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
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.
Ok - we arrive by train from Penn Station - a long journey. We arrive to catch the Ferry over to Shelter Island. Luckily met the nicest family on the ferry and they asked where we were staying (luckily). We told them Sunset Beach. We thought we would either hop in a cab or call the hotel to collect us from Ferry terminal. Only one taxi on the island ('the Gopher') and the hotel does not have a car - so back to the kind lady who offered us a lift. We arrived at said hotel around 9pm. Starving. Restaurant closed??. Its 9pm.... We were shown to our room - was ok nothing fancy - I asked what time is breakfast. There is no breakfast 'Whaaaaaat". But they do offer a small hamper with coffee croissants? I hate coffee and not keen on croissants - but never mind - we have been at the hotel 5 mins and not up for moaning (just yet). So its Monday night restaurant closed, no breakfast in the morning either but hey Im tired and tomorrow is another day. So up early Tuesday morning - tap tap at door and there is a cute little basket outside the door continental breakfast - sweet but full of things I hate. I head down to the beach with my daughter - beach lovely, beach guy lovely, all good. By Midday we both starving after not eating for a long time head to the restaurant - CLOSED - ok lets get a drink at the bar - also closed but reopens at 3pm....I feel like I am ready to implode. I ask for the manager and she explains that the restaurant is not open on Tuesdays... she suggests a nice place in town - Im going to cut this story down. Im ready to pack my bags and leave. The manager suggests taking the bikes into town - I disagree with her suggestion - I suggestion she cycles into town and gets us something to eat - she agrees. 30 minutes later we have salad, sandwich delivered to the beach. Fair enough. She also agrees to buy us lunch the next day. True to her word as I get my card out to pay the waitress for our lunch the following day she tells us its on the house. Anway we are staying here for a week and actually once we go into the swing of it we had a good time. I am not sure I would return - I think the owner seriously needs to spend some money on the rooms, invest in a car so they are able to collect their guests from the Ferry. Would I recommend it - mmmmm I think yes but its expensive for what you get - it is definitely not 5 star, nor 4 but it definitely has a 5 star price tag. My daughter who is 16 loved it - she loved the fact it was not pretentious nor full of Brits, she described it as cool. The island itself is beautiful, people friendly. The island is quiet, quaint and the ferry ride pretty. Definitely hire a car if exploring the Hamptons you see nothing by train. I would also refrain from calling this a hotel its more motel.......
We have been coming to Shelter Island for 38 years. Many of the last several years have been spent here at Sunset Beach Hotel. The property, hotel and management have gone down exponentially. This year, to start, the person checking us in didn't realize we had paid for half our stay when we booked in May. We did not receive the room we requested. The refrigerator did not work. The remote control would not change any channels. The rug is dirty. The restaurant is no longer open for breakfast at all and the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. In season? Really? When we told the manager about our disappointment, she was nonplussed. On another note......back in the day, you were greeted with a bottle of wine in your room, pamphlets with "things to do" on the island, a beach ball, post cards, a lovely tote to use for the beach........now, with prices much higher, you receive far less. Actually, you receive nothing! Less is more? Not in this situation. This week will be our last stay.
Overpriced and sub par drinks and food.The bartender was unfriendly and dismissive and did not even give a full pour for $20 drinks.
I live on the North Shore and I am accustomed to good restaurants with nice ambience and high standards. This restaurant fell short of my expectations.
For sure there are nicer more luxurious hotels to stay in the Hamptons, however few are as fun and great for people watching at Sunset Beach! And they have their own Rose' so what's not to like. Yeah the rooms are not super luxe and are a little rustic but you don't come here to stay in your room!
The vibe is cool, slightly hipster vey media and certainly fashion!
The food is good the cocktails better! But the summer weekend nights partying is what it's all about... when that sun sets the DJ turns up the bass!