Kick Back with the Artsy Surf Shack Vibe at the Luxe Wanderer Cottages in Kennebunk
Borrow one of the free cruiser bikes to explore, too.
While not all who wander are lost, those who want to get lost in Kennebunk, Maine can discover a new launch pad in the Wanderer Cottages, which opened July 8. The coastal oasis, owned and operated by Lord & Harrington and managed by Atlantic Hospitality, is a collection of 17 seasonal surf-shack-inspired cottages that are infused with major nostalgic New England vibes. Think studios and one-bedroom white clapboard cottages with white-washed interiors, shiplap walls, and exposed wood topped off with vintage photography and treasures sourced from nearby antique markets.
“If someone made a makeshift summer bedroom or artist studio in their backyard on the Cape or up here in Maine, to me that’s what it feels like,” says lead designer Mark Cotto of the vibe.
The surf-shack aesthetic is clear as Maine’s brisk waters—especially perfect since the cottages are a scant half-mile from Mother’s Beach. Homage to the laidback surf culture in Kennebunk Beach and Biddeford Pool flow throughout, from the splashes of ocean-hued decor and indigo textiles, to the natural materials of sisal, jute, and bamboo. But the Wanderer off-roads with another inspiration, too: A well-traveled 1965 Land Rover Defender that Cotto, also the creative director at Atlantic Hospitality, spotted for sale at Motorland in Arundel, Maine.
The car was once owned by a professor from California who traveled to 311 countries across all seven continents, often bringing his trusty chariot with him. “That brought the whole story together,” Cotto says. The design inspiration behind the Wanderer cottages became that of the roving adventurer, using Kennebunk Beach as their home base. Sure, the romantic nomad hits the surf, but also charts a course for the nearby hiking and biking trails, and fills their space with curated treasures from their many travels. With a fresh coat of period-accurate off-white paint, the Defender is now a stationary art piece on the Wanderer’s grounds—surfboards and vintage leather luggage in tow—to help guests channel their inner adventurer (or, at least snap some pics for Instagram).
The spot was once home to the Kennebunker Cottages, eighteen small shacks that had deteriorated over the years. The Wanderer team scrapped the existing structures in favor of sleek new builds. The studios round out at 200 square feet, while the slightly larger one bedrooms are 400 square feet, thanks to lounge-y living rooms with custom upholstered furniture. Each of the rooms features the same basic setup: Queen beds, sand-hued rugs, and crisp white spa-like bathrooms that boast sleek subway tiles and brass Kohler fixtures.
“It’s a balance of this clean white interior, and newer furniture, but then everything has this Old-World feel, kind of vintage-y,” Cotto says. While each of the rooms explore similar colorways, no two are exactly the same thanks to the treasures he sourced from vintage stores near and far—Antiques USA in nearby Arundel to spots in Hudson, New York, with vintage water skis in one cottage from the legendary Brimfield Antiques Center.
Both accommodation styles feature Frette linens and plush Cuddledown comforters, plus wet bars where guests can crack open canned cocktails from fellow Lord & Harrington outfit Batson River Brewing & Distilling. Some of the cottages feature back patios, plus Adirondack chairs to soak up the sunsets. And while the cottages cozy-up next to each other—they’re spaced around ten feet apart—the lack of side windows mean that each feels like a secluded, self-contained getaway.
Cozy and inviting as they are, adventurers know that there’s so much more to explore than just their hotels. The hydrangea-dotted landscape features an in-ground pool and lounge area fringed with plantings, where nomads can put down roots for an afternoon of hobnobbing. And who can ignore that tidal pull to travel? Hop on one of the free cruiser bikes and hit the trails, exploring all that the seaside haven has to offer.
Starting at $299, 195 Sea Road, Kennebunk, Maine, wanderercottages.com.