The Lark Hotels Collection is on fire, expanding wildly in New England. By this fall, the Amesbury-based company, known for its upscale, whimsical boutique lodgings, will have 19 properties in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
Late last year, it debuted The Hotel Salem, located in the former Newmark’s Department Store building on the Massachusetts city’s Essex Street pedestrian mall. It’s made a splash with its late-60s’ “Mad Men”-style décor, rooftop bar, and modern rooms, including affordable micro-rooms.
This summer, Lark opened four additional properties: The Sydney and The Richard in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard; AWOL in Provincetown, and The Coonamessett in Falmouth. And with each unique property, the company is redefining contemporary luxury lodging in New England. Out with the frou-frou, chintz-covered B&Bs and stuck-in-time historic inns. In with sophisticated, comfy, stylized properties, each retaining a nod to its past and a respect for its place.
“Lark hotels embrace the locations that they are in in a very modern and reimagined way,” says Rob Blood, New England native and Lark Hotels CEO. “Sometimes inns and bed and breakfasts have too many rules, and sometimes hotels just provide a product and not an experience. I think that we’ve found the hospitality sweet spot between an inn and a hotel.”
The hospitality company has been taking over classic, vintage, and historic properties throughout New England, and overhauling them into playful, updated boutique hotels, with fresh interiors, modern technology, and an intimate staff.
“We want the design of our properties to help tell its story. The look really needs to be reflective of the property’s place in the city and neighborhood,” Blood says.
Take The Hotel Salem, for example, housed in a former high-end clothing store (209 Essex St., Salem, 978-451-4950, www.thehotelsalem.com; rates start at $159). An original sign on the building’s brick exterior reads “Newmark’s Finer Apparel, Clothes, Accessories and Gifts,” and the interior still boasts high ceilings, brick walls, and expansive windows. Retro-style furniture and vintage art and accessories (like old cameras and photos of classic department store items) pay homage to the past, while modern touches (free WiFi, smart TVs, and cushy fabrics and linens) add extra comfort. Pops of color punctuate the neutral background palette. The hotel’s casual, open-concept Counter restaurant, mimicking old department- and general-store lunch counters of the past, serves updated, New England comfort food, while The Roof is already creating local praise for its cocktail menu and small bites, and its views of the city and beyond.
The Coonamessett, which reopened on Cape Cod in May 2018 after a thoughtful renovation, boasts a refreshing clean and crisp design, with creamy whites and grays, accented with light and dark woods, painted shiplap walls, leather and rattan couches and chairs, and nautical accessories (311 Gifford St., Falmouth, 508-548-2300, www.theconnamessett
.com; rates start at $139). Rooms are bright and airy, and come in two distinct designs: some with four-poster beds, painted shiplap walls, and repurposed luggage side tables, others with iron beds, white-washed pickled floors, and knotty pine accents. Located on Jones Pond, near the Steamship Authority ferry docks, the refreshed 29-room hotel also has pretty garden spaces and the buzzy Eli’s Tavern.
The two new Edgartown properties are both modern and fun, but each has its own personality and vibe. The Richard Hotel, once the former Point Way Inn, underwent a massive renovation, before opening in July this year. The new 16-room boutique hotel, set among Main Street’s shops and restaurants, has a bit of bling, with dark black and bold jewel-colored accents and shiny gold and silver metallic touches, set against a bright white or creamy background. It looks like interior designer Rachel Reider, who has worked on 13 Lark projects, had some flashy fun with this one; you’ll love it or not. But no one’s complaining about the front porch, a fine place to watch the MV world go by (104 Main St., Edgartown, 508-782-0042, www.therichardhotel.com; rates start at $159).
The Sydney is a slightly different animal. It contains two buildings: a 19th-century whaling captain’s home with eight rooms, which Lark has operated since 2015 (it also houses the longstanding, independently owned and award-winning l’etoile restaurant), and a new structure, built on an adjacent lot next to the original inn, which has an additional 14 rooms and opened this summer. The new building has caused a predictable stir on the island, both good and bad. There are those who gripe about change, complain about uppity new properties for “off-island” visitors, and others who appreciate the upgrade to a vacant lot, and a new place to stay. Bold rooms have glossy wood floors and a riot of color: stark whites with bright blue, yellow, and pink fabrics and furnishings. As in all Lark properties, the location, a block from Edgartown Harbor, is primo (22 North Water St., Edgartown, 508-939-9299, www.thesydneyhotel.com; rates start at $209).
The out-of-the-ordinary AWOL Hotel in Provincetown’s West End, which opened this summer, was perhaps Lark’s most highly anticipated property opening (59 Province Lands, Provincetown, 508-930-2098, www.awolhotel.com; rates start at $209).
“The hotel was a first for us; it’s a two-level motor lodge that we’ve reimagined as an end-of-the-earth retreat, layered with fabrics and textures,” Blood says.
There are 30 rooms and suites, bright, light-filled and minimalistic, with platform beds and light wood and rattan touches. They’re simple and sparse but have private patios or balconies, modern baths, and up-to-date technology.
“It’s meant to be a little rough around the edges. It embraces imperfection and feels a bit naked,” says Blood. “We like to think it’s a place where people will choose to escape, whether that’s from or to reality.”
Sounds like just the kind of place P-town will embrace.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.