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
During our brief day drip to Shelter Island, my boyfriend wanted to check out Sunset Beach (and so the review is based only on the restaurant/bar and not on the hotel itself). So I made a late lunch reservation at the restaurant. We pull up to the hotel in our car and already see a party scene that looks more appropriate for Montauk or the Hamptons. As the hotel parking lot is roped off, I hop out of the car to ask if we can park there given we have reservations (we got there right at 3:15PM for our 3:15PM reservation). The guy who was manning parking said we had to park further down the street on the beach side of the hotel and that he sees no reservations until 4PM. Confused, I went to the hostess who asked me if the parking people were giving us trouble. She comes with me back to the parking lot and tells the guy to let us in because we have reservations, to which the guy then gives some weird response thinking I was asking for other people. We park the car and were told by the hostess that our table would be ready soon. We were led to a table that wasn't ready for us before redirected to outdoor seating on sand. The waitress we had seemed underenthusiastic in her demeanor. We opted not to stay long and just snack on the warm artichoke and warm petite Basque cheese. I had a Summer Fling cocktail. Everything was okay, but rather expensive for what they were. Adding the mediocre service made the experience feel as if coming to Sunset Beach was all about the scene and not about the experience itself. The only bright point was the hostess who went out of her way to come with me to sort things out with the parking lot and made sure we were seated as soon as possible. Otherwise, save your dining experience for classier places like the Pridwin or the Chequit.
My wife and I spent 1 night at sunset beach looking for a good night sleep and there was party with blasting music and people scream until 3 AM on the room on top of us. We tried calling down but nobody answered, then we went to front desk and nobody was there. the next day we told them and they showed no concern just said sorry about that. Beach was nice, bar was nice but the hotel and room was very minimal. Would return for an afternoon but would not sleep there again.
Stopped by for some fries and frose! Have stayed here in the past and love the rooms, but came by boat this time for a snack and a drink, which is super easy with the launch services. Super fun and great vibe and the food is always fantastic!
We recently had dinner at Sunset Beach and the view was spectacular, ambiance perfect and the food was delicious! The staff was friendly and professional and above all was accommodating! Don't miss out on the gem on Shelter Island!
This is a nice place to take in the sunset on the island. The restaurant and bar is pricey as you can easily drop $300 or more per couple. The upside is the atmosphere which is a good representation of island life.