Hotel at a Glance: Bannister’s Wharf Guestrooms
Bannister’s Wharf Guestrooms has been central to life in Newport since the mid-16th century, when citizens came to hear news from the incoming boats and buy food, clothes, and other necessities. In 1813 crowds gathered on the docks to welcome Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry back after his victory in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Bannister’s Wharf is located right along Newport Harbor, so guests can easily walk along the marina, hop on to their boats, or browse the wharf’s art galleries.
- Stay: Double rooms open onto a shared deck with views of the harbor. For more space and a wet bar, choose a two-bedroom studio located in a separate historic building just down the street (no balcony or harbor view).
- Shop: Visit one of the specialty shops and art galleries lining the wharf.
- Dine: The Clarke Cooke House Restaurant serves seafood in the 18th-century home on the wharf. Frommer’s says that “for many, this is the quintessential Newport restaurant.”
- Driving time to Boston: about 90 minutes
- Within two miles of the Cliff Walk, a National Recreational Trail that runs past Newport’s Gilded Age mansions.
Newport, Rhode Island: Harbor Town with World-Famous Mansions
Newport sits on Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island, just 30 miles south of Providence and 70 miles south of Boston. With its picturesque cliffs running along the rocky coast, Newport understandably attracted America’s upper class at the turn of the 20th century. The prestigious Astor and Vanderbilt families joined other captains of industry in building their summer “cottages” here—sprawling estates that epitomized the Gilded Age’s glitz and glamour. You can sign up for mansion tours at the historic The Elms, Marble House, and The Breakers, a 70-room Italian Renaissance–style palazzo commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1893 and inspired by the palaces of Genoa and Turin.
Year-round, the Cliff Walk is one of the most popular activities in town. From sunrise to sunset you’ll find visitors strolling the 3.5-mile path, ensconced between the beautiful Newport shoreline and the spectacular mansions. If the conditions are ripe, you might see surfers catching waves on the ocean breakers. The ocean is easily accessible from Newport’s western, eastern, and southern coastlines. It’s often referred to as “the Sailing Capital of the World,” and in the summertime, fishing boats fill its harbors and beachgoers flock to its shores.