Novelist Tasmina Perry reveals the inspiration for her new Hamptons-based novel The Pool House and gives us her top tips for a vacation in America’s celebrity summer paradise.
I decided that I wanted to set a novel in the Hamptons years before I even put pen to paper. The Hamptons is such a by-word for coastal glamour that the only question I asked myself was why, when I love to set my novels in jet-set locations, had it taken me so long to get round to a Hamptons-based one? A research trip was calling me…
As soon as I started planning my visit, I quickly discovered that for such a famous destination, there aren't actually many hotels in the Hamptons, which means that most people rent houses or rooms for either the weekend or sometimes for an entire season. A Hamptons house share eventually became the central premise for The Pool House. A young British couple join a Hamptons summer house share but quickly find out they are taking the place of a woman who was found dead in mysterious circumstances…
We got our house in Sag Harbor through Air B & B. Our hosts, a model and a surfer, lived in a property next door and through them we got to live like locals; they even loaned us their car!
The downside of the Hamptons exclusivity is the lack of public transport and, without a car, it's tricky getting to the beaches.
If you can find accommodation within walking distance of any beach, or that gives you a parking permit as part of your stay, take it!
The Hamptons is actually a string of villages along the southern fork of Long Island, with Westhampton at one end and windswept Montauk at the other. It reminds me of an ice cream parlour because all the towns have a unique flavour but they are all delicious and you need to try them all.
Southampton is old-school and elegant; think Rolls Royce cars purring along the streets and New York grand dames and their little dogs trotting along the sidewalk, but there are injections of hip too, thanks to the juice bars and the chic AERIN shop.
Sag Harbor has a more laid-back creative vibe with a nod to its whaling port past that reminded me of Cape Cod.
Glamorous East Hampton is ‘see and be-seen’, full of boutiques and restaurants in pretty clap-board houses.
Relaxed Bridgehampton (as featured in The Pool House) is the perfect Hamptons town, worth a visit for the Candy Kitchen Ice Cream Parlour and its fantastic library alone.
Montauk, at the far tip of Long Island, is fun, funky and family-friendly. It’s a little cheaper than the other resorts and attracts a younger crowd.
They are long, wide and golden and, like the Hamptons towns themselves, all have their own personalities. Montauk's Kirk Park Beach is busy, jolly and kid-friendly, Ditch Plains (another Pool House location) attracts the surfers, Main Beach in East Hamptons has hot dogs and lifeguards and toilets – don’t under-estimate the importance of those.
If you do rent a car and want to try out all the Hamptons beaches, do your research on the parking situation before you go. Generally you'll need to get hold of a parking permit which can cost up to $40 a day and some are available only for residents. The upside of this is that some of the ocean beaches, such as Wainscott, can be so quiet, you feel as though you have the sand dunes to yourself.
Love lobster? Drive out to Montauk’s lighthouse and make a pit-stop at the iconic roadside diner LUNCH (or The Lobster Roll to give it its official name). If it looks familiar, that’s because it starred in the HBO TV series The Affair. It’s very easy to believe that Dominic West is about to walk through the door as you’re chomping into your buttery cold-water lobster roll.
Nick & Toni’s is a good pick for celeb spotting. Think you’ve spotted Alec Baldwin over your Cobb Salad? It probably is.
Bostwick’s Chowder House is another famous seafood shack with out-of-this-world clam chowder. Head to the Golden Pear Café for brunch and LT Burger in Sag Harbor for the thickest, creamiest milkshakes known to man. Eating in? Stock up on juicy cherries and local honey at one of the many roadside farmers markets and you could find yourself next to Gwyneth Paltrow buying organic kale.
If all that sunshine and celebrity gives you a thirst for some culture, there’s plenty of that too. Artist Jackson Pollock was based in the Hamptons for much of his career and his studio and home – the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton – is open to the public.
Catch the latest movie at Southampton’s gloriously old-school United Artists Movie Theatre and feel as though you have stepped back into the Hollywood Golden Age or grab a picnic and a blanket for one of the many movies under the stars evenings in the local parks.
Has this little snippet of life in the Hamptons got you thirsty for more? Then download a preview of Tasmina Perry's new book The Pool House today. To celebrate the launch we've partnered with book's publishers, Headline, to offer you the chance to win £250 to spend at Simply Beach! Find out more and how to enter here. Good luck!