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Wedding Destination: The Castle Hill Inn in Newport, RI

The Castle Hill Inn has stood solitary watch over Newport Harbor since 1875, when Harvard naturalist and marine biologist Alexander Agassiz built his summer home on a high-shouldered peninsula overlooking the sea. With its shingled turret, sweeping lawn, and cheery lighthouse, this Relais & Chateau hotel is not just one of the City By the Sea’s great landmarks but also a beacon for upscale weddings and honeymooners from around the world.

Set on a 40-acre private peninsula off iconic Ocean Drive, the Castle Hill Inn is both a part of Newport and pleasantly apart from the summertime swirl of downtown. With just eight rooms in the main mansion plus eight slightly removed beach houses, 10 beach cottages, and six exclusive Harbor Houses, the hotel has plenty of places for newlyweds to hide away whether they are celebrating their nuptials in Newport or honeymooning in town. The mansion’s Turret Suite, the “magical room” of Thornton Wilder’s The ophilus North, is perhaps the most famous accommodation in Newport and has charmed visitors for more than a century with its 360-degree views.

Despite the intimacy of the surroundings, the inn can easily facilitate weddings with up to 250 guests thanks to the custom, sail cloth covered tent situated on the mansion’s terrace. The tent is adjacent to a Swiss-style wedding chalet that serves as both an events space and accommodations; the direct access makes for a great bridal suite and also provides newlyweds a private vantage point as guests arrive for their reception.

Couples may exchange vows at the tip of the Castle Hill peninsula with the Newport Bridge and the bay as a backdrop, slip away for wedding photos at the lighthouse and the resort’s secluded Grace Kelly Beach, then return to party with family and friends at a reception custom catered by Chef Karsten Hart. Dinner can take on whatever aspect you desire, from a beach-casual New England style clambake to a black-tie soiree, both featuring organic and locally sourced ingredients, including the fruit of Chef Hart’s own gardens.

For smaller weddings, the Newport Room in the main mansion boasts bridge views and seating for 18, while the Ocean Room can accommodate up to 35 guests and has direct access to the hotel’s fabulous front lawn. Or, couples may just utilize the chalet, which can host events with up to 55 guests. Those celebrating their union with just the closest of friends and family (up to 15 guests) have the option of taking their vows at the ocean overlook near the lighthouse.

Since this is Newport, couples will never lack for activities whether they are planning a weekend-long destination wedding or a romantic getaway for two. On the water, bridal parties can enjoy a Friday night cruise on a vintage Hinckley yacht or sail to the resort’s sister restaurant, the Boat House, for a rehearsal dinner. On property, staff can organize group yoga sessions or even a bocce game. And of course Newport itself has its famous mansions, shopping, dining, and nightlife, all just minutes away by private transportation that can be arranged with the concierge.

Various spaces in the inn are also available for post-wedding cocktails and conversation, meaning the party doesn’t stop when the DJ plays the final song. If that sounds like something you might do in your own living room back home, well, that’s the idea, says Castle Hill sales manager Maria Cuccia. “A lot of our guests are looking for a more residential feel than they’d get at a big hotel,” she says. “Here, it’s more ‘welcome to our home.’ We look at a wedding or honeymoon as the start of a relationship that will go on for many years.’”

> Written by Bob Curley


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