Following my visit to The Breakers, it was time for me to get my very own taste of the Newport highlife. Sean O’Connor and his husband Daniel Cano Restrepo, owners of NewportOUT (NewportOUT.com), an organization dedicated to helping both the local LGBTQ community come together, as well as helping queer visitors have a good time, joined me for an epic dinner at Castle Hill Inn (castlehillinn.com). This historic inn is perched atop a hill overlooking the bay. During the day you can sit on their outside patio, and by night, you can have a candle-lit dinner in the dining room. You can choose between a three-course meal or go for the special Chef ’s tasting menu. As this was my first time here, I chose the chef ’s menu.
I knew this dinner would be a bit different when the waiter promptly returned with three small plates of was the fried squid, breadcrumbs, and a dollop of homemade aioli, all side-by-side on a dainty platter. The waiter simply said, “amuse-bouche,” then walked away. People, listen to me, I have never in my life been served an actual amuse-bouche.
I was in love with this old-school pomp and circumstance. The courses continued, with plates of cucumber and melon salad, beef fillet with crab, lobster on buttered forbidden rice, blackberries with fresh cream, and peach sorbet atop tea biscuits, among others. By the end of the night, I counted seven courses. It was the opulence and formality I’ve always dreamed of being able to be a part of. When I returned to the hotel, I promptly fell asleep, unable to stay awake after a meal that rich.
The next morning I awoke to the sun dappling through the trees outside my window. As the sea breeze gently waved the branches, sunlight moved through the room like ripples.
Breakfast at the hotel was wonderful. The Marriot’s restaurant faces the harbor, so you can watch the sailboats coming in and out as you eat your breakfast. Afterwards, I wanted to do some exploring. First stop, the Redwood Library (RedwoodLibrary.org). Founded in 1747, the Redwood is the nation’s oldest continuously operating community library. It’s filled with historic paintings, like that of George Washington and John Adams, as well as numerous sculptures, my favorite being the one of fictional explorer Robinson Crusoe. The library has about 94% of its original collection, and even has an ancient Egyptian papyrus.
The Redwood also has a rotating gallery exhibit. When I visited, the exhibit was of historic ‘cups’ given to the winners of sailing regattas. These trophies, most from the 1800’s, are huge and ornate. Many of them are made of pure sterling silver by Tiffany and Co. and have intricate engravings of Poseidon, sirens, albatross, and other mystical symbols of the nautical world. I can only imagine how much these trophies must be worth.
Aside from the historical significance of the library, it’s also a real library, complete with a full selection of books (I even spotted some LGBTQ novels and memoirs) that you can rent out for some great summer reading. I do recommend you spend at least one day in Newport doing absolutely nothing. Many of the inns and guesthouses have adorable wrap-around porches, and most of the hotels have lush patios and pools. Grab a book and a cold drink, sit down, read, and enjoy.