I had read a lot about the Surf Lodge before I came: about the summer series of free gigs; about the parties peppered with famous faces; about how this place was integral to Montauk’s transformation from a quaint fishing village and scruffy surf spot to its current status as the cool kids’ alternative to the Hamptons, (although I suspect the clientele here are the same crowd that previously went to Sag Harbor only they’ve had an upscale hipster makeover).
I arrived early Wednesday evening, and Nancy Atlas – whose opened for the likes of Elvis Costello and Crosby, Stills, and Nash – was about to take to the small stage for her weekly residency. The sun was setting over the water of Fort Pond behind her as she belted out seventies classics, tasselled cowboy boot tapping.
As a Montauk resident, Nancy always pulls in a local crowd and a few people got shout outs amongst the listeners. Some people were tucking into lobster rolls on the whitewashed restaurant tables in the back while others gathered round the day beds or benches drinking cocktails and rosé, a barefoot beautiful tribe. I had heard whispers of Leonardo DiCaprio upon arrival, and sure enough there he was, heavily bearded and curled up on one of the beach beds behind me, keeping a low profile.
The rooms were equally pleasing. The standard room although cozy is bright and breezy. Sliding doors open onto a terrace suspended over the water and sheltered by rushes, with seabirds apparently employed to add ambience. There’s a hammock to lounge in while thinking about life or the birds or Leo next door.
Inside, the room is kitted out with the essentials according to the Surf Lodge lifestyle: a Marshall’s amp to plug in your iPhone, a DVD player, a surf magazine for some inspiration, a swinging wicker chair in which to read it, and EVO cosmetics in the bathroom. The shower feels like you’re virtually washing in the lake and the sink is carved from bleached wood. The mini bar is really channelling that lithe NY socialite audience: acai berry treats, gluten free cookies, coconut water, Casa Amigos tequila (that’s George Clooney’s brand, in case you were wondering), and a locally made candle by The End.
This feels like the beachside studio apartment you sometimes catch yourself looking up in the property pages and daydreaming, except here you’d never have to cook because the bar and kitchen is right on your doorstep.
Downsides? You wake up with the sunlight – but you’re a surfer, right? So you should already be out on Ditch Plains with your board. The food is overpriced at the rates of the Hamptons around the corner (that not so sizeable lobster roll will set you back $26). The AC was a little noisy. And come the weekend if you want to have an early night this probably isn’t the spot. You can however see the Saint Lucia or Bob Moses play right outside with sand between your toes, which trumps early nights in my book. Their summer concert series was recently reinstated after battling stringent sound regulations from local residents’ manifold complaints. Not everyone is happy about Montauk’s newcomers.
When it comes down to it, the Surf Lodge just feels cool, and when you stay here you feel part of it, like the popular kid in school has taken you to her beach cabin for the weekend and you’re hanging out with her cool gang and managing not to make a tit of yourself… or perhaps that’s just me. From the tropical playsuits in which the staff are kitted out to the complimentary breakfast delivered in tin lunch boxes, this place just works. And frankly, if it’s good enough for Leo, I reckon it’s good enough for me.
The Surf Lodge Montauk, 183 Edgemere Street, Montauk, NY 11954, USA
Tel: +1(631) 483-5037
The Surf Lodge is located at the far end of Long Island. Montauk is approximately 120 miles from New York City, upwards of three hours by car or the Hampton Jitney bus (one way from $28). The trip takes three-and-a-half hours by Long Island Rail Road (one way from $20.50).
Type of Hotel: Boutique Surf Hotel
Number of Rooms: 19 rooms and suites including free Wi-Fi
Insider Tip: Even if the rooms are booked up, it’s worth coming along for one of the summer concerts in the bar. Note that it is a seasonal hotel, open from May through to the end of September.
Price Band: High
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10
Tyler Wetherall is a Freelance Travel Writer who spends her time between London and New York.
Photographs courtesy of The Surf Lodge Montauk