Want a romantic, dog-friendly hotel near Portland, ME with a spa, fireplaces, and an ocean view?
Come walk with me through a visit to Inn by the Sea on Cape Elizabeth, Maine to ogle the elements of a romantic New England getaway, masterfully created. Whether or not you decide to stay in this particular spot, merely browsing the photos and hearing the tale can give inspiration and refreshment. Shall we enter?
Where is this Relaxing Oceanfront Resort?
Though Inn by the Sea feels peaceful and secluded on the coast of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, it is an easy drive of two hours from Boston: the perfect amount of time to vent about the ridiculousness of the week while still in the car, thus verbally cleansing before arriving at the getaway.
At just 20 minutes from Portland by vehicle, it’s easy enough to stay at the inn while still galavanting through the many things to do in Portland (or even things to do in Portsmouth, NH which is 1 hour away)… BUT I shall be quite honest with you: Once ensconced at Inn by the Sea, the most tempting thing is to simply stay on site, enjoying the luscious food, atmosphere, and amenities of the resort. There is more than enough to do right in the inn, as I am about to demonstrate.
Astounding Luxury Hotel Rooms
I’ve seen a lot of epic accommodations in my world travels, from gold-plated Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, to forest-embraced romantic cabins near Fallingwater, but this is the first time in my life that I’ve stayed in a DOUBLE-DECKER room.
My photo above shows the aerial view off the bed’s balcony down to the first floor… where my spouse is looking up at the camera saying, “Wooooow.”
And what of those massive two-story windows in the room? Solar brilliance! Our only concern was, how could we nap with so much vibrant natural light? Never fear, chums — a fancy button on the wall lowered or raised either shade set with the push of a pretty pinkie.
A Shower Big Enough for an Elephant
Stepping deeper into our hotel room, we burst into the sprawling luxury bathroom pictured above. Do note the separate toilet room in the chamber behind the bathrobe, the whirlpool jets in the bathtub and… wait — is that a shower or a two-car garage?!
Friends, I am 6-feet tall, which is no small size, but I truly think forty to fifty of me could fit in that golden, glorious shower stall. (This could be a fun giveaway challenge: Guess the number of Lillie clones that could squeeze in our shower, and win a free massage!) Regardless, this tall, stressed woman sure appreciated the grandeur.
Maine Lobster to Eat… and for Entertainment
Did you catch my second photo of this article during your scrolling? The one of the gargantuan lobster roll? Oh right — I can tell you did from that trail of drool along the screen.
True to its name, Inn by the Sea has an ocean-overlooking eatery called the Sea Glass Restaurant, and the chef’s team does not skimp on quality. (Confession: I know this because we ate every single meal in that restaurant during our 2.5-day stay. So tasty.)
Meals aren’t the only place you’ll see lobster at the inn, however. During warmer months, the hotel also offers lobster boat excursions to haul in your own dinner! If you’d prefer an inanimate incarnation of lobster fun, get a chuckle from the next photo, showing what our hotel room’s “Do Not Disturb” sign looked like…
A Dog-Friendly Hotel: Canine Massage and Meals?!
Though we don’t own a dog, I was tickled to learn the extent of Inn by the Sea’s canine adoration. Let’s lead with the funniest detail: Every autumn when it’s time to drain the pool, the resort closes swimming for humans to create an exclusive DOG POOL for days. Can you imagine the delight on all those furry, dripping faces as they cavort about the water?
That’s not all, however. In-room dog massages, dog room service, and doggie daycare are available year-round for self-identified “Doggie Divas.” I smile, picturing the happy sighs from a dog massage session!
Positive Work for Animals, Humans, and Nature
On a heart-warming note, the inn always has a foster dog which it rescues from difficult situations, though these canine friends change periodically as guests fall in love with and adopt the pups. Over 100 doggies have been adopted already through this program!
The inn also has a program to restore local New England Cottontail bunnies’ habitat (or “Rabbitat”), and — in a move which warms this English teacher’s heart — helps fund the purchase of books for seven local schools.
Finally, the inn is eco-conscious, and even the spa is LEED silver certified. Speaking of the spa, let’s mosey over there to see what it has in store…
Want a Spa Day Near Portland?
So — for the first time in over a month, my neck and shoulders aren’t in pain. As the highly talented woman who massaged me at Inn by the Sea stated, “You REALLY needed that massage.” Truth. Then she told me I should be getting a massage every week because I work out (and just plain WORK) so much… and she became my new favorite person.
I’ve never really been one for “spa days,” but the SPA at Inn by the Sea (spelled in all capital letters to bellow its glory) helped me see what all the fuss is about. I was refreshed, delighted, and tranquil after my SPA stint, and highly recommend it.
Exercise enthusiasts like us will be pleased to know there is a fitness center right next to the SPA that has quality machines and weights, AND a wide-screen TV and workout space to stream hundreds of exercise videos!
A Spa Shower from Your Dreams
Not only are the spa sitting and steam rooms relaxing, and not only is bodywork high quality, but the SPA also boasts showers with FIVE SHOWER HEADS: two on each side wall, and one giant one up top — thus draping you in gushing water from all sides to feel like a new baby reborn.
These spigots are operated from a fancy computer interface on the outer wall of the shower, meaning you can adjust all the heads without getting wet — a feature I’ve wanted on regular showers for about three decades.
Alas, I couldn’t photograph the lovely showers nor SPA because, you know, naked people and privacy, but instead here is a picture I took of my sun-drenched bagel and lox brunch to symbolize our post-SPA euphoria.
The Inn Beach, Plus Kettle Cove Sunset
Conveniently, the Inn by the Sea is… by the sea. Hence, it is adjacent to a beach. This beach can be easily reached with a boardwalk that winds through a forest and some fluffy cattails.
Even in the wintry month of February, my spouse and I were able to do this walk and enjoy the sunshine — though we did need to load up on the complimentary lobby hot chocolate upon reentering in order to de-icicle.
A wonderful, romantic activity is to take the short walk (or super-short drive) to nearby Kettle Cove to see the sunset into the ocean. Because of the cove’s curve, Kettle Cove has the perk — like Provincetown, MA on the tip of Cape Cod — that it’s one of the few places on the East Coast where you can catch the sun SETTING over the water.
An Outdoor Patio Fireplace
Enjoy being outdoors, do you? Inn by the Sea has a bevy of outside fire-pits and fireplaces for your cuddling and s’more-ing pleasure!
The two pictured below are right outside the big windows of Sea Glass restaurant, meaning that even when it’s too chilly to sit by them, you can enjoy the dance of the blue and orange flames through the glass every evening. This fiery patio is romantically dubbed the “Ice Bar.”
Note: Several couples were brave enough to sit outdoors for a drink or even dinner in the 15-degree weather, warmed by the complimentary green and blue blankets and open flames. Us? We were wimpy and stayed warm inside the restaurant, looking out at the fires, but enjoyed them just the same.
WHEN to Stay at a Maine Resort
We have clearly established that the weather during our February visit to Cape Elizabeth was cold, but was that a problem? To the contrary! Visiting a Maine resort during the “Off Season” or “Shoulder Season” is gold!
During colder months, prices and availability are better, and there’s more incentive to stay in and enjoy the full extent of the resorts amenities — of which there are plenty. In short, any time of year is great for Cape Elizabeth, but my vote is for the winter months to beat the crowds.
The Grounds and Gardens of Inn by the Sea
The one bummer of visiting the resort during winter is we didn’t get to see the famed gardens on the sloping, sweeping grounds of the property. I did find some magic, however, in the expanse of frosty yellow-green lawn, and an oceanfront view is heavenly any time of year.
We missed the snowfall, but word is that when this field is covered with sparkly white icing, it’s delicious! This is certainly a wedding property for the books.
The Place for Spouse Reconnection
Speaking of weddings… if you want to reconnect with your spouse, Inn by the Sea is a prime place to do it. How did I find this resort in the first place? My illustrious friend, Robin, of Luxe Recess, tipped me off that it was one of the best trips she’d ever taken with her husband.
Naturally, I hollered, “Sign me up!” As harried parents, finding time and space to focus on one’s spouse is paramount, and this spot does it. Why? Because it’s comfortable, luxurious without being gaudy, and has everything you need right on site.
A Range of Resort Rooms
To that end, Inn by the Sea has a whole spectrum of hotel room and suite types (61 rooms which are continually being remodeled), meaning you can find much of what you desire on offer. My friend Robin had a wonderful family vacation in Maine at the inn, and I highly recommend checking out that post of hers if you want to see what the resort looks like in summer, and how delightful it is to explore with kids.
As Robin experienced herself, if you’re traveling with kids but still want privacy and luxury, this massive beach suite I photographed below has fully enclosed side rooms… and also enough space to host a Fashion Week gala. Can you even see my 6’2″ husband in the photo below, given how expansively long the room is?!
What IS a Romantic Getaway, Anyway?
In closing, it’s worthwhile to remember the fundamentals of a romantic getaway: Food, Fun, and relaxed time together as a couple. Nothing else matters except the unhurried space to reconnect. Eat, nap, take a walk, chat, sip some drinks, watch a movie in the hotel room, have a spa day and a workout, cuddle… it’s all good.
To illustrate the first point (“Food”) allow me to display my sun-smooched photo of blueberry pancakes with fresh blueberry butter and local maple syrup.
Thanks, Inn by the Sea!
Our stay at Inn by the Sea was one of the best trips we’ve taken together. As fun as it is to explore new cities and have action-packed travel adventures, the reality is that as a parent of young kids, and as a middle school teacher, sometimes what’s best for supporting romance is just relaxed couple time in one (glorious, luxurious) place. Oh — and a giant lobster roll.
If you’re interested in spending time at Inn by the Sea, check out their website, and this affiliate link to TripAdvisor reviews and booking for deals and more information. If you’re curious about the dresses I’m sporting in these photos, learn more about this progressive fashion company here.
So what do YOU think? Does this Maine resort look like a place you’d like to visit? What are your must-haves for a romantic getaway? Do share!
We were hosted guests of Inn by the Sea, but all lobster lusting and opinions are my own.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!