Montauk is Going from Flip-Flops to High Heels in the Hamptons

Gurney's Inn
Gurney's Inn

Gurney’s Inn in Montauk has gone through a $5 million revamp since being bought last year. (Courtesy: Gurney’s Inn)

By Julie Earle-Levine

Sleek hotel revamps, star chef restaurants, and fashion-forward new stores in Montauk are putting this laid-back, BoHo beach town on the map as a truly glamorous locale. It’s hardly surprising since French Vogue recently named Montauk the chicest spot in the Hamptons.

So while the occasional artist may still be found, this season you can look for even more surfers, models, and fashion folk among the still hearty fishermen who call Montauk home year-round.

The biggest Montauk news is the overhaul of Gurney’s Inn — where the valet now excitedly asks if guests know chef Seth Levine, the former chef at Sons of Essex in Manhattan.

Gurney’s, where families have been coming for decades and things were a certain way — think rotten cedar board, Nantucket gray shingles, bad carpets, and dropped ceilings — was in desperate need of change. George Filopoulos and Lloyd Goldman bought the property in June last year and have already spent $5 million.

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The overhaul is being done in stages.

Gurney's Inn
Gurney's Inn

(Courtesy: Gurney’s Inn)

Michael Kramer is the designer behind the revamp, starting with 38 brand-new luxury suites (bringing the total number of rooms to 109) with private terraces planted with juniper berry trees, and where guests can lounge on custom-built striped daybeds.

Now the palette at the property is all soothing modern neutrals, in cream, white, gray, and black.

Kramer, who was the design coordinator at Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk and The Chelsea Hotel, used reclaimed wood that is vintage weathered.

The rooms have quilted linen headboards, polished wood floors, and bathrooms with black granite counters, rainfall showers and mosaic floors. Kramer made the floor-to-ceiling glass doors reflective, to show off the ocean. (New suites, $875/weekdays and $1,075/weekends; three-night minimum in July/August)

On the ocean, the Beach Club at Gurney’s has 500 new daybeds and a concierge who’ll bring you cocktails and bites to your chaise lounge or, if you prefer juices, from the new juice bar.

The food and beverage overhaul by Jennifer Oz LeRoy, of Tavern on the Green fame, and with Levine, starts with the Seawater Grill, Gurney’s 165-seat restaurant. There’s a new sushi bar with caught-that-day Montauk fish, and a beach menu where you can order grilled sticks of vegetables, chicken and salads.

montauk blue hotel
montauk blue hotel

(Courtesy: Montauk Blue Hotel)

Just near the center of town and on the beach, the 82-room Montauk Blue Hotel — formerly Ocean Beach — has had a $3.2 million makeover. The hotel’s yellow-and-green exterior is now a cool blue. Rooms boast deluxe bedding, recessed lighting and navy, black-and-white striped carpet, as well as wood flooring. The hotel has a full-size indoor pool with a retractable roof (perfect for rainy days in Montauk) and a Jacuzzi. (From $350)

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Over near the marina and across the street from a private beach, Haven Montauk is open for its first full summer. Run by a friendly husband-and-wife team, Jenny and Patrick Cabido (he’s a former manager at Surf Lodge), you can expect 30 crisp and clean guest rooms and with nice touches like fresh flowers and complimentary coconut water. There’s a pool, a fire pit and grill for those just off nearby fishing charters. (From $225/midweek)

At the Crow’s Nest Inn & Restaurant by hotelier Sean MacPherson, there are brand-new lakefront cottages with kitchenettes that include housekeeping, bikes, and beach parking passes. (From $2,900 to $3,900/week in July and August)

The Surf Lodge
The Surf Lodge

(Courtesy: The Surf Lodge)

The Surf Lodge, famed for its beach concerts, has a new café, Tartinery, from Nolita, with Vittoria coffee as well as a new chef de cuisine, Michael Hamilton (Acme and Kingswood) with Australian chef Chris Rendell at the helm. The hotel will also offer free yoga and fitness programs on the deck — for non-guests, too. (From $395)

Sole East has a new chef, Marlon Rambaran, of Fontainebleau Miami and a pop-up by Sunbarth’s, the original Southampton boutique specializing in men’s swimwear, resortwear, and accessories. There are new pool beds, and in the rooms, new Frette linens and artwork ($225 a night weekday package through June including dinner for two and bicycle rentals)

Sole East
Sole East

(Courtesy: Sole East)

Montauk Yacht Club now has chef Robert W. Reed, who was executive chef at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort. Plus, there’s a new fleet of paddleboats to play on. It’s right on the waterfront with a private beach.

At Ruschmeyer’s, Roy Wohlars, formerly of Moby Dicks and South Edison in Montauk, is joining The Smile team as executive chef and will be serving brunch for the first time, including a sandwich of poached lobster, sunnyside-up egg, and arugula.

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Montauk Yacht Club
Montauk Yacht Club

(Courtesy: Montauk Yacht Club)

Also launching is Montauk’s first cold-pressed, organic juice bar. Montauk Juice Factory, by Madeleine Murphy and two brothers Paul and Brett Caretsky, is serving bottled daily juices including “The Ditch,” named after Ditch Plains and perfect for ditching the hangover (celery pineapple, green apple, coconut water and dandelion root).

It’s hard to find a better breakfast than Joni’s Kitchen, which just introduced avocado toast with cucumber greens, but Tacombi’s Montauk outpost is now serving chorizo tacos topped with avocado and plates of chilaquiles, along with their own coffee.

The Candied Anchor is a recently opened 1950s self-serve sweet shop offering candy (also nut-free, vegan-organic versions), locally made ice pops and sorbet. Jillian Renan is the owner and grew up in Montauk where her mom is a well-known baker (Dawn’s Delights). And don’t forget about Navy Beach restaurant, which will be participating in Dock-to-Dish, the seafood cooperative where you get just-out-of-the-ocean fish from Montauk fisherman. Order the local catch ceviche of scallop, fluke, ruby red shrimp, jalapeno, ginger and mint ($16) on the new menu.

Go to the recently opened Martine & Juan for gorgeous finds by the owners of the same name who travel the world and bring back carpets from Mexico and sarongs from Kenya. They have a fantastic vintage line and just launched their first clothing line that is mostly organic cotton.

At Whalebone Creative, a store by hardcore surfers with style, check out jewelry designer Bella Ornaf’s new shark tooth jewelry line using shark teeth scooped off the ocean floor or on beaches.

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