The Greydon House’s Greek Revival facade.
By Sahar Khan
WALKING UP FROM THE FERRY DOCKS AT THE END OF BROAD STREET, VISITORS EXPERIENCE NANTUCKET’S HISTORY IN ONE SHORT STROLL. THERE IS THE WHALING MUSEUM OF THE NANTUCKET HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION THAT CHRONICLES THE ISLAND’S PAST AS A WHALE TRADE CAPITAL. IT ALSO HOUSES A NOW-DEFUNCT CANDLE FACTORY, ONE OF THE REGION’S MAIN EXPORTS DURING THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES. A BEVY OF COLONIAL AND QUAKER HOMES SPEAK TO THE COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE CALLED THE ISLE HOME.
More recently, Nantucket has reinvented itself as an escapist’s paradise. Low-key millionaires and weary urbanites come to its shores in search of the un-Hamptons and of unadulterated-relaxation. Part of the terrain’s allure is its lack of visual stress. The landscape serves as a sieve that distills hue and shape down to the elemental: broad blue brushstrokes of water and sky, dancing green grass, and 19th century grey clapboard houses scattered around heather-strewn lanes, still extant thanks to strict preservation codes. Nantucket’s glory days may have set sail with the last whaling expedition, but the cobblestoned walk reinforces that the heart of the isle beats to a sanguine rhythm.
The Living Room features a curated selection of books. Photo credits: Douglas Friedman.
On that stroll, a visitor may come upon an 1850s Greek Revival façade tucked between charming homes, flanked by a veranda that beckons within. This is Greydon House, the island’s latest hospitality venture. The much-anticipated hotel opened last fall amid worries that the proprietors would bring a surplus of attention to this quiet island. But the fears were unfounded. The property has more of an inn sensibility than a raucous hotspot, honoring the village-like feel of the island.
Roman and Williams, the New York-based interior design firm behind Ace Hotels, anchored the hotel’s aesthetic in the island’s maritime tradition. They rigged a visual translation of the rip-roaring yarns sailors regaled listeners with upon coming home (the building was originally erected as a home for a master mariner). The result conjures an optical mélange of cultures and eras.
Just off the quaint check-in area, the living room welcomes with slouchy sofas woven with Indonesian motifs, a wood-burning fireplace and found objects like Native American ceramics. Scenes of seafaring adventures depicted in embroidery, painting and mural dot the walls—the tableau behind the bar portrays the Chinese tea trade from the 18th century. Atop the reclaimed countertop from a 19th century general store, barkeeps fashion cocktails formulated by celebrated mixologist Jackson Cannon.
Above left: The restaurant at Greydon House serves New England specialties. Above right: A collection of hand-drawn, painted and embroidered ships, a brightly lit guest-room and hand-painted Portuguese tiles in the shower. Photo credits: Douglas Friedman.
The guest rooms, 20 in all, are airy quarters with white-painted wood floors and wall paneling and New England shades of creams and navy blues. Furnishings consist of antiques sourced from across the globe and custom-built pieces like the iron headboards designed by Roman and Williams. In the bathrooms, hand-painted tiles from Portugal illustrate idyllic seascapes. A bar cart makes the rounds between rooms in the evenings, operated by staff members in nautical-inspired bespoke uniforms by New England fashion brand, GANT.
Michelin-star chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware helms the on-site restaurant where whisper blue walls and velvet-capped bench seating presents an elevated approach to island chic. One of the few eateries open year-round on Nantucket, the kitchen turns out island-influenced fare. Standouts like tangy snapper ceviche served with green apple and pork nduja and a butter-glistening poached Maine lobster topped with roasted fennel and orange are prepared using local ingredients.
As much as Greydon House has become a quiet attraction onto itself, it takes pride in its role as a gateway to discovering Nantucket. Borrow a bike from the hotel and get exploring (for the less athletic types, the concierge can provide a chauffeured car and tour guide; they can also book fishing and sailing expeditions). There are 80 miles of coastline and countless beaches to laze around on; one of the more secluded is Ladies Beach, reached through a maze of dirt roads. History buffs will find their curiosities satisfied at the Whaling Museum and historic sites like the Jared Coffin House mansion, built in 1845. A whirl around the island provides ample opportunities to see the region’s four remaining “smock mills”; the Old Mill is the oldest working windmill in the country, churning its sails since 1746.
Searching for the best spot to scope out the Atlantic? Head to Brant Point Light, also constructed in 1746 and considered to be the nation’s second oldest lighthouse. Enhance the pretty picture with a cold one from the three island breweries. Ever-popular Cisco became the United State’s first outdoor brewery when it opened in 1995. Downtown Nantucket, just steps from the hotel, is a scenic blend of boutiques, curio shops, art galleries, bookstores and restaurants. (Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, founded ReMain Nantucket to help preserve the landmark district’s Old-World character.)
Back at Greydon House, order a tipple—we recommend the Little Grey Lady, a mix of gin, St. Germain and Americano liquor, christened after Nantucket’s nickname—and retire to a quiet corner of the aforementioned porch. A cushioned wicker chair, strong libation and views of boats swaying in the dock: This is Nantucket’s glory, too. 17 Broad Street, greydonhouse.com.
Sahar Khan is a New York-based writer and editor. She covers fashion, travel, beauty and art. You can read more of her work at saharkhan.com.