About eighty miles northeast of Portland, Maine, through the scenic, coastal views of Rt. 1, and beyond the numerous lobster shacks and the miles, upon miles of pine forest that makeup the Midcoast region, lies the town of Rockland, Maine. A quintessential fishing town and the lobster capital of the world woven together with one of Maine’s best art scenes. At first glance, it may appear as the quaint or less “trendy” neighbor to nearby Camden, but as you journey down its cozy Main Street drag, you’ll find the heart of Rockland’s unique pride and character. Perhaps I’m allowed a bit of bias, having grown up here, and even though I now live in Boston, I’ll always consider the Midcoast home. Give it a visit, and I promise you’ll fall in love too.
At the beginning of Rockland’s Main Street sits the 250 Main Hotel. A luxury boutique hotel built by well-known, local boatbuilders, Lyman Morse Boatbuilding. Its location is absolutely perfect for a weekend of exploring downtown Rockland and nearly everything you’d want to do is conveniently within walking distance. Almost every room in the hotel boasts breathtaking, watercolor-esque views of Rockland’s harbor. Luxurious. Comfortable. Modern. Convenient. And without an ounce of pretentiousness. Just how I like it. Did I mention the building itself was constructed to be energy-efficient and decidedly green? What’s not to love?
250 Main is an intentionally small, luxury boutique hotel, boasting just 26 rooms. Boutique hotels are defined by their smaller floorplans and unmistakable style – usually containing between 10-100 rooms. I’ve grown to love this hotel type because they often offer something different: an intimate atmosphere, an eclectic mix of funky and trendy, and those special touches that other hotel chains just don’t consider (more about 250 Main’s incredible amenities if you keep reading). By booking a stay at a boutique hotel, you are assured your stay will be memorable, your wants and needs will be taken into consideration, and you will be remembered by a friendly face upon arrival. For those who crave the idea of a bed and breakfast’s friendly and cozy atmosphere, but without the great grandmother’s house or distant relative vibe 😉 , a boutique hotel is the perfect option.
Upon walking into 250 Main, you’ll be greeted by friendly, *local* employees and one of the most gorgeous lobbies I’ve ever laid eyes on. Beautiful reclaimed wood covers the ceiling, while modern couches, chairs, and coffee tables dot the foreground in front of the fireplace. Obnoxiously refreshing fruit-infused water awaits you at the elevator, balanced by the cutest 24/7 coffee, tea, and hot chocolate bar just across the lobby. Is this heaven? Pretty close. 250 Main’s lobby is not only beautiful aesthetically, but it’s one that begs to be gathered in and lived in. You can enjoy a friendly game of scrabble, try to stump a friend or loved one with movie trivia cards, or flip through the many nautical books docked on the lobby shelves. During the complimentary happy hour (WHAT?!, 4-6pm nightly), I had a blast playing many of the games I recall playing growing up. In a world that’s full of screen time, I can’t tell you how great it felt to unplug and unwind with a fun-filled game over a glass of Pinot Noir. I don’t think I’ve felt that feel-good feeling of home since I was a child at my grandparent’s house (minus the Pinot Noir 😉 ).
My room at 250 Main… Ahhh the room. I could go on forever. The name of the room was “Spectacular,” and spectacular it was. It immediately felt like home, but a more luxurious home away from home. From my first step into the room, the soft carpet welcomed me, and only then did my eyes gaze through the huge and wonderfully generous glass windows that span the entire room. I arrived at night, however, even in the dark, I could tell that the view would be something special. At night you can see the revolving beacon light of Rockland’s Breakwater Lighthouse, warning boats of the breakwater that is ahead. Flash forward to the morning, and sure enough, the panoramic ocean views of Rockland’s harbor took my breath away. Pro tip: be sure to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching boats come and go as they please from the harbor. It doesn’t get much more relaxing than that.
The rest of the room is luxurious minimalism at its very finest; Fabulously considered details, with just the right amount of trendy.
Now to the room amenities. In one phrase – “out of this world.” Enjoy a warm towel after a hot shower courtesy of the heated towel rack, an in-room concierge tablet for instant service at your fingertips, as well as local recommendations such as where to eat and what to do. The bathroom floors are heated, the shower is an European rain shower that convinced me I could never have anything else in my future home, and one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in in my entire life.
The amazing view from my room. Fun Fact: I worked at this restaurant for three years.
Every aspect of 250 Main’s design is beautiful and intentional. It’s obvious that every detail was so carefully considered; from the plush couch by the cozy fireplace, to the scrabble table that’s in the lobby, to the *local* art that decorates each floor of the hotel, to the thought-provoking quotes that dawn the hotel’s staircase.
One of the main(e) reasons people travel to Rockland, is to marvel at and experience the art. The town is home to the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Dowling Walsh art gallery, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and so many other fabulous galleries. Each floor of 250 Main is virtually its own art gallery and this reminded me that art is so vital in making Rockland, “Rockland,” The walls dawn beautiful prints from some of the best local artists and most are even available for sale. So if you fall in love with a piece during your stay, not only can you take it home, but it will always remind you of your time spent on the coast of Maine. My parents have a custom print by local artist, Greta Van Campen in their living room and I immediately felt at home when I noticed her work throughout the lobby and hotel floors.
I can’t think of many hotels I’ve stayed in that peaked my need to explore. 250 Main brought out my inner adventurer. With art on each floor and beautiful, thought-provoking quotes marking the hotel’s staircase, you’ll want to explore, and you’ll want to take the stairs. In fact, once you reach the very top of the staircase, you can go outside to soak up one of Rockland’s best views from the town’s only roof deck. Look out to see Rockland’s Breakwater Lighthouse, boats floating peacefully in the harbor, and people walking up and down Main Street.
I love 250 Main because, although I am technically a local (born and raised in Owls Head, which borders Rockland), it captures every aspect of how I think Rockland should be seen, experienced, and remembered. The people who work here are incredibly hardworking, authentic, *local*, kind, and thoughtful – similar to the great people who make up the community. It’s simply a slice of home for me.
Home Kitchen Cafe (breakfast, brunch, or lunch)
In Good Company (dinner)
Rock City Coffee (coffee, light breakfast)
Archer’s (lunch or dinner)
Owls Head General Store (for Maine’s best burger, chosen by the Food Network)
Main Street Markets (smoothies, breakfast, lunch)
The Broken Egg (breakfast)
Cafe Miranda (dinner)
Wasses (lunch for the best hot dog you’ll ever have; cash only)
Walk the Rockland Breakwater (don’t forget your sneakers). Still fun to do in the winter, just wear extra layers because it can be windy and very chilly.
Go to the Farnsworth Art Museum
Check out the local Owls Head Transportation Museum
Go to the Owls Head Lighthouse
Check out Fiore at the end of Rockland’s Main Street for an olive oil and vinegar tasting. I always stock up on them every time I visit home!
Go to a wine tasting at the Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville.
Go to Crescent Beach in Owls Head.
Go to The Strand theater for a show.
LOCAL SHOPS / ARTISANS:
Archipelago: The Island Institute Store
Fiore Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars
The Grasshopper Shop
Main Street Markets
While on the outside, it may appear that small coastal Maine towns “shut down” in the winter. However, if you enjoy less crowds, traffic, and a less expensive stay, the winter is actually a wonderful time to visit Maine. Almost every local business stays open through the winter, something that’s not true in popular Maine tourist attraction, Bar Harbor. Interestingly enough, when I’m home visiting my parents (I’m from Owls Head which borders Rockland), I still partake in many of the same activities I enjoy during the summer, I just wear a lot more layers!
Brunch on Sunday was a welcomed guest of 250 Main Hotel. All thoughts and opinions are my own!