Rhode Island’s Surf Hotel Reopens as Block Island Beach House

The iconic Surf is getting a makeover, but the classic sign isn’t going anywhere.

Surf Hotel on Block Island
Opened in 1873, Surf Hotel is a Block Island landmark.Lark Hotels

When word got out that Lark Hotels had purchased Rhode Island's iconic Surf Hotel, residents of Block Island were concerned that "The Surf" would become nothing but a footnote in this popular U.S. destination's history. But Lark CEO Rob Blood quashed those fears back in March when he told the Block Island Times that he understood the hotel's importance to the island, and the building itself would still be called the Surf. And much to the relief of the island's Historic District Commission, Lark agreed to keep the Surf's original sign.

However, Blood admitted that while he would “honor and respect” the Surf’s legacy, it was also time to move forward “in a way that will ensure that its place on the island will be sustained for many more generations.” Lark did so by also purchasing the Gable Inn and turning both properties into one new resort: The Block Island Beach House.

Reopened on July 1, Block Island Beach House became Lark’s first and only full resort and the accommodations have been designed “to evoke surf shack charm with a modern edge.” Artist Matt Schwartz was tasked with creating a “nostalgic summer” vibe throughout the rooms, using his Polaroid artwork to decorate the various suites with images of old surfboards and the island’s scenic beauty.

Said Blood: “I’ve always thought of Block Island as the perfect summer spot. The mentality and pace here is completely different from anywhere else in the area—it’s relaxed, casual, and made for memory making, and that’s exactly what we wanted to capture in the design of Block Island Beach House. We really hope that we’re creating an experience that will become part of the fabric of our guests’ lives and that they will return again and again to their summer beach house.”

Surf Hotel bedroom
The new renovations feature “surf shack charm with a modern edge,” while celebrating the island’s history with vintage photography and artwork.Read McKendree

Queen and king suites are available with a variety of options, ranging from village view to balconies overlooking the ocean. Pet-friendly and ADA accessible rooms are also available. As for dining, the aptly-named oceanfront kitchen and bar The Surf is likely to be a local favorite, serving fresh fish and BBQ, while Beach Bar will host clam bakes and serve tropical cocktails.

When the 2019 summer season has ended, the Beach House's bigger expansion will begin, with completion expected for reopening in May 2020. Oceanside cottages and larger suites are being added, in addition to a pool and two event spaces. An outdoor venue will serve as a spot for weddings and larger parties, while the Surf Shack will allow groups of 30 or less to enjoy a more intimate, indoor beachside setting.