New York–based Bravo reality stars Robert and Cortney Novogratz talk to T+L about the allure of (yes) the New Jersey Shore.
“You can have oysters and rosé by the beach,” says Cortney Novogratz about Monmouth County, on the New Jersey Shore—where she and her husband, Robert, recently designed Bungalow, a chic Long Branch hotel with access to a St.-Tropez–style club. “It feels European, and it’s sophisticated.” An hour from New York City, the area is a far cry from the toasted coast that many people picture, thanks to MTV’s Snooki and The Situation. “There’s hip shopping, good food, a nice mix for adults and kids,” Cortney says. Bungalow showcases the couple’s signature urban-bohemian aesthetic, which can be seen on their reality-TV show, Bravo’s 9 by Design, which they star in with their seven children, as well as in Downtown Chic, the book they published with Rizzoli. The public spaces are decorated with a mix of pieces picked up during their travels, from a portrait of Queen Elizabeth made out of pearl buttons by contemporary British artist Ann Carrington and a collection of surfing photos to vintage furniture found at flea markets in Paris, London, and Brazil. The Novogratzes love the fact that in Long Branch, you can walk to everything and don’t need a car—the train from NYC stops three blocks away from the hotel and year-round ferries from downtown Manhattan dock a 15-minute cab ride up the coast. They have also come to know neighboring towns, including Rumson and quaint Asbury Park, the longtime base of Bruce Springsteen. “It has really good antiquing and amazing architecture,” Bob says. Next up: a second Long Branch hotel called Cabana, just two blocks from Bungalow and inspired by 1960’s Palm Springs.
Bungalow A stylish 24-room oceanfront hotel with interiors by the Novogratzes. 50 Laird St., Long Branch; 732/229-3700; bungalowhotel.net; doubles from $199.
Antique Emporium Cortney and Bob head here for European and American pieces. 646 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park; 732/774-8230.
Stone Pony The music venue is “a piece of history,” according to Bob—where Springsteen used to perform regularly. 913 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park; 732/502-0600; drinks for two $10.
Avenue “Amazing French food,” Bob says. “We eat here ninety percent of the time.” 23 Ocean Ave., Long Branch; 732/759-2900; dinner for two $100.
House of Modern Living With a range of Midcentury furniture, this is another shopping favorite. 718 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park; 732/988-2350.
Monmouth Park Racetrack “We take the kids here to see the horse races,” Cortney says. “We enjoy it, too.” Oceanport; 732/222-5100; monmouthpark.com.
Nirvana “Designer jeans, cool T-shirts—this place is a one-stop shop for all the things you need and love,” Cortney says. 66 Centennial Dr., Long Branch; 732/222-7004.
PNC Bank Arts Center “It’s a fun place to see music outdoors,” says Bob. Recent acts include Aerosmith, Maroon 5, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash. Garden State Pkwy., Holmdel; 866/614-4183; pncbankartscenter.org.
Avenue, Long Branch
By the same owners as Le Club, this French restaurant prepares plates such as steamed mussels, steak frites, and braised lamb shank, served beachfront on leather banquettes or on the breezy rooftop lounge.
A stylish 24-room oceanfront hotel with interiors by the Novogratzes.