At Blue Iris Hotel in Nantucket, Enjoy a Gorgeous Connection to History…and a Secret Garden

Inspirations bloom at Blue Iris, from Portuguese influences to its link to a former artist colony.

blue iris hotel lobby nantucket

Photo by Matt Kisiday

If you’re still finalizing your summer travel plans, now’s your chance to drop anchor at Blue Iris, a new luxe boutique hotel in Nantucket that looks to the past as its inspiration—from a historic artists’ colony to the Portuguese fishermen that came ashore in the nineteenth century.

Twelve rooms, ranging from cozy standard queens to double queen suites with two full bathrooms, bloom within a gut-renovated Greek Revival that was built around 1838 as the family home of whaling ship captain Uriah Russell. The property itself floats within a little cove of quiet that’s right in the middle of town, but down a side street to provide a little distance from the bustle and bars. Guests are welcome to unwind in the intimate brick courtyard under the canopy of roses, hydrangea, and the namesake blue iris flower.

“It’s a beautiful little garden that’s meant for the hotel guests themselves. And because there’s only twelve rooms, it’s really intimate,” says Jason Brown, one of the managing partners and owners of Blue Flag Partners, the Boston-based investment and real estate firm that owns the hotel, which is managed by the hospitality brand Life House. “It feels like you’re in somebody’s house.”

A coastal-cool palette infuses the spaces, including the common breakfast room with its sandy walls. The aesthetic draws inspiration from the other side of the Atlantic, too. Portuguese men immigrated to the area to work the whaling ships, with whole families from the Azores and elsewhere arriving in the 1850s. “You see a lot of old Portuguese design integrated in some of the properties themselves in Nantucket, both residential and hotels,” Brown says. “And we hadn’t seen anyone really lean into that in a while.”

Custom tilework of the courtyard fountain by the outdoor fire pit and tiles inset into fireplaces allude to azulejos, the stunning blue and white traditional Portuguese tiles. Within the guestrooms, oak tables and desks boast Portuguese-inspired leg motifs, with patterned textiles helping the spaces feel as though they’ve been added to over time. Plush Bellino Italian linens promise lazy mornings where you nosh on the complimentary breakfast in the common breakfast room with its custom millwork and bounce back to bed.

In the bathroom, guests can scrub up in the rain showers with Le Labo bath products among the navy tilework, glints of brass, and deep oak vanities. For anyone traveling with a group, the queen and family suite features one queen bed, two daybeds, and a cozy living area to gather by the in-suite fireplace.
“We kept true to the building’s history, using deep stained oaks for the furniture, a historic paint palette, with just a touch of modern textiles to connect with today’s modern traveler,” adds Brad Guidi, managing partner at Blue Flag and co-designer of Blue Iris. “The bedrooms feature a mix of antique-inspired furniture layered with patterned textiles, reminiscent of an art collector’s relaxed haven.”

And that art-collector design aim makes sense, given the immediate area’s history. The home across the street from the Blue Iris was once owned by Florence Lang, a patron of the arts who converted shacks along the wharf into studio spaces, drawing a host of artists who would soon found the Nantucket Art Colony. Today, that means that guests here can appreciate the Blue Iris itself as a work of art.

Starting at $599/night, 10 Hussey St., Nantucket,

blue iris hotel

Photo by Matt Kisiday

blue iris

Photo by Matt Kisiday