Montauk has become a summer buzzword amongst New York’s most fashionable, trumping tony Southampton and posh East Hampton as the place to be when the mercury rises in Manhattan. Read on for our go-to guide for Montauk, including the most star-studded places to visit.Although it wasn’t always a destination, Andy Warhol put the little end-of-island Hamptons hamlet on the map when he purchased a five-house compound, Eothen, in Montauk in the early ‘70s with his filmmaker friend Paul Morrissey for $220,000 (what a steal). Friends like the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, actress Catherine Deneuve, photographer Peter Beard, and fashion designer Halston were regulars on the compound. Mick Jagger named the song “Memory Motel,” from the Rolling Stones 1976 album Black and Blue, after an actual motel in town. These days, the celebrity presence in Montauk has multiplied, and it’s become a summer home for billionaires and surfers alike. J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler purchased Eothen, also known as the Church Estate, from Morrissey in 2007 for a whopping $27 million (down from the original listing price of $50 million). Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon purchased a four-bedroom, two-bath waterfront home in town for $1.7 million. Eccentric artist Julian Schnabel owns a historic cottage on seven and a half acres on the Montauk bluffs, a stone’s throw from the ocean. Fox News Anchor Bill O’Reilly scooped up a quaint seaside bungalow earlier this year for $7.65 million. Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Ralph Lauren, photographer Bruce Weber, island crooner Jimmy Buffet, and Paul Simon also have homes there, and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley owns multiple pieces of property. Also native to Montauk are Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, the design duo behind Roman & Williams, the design firm responsible for hip hotels The Ace Hotel, The Standard, and The Royalton Hotel.Consciously uncoupled couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s five-bedroom home is in neighboring Amagansett, but they are often spotted in Montauk. Among the laundry list of celebrities known to weekend in Montauk are pro snowboarder Shaun White, Claire Danes and husband Hugh Dancy, author Jay McInerney, actor Topher Grace, and reality star Bethenny Frankel. Alan Cumming, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Mark Ronson, Julianne Moore also spent part of their 2012 summer in town, attending the wedding of musician Rufus Wainwright.
Needless to say, celebrity sightings are downright probable. Want to make a star-studded weekend of it? Visit these top spots for flawless Summer beach getaway in Montauk — and bring your shades.
|THE SURF LODGE
Designed by local game-changing artist Robert McKinley, who began his career designing high-fashion windows and also designed New York’s Goldbar, The Surf Lodge is the hipster epicenter of Montauk. With rustic surf-chic hotel suites; a restaurant (Byron) helmed by pedigreed Australian chef Chris Rendell; and concerts and DJ sets by the likes of Samantha Ronson, Chairlift, and Ra Ra Riot; it draws hip locals and visitors alike.
|THE CROW’S NEST INN
Owned by famed hotelier Sean Macpherson (The Bowery Hotel, Waverly Inn), the Crow’s Nest Inn features 14 renovated king rooms, each with a private deck, as a well a short-term-rental two-bedroom cottage. Equally favored by the summer-share set is its restaurant, which emphasizes Long Island’s local and fresh organic fare with nightly fire pits and sunset views. Cynthia Rowley regularly ends her evenings here with a few glasses of rosé — “It’s my summer cocktail,” she says.
A one-time summer camp reimagined by McKinley (The Surf Lodge) as a retreat for stylish adults, this edgy beach-themed hotel bridges the gap between a Hamptons hot spot and a no-frills village hot spot. On weekday evenings, its dining room is full with locals and on Saturday nights, it’s a go-to party spot. McKinley himself is known to DJ on Saturday nights under the name Tito Cruz.
|GURNEY’S RESORT AND SEAWATER SPA
Opened 90 years ago, Gurney’s is a remarkably-run beachfront resort that dates back to The Great Gatsby era (and counts Robert DeNiro as a neighbor). It boasts the only seawater spa in the continental U.S. with its indoor, heated, Olympic-size, ocean water swimming pool and Roman baths. Recent celebrity guests have included Cameron Diaz, Bill O’Reilly, and the cast of The Sopranos.
On a barren stretch of the Montauk highway east of Amagansett and west of Montauk, Clam Bar is an East End institution — the quintessential summer-in-the-Hamptons experience. From clams on the half shell to lobster rolls to New England clam chowder, it’s a seafood lover’s dream — and a favorite of Hamptons local chef Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa.
GQ calls the cioppino at Dave’s Grill “the single best dish in town,” while Gwyneth Paltrow says there’s epicness to be found in “The Barbara,” a brownie with an ice cream sundae on top. Whatever you order, you’re bound to find yourself amongst old-moneyed East Hamptonites at the restaurant, which consistently ranks high on Zagat’s list of top local restaurants.
Catch the four-o’clock train from Penn Station and arrive just in time to watch the sun go down on the sand at this new vintage-nautical-themed bar-restaurant a skip away from the Montauk Station. Positioned on a 200-foot private beach, it’s a prime spot for special events and has recently drawn noted names like Jimmy Buffett, Anjelica Huston, celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson, and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.
Health nuts should head straight to Joni’s, which emphasizes wholesome, organic options, like freshly pressed juices, coconut water, and mixed-green wraps, rather than standard beach-shack fare of chicken fingers and Diet Coke. The cafe’s protein-rich breakfast wraps are a favorite of Montauk’s regular surfers.
Pay a visit to airstream food trailer Turf, created by restaurateur event designer Zachary Lynd and Top Chef Sam Talbot, and enjoy fresh homemade juices, cold ratatouille and lobster rolls, and kale salads with your feet in the sand. Parked on Ditch Plains Beach, it’s a favorite of beach-goers, surfers, and a laundry list of celebrities, including Jessica Biel, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, and Grace Coddington.
A boutique inside The Surf Lodge, Surf Bazaar carries a well-edited collection of everyday beach clothing and accessories from hip-luxe label’s like Pret-a-Surf, Mikoh, and Liya Kebede’s colorful tunic brand LemLem. Come here for coverups, bikinis, bathing suits, and more.
Inspired by “the original Montauk culture,” beach-shack-meets-skate-shop Whalebone Creative was opened by handsome native and surfer Jesse James Joeckel. The storefront, which doubles as the artist’s design studio, showcases his surfing- and fishing-inspired line of handmade t-shirts, handbags, and accessories.
Photographs: 1. The Surf Lodge, 2. M+C (Warhol images), 3. Roman & Williams 4. The Crow’s Nest, 5. Ruschmeyer’s, 6. The Surf Lodge, 7. Surf Bazaar, 8. Gurney’s Resort & Seawater Spa, 9. Turf, 10. Clam Bar, 11. Navy Beach, 12. @phillytoslc, 13. Whalebone Creative