Power couple Rachelle Hruska and Sean MacPherson revel in the nature and slower pace of the island’s easternmost point.
Rachelle Hruska and Sean MacPherson at home in Montauk.
Rachelle Hruska, cofounder of the website Guest of a Guest, and her husband, hotelier and restaurateur Sean MacPherson, have been watching Montauk’s transformation over the past 12 years—and even helping to nudge it along. MacPherson’s hotels and restaurants include The Crow’s Nest Inn & Restaurant in Montauk, in addition to six others in Manhattan, the newest being The Ludlow Hotel. Guest of a Guest, which chronicles events around the globe, started its Hamptons site in 2008 and relaunched its global site this past April. It now averages 3 million page views per month. The couple’s greatest ventures include their 2-year-old and 7-month-old sons, Maxwell and Dash, and homes in Manhattan’s West Village and Montauk’s Ditch Plains. Here MacPherson and Hruska talk about their favorite East End spots.
“We come out here for the beach, to hike and surf, and to commune with nature. The untouched, undeveloped beauty in Montauk is ultimately its great power and the one thing that really differentiates it from the rest of the Hamptons. It’s more bohemian, with a rawer aesthetic that speaks to us both.
Naturally Good Foods & Cafe, a health food store that also serves breakfast and lunch.
“Our house was built in 1964, the same year that Sean was born, and it’s somewhere between a fort and a shack. But we immediately liked it because it’s right by the water, and just so clearly a change of pace from our life in downtown Manhattan. There’s real physical drama out here, and so much romance to being by the bluffs and far out into the sea. For us, the end of the road is such a desirable place to be.
“We love Culloden Point because it’s a beautiful beach that feels as if you could be discovering it—in fact, we discovered it together. There’s water wherever you look, and it feels like it could be 500 years ago. There’s great history, too. The Amistad anchored there in 1839, when some of the enslaved Africans who revolted and took over the ship went to shore for provisions in Montauk, and the HMS Culloden, which gave the point its name, ran aground there in 1781 while chasing a French frigate. We come out with our kids because there aren’t really any waves on the sound and they can look for treasure all across the beach.
“Navy Beach is just down the road from there, and it’s a really great spot for lunch. Boats come up, and you can eat with your feet in the sand. It’s just a perfect place for a proper meal with a glass of wine and to spread out for the day with your family for a long lunch on the restaurant’s private beach. And if you come later, you can catch the sunset.
Hruska and MacPherson in Shadmoor State Park.
“Another place that’s just a little farther west is The Fish Farm. You could call it ‘Old Montauk,’ but it’s just very unusual and otherworldly. They raise fish—so it gets all the fish-farming wafts from that—but they also breed Rhodesian ridgebacks. In addition, they have a little stand where they serve food right on the water. There’s nothing like it on all of Long Island, and it’s really worth a stop.
“Nature’s what speaks to us out here, so Shadmoor State Park is another must. Its trails go right along the cliffs, with the ocean as the backdrop, so it’s just breathtaking and spectacular. And then, like Culloden, it has all this history, because there are two concrete bunkers from World War II, so it’s all this natural beauty and bluffs unlike anywhere else on Long Island, with this odd bit of history peppered in. It’s great for running, and you feel like you’re in an episode of Lost. Camp Hero St ate Park is also a favorite because it offers a chance to connect with Montauk’s raw land and drama. There’s really good surf at the lighthouse, and the idea that right there the Atlantic splits in to the sound is so potent. Plus there’s more connection to the military past and the conspiracy theories around the Montauk Project and experiments with time travel.
The backyard of The Crow’s Nest Inn & Restaurant.
“That sense of the past is what we love about Montauk, even if it exists very much in the present, too. John’s Drive-In is a perfect example of that. Outside it has the semiotics of a greasy spoon, but inside it has the best ice cream on Long Island. And a lot of local kids work there, so it’s a great place to find babysitters. But Naturally Good Foods & Cafe is probably where we go more than anywhere else. The food is really good, but it also touches a little part of Sean’s childhood in Malibu, because there’s always a little hippie culture to health food stores, and those are his roots (even if he’s moved pretty far from them now). We both order The Bruce, which is fresh yellowfin tuna salad with avocado and cheddar on sprouted wheat.
The Crow’s Nest’s gift shop.
“And then there’s The Crow’s Nest, which has become our roots, too. It’s been there since the ’70s, so we brought it back to its essence. It started as a labor of love, because who wants responsibility in the place they go to get away from responsibility? But it’s always been a place we enjoy. And maybe part of it is that summer is so precious, so people come out to the Hamptons in a good mood, to enjoy themselves. Everyone’s happy, they’re celebrating, and that lightness is welcome.”