The Gardiner House hotel’s main attraction is the spellbinding two-story mural leading up its winding staircase. The painting is a digital recreation of a mural that still exists in the front hall of the Ledges in Newport, which was the co-owner, Howard Cushing’s great-grandfather’s family residence. The original masterpiece was painted in 1905 by Cushing’s great-grandfather, renowned American artist Howard Gardiner Cushing, and it still exists today.
The new twenty-one room hotel was constructed in what was formerly the site for the William & Manchester Shipyard, but was more recently a vacant parking lot. The waterfront views from the hotel showcase an uninterrupted panorama out to the South Point of Goat Island, as well as Fort Adams. In the summertime, the Newport Folk Fest and Jazz Festival can be heard off in the distance. The hotel hosts intimate weddings and small, private events, and it will open a restaurant this spring on its second story, complete with an outdoor deck.
“I can think of very few places that have outdoor dining that have the views like we do here,” says General Manager Lew Gordon.
Gardiner House is co-owned by local Newporters, Howard Cushing and Wirt Blaffer. The hotel is five years in the making, and the owners hope to show off the City-by-the-Sea to both travelers and Rhode Island residents alike. “I’ve always loved bringing people to Newport for their first time and seeing it as I do but through new eyes,” says Cushing.
The hotel is now open for accommodations, weddings and events, and dates are still available for the 2024 wedding season. The Studio Bar is also open to the public with an elaborate cocktail menu and bar bites in its handsome yet cozy space decorated with vivid jade green walls, a wood-burning fireplace, plush velvet and leather seating and a fine art collection worthy of a museum on its walls.
The hotel looks historical in detail, but is actually new construction, seamlessly blending into its surroundings. It was created by local architecture firm Herk Works, and designed by New York-based Space Exploration. “Preservation has always been a cornerstone of this project as Newport is a special place to us. We envisioned a timeless amenity in keeping with Newport’s roots evoking feelings of old and new,” says co-owner Wirt Blaffer.
The 2,400-square-foot Gardiner Ballroom hosts events and is adjoined by the smaller Sun Porch, which can open up into the larger room. “What is terrific about this room besides the chandeliers, wall sconces and hardwood floors is the view,” Gordon says. “You can see the southern tip of Goat Island, the entrance of Narragansett Bay, Fort Adams, the New York Yacht Club and the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, not to mention all the luxury yachts in the harbor during the warmer seasons.”
There is also grassy space on the ground level in front of the hotel along the water for a tented ceremony or small reception complete with an outdoor bar.
Each hotel room or suite is equipped with a king bed, twelve- or fourteen-foot ceilings, walk-in shower or tub, Matouk linens and luxurious bath products from Ortigia. Off-season rates range from $465 (deluxe guest room)–$1,045 (signature suite).
Gardiner House, 24 Lees’ Wharf, Newport, 401-436-0400, gardinerhouse.com