The Whaler’s Inn, a historic hotel at the center of downtown Mystic, has been a site for New England hospitality for over a century. The original building housed several businesses in the early 1900s, including a Ford Model-T showroom. A renovation over the last five years, though, breathes new life into it. Now, the hotel is the perfect mix of old and new school, encapsulating the chic lifestyle of the Connecticut shoreline while still nodding to its nautical past. One thing the Whaler’s Inn has preserved well is its small-town feel. “Hospitality has become very automated. You can get your keys sent to your phone and order room service from your television,” says Amanda Arling, president. “We want this to be the opposite of that. We want everyone to feel like family and that this inn is an extension of their home.”
The lobby is sundrenched and cozy, and outfitted with furniture that makes it feel more living room than lobby. Books, potted plants and coastal knickknacks line the shelves and guests lounge out front on Adirondack chairs facing the heart of downtown.
The Whaler’s Inn’s greatest gem is The Shipwright’s Daughter, a restaurant that opened mid-pandemic. Executive Chef David Standridge comes from a rich culinary past in New York City, earning two Michelin stars and other accolades. “He is an artist,” says Amanda. “He imagines flavor profiles in his head and makes them come to life.”
His execution is impressive. Each dish is multidimensional, melding opposite flavors and textures in a way that makes eating them feel more like a journey than a meal. In one dish, crunch is met with chew, spice with cool, and salt with sweet, leaving every bite just slightly, and delightfully, different than the last.
The menu is seasonal and ever changing with a heavy focus on ingredients from local waters and farms. “He doesn’t cut corners,” says Amanda. “If it’s not sourced locally or in season, you won’t find it on the menu. His commitment to that is incredible.”
Less than a two-hour drive away from the busy roads and full agendas for life in Fairfield County, the Whaler’s Inn is a worthy destination for a weekend getaway. It promises the curated, heart-fueled hospitality of a small bed-and-breakfast with the luxury of sophisticated amenities and experiences, and keeps its word.