Lovingly known as ‘The End’ for being located at the furthest tip of Long Island, New York, the once rustic seaside hamlet of Montauk has today become famed for its surfer-friendly beaches as well as its millionaire residents. 

Regardless, Montauk has still successfully retained a lot of its local charm and flavour, making it a popular retreat for city folk looking to take in the salty sea air. From exploring neighbourhood restaurants serving fresh seafood hauled in from fishing boats stationed at docks nearby, to pitching up at Ditch Plains Beach, the beloved surf mecca with cliffside views and some of the best waves in the region, a visit to Montauk can be rather idyllic, to say the least.

One of the biggest challenges of visiting Montauk, aside from the traffic, is simply finding a place to stay. Rentals in the summer months are hot commodities, and it can be hard to weed out the true gems that are available. Here’s a quick cheat sheet taking you straight to our top picks in the area.

Montauk hotels and beach escapes

Daunt’s Albatross

Daunt’s Albatross Montauk Hotel suite
Koda Suite Living Area. Photography: Brian W. Ferry

One of Montauk’s oldest family-run hotels, Daunt’s Albatross, makes a renewed debut this summer with a complete redesign, overseen by the Brooklyn-based Home Studios. With 23 rooms at its disposal and located in the heart of town, mere steps from the beach, the hotel has been owned and operated by the Daunt family since 1977.

The renovation has been led by Leo Daunt, the hotel’s general manager and third-generation proprietor, who was born and raised in Montauk. Inspired to convey a sense of Montauk’s past as well as its surrounding natural beauty, the hotel’s redesign is understated, tranquil and nods to the ruggedness of Shadmoor State Park nearby. Home Studios honed in on the hotel’s local reputation (it’s a favourite amongst the area’s surfers and fishermen) and used colours inspired by Shadmoor’s cliffs to create a moody and inviting palette. Other materials like the use of knotted pine accents, flagstone tile floors and a stucco plaster fireplace in the lobby convey a natural, yet elevated feel. Filled with locally sourced vintage furniture and lighting, along with handmade textiles and a selection of custom-made pieces, the revamped hotel is a joy for the senses. 

Daunt’s Albatross Montauk Hotel lobby
The lobby at Daunt’s Albatross. Photography: Brian W. Ferry

‘Going back to the late 1970s when my grandfather purchased it, our goal with the Albatross has been to spread the beauty of Montauk and welcome everyone – from newcomers to those who have been coming with their families for decades,’ says Daunt. ‘In this new chapter, we’re excited to build on this legacy and continue to make guests feel a part of the family.’

Daunt’s Albatross Montauk Hotel courtyard
The courtyard. Photography: Brian W. Ferry

In addition to the revamp of the rooms (now fitted with kitchenettes and balconies), a newly landscaped courtyard, and a pool renovation happening next year (the current pool is still in operation), Daunt’s Albatross kicks off this season with the acquisition of the equally cherished mainstay, The Bird on the Roof restaurant, for food and drink conveniently located next door.

The Surf Lodge

Surf Lodge Montauk Hotel beach seating

The Surf Lodge needs little introduction. Formerly an Irish dive bar, the hotel’s rustic exterior belies its hip and happening party-savvy character, which has defined Montauk in more recent years. This summer, The Surf Lodge unveils a fresh new look, thanks to a partnership with the furniture company, Arhaus. The hotel’s beachfront and private dining deck have been kitted out with pieces from Arhaus’ laid-back ‘Outdoor’ collection, bringing a more refined feel to the fore.

‘I wanted to elevate the experience while still bringing out the best of Montauk. It’s true to Montauk and its heritage,’ says The Surf Lodge’s founder and creative director, Jamie Cardoso. ‘There’s a cleanness and sophistication you don’t see everywhere. This sensibility allowed us to design a space that’s modern yet warm, while remaining true to our natural surroundings and who we are.’

The Surf Lodge Montauk hotel beach seating with mural

As the hotel’s first refresh in over six years, The Surf Lodge’s outdoor makeover consists of wooden benches, tables and sofas from Arhaus’ ‘Canyon’ collection, hand-sculpted garden stools and all-weather ottomans that add to the nature-inspired and artisanal atmosphere, which the property has cultivated over the years. Completed by a new custom mural painted by Brazilian artist Tarsila Schubert, the scene is already set for a summer of music and merry-making.

Sustainably designed beach house, on Airbnb 

Photography: Courtesy Brittany Ambridge/OTTO, styling by Nina Freudenberger

The perfectly formed A-frame home of fashion designer Maria McManus and restaurateur Mark Gibson is a dream in every sense of the word. A five-minute walk from Ditch Plains, the sustainably designed house makes the most of the natural climate by eschewing air conditioning. Laid out with the bedrooms on the lower level, and its living room, kitchen and dining areas upstairs, the house is designed to be opened up so that the ocean breeze can cool it down naturally. Boasting a black-stained cedarwood exterior and white-stained pinewood interior, the simple and nature-focused material palette mirrors McManus’ own sustainable design philosophy of her eponymous fashion label.

There is no shortage of thoughtful elements that pay homage to beach life here; be it the upstairs deck/terrace nestled amongst the trees, perfect for enjoying meals, an outdoor shower with just the right water pressure, or the assortment of bikes and body boards to enjoy a perfect day at the beach. Comfortable, yet elevated, this home is an ideal landing pad for visiting Montauk at any time of the year.

McKinley Bungalow Edison, on Airbnb

Photography: Nicole Franzen

Interior designer Robert McKinley has built upon his personal ties to Montauk to grow a burgeoning collection of elegantly appointed residences in the area. Known as the McKinley Bungalows, the four-strong group of three, four and five-bedroom homes encapsulates Montauk’s relaxed beach aura and surf culture, while delivering a dream-home level of style too.

Photography: Nicole Franzen

The most recent addition is the Edison Bungalow, a traditional New England Cedar Shake House that boasts five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. Built in the aughts and sitting on 1.5 acres of land, the large bungalow has been fully renovated and decked out with products by brands including Hay, Design Within Reach, Reform and Heath Ceramics, which are all available for purchase – a trademark of all the bungalows. 

McKinley looked to historic Northeastern colour palettes for inspiration and created a melange of natural textures that nod to Peter Beard and Axel Vervoodt. Some of the major changes in the house included building an organic pool that seamlessly fits into the site’s topography and updating the front porch, roof, windows and doors. Filled with contemporary artwork and a mix of vintage and custom-designed furniture, the home also boasts a fitness studio, media room and three-car garage – making it ideal for larger groups and families.

Marram Montauk

Photography: Heidi Bridge

Should you be missing the communal experience of staying at a hotel, Marram Montauk will leave you satiated in the best possible way. Located amongst the sand dunes in the centre of Montauk, Marram brings the nostalgic charm of its former incarnation as a beach motel from the 1960s right into the 21st century.

Open since April 2020, the hotel boasts 96 hotel rooms, a South American café, a surf shack and a communal lounge, designed by the New York design firm Post Company, in partnership with its developer Bridgeton Holdings. Each of the guestrooms and suites is effortlessly appointed with white oak lumber beams, plaster walls, and furniture made from saur wood reclaimed from old homes and fishing boats.

Photography: Read McKendree

Whether its a room facing the ocean or one overlooking the hotel’s verdant courtyard, where fire pits provide an ideal locale to roast s’mores, all guests have the hotel’s beach chair, umbrella and towel service, arsenal of complimentary cruiser bicycles, swimming pool, and menu of wellness activities and nature walks at their disposal.