Craignair Inn – a secluded MidCoast Maine waterfront hotel
Searching for a great Maine waterfront hotel? Look no further than the Craignair Inn in MidCoast Maine, ideally located on the St. George peninsula, historic, cozy, secluded and yet so close to great sights.
The Craignair Inn on the St. George peninsula is a secluded MidCoast Maine waterfront hotel that is so much more: cozy, homey, historic, unbeatable ocean views, great food, and yet not far from any number of sights.
Since current owners Lauren and Greg Soutiea bought the inn in December 2018, they have endeared themselves to the tiny Spruce Head village and slowly expanded the inn’s offerings – without harming any of its historic charm. Of course, sitting at the edge of the water across a short causeway to an island preserve with trails and a swimming hole can’t be beat.
Imagine yourself in this vacation photo now: lounging in an Adirondack chair on the Craignair Inn’s expansive rear waterfront lawn, enjoying some of the inn’s homemade ice cream, watching the ocean waves or birds, and getting ready for the milky way to make its appearance over the Clark Island Preserve.
Forget bustling, tourist-filled beaches, or streets lined with trinket shops, the Craignair has the honor of being the only inn (or business really) within a few miles. You get a intimate, secluded, natural setting, yet you are only 10-30 minutes from great villages, ferry landings, towns like Rockland or Camden, lobster shacks, historic business districts, and one of the best lighthouses in Maine (Marshall Point).
Cozy vibe at this Maine waterfront inn
It doesn’t hurt that Lauren and Greg are simply some of the nicest owners who treat guests like family and bend over backward to ensure you have precisely what you need. In a stroke of bad timing, they bought the MidCoast Maine inn in time to have one good tourist season (2019) – then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. But they soldiered on, using the time to start planning what they wanted the inn to become and to begin plotting remodeling touches and small expansions. They also live full time in a section of the building so it’s also their home, making the bad luck of the pandemic less of a crushing defeat.
There is of course no shortage of inns and bed and breakfasts in Maine or New England, especially with the coveted ocean view, so they had their work cut out for them. They added private balconies on a number of ocean-view rooms; a premium dinner service that attracts, guests, locals and travelers alike; re-envisioned the former living room into a sleeker, cleaner space for added dining area; renovated bathrooms, and expanded the common ocean-view deck. They took steps to transform the business into a sustainable Maine inn, selecting regional fare, emphasizing green practices, and adding solar panels to power a large percentage of the inn’s energy needs. Their work paid off: In 2022, Lauren and Greg were named Maine’s Innkeepers of the Year by Hospitality Maine, a highly coveted honor in a state packed with beautiful inns. Hospitality Maine noted the two had “turned this rustic locale into a green, arty, culinary retreat on the edge of Spruce Head.” That same year, they were named one of the state’s 16 best new or improved inns by Down East Magazine.
Craignair Inn has history, cool breezes, dramatic tides, and all the amenities
In the beginning, the clapboard building (circa 1928) was a boarding house for the Scottish workers at the quarry on what is now the 120-acre Clark Island Preserve across the causeway. (Note: “Craignair” translates loosely from the Scottish as “black rock.”) In 1944, the building was transformed into an inn, which it has been ever since. Lauren and Greg are the 6th owners since then, with three of the prior owners still either in Spruce Head or in Rockland!
The main house has 13 rooms, five of which share a hall bathroom with others. In a small house behind the main inn, one finds the “Vestry,” which used to be the community church. In it, there are eight additional rooms, which have decks, air conditioning, and are a bit more spacious, and are also pet-friendly. A parking lot between the two is convenient for your road trip travel and also provides space for visitors to the island preserve. The two also have expanded the lot since their start and added electric vehicle charging stations to fulfill more of their sustainable promise.
For my first stay at this MidCoast Maine waterfront hotel, I stayed in the St. George room on the 3rd floor of the main house, a corner room with three windows for superior cross breezes and never-ending views of the ocean, tides, stars and island. The rooms are not expansive suites, but have a clean, tidy, historic feel that is all you need. My room had a ceiling fan, and all rooms have full amenities, extra ports for USB charging and more plugs, and plenty of plushy towels. Oh, and the Wi-Fi worked fantastically (although I certainly didn’t stream movies – too much great outdoors stuff to do!). With wood floors and vintage wood chairs, you do have to be conscious of guests above and below you — it is an old building, after all.
Upon my return post-pandemic with Michael to take a look at all their hard work, we stayed in the Cobble Beach Room on the second floor, which is one with a new balcony and a slightly more modern, sleeker feel than St. George. The balcony is a grand addition for a private happy hour or just reading peacefully.
Breakfasts are included with stays, and you get to choose from a menu with a nice variety, including vegetarian, vegan and healthy choices, in part because both Lauren and Greg are vegan and emphasis their own personal health and fitness. The breakfast menu changes up occasionally: My first stay I enjoyed a breakfast burrito with sweet potato hash can also have served over a bed of greens (my fave!), and of course I had to try the Maine blueberry pancakes with local Maine maple syrup. You also get a choice of sides, juice, and all the locally roasted dark coffee you want. They have since added bowls that are easily adapted to cater to varying dietary needs.
Normally, during the high tourist season, the Craignair Inn serves dinner much of the week in its Causeway Restaurant, although hours may vary during the winter. Since dinner service was very limited during my first stay during the pandemic, I took my return opportunity to dine at the Craignair Inn Causeway Restaurant. The menu still caters to organic, regional cuisine yet has a broad variety for all tastes including oysters, crab cakes (and vegan “crab” cakes), lobster bisque, and an array of mains from filet mignon and halibut to pastas and lamb. Since his arrival in June 2023, Executive Chef Gil Plaster has transformed the restaurant into a true premium destination, focusing on matching the vibe and ethos with their local, sustainable approach, he said. With such great food offerings and a cozy feel, the restaurant has gone from “just being there for guests” to becoming an area destination and bringing in nearly triple the business it did before.
New as of late June 2020 is the “Clark Bar,” which is a freshly created bar area in the main dining room of this MidCoast Maine waterfront inn with a window to the deck for outdoor ordering. Guests, community members, or visitors to Clark Island can saunter over, order soft drinks, hard drinks, ice cream, or snacks and alcoholic beverages, and take it all away or enjoy on the back lawn, which since my first stay has been expanded to include additional fire pits, seating areas, and games.
All in all, the Craignair Inn is a delightful choice for top MidCoast Maine waterfront lodging with a personal feel for travelers that are either passing through, dashing from sight to sight, or just wanting to relax in a secluded setting.
Shopping for the best Made in Maine souvenirs
In Maine, you’ll fall in love with lobster, lighthouses, beaches and mountains, all the things the state is famous for, but they don’t really make the best Maine souvenirs or travel gifts. To find the best Made in Maine gifts, read Best Maine souvenirs – Maine Made products for the perfect travel gift.
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