Sunset Beach Shelter Island
What We Love
- Chic styling courtesy of André Balazs
- Free bikes to pedal around the island
- Hip, lively atmosphere and nightlife
- Free WiFi
What To Know
- This stay is more about the buzzy scene than the simple sleep
- Bar area hosts a Euro crowd late into the night
- Separated from the Hamptons and the North Fork by a ferry (last boat leaves at 12:45 a.m. on the weekends)
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Between Long Island’s North and South Forks and accessible only by ferry, yacht or private plane, Shelter Island is a quiet counterpoint to its southern sibling, the Hamptons. Which is not to say that Andre Balazs’ 20-room Sunset Beach is a shrinking violet — quite the opposite. Spend an evening at the bar or restaurant on a weekend during the summer, and you won’t just be treated to Long Island’s best sunset view; you’ll see stiletto-heeled stunners and their (often considerably older) other halves, Euro flashpackers and Manhattan moguls. It may have opened in the late ’90s but Sunset Beach is still quite the scene — as you’d expect from the man who brought us the Mercer and Standard Hotels.
Bed and Bath
The 20 guestrooms reveal Sunset Beach’s preference for scene over sleep; they’re done up in a simple palette of white and blond wood shades, with orange accents. Rooms receive a soft refurbishment at the start of each summer season, but there are few in-room comforts beyond lovely 400-thread-count white linens, private bathrooms and free WiFi. All have a slice of the sun deck that wraps around the building, plus views of the real stars of this show: the restaurant and bar complex, and sunset-ready Crescent Beach.
The laid-back, beachy look extends throughout the property, which has a popular French restaurant hung with lanterns (make your reservation well in advance, and try the artichokes frites followed by the bouillabaisse), a bar overlooking the beach and a firepit out back. Out front, just across the road, is a lovely swath of pale sand, with lounger service for hotel guests. If you don’t feel your duds are quite up to the Sunset Beach experience, swing by the well-curated boutique for tees, shorts, Eres swimwear, Issa dresses and those all-important shades, by Matthew Williamson among others.
In the Area
For a complete change of pace from the party-loving hotel, explore this quiet island on one of the resort’s mountain bikes. Be prepared for some gear shifting — it’s hilly — keep your eyes peeled for turtles inching across the road, and pack a picnic and a bottle of North Fork rosé to uncork on a quiet stretch of beach (you didn’t hear it from us). Alternatively, hike through Mashomack, on the south side of Shelter Island. With nearly 10 miles of shoreline, it’s one of the East End’s largest and loveliest nature preserves. While most guests choose to eat in, Vine Street Café is a great option for fresh local seafood, while Stars Café is your spot for top-notch coffee. The old whaling town of Sag Harbor is just a short ferry ride away (be sure to get back by 12:45 a.m. for the last ferry), and you can stop at shops and restaurants such as the American Hotel and Sen sushi, or just visit the Whaling Museum.
How to Get There
The great view cannot offset the outrageous prices for mediocre wine. Buckets of rose sangria half filled with ice for over 100 Dollars. Tiny glasses of Rose for 16 Dollars.
It is a rip-off. We cannot recommend this place to any of our European friends who like traveling to Long Island.
We understand this is "the" place for the fun, European vibe.
We understand the food is ok. We understand the service is quick (turn the tables").
Yes, we are seasonal regulars.....
BUT, we DON'T understand $135 for a pitcher of rose' sangria. A pitcher half filled with ICE.
To keep it simple, Sunset Beach is very focused on their restaurant and bar scene. Complete with a dismissive, unhelpful staff and a parking attendant seemingly hell bent on making a traffic jam for show.
Behind all this "glamour", is a run down, over priced hotel. The physical plant is neglected despite a lengthy off season. It is a 2 star hotel at best. From sub par front staff to rooms in disrepair, this hotel is a disgrace. They have a horrific corporate philosophy and zero interest in improvement. I'll let my pictures do the talking ( I asked to discuss these concerns with the manager- he/she has yet to contact me). In their defense, a very self assured front desk girl told me I should be happy they had come to clean the FILTHY AC and pull the 10 inch weeds on my rotted deck after my first day there. She seemed confused when I said probably it would have been better to not have had me need to ask that in the first place. Do not stay here unless desperate.