The release of Baz Luhrmann’s flashy take on The Great Gatsby has spawned endless travel pieces about the places that inspired Scott Fitzgerald’s book. One such location is the Gold Coast of Long Island.
And where did this Fitzgerald fanatic happen to spend 24 hours last week? You guessed it, Long Island. Except instead of wild parties with Ring Lardner at Great Neck, I got to prowl through part of the Hamptons.
Like all good luxury brands, the name the Hamptons instantly conveys a certain lifestyle in just two words. Whether you want to namecheck the Jazz Age’s finest or season one of Gossip Girl where it’s the vacation spot for Manhattan’s elite, its image as a playground for the rich and famous stays the same. The whole time I was there I had the Lana Del Rey lyric “take me to The Hamptons, Bugatti Veyron” from ‘National Anthem’ running through my head. Anyway, you get the obscenely wealthy picture.
As part of a whirlwind trip to NYC with American Airlines, a group of us spent 24 hours in Westhampton. Located on the south fork of Long Island, Westhampton is everything I imagined a perfect all-American town would be. Think cherry blossoms in bloom, zero litter, stars and stripes adorning windows and buildings, and shopping. Lots of it.
Unsurprisingly for a place that comes alive in the summer, the Hamptons are famous for their glorious beaches. A stroll along the private, residents-only Roger’s Beach is as far removed from the bustle of the Big Apple as you can get. Long stretches of soft, sandy beaches and the rhythmic roll of the waves – what more could you want?
We stayed in a house owned and rented by the Lauren Berger Collection. An expert on all things real estate, Lauren specialises in luxury rental homes and her attention to detail is second to none. Each room of the Westhampton house is immaculate, with comforting but stylish décor bringing a new meaning to the phrase ‘home from home’. As for the hospitality, Lauren and her sister Virginia really know how to look after their guests. We dined in style on a Turkish-influenced meal and I’m still thinking about the homemade baklava.
Drinking champagne that night in Westhampton was one of the more pleasantly surreal moments of my life (“is this my life now??”) and I half expected the ghosts of Gerald and Sara Murphy to appear. Put simply, I didn’t want to leave.
In the morning, waking up and looking across the river to the houses on the other side is as close to West Egg and ‘keeping an eye on Jay Gatsby’ as you can get. One of the group saw two deer on the grass at sunrise and there was silence except for the lilting chime of birds singing for hours. Lovely.
Of course, the excesses of the Jazz Age still echo today, with houses going for up to $30 million at auction. Wowzers doesn’t cover it. In this setting, I kept expecting someone to ask if I was sure I, a pauper hack wearing a H&M dress, was meant to be there. That said, we were told Westhampton is the cheapest part of the Hamptons so, to quote Holly Golightly, the mind reels.
Foodwise, dine outdoors at Starr Boggs, one of the finest restaurants in the area. The food is American seafood with a French twist and is all served by knowledgeable, friendly staff who are more than happy to point you towards the best wine for your meal. All I can say is, you know you’re dining in style when there are original Warhols adorning the walls around you.
When we were leaving for the airport, I asked the famous Lauren Berger, our Hamptons hostess, if she could adopt me. She laughed but really I wasn’t joking. After 24 hours in the Hamptons, I’m converted. This is the life.
Wanna see more pics from my stay at the Hamptons? Here you go:
Bits ‘n pieces:
I stayed in Westhampton Beach as a guest of Lauren Berger. For more information about Lauren’s gorgeous rental homes, go to http://www.LaurenBergerCollection.com
Getting there: Westhampton is about an hour and a half away from NYC by car. I flew to the US with American Airlines who are launching a direct year-round route from Dublin to New York (JFK) from 13th June. Return flights from Dublin to New York (JFK) with American Airlines cost from €538pp (inc taxes). To book, go to www.aa.com.