Carioca Outpost: The Hamptons
Long Island has traditionally provided a welcome escape from the heat of New York city in the summer months. From the late 19th century onwards, the cosmopolitan elite has fled humidity and heat for the refreshing breezes of the island’s seaside getaways.
None has gained a reputation quite as exclusive and glamorous as The Hamptons, the stretch of coastline that extends from Southampton to Montauk, the easternmost point on the island, affectionately (and tellingly) referred to as The End of the World. A reputation – and a plethora of mansions – built by the Old Money of New York have survived for well over a century. Former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis grew up in Southampton until the age of 12, and the mythical location has featured in pop culture from Seinfeld to Gossip Girl.
We hit the Hamptons this past weekend to throw a festa Carioca-style in collaboration with Mr Porter at the infamous, exclusive party hotel, Sunset Beach. After two days of pop-up festivities and a few eponymous sunsets – plus far too many caipirinhas – we set about exploring this beautiful coastline even further. Our first stop was SunBarth in Southampton, to pick the brain of our Hamptons Insider, Alexandre Daniel. For the French native, the area is reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s favourite Deauville – “it’s the country side of the city, where you reconnect with family and friends.”
While the family-friendly beach culture exists amongst residents, there is also a somewhat-accurate perception that the Old Money has now died off (see: Grey Gardens) and New York’s banking nouveaux riches moved in. Montauk particularly has garnered a reputation as a hotspot of NYC’s finance workers, crowded into illegal house-shares and clubs, and committing more public indiscretions than a former Disney child star. It can be avoided, so choose your getaway carefully.
Whether you want to experience the upper class or underbelly of the Hamptons with an exclusive feel, there’s a place for you. Obviously our top pick for party animals is Sunset Beach. With booming music at night and an exclusive rosé, this is the place to get up to some good old bad behaviour. Arrive by sea plane from Manhattan; party away from the hoi polloi; Instagram everything in a tantalisingly cryptic manner.
If that’s not quite your style, some of the Old New York refinement remains. Your experience will be flawless, but discreet and understated. Stay at A Butler’s Manor in Southampton for a touch of continental elegance. The owner, a former butler from the U.K., will anticipate your every need like a latter-day Jeeves. To dine out in the same vein, make reservations at the Plaza Café. This seafood restaurant has a hideaway location that ensures a clientele of savvy locals and boasts a dedicated, masterful chef-owner. The experience is one of private distinction, no crowded tables or overly-familiar waiters. Daniel also recommended Jean-Georges at Topping Rose, and became slightly misty-eyed talking about the venue’s crispy salmon sushi. Add it to your “must do” list.
Though every hotel, inn, or villa worth its salt has a pool, the Hamptons became famous as a seaside resort for a reason. A day on the shoreline is an essential Hamptons experience. Miles of powdery sand and stones are splashed by the cool Atlantic and everyone from seasonal workers to Hollywood celebrities can be spotted vying for a good spot to lay their towel. Cooper’s Beach is our first choice every time. It’s been named in the top five beaches in the U.S. for 2017 and has previously clinched the top spot. Pick up picnic essentials at Green Thumb organic farm, and assemble homemade bread, cheese, and honey into mouth-watering sandwiches, accompanied by some of the freshest fruit you’ll ever taste. If you’re more of a night owl, try Daniel’s “unmissable” activity in his adopted hometown: “taking the ferry at sunset to Shelter Island is my favourite type of Hamptons evening.” Ignore your smartphone, watch the sun drop into the ocean, and remember why the Hamptons has been a playground for the cream of New York society for centuries.