by Liz Dowling

Once upon a time – long before people only wanted new, white and carrara marble in their lives – there were glorious historical buildings. Buildings with history, charm and architectural detail. The Surf Hotel on Block Island is one of those gems. Built in 1873 as housing for the island doctor, it is thankfully still with us. This is a happy story of a group that saw the value in preserving a wonderful hotel and has gently renovated it so it can still be enjoyed by all of us today.

Photo and copy credit: Robert Downie

First, a little history. You can see the Surf Hotel above on the edge of the water. It sits right smack in downtown Block Island, convenient to absolutely everything with its own beach and sweeping water views. An iconic Block Island landmark. I remember riding my bike past The Surf as a kid, on the way to get ice cream.

The Lark Hotels – a New England based boutique hotel collection – purchased the Surf from the Cyr family who ran it for 50 years.

Rocking chairs on the wraparound porch at The Surf. Notice the circular detail on the balustrade.

Newly christened as the Block Island Beach House, the Lark Group purposely kept the historic Surf Hotel sign on the front of the building.

Updated chairs on the porch, but the same historical details. View of town while you have your morning coffee.

Panoramic water views while you dine at The Surf restaurant.

Now you can roll off the beach and grab lunch, a cocktail or “frose” at the new outdoor beach bar!

Photo: Read McKendree

Inside the hotel is a balanced mix of antique and contemporary. New England meets California. I love the antique surf boards all over the hotel as a nod to the “Surf” name.

Photo: Read McKendree

The hotel has 31 beautifully updated bedrooms – all with private baths, AC and lovely four-poster beds.

Photo: Read McKendree

I love the shiplap walls, rattan pendant lights and crisp white bedding in all the rooms.

Swing by this adorable coffee bar on your morning walk, or grab a cocktail on your way home from the beach. Open all day!

Attention to detail is everywhere. I am in love in these tin wall panels. This is an important architectural detail from the mid 1800’s that was used as a more affordable option to emulate the look and elegance of ornate plasterwork that was popular in Europe at the time. Custom designs were pressed into the tin panels and you can find these on the ceiling and walls all over the hotel.

Another seating nook to enjoy a coffee and the beautiful view.

Framed touches of history on the walls….

To briefly continue my history lecture – this lovely hotel could have fallen apart or torn down for something “new” and neither of those things happened.

Come rent a bike, see the island and grab a frose at the Block Island Beach House on your way to the ferry!

the wry home

Summer Candle SALE – $20!







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Melinda Sweet July 24, 2019 - 7:10 am

Love this history, Liz. Having seen it with you,I heartily endorse this charming Hotel as a great place stay, dine and hang out on Block Island.

Elizabeth Dowling July 24, 2019 - 8:50 am

We will have to head over for an afternoon “frost” 🙂

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