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)
Parking on site
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Hip André Balazs-owned beach pad a quick ferry ride from the Hamptons, with a Euro vibe and a late-night scene
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.
Sunset Beach Shelter Island
35 Shore Road
Shelter Island, New York 11965
How to Get There
Flights are available to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and East Hampton Airport (HTO) (via connecting flights) from major U.S. cities on a variety of carriers. The property does not offer private car transfers to/from JFK, about 80 miles away, or to/from HTO, about 12 miles away. Taxis to/from JFK are approximately $300, each way, and to/from HTO approximately $40, each way. For guests who rent a car, self-parking is available on-site at no additional cost. A private 45-minute charter flight via StndAIR is available from the 23rd Street New York Skyports Marina to HTO or Crescent Beach on Shelter Island for approximately $525 per person, each way. The North Ferry transfer from Long Island to Shelter Island is approximately $10 per car, plus $1 for each additional passenger, each way; the first North Ferry boat departs Greenport Village at 6 a.m. and the ferry runs every 10 to 20 minutes until 10:30 p.m. (then it runs every 30 minutes until the last boat at midnight or 12:45 a.m. on the weekends).