Whether your preference is toward the historic or the hip, Nantucket  has a solid selection of each these days—particularly the former. Case in point: The Ships Inn (13 Fair S., 508/228-0040, www.shipsinnnantucket.com , $100–275), built in 1831 by local sea captain Obed Starbuck, the house was later the birthplace of Lucretia Mott. The ten sunny rooms are decorated individually in floral wallpapers, cushy duvets, and fridges. A two-minute walk from the center of town, the inn also has a commendable restaurant and a continental breakfast that includes a dynamite home- made granola.
One of the better values in town is the Hawthorn House (2 Chestnut St., 508/228-1468, www.hawthornhouse.com , year-round). Doubles, all with private bath, run $170–255 mid-June–mid-September (there’s also a two-room suite for $275), the low end of that range representing selected rooms outside of July and August. In the shoulder season before Memorial Day and after Labor Day rates drop up to $75. A $9 coupon is given to each guest for breakfast at either of a couple of nearby local eateries—enough to get you a hot entrée, not just muffins and juice. The premises are enlivened by an extensive collection of fine art and unique crafts, including his wife’s beautiful needlepoint pillows, his own art glass lamps, and his dad’s hooked rugs. The wide-ranging aesthetic brightens the 1849 house at least as much as the sunlight that so many of the rooms enjoy. The absence of phones in the individual rooms mirrors the tranquility of this little downtown block, so near to shops yet off the main path of traffic. In sum, this is an attractive and comfortable oasis.
Nine miles outside of town sits The Wauwinet (120 Wauwinet Road, 508/228-0145, www.wauwinet.com , $380–800) designated by the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group as one of its member properties. The gray-shingled building gazes across a perfectly manicured bloom-filled lawn facing a private bay. Sound nice? That’s just the beginning, from the property’s luxury-laden rooms to Toppers, its world-class restaurant with the million-dollar sunset view. (Don’t miss the chance to sample the house’s rare wine list.)
The impeccably kept White Elephant (50 Easton St., 508/228-2500, www.whiteelephanthotel.com , $300–1,250) is perched directly on Nantucket Harbor. Rooms come complete with exquisite linens, high-speed Internet, CD players, personal patios, and plush bathrobes and beach towels. Many have fireplaces as well. The hotel’s suite-style freestanding garden cabins are ideal for families.