Living Travel:

Haven Montauk

Photography by Sarah Elliott

The very beginning and the tail end of summer were bookended with little staycations in Montauk.  I did not know of Haven Montauk until I stayed there in early June.  And, yet another visit this fall may be in order. Although the beaches unmistakably lend themselves to summer trips, early autumn is one of the best times of year to head to Montauk since the weather is still warm and any crowds have died down. Haven is the sweetest property, located in what I consider to be the most authentic part of town, down near the docks. It is quite a treat to have a little escape in your own community, plus my surf-lovin’ son was over the moon about staying closer to the waves. Fishing and surfing are at the center of Montauk’s history and residing at this little gem of a property – one that remains true to its harborside roots – is just how we like it!

I made my way to Haven at the recommendation of friends Jayma Cardoso, owner of the The Surf Lodge, and Steve Kasuba. Steve had a heavy hand in revamping and rebranding the motel along with Jenny Cabido and her husband Patrick. Together these three transformed the property, and even more impressively, they did so on a shoestring budget. At Haven, you somehow still feel a sense of the local fisherman and perhaps a touch of grit from the Blue Haven Motel of yesteryear – the previous outpost that had existed for 35-plus years with dark wood paneled walls and an innkeeper with a predilection for cheap, midday vodka.

The location is key to the charm of the property. It’s a stone’s throw from a wonderful bayside beach and a short walk to the perfectly quaint Gosman’s Dock. The harbor is without doubt Montauk’s last unchanged holdout in that it is still home to quiet days, peaceful nights, run-down, locals-preferred bars, and fishermen gutting your dinner right in front of you. It feels like a different town altogether and that is precisely what makes the property so authentic.

The transformation of the hotel’s design and decor, under the artful eye of Jenny, is profound.  The guest rooms are now blanketed in crisp white walls. Good linens and neutral colors make the space feel beautiful and breathy and the bathrooms are stocked with organic soaps and products. But despite the little luxuries, it is obvious the goal of the renovation was to stay true to the Montauk Harbor, keeping it down-tempo. Guests come to Montauk to swim, surf, and fish, so Haven is a space in which it’s okay to come back to your room full of sun, sand, and of course, a bit too much rosé. The family dynamic is paramount at Haven as is a loyalty to the local fisherman. Jenny and her team have created a hotel that is warm and welcoming to these groups while still being chic and relevant enough to attract artists, musicians and “tastemakers”.

The lobby and RM09, the hotel’s boutique, are some of my favorite spaces at Haven. Montauk and its history have inspired every bit of their décor. Found items like branches from the beach were wrapped in minimal, tanned leather and used in the areas. A huge stump, rolled away from the bay, was turned into a centerpiece in RM09. And aside from the décor at RM09, the items themselves also embody everything Jenny loves about Montauk. Here she carefully choses home goods that would make thoughtful hostess gifts, since parties are an integral part of the Hamptons culture.

Haven offers a thoughtful experience all-around, from fostering a relationship with the surrounding community to embracing the history of this charming fisherman town and even to creating a family-focused guest experience. It’s a place that fuses authenticity with comfort — my family and I slept like a baby on the beautiful bedding, yet the location still had a bit of the Montauk grit we are all clinging onto. Without doubt the next time I partake in a little staycation, it will be at Haven.

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