Mar 162013
Jumping for joy at the Chinese Tea House of the Marble House Mansion in Newport.

Leaping at the Chinese Tea House of Marble House Mansion, Newport, RI.

When you think “Rhode Island,” do you think “international flair?” Well, I didn’t either… until our recent Newport trip brought the worldly elements of the city into glorious focus! Leap along with me to see.

Much of the marble in Marble House was imported from exotic locations.

Much of the marble in Marble House mansion was imported from exotic locations.

Newport is famous for its unbelievably opulent cliff-side mansions. One of our favorites was Marble House, pictured above, which is a 50-room mansion built by the Vanderbilt family in 1892 that features 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Zowie! Much of this marble was imported from afar. Our guide revealed that one Vanderbilt lady even that demanded a certain pink marble mine in North Africa that had been closed since antiquity be re-opened to produce giant marble slabs for her dining room! Only that mine had the right pink color. Oh my…

Checking out another side of Marble House's Chinese Tea House. Love it!

Another view of Marble House’s Chinese Tea House. Gorgeous.

Foreign marble aside, the best international element of Marble House mansion is the Chinese Tea House the Vanderbilts plopped on the cliff behind the mansion. Indeed, the architecture did remind me of the Chinese tea houses I saw in Shanghai’s Old Town! But not only is the Vanderbilt Chinese tea house pretty, it was also used by Alva Vanderbilt to hold rallies for women to win the right to vote. Admirable!

We were moved and inspired by the diversity of people on Newport's Cliff Walk.

We were moved and inspired by the diversity of people on Newport’s Cliff Walk.

Next, let us walk past the Tea House and onto the Newport Cliff Walk which stretches for 3.5 beautiful miles between the mansions and the ocean. The Cliff Walk is one of my favorite places in New England for its combination of nature, history, exercise, and, it turns out… diversity of visitors!

Colin gazing at the ocean separating us from Europe.

Colin on the Cliff Walk, gazing at the ocean separating us from Europe.

We were thrilled, as we walked and talked along the Cliff Walk, to pass tourists from nearly every continent. (Except Antarctica. Penguins may be scared of heights.) Since we had just returned from touring India, it made us happy to see several Indian tourists in brightly colored saris!

The architecture of Newport's mansions is internationally inspired.

The architecture of Newport’s mansions is internationally inspired.

And what about European influence? In building their mega-houses, the millionaire families emulated European architecture in a ploy to boost their classiness. But Newport also has a geographical connection with the Old World, as the continent directly across the ocean is… Europe! Heck, if I had eyesight superpowers, when I stood on a rock at the furthest West point of Portugal in 2010, I could almost have seen New England. Now let us seek international flair at dinner…

Delicious Middle Eastern food at Genie's.

Delicious Middle Eastern food at Genie’s.

On the recommendation of friends, Colin and I headed to Genie’s Lounge for a scrumptious Middle Eastern dinner. We were a day late for the belly dancing (bummer!), but the Persian style of the restaurant owner glowed through in the ornate rugs, aromatic teas, and yummy food.

Genie's Lounge brings Newport romantic Middle Eastern flair.

Genie’s Lounge brings Newport romantic Middle Eastern flair.

Then it was time to scamper three blocks home to our luxurious room at the Hotel Viking (click for more info). I posted a photo of our amazing room on my Facebook fan page and asked people to guess where I was in the world. “Italy???” responded four different people. Ahhh, Newport… You have international flair from head to toe!

Then it was time to sleep in our luxurious room modeled after a Newport mansion modeled after a European mansion!

Our luxurious hotel room: modeled after a Newport mansion modeled after a European castle!

So, which cities have YOU seen that have surprising international flair? Have you also visited Newport, and do you agree that it is a worldly town? Do share!

If you enjoyed this article, please consider using the following easy links to book the Hotel Viking, or search other Newport hotels, or browse Newport vacation home rentals, as it will support this site with a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks, and happy travels!

We were guests of Discover Newport and Genie’s, but as always, all views and mid-air leaps are my own. Check out for sweet information on Newport lodging, dining, events, and more.  


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  17 Responses to “Unexpected International Flair in Newport, Rhode Island”

  1. “Newport of the Newports” there are a number of Newport towns, my favourite is Nesport House, Newport, County Mayo, Ireland

  2. I think we should start a photo tag of travel bloggers caught midair diving onto their beds.
    Never gets old 🙂

  3. The colors alone make it seem like a worthwhile trip!

  4. I liked your international take on this, Lillie. Everyone always speaks of the grandeur, but it’s nice to know there was more culture than those silly parties for dogs 🙂

  5. love this pictures! They are so bright and fun

  6. I love Newport!

  7. Wow I’ve been several times and Newport is one of my favorite summer destinations, but I’ve never seen any of the above. Thanks for giving me ideas on new things to do next time I’m there!

  8. What gorgeous colors – and a beautiful time to visit!

  9. That’s pretty awesome, I certainly wouldn’t have thought that Newport would be so cultural.

  10. So beautiful! I’d love walking along the coast like that, so romantic.

  11. Visiting Newport at Christmas has been something I have wanted to do for years. I would love to see the mansions decorated for the holidays.

    • Oh my gosh– I didn’t even realize they decorate the mansions for the holidays! We need to go back!

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