Portland, one of Maine's largest and most cosmopolitan cities, has a thriving waterfront area, with shops, restaurants, ferries and companies offering guided water excursions. Unfortunately, there are no true waterfront hotels. You'll have water views from some rooms at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center and Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront. If you want a place right on the ocean, you'll need to look in nearby towns, like Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and Wells Beach.
Cape Arundel Inn
Located on Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport, about 25 miles from Portland, this gray-shingled inn is housed in a former mansion. The main building dates back to 1895 and has seven guest rooms on the second floor; rooms are brightly painted with yellows, whites and blues and accented with period antiques; some rooms have four-poster beds and gas fireplaces and all but one have ocean views. The dining room is located on the former wrap-around veranda with glass walls overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a collection of New England art. The motel-style Rockhound building was built in 1953 and has six oceanfront rooms with private balconies and fireplaces. You can also rent a loft on the second floor of the 1895 carriage house, behind the main inn, if you don't mind climbing stairs.
This historic resort is located along the Kennebunkport River, a short walk to ocean beaches and the shops and restaurants at Dock Square. The Kennebunkport town trolley also stops at the resort. The sprawling property has two buildings, the three-story Victorian-style Carriage House and the newer Portside Lodge. The Carriage House has 55 white-washed rooms, accented with floral wallpapers and bed coverings; some have four-poster beds, period antiques and water views. Rooms in the motel-style Portside Lodge are simply furnished, with white walls and nautical blue accents; all have river views and first- and second-floor rooms have private patios or balconies. The riverside resort has a marina where guests can rent kayaks and canoes or take guided boat trips to nearby islands, lighthouses and coves.
The Cliff House Resort & Spa
The Cliff House, which dates back to 1872, is perched on rocky Bald Head Cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Located in Ogunquit, about 35 miles south of Portland, the sprawling resort, with glossy white trim and a red roof, includes 194 rooms in four buildings, surrounded by 70 acres. Rooms are decorated simply with neutral colors and contemporary amenities, like air conditioning and TVs, but all have windows and private balconies overlooking the ocean. The on-site, 25,000-square-foot spa, housed in a separate wing, has 10 treatment rooms, steam and sauna rooms, and a lap pool. Outside, facing the Atlantic Ocean, is an infinity-edge pool and a seaside labyrinth.
Lafayette's Oceanfront Resort
You can't get much closer to the water than this cluster of motel-style buildings on one of Maine's longest stretches of white sand. Five of the nine buildings are on Wells Beach, footsteps from the water. The property is about 29 miles south of Portland. Rooms in the Driftwinds, Wells Beach Motor Inn, Beach Front Lodge, Annex and Ledgeview Inn have basic furnishings; some have flat-screen TVs, mini refrigerators and microwaves, but all have ocean views. If you want more room, consider one of the two cottages for rent. Other amenities include an indoor pool and hot tub, fitness center, playground and arcade. The property is also within walking distance to Wells Beach shops and restaurants.