Location scouts, take note: if you need a gorgeous setting for a murder mystery, rom-com movie, or family drama, you could do no better than Cliff House Maine.This picturesque luxury hotel in Ogunquit has it all: dramatic cliffs, stylish interiors, Atlantic Ocean views for miles, and, of course lobster rolls.
We arrived at sunset, a magical time to take in the scenery as every hotel room has a coastal view as one of their claims to fame, and private porches for lingering. Getting to Cliff House is relatively easy, since it’s somewhat equidistant from both Boston and Portland airports, and the hotel can recommend a transportation service for pick-up and return.
The original Cliff House was built in the 1800s, although its history includes multiple remodeling and expansion projects that honored the romantic setting while providing guests with modern amenities. Each of the 226 rooms is posh, with upscale bed linens, checkerboard bathrobes, and – one of my favorite amenities – beverage stations on each hall, kept stocked with coffeemaker and fixings, water (plain and sparkling), and fresh fruit. The idea is that Cliff House is the kind of place you can visit “to chill,” but it also has enough activities on-site to keep you entertained.
Tops on the activity list: put on walking shoes to explore the rocky cliffs and property. Pathways around the property meander a mile or so, each vista different than the previous one, with sites that include a rugged coastline of cottages, and distant lighthouses viewed through telescopes.
Woodsy paths take you to the vegetable garden and a neighboring church. Almost everybody takes the stairs down to the cliffs themselves, where exploring the beach or birdlife is only a little bit precarious, but so fun to be able to look up at the resort from below.
When it’s time to relax, the infinity pool, hot tub, fire pit, and indoor lounge area all offer views of the cliffs, so you’re never far from the property’s natural beauty. Other activities include spa treatments, a nearby golf course, and a concierge to set up whale-watching tours or fishing.
Our to-do list included a visit to Nubble Light House and Kennebunkport, one south of the hotel and the other north, but the hotel’s helpful concierge helped us figure out how to combine both activities – and more. As a great perk, Cliff House offers one of several Volvos kept on-site as part of their Volvo Drive Experience, a complimentary service that lets guests test-drive the Swedish cars while exploring the area.
We plugged in our first destination on the nav system and 30 minutes later we arrived at Walker’s Point, the scenic peninsula in chic Kennebunkport where the (presidential) Bush family has a vacation home.
It’s a great spot to park and walk along the ocean to see other Maine houses. Downtown Kennebunkport is full of shops and restaurants to explore. We next made a quick stop at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge for a walk through the woods, then headed straight to Nubble Light House in York. We were able to stroll the little town of Ogonquit before heading back to the hotel and turning the car in – a great experience all around.
When you’re hungry, Cliff House has several options. The Tiller restaurant right off the lobby/lounge area serves breakfasts (overlooking the cliffs!), and high-end dinner, as well. Our first night we started with a lobster and corn chowder alongside the Grains of Maine salad (bing cherries, butternut squash, arugula and more), then enjoyed the fresh catch of halibut with locally sourced vegetables. Save room for dessert, such as the cheesecake with Maine wild blueberries. For lighter fare, Nubb’s Lobster Shack has a casual atmosphere and all sorts of New England treats: lobster rolls, fish & chips, and whoopie pies, just for starters.
And while some parts of Maine close down in colder months, Cliff House is open year-round, which brings regulars back to experience the resort in all seasons. I’d love to do it all myself: watch spring showers roll in off the Atlantic, soak in the infinity pool mid-summer, enjoy the fall foliage, then bundle up for a cozy winter by the fireplace.
For more information visit www.cliffhousemaine.com
– Lisa Mowry is an Atlanta-based writer who covers travel and interior design all over the U.S. and beyond. You can follow her adventures at https://www.instagram.com/lisamowry/