Provincetown, Massachusetts. Or simply “P-Town” as locals and in-the-know New Englanders call it. It’s the Key West of the Northeast: brash, bold, touristy, picturesque, gay-friendly … and entirely welcoming. Overrun with tourists in the barely four months of summer with a (relatively) sleepy small town vibe in the stark cold of winter. It’s a unique destination unto itself and an insanely popular (and often expensive) destination at that.
Which is how we found ourselves at the Harbor Hotel Provincetown. The Nixon-era budget motel was entirely revamped and redesigned (it would appear) with the help of a professional interior design team and an unlimited Ikea credit card. And, for budget travelers, that’s a very, very good thing.
The Traveler’s Take
With the sky-high summer season in full swing, New England budget travelers often look to wallet-friendly options to take to the beaches for their vacations. But spending a long weekend at a dingy, no-tell-motel desperately in need of a revamp is no way to enjoy a few days away. Harbor Hotel fills that need perfectly with plenty of amenities, free services, and eclectically designed guest rooms for just a tad more than the aforementioned accommodations, but far less than typical, swanky, overpriced P-Town B&Bs.
Guest Rooms + Amenities
A majority of the guest rooms offer waterviews and easy access to a great beach just across the road. Couples will dig the 10 sizable suites which offer a separate bed room with sitting area, private bath, large open walk-in closet area, mini-fridge, microwave, dining area, semi-private patio … and the list goes on.
Inside, every room has been redesigned in bold, vibrant, eye-popping blue, greens and yellows that speak to a crisp, retro-future aesthetic with a slight hint of industrial. It’s warm enough to feel comfortable and “homey” yet funky enough to keep the kids interested.
Other amenities worth noting (read: those not typically available in budget motels/hotels) include full private baths, free wifi, large flat-screen TVs, all-day coffee bar, complimentary bikes + beach toys, and easy access to the hotel pool.
One great bonus – and a rare one at that – is that the hotel is also pet-friendly. As is much of P-Town (including plenty of businesses in town that leave water and treat bowls out for passing pooches) for that matter, so make sure to bring the dog!
Their are two onsite restaurant/bars. Poolside, the Cabana Bar offers light snacks and meals and a full list of beer, wine, and cocktails. It’s simple yet satisfying food and, on a mild New England summer day, the perfect place to sit and relax by the pool.
For fancier fare, the Whaler Lounge (which also serves breakfast) is the hotel’s main restaurant with a full menu of salads, sandwiches, and plenty of local seafood favorites (including lobster sliders!).
Big dining bonus: the outdoor fire pit just steps outside Whaler Lounge. It’s a rare treat (particularly in the Northeast) and an incredibly popular gathering spot once the sun goes down. Get there early – it was thoroughly packed every night that we stayed!
Double bonus: the hotel will happily pack you a beach picnic to go. Take a quick (probably less than 100-foot) walk across the road and enjoy lunch on the sands. Or head to stunning Race Point Beach where, even in the heart of summer, it’s not hard to find 100 feet of open beachfront all to yourself.
All else aside, the beauty of Harbor Hotel is its location. It’s just a brief walk from downtown (and a shuttle bus is readily available throughout the day) – close enough to all the action, but far enough removed that families and couples seeking a bit more solitude can relax away from the hustle of downtown P-Town.
As with everything in New England, everything depends heavily upon the season. But Harbor Hotel offers deeply discounted rates and deals year-round – particularly when compared to the rest of Cape Cod.
The Bottom Line
For travelers seeking funky, one-of-a-kind, budget-friendly digs just steps from the heart of Provincetown, the Harbor Hotel is a great deal all around.
Disclosure: Vagabondish received two complimentary nights at Harbor Hotel Provincetown in advance of this review.