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“What a relief !” 5 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
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
56 helpful votes 56 helpful votes
“What a relief !”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2008

From the moment we arrived to the moment we left "five star" is the best description of this property. The bellmen upon arrival were friendly and attentive (as a good handshake!) The check in desk staff made us feel "like regulars". Rooms were contemporary and interestingly enough we walked down to our garden suite; a nice touch. Salt pool was just the right temp and the walk to the beach scenic and invigorating. Restaurant's view was of the grounds and the ocean, service by Christo wonderful and the food superb. The massage was terrific and theraputic. The only downside was the work out area, not quite up to the Inn's standards. Otherwise we can't wait to return and spread the word !

  • Liked — Location, service, food
  • Disliked — Work out room
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 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
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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
Hollywood, Florida
Top Contributor
103 reviews 103 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
107 helpful votes 107 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2008

Having stayed in many hotels and inns in Portland, this place is clearly the nicest, newest, and cleanest - bar none. Totally renovated, our room was huge: two fireplaces, two plasma TV's, living area, immense shower, sofa, overstuffed chairs, and tons of space. The air conditioning is set to not drop below 69 degrees, which was a real problem because it felt very warm - we like to sleep at 65 degrees. The second night was a blackout, so we had no AC - or lights - almost the entire night. The amenities include a pool (seemed unheated, which was disappointing), although our son loved it, and the pool attendant kept us in fresh towels, cold water, and sunscreen. The beach is available by walking along a beautiful path, with a large sandy beach. Once there, though, you are on your own; no attendants, and remember to bring your room towel. Some people had umbrellas and chairs, but there wasn't anyone to ask how to obtain - and I wasn't lugging it from the hotel to the beach. The food was above average, we had lunch on the gorgeous porch with sweeping views, as well as room service. Well made and tasty. The resort is comfortable, with great touches, close to the beach and the City, and all high end finishes. If they concentrate on the details, this will be the best inn in greater Portland.

  • Liked — New, Large Comfy Rooms
  • Disliked — Some lack of attention to details
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with family
    • 3 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2008

We stayed at the Inn By The Sea in Cape Elizabeth June 29 - July 5 2008. A little about us - my husband and I traveled with our Labrador Retriever from Chicago, and we typically stay in nice hotels ($300-$500/night type hotels). The room exceeded our expectations, based on the photographs on the hotel's website. We stayed in a Garden Suite, and we had the unit on the end of the building, which was perfect. It had a private back entrance which lead to the parking lot, a gorgeous view of the grounds, a large deck that was partially enclosed by a railing (perfect to sit out on with our dog -the other garden units do not have the railing), the bedroom was a completely separate room and the walk in shower in the bathroom was huge - large enough to fit all three of us when we needed to rinse the dog after a day at the beach! :) We had two very small gripes about the room - the mini-fridge door was broken so it didn't shut all the way. Thus our bottles of water weren't very cold and the food we stored didn't keep. We mentioned this to the hotel the first night, but they didn't do anything about it (not that there was much they could do while we were there). The second gripe is that the bathroom only had one sink. I didn't understand that - why pay all that money for renovations, but not put double sinks in all the rooms?? Again, very small irritants.

The hotel is beautiful and the food in the restaurant is very good. The boardwalk to the beach and around the state park was a favorite morning walk for us, and our only complaint there is that dogs aren't allowed on the beach at the hotel (even on leash) from April1 - October1. But there are other beaches close by that we were able to take her to, before 8 am and after 6 pm.

All the staff are very friendly and nice and try to be helpful. I spent some time waiting for the concierge one morning, and both valets noticed that I had been waiting and approached me to see if they could help me with something. (We were looking for fireworks on the 4th, and they actually pulled out a map and gave me directions.) A couple of gripes - for being a super dog friendly hotel, we didn't find the staff to be well versed in dog-friendly activities, restaurants, etc. in the area. That would have been helpful. Thankfully we had done a ton of research before we left, and knew of some places to go. They were willing to call places on our behalf to find out if they were dog friendly, though. And the morning before we left, the hotel got crowded with people there for the long weekend. That meant more people at breakfast (but the restaurant was not full) and our service suffered tremendously. Our poor waitress seemed so flustered by having to wait on several tables. It seemed that a lot of the staff were college kids on summer break, so that could be where some of the issues come from.

There were a lot of other dogs there, and everyone seemed to be very responsible pet owners. No one let their dogs run wild, all the dogs were well socialized and friendly, and there was no pet waste anywhere in sight the entire time we were there. Our dog had an amazing time! They definitely love dogs at this hotel! We met so many wonderful people - guests and staff, and felt like we were on vacation with a bunch of friends!

All in all, we LOVED our vacation, and when we checked out, we booked the same room for next year. We are counting the days until we return!

  • Liked — The location and hotel are gorgeous and perfect!
  • Disliked — Lack of knowledge about dog friendly activities, restaurants, etc.
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Arlington, VA
15 reviews 15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2008

We stayed in a Garden Suite -- the rooms are very nice and recently renovated. They were still working out a few kinks with the remodeling (our closet light wouldn't turn off, the bedroom door wouldn't shut) but overall the furnishings are very high end - lovely bathroom, linens, decor. There was no information about hotel services available (apparently it was being printed??), which I thought was odd given that even low-end hotels have this.

The staff were very friendly, the pool is small but nice, and the beach is a nice walk away.

The restaurant was very good - pricey, but delicious and accommodates children.

Be aware of the $15 "resort fee" -- I knew about this ahead of time so it was not a surprise but I found it to be kind of ridiculous. I mean, come on, it's a hotel with a pool -- not a resort! I think it is pretty chintzy to charge an additional fee for no apparent services or amenities, especially when guests are paying upwards of $300 a night. I recommend that they simply roll their costs into the room rates -- otherwise, a guest's final impression of the place, when they are paying the bill, is a bad one.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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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
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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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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.
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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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