environment to reflect the cool and earthy tones of the surrounding trees and lakes just outside. The original grand staircase also anchors the center of the building in a very beautiful, classic way.” After restoring the 1843 Italianate building with help from their extended family, Walker and Shaw set to work decorating with antiques sourced from their travels at home and abroad. “Some of our go-tos include the Post Supply, Cabot Mill Antiques, Samuel Snider Antiques, and Marston House,” reveals Shaw. The overall effect is one of worn country glamor—perfect for a lakeside getaway.
168 Main St., Belgrade | 207.877.4412 | sevenlakesinn.com
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