East Long Island is best known for the Hamptons, an enclave of luxury vacation homes, and the picturesque sandy bluffs of Montauk at the easternmost tip of its South Fork. Somewhat less-traveled is the North Fork between Mattituck and Orient, separated from the Hamptons by the Great Peconic Bay and home to bucolic farms, vineyards, and beaches. Drive nearly all the way up the North Fork’s 30-mile Main Road, and you’ll eventually find yourself outside a beautiful new hotel called The Shoals. Designed by Thomas Juul-Hansen, this “boatel” is accessible by both land and sea, and its design infuses the area’s rich maritime history with a playful contemporary spirit.
The property’s history as a former fish market and proximity to the Peconic Bay inspired the “boatel” concept. Juul-Hansen wanted the hotel to be deeply rooted in its waterfront setting, offering just as many boat slips as guest suites (20 of each). Its exterior is clad in cedar shingles (much like the vernacular architecture of the North Fork area) and is surrounded by decks offering views of the bay and marina. Guests can borrow pale blue beach cruisers for a pleasant ten-minute ride down to Southold, the nearest village, or book trips on The Shoals’ 28-foot vintage Chris Craft charter boat.
Picnic tables dot the grassy front lawn, and lounge chairs line the edge of the property along the water. A fire pit with a ring of deck chairs sparks to life after dark, and the hotel even has its very own food truck offering lobster rolls and soft serve. The outdoor lounge slings cocktails beside a grand piano with incredible water views. Swim in the bay, take a cruise on a boat, or spend the day fishing and then rinse off at the outdoor shower before heading inside, where yet another grand piano and leather sofas invite you to sink down and chat with fellow guests.
Juul-Hansen has distilled the area’s nautical heritage into a distinct flavor that’s all The Shoals’ own, rendered in soft shades of blue and sandy beige. Textural jute, rattan, linen, and wood lathe set off the smoothness of leather and polished stone, which particularly shines in the lobby’s sculptural front desk. Crisp white bedding, wood floors, and expressive framed art make the bedrooms feel serene. Some rooms have balconies or decks facing the water. The suites feature kitchenettes almost as spacious and comfortable as your own at home, with pale backsplash tiles glimmering like the insides of oyster shells.
Speaking of oysters, one of the coolest aspects of The Shoals is its commitment to bringing back the working waterfront that once thrived at this location. The owners have partnered with Little Ram Oyster Company, a local woman-owned business, to turn its former Scallop Shack into a fully operational oyster business. They plan to host private shucking workshops, host off-site oyster farm tours, and sell kits of unshucked oysters along with supplies to open them. On Wednesdays, their food truck will turn into the Shuck Shack, offering an oyster happy hour.
“The owners of Little Ram Oyster Company, Elizabeth Peeples and Stefanie Bassett, are stewards in the oyster development and advancement in Southold, and we thought they’d be great partners,” co-owner Jonathan Tibet told Travel + Leisure. “They are excited to serve the most craveable oyster experience on the North Fork while also sharing their knowledge with our guests through on-site educational opportunities.”