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Friday
Aug282009

My tips, notes & faves: The Hamptons, champagne dreams on a beer budget


Ahhhhhh, the Hamptons…Just the word alone evokes images of fancy cars, P-Diddy (or whatever the hell he calls himself these days), wood-shingled mansions on the beach, fabulous outdoor soirees, the ladies of “The Real Housewives of NYC,” scenes from “Gossip Girl,” and the list goes on.
Think you’re too poor to enjoy a weekend/summer on Long Island’s sexy playground for the uber rich and famous?  Well I’m here to tell you that you’re not!  Allow me to introduce you to, as my friend Jasmin Rosemberg would call it, “How the Other Half Hamptons” (or how your’s truly calls it, “how P-Diddy doesn’t Hampton”).  This category describes folks like me, who spend summer weekends out East in share houses or a tiny hotel room split amongst four friends.  
I’m here to clarify a couple of the questions/responses/looks I get when people unfamiliar with the Hamptons learn that I’m spending my weekends there:   

“Oh look at you, Miss Thang!  You’re so fancy pants going to the Hamptons!” 

  • Actually, I’m not.  If you saw the share house I called home last weekend, you would agree that my accommodations made public housing look like the Ritz!  Between losing power/water/plumbing for 8 hours, to nearly getting eaten alive by bed bugs, my experience could hardly be compared to an episode of VH1’s “The Fabulous Life of…”

“Isn’t everything in the Hamptons like outrageously expensive?” 

  • No.  The Hamptons can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.  As far as restaurants go, Las Vegas and California still blow NY State out of the water in terms of pricing.
There’s a niche out East for everyone!  While I can’t speak for Paris Hilton or Jill Zarin, I can give you some tips from a girl whose Hamptons style resembles "champagne dreams on a beer drinker’s budget."  So without further ado, here are some of my tips and recommendations...If not for this summer, then for next.  Enjoy:
Summer Shares
  • What is a share house and how does it work?  Will this be something I would be interested in?
    • A “share house” is exactly what it sounds like: A large house, typically a mile or two away from the beach, with at least four bedrooms.  Each bedroom can have up to four beds. 
    • Share-house managers offer potential house members a slew of weekend options, typically: ¼ summer, ½ summer, or full-summer.  Payment is due in full and you don't have a space in the house until your check has been cashed. 
    • Here are some questions to ask yourself in regards to whether a standard summer share is right for you.  Do you mind…
      • Sharing a bedroom with at least one other person, but most likely three to four people?
      • Sharing a bathroom?

How far in advance do I need to start planning for a summer in the Hamptons  

This is going to sound crazy, but if you are looking to join a share house, then it’s best to begin your search in January/February for the upcoming summer. 

When you say “it’s best to begin looking,” what exactly do you mean?  Where can I “look” for a share house?

  • Start with craigslist.com.  Some other great sites are: www.to27.com and www.hamptons.guestofaguest.com.  Make sure that you and your potential house manager meet in person before you fork over any cash (you need to know what you're getting yourself in to).

How much is too much to pay per weekend

  • Over $350
Hotels/motels

Feel like you’ve outgrown the “summer share” experience

  • Don’t fret, the Hamptons has its share of hotels/motels!  I find the best source of information to be on www.tripadvisor.com.  **Note: I’ve stayed at Sole East Resort in Montauk, which was pretty decent.**
Transportation

I don’t have a car in the city.  How do I get out to the Hamptons?  

    • Rent a car for the weekend!  This is definitely ideal, as getting around the Hamptons by taxi can get pricey quick. 
    • Hampton Jitney: Aside from arriving by helicopter, I think this is the ideal way to roll in to the East end.  Make sure to take the “ambassador class.”  It’s a couple more bucks, but definitely worth it!
    • Hampton Luxury Liner: This is the Jitney’s competitor, and you know what?  The Jitney is WAY better, in my opinion.  Let this be your "next best" bus option.
    • LIRR (Long Island Railroad): This is my least favorite method of getting to the Hamptons.  However, if you have to take the train, make sure not to over pack, as overhead space is thinner than a model’s waist.  Also, do yourself a favor and use the facilities prior to boarding.  The unisex bathrooms on-board make air plane restrooms seem palatial and lickably clean.
    • Taxi (in Hamptons): Take the phone numbers of taxis/drivers, so that you can contact them in a hurry.  Make sure to call for a cab at least 30 min’s prior to your desired departure time.  This ain't NYC, honey; and by that, I mean that taxis aren't readily available at all hours of the day/night.
What to pack for a summer weekend 

What am I supposed to bring for a weekend out East? 

    • Pack lightly!
    • If you’re staying in a share house, find out if clean linens/towels are provided.  If not, make sure to pack your own: Beach towel, bath towel and wash rag.
    • Shower shoes (share house)
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Umbrella
    • Mini flashlight
    • Bug-bite cream (I prefer hydrocortisone, myself.)
    • Advil
    • Cold hard CASH (for cabs and cover charges at lame-ass clubs/lounges that you WILL get dragged to)
    • Light jacket for cool nights
    • Sunscreen 
    • Aloe Vera gel (for those of you prone to burning)
    • Swim suit
    • Camera (trust me, you will want to take pictures…the landscape is gorgeous!)
    • Clothes, toiletries, etc.

FYI
  • Most beaches in the Hamptons have permit-only parking, which basically means: Don’t even think about parking at the beach (w/o a permit) because you WILL get towed/ticketed, just like I did.
  • Taxis: Take the phone numbers of taxis/drivers, so that you can contact them in a hurry.  Make sure to call for a cab at least 30 min’s prior to your desired departure time.  This ain't NYC, honey; and by that, I mean that taxis aren't readily available at all hours of the day/night.
  • Taxi fares are negotiable.
  • If you plan to arrive via the Hampton Jitney, make sure that someone/cab is at your stop to pick you up, because you will literally be dropped off on the side of I-27.
  • Rent a bike!  This is the best way to get around in the daytime.  You don’t have to fuss with beach permits, finding a parking space, or paying a cabbie to take you around!  Trust me; you’ll enjoy your time and your beautiful surroundings so much more.
My personal favorite
  • Beach: Cooper’s Beach, in Southampton, is gorgeous and you can pay to park!  Plus, getting there is half the fun as you “Oooo” and “Ahhh” over perfectly trimmed hedges and mansions as far as the eye can see.
  • Hampton: East Hampton
  • Shopping: Southampton, East Hampton
  • Quick breakfast joint: Mary’s Marvelous in Amagansett
  • Quick lunch spot: Lobster salad on a soft Kaiser bun from Brent’s General Store in Amagansett
  • Dinner
    • The Meeting House, Amagansett
    • East by Northeast, Montauk
  • Spot for après-beach/dinner cocktails: Surf Lodge, Montauk
  • See-and-be-seen: Georgica, Wainscot/East Hampton
Safe & happy (and bed-bug free) travels!

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