Join Abi Tottenham-Smith, SLH’s Head of Social & Brand Content, on set across the states
From the bright lights and bustling sidewalks of New York, to the wide open landscape of Montana where thundering horses sweep across the plains, the USA is a photographer’s dream come true. Visiting a variety of different hotels and locations, here Abi shares the story behind the photographs which showcase some of the most special stateside SLH properties.
Beginning in the Blue Ridge Mountains…
Where better to start our trip than ‘the birthplace of America’, and at one of our newest additions to the American collection, Keswick Hall. Set amongst the rolling hills of Virginia, the grand estate is a destination hotel with everything you could ever want on site for a long weekend or mid-week break. The show-stopping outdoor infinity pool overlooks the 18-hole golf course, a spot where you can also experience the most vibrant sunsets which bathe the hotel in that golden Virginia glow.
However, the highlight of this hotel has to be the Marigold Restaurant created by culinary icon Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In a contemporary setting with outdoor seating and golf course views, plus the interior design nailed to a tee, the restaurant is a very special place where the food does all the talking. Breakfasts consisted of fresh juices and smoothie bowls, lunches were for warm shrimp salads, crispy fish tacos and truffle pizza, while dinner’s winners were the fresh sushi, sashimi and tartare, as well as the plant-based menu. This was the hardest part to leave when we eventually moved on to the next hotel in our photography line-up.
Next stop…the Southern charms of Charleston
A short flight to South Carolina brought us to the quaint and charming city of Charleston. Here we were visiting Wentworth Mansion, a former private residence built in the 19th century. The hotel holds on to its historic past with grand and opulent interiors, which really feel fit for royalty. Every single one of the 21 rooms set over five floors is different and unique, each with its own personality and story. My personal favourite suite was on the ground floor, which was the original ballroom – just walking around you can picture the grand balls held there of centuries past.
Another particularly photogenic spot in the hotel is the rooftop cupola, which boasts breath-taking views across the city. This is the perfect place for a pre-dinner aperitif, before sitting down to some authentic Charleston cuisine in the hotel’s restaurant, which is set in the original carriage house. Don’t miss the downstairs parlor where staff will prepare complimentary afternoon hors d’oeuvres and wine while you soak up the Southern hospitality.
Heaven found in the Hamptons…
Our adventure continued as we headed for to the Hamptons – just a short drive from New York City where we have two beautifully presented boutique hotels. Firstly, we stopped by Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton for a short but sweet visit. This buzzy spot is one of the places to go for lunch – serving delicious food, again by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and even houses a Veuve Clicquot pop-up in the garden – the perfect place to while away a sunny afternoon. The hotel also has a secluded and sunny swimming pool, while the cosy library indoors is an ideal hideaway on a stormy afternoon.
We then headed to our Hamptons home for the next couple of nights – The Roundtree in Amagansett – just 15 minutes up the road from Bridgehampton. The Roundtree is the ultimate in ‘boutique’ and understated luxury and really doesn’t even feel like a hotel, but more like a very stylish home away from home. As soon as you arrive, you are greeted and treated as a friend (and offered a freshly baked cookie – make sure you take them up on the offer, they are to die for!) and then shown to your sophisticated suite, an impeccably designed space with all the modern touches you could need, plus a well-stocked welcome kit full of local treats.
During your stay, make the most of the vast garden which has a number of seating areas dotted around for sunbathing, reading a good book, and toasting s’mores over the fire, and be sure to borrow one of the hotel’s bikes to explore the local area. The sandy beach is a 10 minute cycle ride away and there’s a whole host of local restaurants, art galleries, and shops right on your doorstep.
Moving on to magical Montana…
With the tranquility of the Hamptons behind us, we then made the long journey over to Montana, where a wholly different landscape and experience from our American adventure so far awaited us. Here, we were generously hosted by the green o, an utterly unique and exciting property consisting of just 12 ‘hauses’. Choose from a Tree Haus, Light Haus, Round Haus or Green Haus, each tucked away within the forest with features such as a private outside Jacuzzi, a swinging chair among the pines, a skylight above your bed for stargazing or an outdoor fireplace, perfect for roasting s’mores and swapping stories.
As if these incredible accommodations weren’t enough, the green o also works on an ‘all-inclusive’ basis with breakfast, lunch and dinner served in the communal ‘Social Haus’, where the menus are just exquisite. Head Chef Brandon and his incredible team create stand-out meals with a daily-changing menu – some of my favourites included the beignets for breakfast (a New Orleans speciality – with a green o twist), or the pork belly tacos with all the sides, and come evening, it is your time to enjoy an impeccable seven-course tasting menu, taking you on a journey with local produce, with many of the ingredients foraged by Brandon himself.
If you can tear yourself away from your haus and the food, the green o is set on the famous Paws Up Ranch, which means there is a whole host of activities to enjoy. From horse-riding through the mountains with the all-female team of wranglers, to fly-fishing on the nearby lake, your days will certainly be kept busy with plenty of fresh air. Altogether, it is hard to really put the green o into words, it’s an otherworldly place which needs to be seen to be believed.
Ending on a (sky) high in New York City…
We finished up the shoot in the Big Apple, shooting ‘destination NYC’ and staying in the centrally located WestHouse Hotel, right next to Central Park. After all, what is a trip to the USA without visiting this magical and mesmerising city? NYC has a very special place in my heart and every time I visit I experience something new.
This time we had a very busy schedule, trying to get round as much of the city as possible for the photoshoot, capturing the buzz and personality of the city and all the incredible things you can experience when you stay. This rounded the trip off nicely and after two weeks of non-stop travelling and hotel-hopping, it was finally time to head home – completely exhausted but ready to start planning the next SLH brand photoshoot…stay tuned to find out where we’ll be heading next!