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Inn of the Month: Beach House, Kennebunkport

Is there such a thing as an un-inn?If so, this is it. No cutting-garden chintz. No reproduction four-posters. The Beach House, built in 1891 as a B&B and fully renovated last year, is that tonic anomaly: a tailored, understated hideaway for the 21st century.

All 34 guest rooms are decorated in a masculine palette of sand and slate, with rich cocoa and ebony accents. Stripes and other geometrics supply the action. Lamps are fashioned as tole palm trees, headboards come snugly upholstered, and walls are hung with black-and-white photographs of beach scenes. The net effect: tranquilizing and refreshing.

The Beach House plays more than the good-taste card. Just steps from the porch is Kennebunk Beach (oh, the views!). The proprietor also owns the posh, tradition-bound White Barn Inn up the road. But make no mistake: your granny's seaside getaway never looked this good. Beach House, 211 Beach Ave., Kennebunkport, Maine; 207/967-3850, fax 207/967-4719; www.beachhseinn.com; doubles from $240, including breakfast and afternoon tea.

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