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“Beautiful Rooms, Many Small Annoyances” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Inn By the Sea

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Inn By the Sea
40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107   |  
Hotel website
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
GreenLeadersGold level
Washington, DC
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
“Beautiful Rooms, Many Small Annoyances”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2008

For those who hate to read, here's the short version first:

GOOD: spacious, luxurious rooms; great views; boardwalk to the beach; proximity to Portland; friendly staff; free, abundant parking; everything clean and new.

BAD: Generic, character-free exterior; pool closes at dusk; staff not always accurately informed; very high rack rate; daily $7 resort fee, which doesn't seem to cover anything other than the seldom-open small swimming pool; no ice machines; elevator buttons don't light up when you press them (weird!); some door-slamming going on; no bathroom blower vent

Now for the details:

This hotel has recently been renovated, and everything is new. It looks like they demolished whatever was there before and replaced it.

We were thus the first ever to stay in our room, and the room itself was absolutely gorgeous. We had a gas fireplace, a gargantuan marble bathroom with dual sinks, and a glass-enclosed shower about 8 x 5 feet. There was a nice leather bench at the foot of the bed and soft robes in the closet. We had a sweeping view of the Atlantic out the window. The towels were fluffy, and there were L'Occitane bath products supplied, to my wife's delight. ("They charge $20 for just these three little bottles in the store!" she told me.)

What I didn't like about Inn by the Sea were a host of small annoyances and its overall generic McMansion feel. (But the rooms were so nice that I can't bear to give it just two stars.)

Notice that I call it a hotel and not an inn; this is a large, resort-style compound, where you could easily imagine corporate retreats being held. It's luxurious and spacious, but it ain't quaint. I actually found the manicured fescue all around a bit off-putting.

The first small annoyance was the fact that the pool closes at dusk. Dusk! There is to my mind no finer time to go for a swim than just after sunset, when you've spent the day running around and don't have to worry about sunburn. So I have no idea what the reason is behind this policy; there's no lifeguard, so you're swimming at your own risk even during the day. (Needless to say, the Atlanic near Maine is too cold to swim sans wetsuit in year-round.) I could see closing it at 10 or 11 to avoid having pool noise disturb guests in the middle of the night, but to close at sunset is baffling and exasperating.

In addition, the guest computer wasn't set up at all. (I had called the front desk, and the young lady gave me directions to it, evidently unaware that it was still a theoretical guest computer.)However, the same front-desk girl let me use her computer there behind the counter to check my e-mail--which was nice of her, although I felt a bit awkard doing this. I must say that they were very pleasant and had great attitudes. Still, it doesn't take much to set up a measly computer in a hallway. There is wireless access in the rooms, but I don't take my laptop on vacation--do you? I cut them some slack because it was their first night opening after renovations, but management should make sure that every amenity advertised is actually there.

Another small point was that there are no ice machines; you have to have someone bring ice to you. So you better bring plenty of $1 bills for tipping.

One doorman gave me bad directions to go to the Lobster Shack. You actually take the large paved road that goes into Two Lights State Park--the fifth right turn off route 77. (Be warned that the lighthouse is now privately owned and inaccessible to the public. A shame.)

There also seemed to be a lot of door slamming fairly late into the evening at the Inn. I'm not sure if this was from guests or staff, but I do know that on our first night there, we saw housekeepers doing their thing after 9 PM--which is a major, super-duper no-no in my book. No one nearby wants to hear them knocking and calling out at that hour.

On the plus side, parking is free and plentiful, the Inn is an easy drive from Portland. And as I said, the room itself was nearly perfect--spacious, spotless, with a great TV, a great view, a palatial bathroom (but with no blower vent! Agh!), and quiet. The maid service left cookies and a card with the next day's weather on it--a nice touch. There's a coffee maker in the room with some pretty good local coffee.

The highlight of this hotel is the boardwalk to the beach. The beach is not a white-sand Caribbean thing, but you hopefully know that already. The Atlantic is dramatic and kind of forlorn. But walking on the beach is very nice, and there's a state park right next to the hotel, where you can barbecue during the day. That would be a nice daytime activity for a family, in fact.

I would probably be disappointed if we'd paid the standard rate of $289 for our fireplace room (the cheapest type of room). However, my wife booked our stay with a free night via the Historic Inns of America book, and we also got an opening night discount. So we paid just over $200 for both nights. All in all a pretty good deal. If they fix the quirks I mentioned, you don't mind the sterile exterior, and you get some kind of discount, then this hotel can be a decent value.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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666 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (236)
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English first
New York
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2008

I was about to book my hotel room at $300/night for june when on the 2nd page of the transaction a "resort fee" was added onto my bill. I called the hotel and they said this "fee" was non-negotiable. I believe that spending $300/night off season should sufficiently entitle a guest to use the resort without spending extra money. At least if a hotel is going to charge $313 instead of $300 without adding a separate fee at least you know how much you are paying upfront. Very tacky!

Stayed May 2008
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2007

My husband had been to The Inn by the Sea for corporate brainstormings when he was a consultant to a Portland company. But we hadn't been in Portland for 10 years, so he called an old friend (an original Mainer) for advice...

We ended up at The Inn by the Sea with a 2-bedroom ocean view cottage that was simple but SUBLIME. It had an adequate kitchen with glasses, mugs, napkins, paper towels, flatware, dishes, pots, a lobster pot and electric coffee maker. Nice sized dining rooom oak table to seat 6. Then a living room with a HUGE bay window, comfy couch, big easy chair, complete with an oak armoire, stuffed with TV, DVD, books, games, you name it. Off the living room was a protected porch with 2 rockers...

One bedroom was smaller with a "view" of the path guests must take to get to their cottages. Definitely for a single person or child. The other bedroom had many windows overlooking the sea, a larger closet and more room to move around in.

Our only complaint was the bathroom which has a terrible toilet seat (we all fell into the toilet our first time!) which must be built that way for ecological or environmental resaons. That's the only excuse I can think of for such a cheesy toilet in such a classy place.

That being said, it was the most relaxing vacation I've taken in years and we've book the same cottage for the same time next year!!!

  • Liked — Ocean view...location, size and 2-bedroom convenience of ocean view cottage
  • Disliked — The very starange and funky toilets. We all literally fell into the toilet the first time. The seats must be built that way for environmental or ecological reasons. Otherwise, someone has a very warped sense of humor!
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2007

We just stayed at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. I stayed with my daughter and husband in a garden suite, and we also brought our dog. The Inn is very suitable for pets, in our room was a basket with doggy blankets and bowls and other supplies. I loved strollling the grounds with my dog.

The grounds are absolutely beautiful, with amazing gardens and flowers. Everything is very well kept. The ocean is a little in the distance, but with a nice boardwalk to get to it. The beach and pool are great for some summer fun. The room was very clean and fresh. We had wonderful housekeeping all week, and I enjoyed having my sheets changed every day, and they even hand washed all our dishes. The rooms were very nice, with a gardern theme. Th outside cottages have a more beachy theme. We met another family who was staying in one of the cottages, and we got to see it. They were very big and spacious, with great views. The furniture and such were a little dated, but I know they are having a big renovation in the fall.
The location is also great, close to Portland and the Old Port, with lots of great shopping and dining. The Old Prt has some great shops. One day we took a ferry out to Peak's Island and had a great time.

Overall, a great, relaxing vacation at a beautiful Inn. I highly reccomend this hotel for anyone- families, couple, whoever. The staff was very friendly and will suit all your needs.

  • Liked — Service, views, grounds
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2007

I traveled to the Inn by the Sea with my husband and 2 children in July 2007. We stayed in one of the beach cottages for $620. including taxes. A more appropriate price would have been 300-350. I have stayed at business hotels that are in better condition.

Our cottage layout was great, however, the rooms are in desperate need of a makeover. The carpets were stained, the couch was ripped apart so that staples were sticking out (a real hazard with a 1 and 3 year old), the microwave worked poorly, there were only 2 silverware settings for a kitchen that is supposed to be fully equipped for 6 people, there was a stain on the wall above the couch that went unnoticed by housekeeping all week, and the list goes on and on. We were kept up past midnight the first night by the guest staying above us. The front desk was very apologetic the next day and I should have complained that night so they could have remedied the problem right then and there. After housekeeping cleaned, I had to call and have them come back. They had not vaccumed the cottage at all, nor had they cleaned the bathroom. The sheets were merely "neatened up" despite the fact that I requested clean sheets. The staff did handwash the dishes which was much appreciated. When I asked if vaccuming was standard procedure, I was told that they eyeball it and if it's not too bad they don't bother. While I think it is great that the hotel hires local girls for the summer, they are clearly not trained for housekeeping.

We had breakfast in the main dining room which was very good. Service was extremely slow!!!

The location of the inn was great as were the local restaurants ( the Good Table was fantastic). The beach was nice and the grounds were nice and neat but nothing extraordinary. The pool area is also in need of a major renovation. That being said, the front desk informed me that a major renovation on the main inn will begin in the fall. There are plans to enclose the pool as well as adding a spa. These renovations are not supposed to include the beach cottages. During our stay, I voiced my concerns with the front desk. The staff are very friendly and were very sympathetic. Upon checkout I was requested to make a list of the problems we had encountered. We were then sent on our merry way without any compensation. Therefore, we will not be back. It's too bad because it really could be a fantastic resort. It makes much more sense to rent a house for the week then to stay here.

Stayed July 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
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Cape Elizabeth Maine
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2007

Friends recently sent us to Inn by the Sea for our stay in Cape Elizabeth. The grounds are beautiful, exactly what I pictured a New England Inn to look like. There were three of us in our ocean view suite, which is comprised of two stories- on the main floor you have your kitchen, a sofa bed, living room, tv, etc- our suite had a small balcony overlooking the pool with a distant view of Crescent Beach. Our room was spacious and clean. The furniture was in great shape, although a bit dated. However, the fact that we had so much space, and that the rooms come with a dvd player was a plus for us traveling with a toddler.

Nightly turn down service is offered, and so are cookies to go with it which is a nice touch. Another nice thing about this inn is that they are environmentally conscious.

We did have one mix up with housekeeping, but once we made a call to the front desk to report it, all was taken care of promptly. Poolside
food service is slow- and I suppose it could be the treck from the kitchen to the pool. The poolside lunch menu is limited to say the least, and extremely high for what it is, so if you are staying here eat lunch either in the restaurant or elsewhere!

The front desk was knowledgeable about family friendly restaurants, etc and I highly recommend this hotel for families with small children.

The beach is easy to get to over a wooden walkway, and the pool is good sized and heated, which is a plus after being in the frigid North Atlantic.

We will definitely be back for a stay at the lovely Inn by the Sea,

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
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Albany, New York
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
74 helpful votes 74 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2007

I just found out about Trip Advisor so thought I would write a review of the Inn by the Sea where we stayed last summer. We were looking for a nice place that allowed two large dogs. Upon arrival, the staff was very friendly and we were struck by how meticulous the place was, including the grounds. We originally were going to stay in the main house, but I was disappointed with the view, as we were going to face the ocean, and they had us in the side part of the building. Never fear though - because of that, they upgraded us to a cottage at no charge. Our first night in the cottage was wonderful, and we enjoyed reading the journal from other people who stayed there in previous years. But it gets better - the next day, above us, was a family with kids who were RUNNING around upstairs. When I saw the people and asked about keeping their kids a little quieter, they said they wouldn't. So we complained to the hotel and they moved us to another room for that night in the back of the hotel, and the next day they moved us to a beach house, at no extra charge. I couldn't believe they went to that much trouble and they were great about it. The beach on the property was BEAUTIFUL, but our only disappointment was we really couldn't see it or the ocean very much because it's so far away (and the dogs are not allowed on that beach). We went to a nearby park and beach during the day though, and enjoyed having a peaceful wonderful place to return to at night, and the dogs were allowed to sit by the pool with us. They even had yoga the last morning we were there. If only the beach was a little closer, it would have been heaven on earth. But it was still a wonderful place to be and I highly recommend it.

  • Liked — The quality of the rooms and the great staff.
  • Disliked — A little bit further away from the beach than expected.
  • Stayed July 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Inn By the Sea

Address: 40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Maine > Cape Elizabeth
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Cape Elizabeth
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 61
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
After a multi million dollar renovation the eco luxury Inn by the Sea is Maine's premier beach destination. Located on a mile of unspoiled beach guests enjoy intimate dining in the ocean view Sea Glass celebrating Maine fare, relax in the spa or fireplace lounge. Spacious redesigned suites, rooms & cottages w oversized bathrooms, or full kitchens, or fireplaces. Child & Pet friendly! 5 acre indigenous garden,pool, bocce, fire pit, golf nearby. 10 mins to Portland. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Inn By The Sea Hotel Cape Elizabeth
Inn By The Sea Maine/Cape Elizabeth

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