While Shelter Island is known as a quiet, laid back destination for folks looking to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life, it now has something else to recommend it to visitors — one of the top B&Bs in the country.
In early February, Beth Swanström, owner of Seven on Shelter — a boutique bed and breakfast hotel located at 7 Stearn’s Point Road, received a letter. It came from Steve Kaufer, CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor, who wrote to notify her that Seven is the recipient of a 2017 Travelers’ Choice Award and named one of the Top 25 B&Bs and Inns in the United States.
Travelers’ Choice awards are the highest honor TripAdvisor gives and they are based on reviews and opinions from millions of travelers who use the website. News of the award came as a very pleasant surprise to Ms. Swanström, who opened her lovely bed and breakfast in Spring 2014 and now has her framed TripAdvisor award prominently displayed in the entrance hall.
It’s easy to see why Seven scored big against the competition. The B&B is housed in a 1902 farmhouse which, in the 1940s, was moved to its current location from Chase Creek, and Ms. Swanström has infused her inn and its four guest rooms with a distinctly European flair. It’s a style and way of being that she likely inherited from her French mother and Swedish father.
It probably also has a lot to do with her own professional background.
As proprietor of SoHo-based Galerie Swanström, Ms. Swanström has worked with many interior designers in order to select artwork for various clients.
She has brought her taste and sensibility in art and design and incorporated it throughout Seven where furnishings are a melding of contemporary and classic design while the guest rooms and public spaces highlight the work of many cutting edge artists. Among them are kinetic sculptor Anne Lilly, photographers Rob Hahn, Wendy Richmond and John Deininger, and painter Marc Levitt. Seven also boasts the work of several street artists, including Ann Lewis (who goes by the name of gilf!), Joe Iurato, Billi Kid, and Icy & Sot, a pair of Iranian born brothers.
In a recent interview, Ms. Swanström said she fell in love with Shelter Island the first time she visited a decade or so ago, and was especially taken by Crescent Beach (which is just a short walk from Seven). A busy travel schedule that kept her flying off to various art fairs around the world was ultimately what made her realize Shelter Island was really where she wanted to be.
“I wanted to have a place that felt like home instead of JFK,” she admits. “Now I live here year around.”
She also keeps Seven open year around, providing guests with the much needed break she often sought out while living in New York. Ms. Swanström recalls that one recent client was a stay-at-home mom from Brooklyn who picked the coldest weekend of the year to come stay at Seven and get away from it all.
“Coming from that world, I understand what it means to decompress,” explains Ms. Swanström.
But it’s not just guests from New York City or Long Island who have discovered the place. Many of Seven’s clients are from Europe and Australia. Kristina Martin, who helps run the inn, is from Slovakia, and she says she can relate to the types of inquires international travelers often have.
“I had so many questions when I arrived here,” said Ms. Martin. “They can ask me those same questions.”
As a European, Ms. Martin understands what international travelers respond to and when asked to put it into words, she said, “I think for us it’s absolutely top quality everything — furniture, food, shampoos by Cold Spring Apothecary that are beautiful smelling and sustainable.
“A big chunk is the personal touch,” she added. “Beth is a natural at the way to be with people. We don’t entertain them, but we’re there when they need something.”
The TripAdvisor award could also have something to do with the breakfasts. Each morning, Ms. Swanström and Ms. Martin prepare a European-inspired buffet with fresh fruit, juice, yogurt, local granola, organic honey, eggs from the neighbor that are served hard boiled, pain au chocolate, and warmed baguettes served with sweet butter and gourmet jams.
“When the guests come here, it’s very calm, and we really tell them exactly what they can do here,” Ms. Swanström explained.
And once Seven’s guests have thoroughly explored Shelter Island, Ms. Swanström encourages them to take a day trip to the South Fork for a visit to Long House Reserve’s gardens in East Hampton or the little hamlet of Montauk which bustles with activity in the summer months.
“We do make them go,” she admitted. “It’s the opposite of being here … Then when they get on the ferry, they are so glad to be back here.”
Seven on Shelter, 7 Stearns Point Road, P.O. Box 561, Shelter Island Heights, NY 11965. For information, visit sevenonshelter.com, call (347) 326-3259, or find them on tripsdvisor.com.