Say Yes to Saybrook

The charming coastal Connecticut town Saybrook offers a summer escape and an encounter with a screen legend.

The charming coastal Connecticut town Saybrook offers a summer escape and an encounter with a screen legend.

The New England state of Connecticut has the benefit of being both historic and scenic, and an easy drive or train ride from anywhere in the tri-state area. A major river, which lends the state its name runs through it and empties picturesquely into Long Island Sound.

It’s here that the charming coastal town of Old Saybrook is located, and the  destination of my recent summer sojourn to beat the heat in New York.

My wife and I stayed at the historic and yet fully modern Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, in the newly established Three Stories guesthouse. Our luxury room with king bed, balcony, and water views of the marina and South Cove was also equipped with an electric fireplace and a sophisticated whirlpool bathtub.

The rooms in this charming three-tiered pale pink building are all dedicated to and named after local identities, including screen legend Katharine Hepburn, who resided for many years nearby.

Three Stories is across the road from the marina and the main Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, which houses the lobby, restaurant, bar, spa and pools. But there are also lovely amenities in Three Stories: a deck with firepit for cooler evenings, a pool room with billiards table, and a living room for taking refreshments and relaxing with board games.

At times I felt I had been bequeathed with my own large and handsomely appointed New England manor house. A romantic retreat or room for all the family—you decide! With only eight rooms in the guesthouse there’s plenty of room for everyone.

But do venture over to the main Saybrook Inn property. There you can get your vacay off to the perfect start with a Couples Massage at SANNO Spa ( The women here are friendly experts and warmly welcome lesbian couples—everyone is treated like a VIP.

Clients are invited to select the scented massage oils that appeal to them and you may also purchase the Oprah-approved 98% natural bath, body, and skincare products made by FarmHouse Fresh.

Continue relaxing with a lovely pre-dinner cocktail at the Fire Bar on the terrace of the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa and experience a picturesque sunset reflected over Long Island Sound. Stroll inside for casual fine dining at Fresh Salt where you will find an extensive menu featuring local and regional fresh seafood, and even some excellent steak.

The oysters were succulent—the best I had tasted all summer, the wine list is solid, and the service is warm, friendly and knowledgeable. This Four Diamond restaurant has a relaxed New England seaside vibe and attracts a diverse and congenial mix of locals and tourists. It’s a nice scene in which to unwind, relax, and treat your tastebuds.

If you and yours are traveling with four-legged family, you’ll be delighted to know that the Saybrook Inn & Spa is so dog friendly that the general manager John Lombardo walks around with doggie treats in his pockets! Details of their Very Important Pet package, Doggie On the Go, is here:

And if you’re thinking of getting married here, lesbian weddings have been and will continue to be proudly hosted by the property. It’s Lombardo’s view that all guests are created equal, and he’d be right about that! Wedding packages are here:

If you’re staying for a number of nights be sure to venture into the town of Old Saybrook and dine at Liv’s Oyster Bar. The food here is also excellent: the lobster roll with Old Bay fries is unbeatable, but everything we sampled was delicious—and I’d love to return one day just to try oyster happy hour at the bar. (

There’s plenty to do during your stay at Saybrook Point Inn & Spa. We swam in the outdoor saltwater pool, strolled along the marina, and indulged in a few rounds of miniature golf by the Sound at the scenic 18-hole miniature golf course right next door to the Inn.

To learn more about the area, simply cross the road to Fort Saybrook Monument Park, a 17-acre park with storyboards depicting the history of Saybrook Colony, founded in 1635.

Grab a couple of the Inn’s complimentary bicycles and cycle across the Old Saybrook Causeway, past the local fishing folk, and marvel at the view: Long Island Sound to your left, marshlands, South Cove, numerous swans, ospreys and sunsets to your right.

It’s an easy jaunt to get a glimpse of Katharine Hepburn’s house at 10 Mohegan Avenue: just follow the road, turn left at the golf course, and look for the stately brown brick house on its own pond, screened by trees, facing the sea, and with views of not one but two lighthouses.

Hepburn’s house, known as Fenwick, had been in her family for over 100 years and she considered it a very private paradise.

On the hottest day we drove down the road to the sandy shores of Harvey’s Beach, a quaint local public beach, the topography of which changes according to the tide. This location offers stunning sunset views and sand banks to walk out on at low tide, which occurs in the morning and evening.

Harvey’s Beach also offers old school changing rooms and a food truck serving Hog Wild’s signature pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches, a tasty snack.

Old Saybrook itself is a charming little town full of New England character. Stroll historic Main Street and browse the boutiques, galleries, and gift stores. Check out the old-time grocery store Walt’s where Katharine Hepburn would shop, and the local bookstore, which has several shelves of biographies devoted to her.

“She was quite a gal,” the female bookseller tells me as I buy a copy of Kate: The Life of Katharine Hepburn by Charles Higham. That she was: the four-time Oscar winner was the daughter of a surgeon and a suffragette, grew up referring to herself as ‘Jimmy,’ played golf and tennis like a champion, and spent three decades with a personal assistant named Phyllis.

Yes, she loved Spencer Tracy, but she also apparently once said “All men are poops.” Her degree of bisexuality depends on which biography you read, but sexuality aside, perhaps my favorite aspect of Hepburn is the independent, fearless New Englander, born in New Hartford but Old Saybrook made. To visit her hometown was nothing short of fabulous.

If you admire Hepburn as much as I do, make a pilgrimage to The Kate (The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center), a performing arts center located in a historic theater and former town hall on Main Street in Old Saybrook. Originally opened in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Center features a 250-seat theater and a gorgeous little museum with a permanent collection of artifacts, photos, and video honoring Hepburn, Old Saybrook’s most celebrated resident.

After my visit I can totally see why Hepburn lived here for so long and returned to escape the toxicity of Hollywood: Old Saybrook is quiet, picturesque, friendly, tolerant, and environmentally minded.

We’ll be sure to return, and perhaps stay at the Inn on the marina, where we’ll watch the boats pull in and the moon rise, and feel blessed that our seaside escape is only three hours from New York, and yet a million miles from care.