I love hotel bars. They feel posh and glamorous, slightly surreptitious and kind of old fashioned. The fancier the hotel, the better. Sure, I can’t afford to stay at these places, and, granted, I cringe at the drink prices, but, besides watching a black and white Cary Grant movie, a trip to a chic hotel bar is the easiest way I know to access that ever elusive feeling called sophistication. So, in need of a taste of the good life, I headed out to the luxurious Chatham Bars Inn – named by Boston Magazine as the best hotel on the Cape. Unfortunately, the experience, just like this weather, left me feeling a little cold and slightly beleaguered.
The times that I have visited the Chatham Bars Inn in the past have been during the beloved off-season. I’ve had wonderful and expensive lunches in their exquisite, nearly empty, dining room – feasting on the spectacular views of the ocean as much as on the good food. So, it was an adjustment to see the place packed with people. And not just any people, but rich, stir-crazy tourists – some of the most terrifying of all the human variants.
This constant spate of bad weather has made every vitamin-D deprived soul on Cape Cod about as cheerful as August Strindberg. And those who suffer the most amongst us (besides the fishermen who didn’t even set out today because of the high winds and choppy seas) are the tourists. Vacation days are precious and I know that those lucky enough to spend some of their longed for off-time on the Cape want little more than lots of swimming, sand and sun – something this nor’easter has made utterly impossible. And so I felt bad for those well-dressed souls that I spotted sprawled in the Chatham Bars Inn’s gorgeous rooms – bundled up (appropriately, of course), peering intently at their laptop screens, faces slack, waiting for this nasty rain to lift. I was going to sprawl among them, still holding on to my mission for some sophisticated leisure, but a group of noisy businessmen powwowing in loud voices sparked my peculiar inability to relax in the presence of overexcited men in suits, so I looked for my comforts in another room at the Inn.
I headed to the bar, where the only spot available was next to two more noisy businessmen chattering about hedge funds, stocks, who’s in, who’s out, etc…I felt like I was back in New York – just without the quick access to high culture and the overexposure to public urination. I quietly ate a salad and then quickly left the bar. I ventured out on to the Inn’s beautiful and vast veranda, beguiled by the views of the gray and churning ocean. It’s a remarkable spot – Gatsbyesque in its stately, old money feel. I took a deep breath of the salt air while I watched a young teenage boy standing out in the pouring rain. He was soaked and smiling – taking great joy in the blasting wind flipping his tightly held umbrella inside out and back again – over and over and over.
And then I left. Cape Cod had had better days, so had I, so had Chatham Bars Inn. How could I hold it against any of us? I drove off, taking a detour to enjoy the views all the way down Chatham’s incredibly scenic Shore Street before I turned around (at the lighthouse) and started on my way back home. While passing the Chatham Bars Inn again, I spotted that young boy, still out in the rain, still holding his umbrella against the wind, still flipping it inside out. I smiled, glad that someone was outside and having fun.