Chic Boutique Beach Hotel: A Mini St. Tropez In Shelter Island, New York - Travel

Sunset Beach was reborn as a chic boutique beach hotel, with all 20 rooms having oceanfront views with Greenport in the background.

The restaurants and bars pour rosé like water, usually served with perfectly filleted branzino, broccolini, and other Fruit de Mer. A literal island town sandwiched between Long Island’s North and South Fork is Shelter Island. A two and a half-hour drive from Manhattan to Greenport’s North Ferry, where one can drive their car onto the ferry for an additional eight-minute ride to the island. The main town strip is best described as blink and you’ll miss the character, adding to the slight town feel. Evocative of the South of France with verdant greenery and gentle waves on its beaches, the town has Marie Eiffel Bakery, a purveyor of French and European food products. Ms. Eiffel also opened a namesake boutique across the street selling espadrilles, tunics, kaftans, and accessories to complete that Cote d’Azur style. For visitors seeking classic hotel accommodation, along the main road are The Pridwin and The Chequit, both recently renovated to fit the bill.

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Shelter Island has always hung on to its reputation as the antithesis of The Hamptons. Much to the 2,500 year-round residents’ chagrin, beginning the weeks of Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays, this short season brings in the arrivistes, house-sharers, and day-trippers, to enjoy the relaxed and laid back energy of this island. People in the know tend to be secretive about Shelter Island, yet to no avail as more discover it.

Famed supermodel-era hotel developer André Balazs, once the heir apparent to Ian Schrager’s hotel empire, stumbled upon a rundown motel and restaurant overlooking Crescent Beach. Think Hitchcock film with Norman Bates and his mother greeting you at the front desk. Rechristened Sunset Beach and opened in 1997, it follows Mr. Balazs’ formula of rehabbing old hotels needing TLC and new owners, reimagining and redesigning the look to make it feel it was always meant to be. This is evident in his earlier ventures with Chateau Marmont and Standard in Los Angeles and Mercer Hotel in Soho.

Sunset Beach was reborn as a chic boutique beach hotel, with all 20 rooms having oceanfront views with Greenport in the background. The restaurants and bars pour rosé like water, usually served with perfectly fileted branzino, broccolini, and other fruit de Mer. It has become popular with the international jet set group, fashionistas, and Manhattanites seeking a more sophisticated environment, over The Hamptons’ glitz, glamour, and party scene, with the best sunset views to boot.

Adding European flair with seasonal staff from all over Europe, Sunset Beach became a mini St. Tropez or St. Barts of New York, as a jaded New Yorker sees it. A few years back, college kids from France were predominantly on J1 visas earning extra credits for this type of summer work. Some are studying hotel and restaurant management, others with unrelated majors. One would hear French chatter throughout the hotel that most guests felt were on the French Riviera. Recent summer seasons have seen the influx of part-time hotel staff from Ireland, Italy, Ukraine, and Slovakia, while the kitchen staff is mainly from Puerto Rico. “Today it even has the feel and vibe of Positano and the Amalfi Coast” as told by hotel manager Nate Bradley. With the international hotel staff, Sunset Beach fosters a sense of family for both guests and staff. 

Sunset Beach Hotel is located at 35 Shore Road, Shelter Island Heights, New York.

Ferry Service to Shelter Island is available from both the North Fork of Long Island via Greenport and the South Fork via Sag Harbor. Reservations are not rquired and traffic is boarded on a first come first served basis. Vehicles and bicycles pay on board on cash only basis. You’re invited to consult with the Ferry Companies for schedules and fares through and

For more information visit or reach out through Instagram @sunsetbeachhotel

Banner photo courtesy of Sunset Beach.

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