Here’s the straight-up truth of it: I’m not a luxury hotel guy. Give me a quiet cabin, a friendly B&B, or a nice, kitschy motor lodge, and I’m in my element. But hey, I splurge like everybody else, and my job occasionally allows me to holiday above my station. In general, Maine is a bit like me—“Vacationland” though it may be, there’s a pronounced egalitarian streak to the state’s hospitality, a fondness for the simple and bucolic that’s perhaps a holdover from the days of its Protestant founders. As such, Maine’s most genteel hostelries tend to cluster in a few pockets—notably, around the Kennebunks in the south and in Camden on the midcoast. None of this is to say the best of the bunch hold back. You’ll find the same spa menus, turndown services, and bazillion thread count sheets that you’d expect elsewhere, plus, the state’s entrenched artisan and local food cultures lead to some distinctly regional touches. Below, five places to make reservations.
Camden Harbour Inn
A Relais & Châteaux property, Camden Harbour Inn is one part stately New England Brahmanism and one part Euro-chic refinement. The view of Camden Harbor is quintessentially Maine, while the high-design suites, personal butler services, and James Beard–recognized restaurant ooze worldly sophistication. An on-call concierge helps guests experience the midcoast like a local.
This grand dame of the Kennebunkport waterfront opened as a luxury hotel more than a century ago and has seen four generations of family management. A private beach, heated saltwater pool, and an eighteen-hole putting green are among The Colony’s more indulgent facilities. Have your lobsters poolside or on the sunny porch—both overlook the Atlantic.
Cape Arundel Inn
Marble bathrooms, massive windows, and radiant floor heating are the sort of touches you can expect in the coastal-inspired rooms and suites of the Cape Arundel Inn. Ocean restaurant features lauded French-inspired cuisine and sea views at every table. It’s a decent neighborhood too—the Bush family compound is just down the street.
Blair Hill Inn
Inland Maine isn’t known for its elegant accommodations, but Blair Hill is the conspicuous exception to the rule. A grand hillside mansion on a fieldstone foundation, the hotel overlooks the mountain-ringed Moosehead Lake. Rich furnishings, in-room fireplaces, and an inviting wood-paneled lounge make the place feel a little like an aristocrat’s sporting lodge (the stocked trout pond fits right in).
White Barn Inn
Enjoy fresh flowers and fruit in your room upon check in, Jacuzzi tubs and rain showers in marble and granite bathrooms, and complimentary bikes and canoes with which to explore surrounding Kennebunk and the coast. This Relais & Châteaux hotel is perhaps Maine’s best appointed, with, among other things, a restaurant that consistently wows, and its own marina.