• Experience Nantucket like a local this time of year, and yes; the Christmas Stroll is awesome but lodging vacancies are hard to come by and the Christmas spirit is alive well beyond stroll weekend.
• Lodging availability can be limited in December. Enjoy this handy Nantucket getaway guide to help you navigate where to stay.
• While accommodations are fewer, the dining scene still shines.
About a month ago, writer Kelli Acciardo and I came together for piece in Parade Magazine highlighting the 13 of the Best Nantucket Restaurants, Bars & Breweries To Hit On Your Next Trip. Check it out because the breadth of culinary talent on this little island 30 miles out to sea is extraordinary. Why? Because Nantucket is always good idea.
While the Gray Lady’s population swells five-fold during the summer months, there’s a certain magic on ACK this time of year. While the Chads and Beckys are sipping vodka sodas in warmer climes, winter Nantucket has a cozy, authentic feel. Restaurants brim with warm faces and buzz at a slower pace. The Friday night vibe at Cisco Brewery is decidedly chill — Foggy Roots is likely playing roots reggae, Zeppelin or Talking Heads and you’re perfectly welcome to shuffle in bedecked in muddy old Bean boots and your favorite yoga pants. Here’s Part 1 of your handy Nantucket Winter Getaway Guide:
Like Newport, one of the many advantages of visiting off-season is drastically reduced lodging rates. Many years ago, on my first jaunt to ACK, I was warned, “There are two price points on Nantucket: expensive and more expensive.” It’s true, but since that time, many AirBnBs have popped up, opening more inventory than every before. However, short term rentals can still be pricey, even in the dead of February. While you won’t find high-rise hotels on this New England island paradise (thank God), there are plenty of lodging options, many of which stay open
through New Year’s Day. After Jan. 1, a good portion of hospitality folks of the island take a short respite and there are fewer hotels and inns from which to choose. That said, one of your most “authentic” options is the Jared Coffin House, located in the heart of downtown since 1845. The Coffins were one of Nantucket’s most successful whaling families, working the sea from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. If you’re a history buff like me, you’ll be delighted to walk the same halls built by Jared Coffin, one of the most successful ship owners during the island’s prime whaling days. In a piece detailing his trip to Nantucket in July of 1852, Smithsonian Magazine reported Moby Dick author Herman Melville stayed at the Jared Coffin House (then called the Ocean House). Rates in December are about as low as they’re going to get. (I realize this is way too much detail but I’m a book nerd. Sorry, not sorry.)
The Nantucket Hotel & Resort, near Brant Point (and the point’s Insta-famous oar-adorned lighthouse) is also open year round, offering hotel rooms, multi-room suites and private cottages. There always seems to be something happening at The Nantucket and this time of year is no exception. Looking ahead, January will have two Bucket List Weekend with Elin weekends — as in Elin Hilderbrand. Hang with the author and stay at the inspiration for her most recent release, Hotel Nantucket.
At last glance, Faraway, The Wauwinet and The White Elephant, were booked through December but the there was a $1,195/night room available (!!) on stroll weekend at the White Elephant that had to be a cancellation (still expect at least a 2-night minimum.)
If you’ve dreamed about “the quintessential New England inn” or BnB complete with elegant breakfasts and charming innkeepers, Nantucket has no shortage of those. I’ve enjoyed excellent stays at the Union Street Inn and the Brass Lantern but you’re best bet right now might be the Salt House. I stayed there pre-new owners and the revamped reno looks outstanding, so I can’t wait to go back — and last I checked, they had some availability in December! (Because if you were thinking, ‘Who goes to Nantucket in December?’ The answer is ‘a ton of folks.’)
If waiting to visit come spring, accommodations bloom like the legendary island daffodils, including two Lark Hotels (the same company as Newport’s Gilded, The Attwater and Cliffside Inn): 76 Main and 21 Broad. Both are centrally located. 76 Main is a edgy contemporary-meets-coastal, fully renovated Federal-style home. At 21 Broad, rooms are light, bright and updated within everything you need (wine glasses, corkscrews and hey there, waffle Kimono robes!). Plus, the small plates breakfast (overnight oats, fresh fruit, pastry) make a tasteful start to the day.
Stay tuned for Pt. II of the Nantucket Winter Getaway Guide!