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The Cliff House Resort and Spa, a sprawling luxury hotel that sits atop Bald Head Cliff on the southern Maine coast about five miles from Ogunquit, is an iconic landmark with a history that began in 1872. The hotel has been expanded and updated several times in the last 150 years, and today its old-world charm continues to attract affluent vacationers to its elegant rooms and restaurants situated on a cliffside perch with stunning views of Maine's rocky coast.

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Located in Cape Neddick, about an hour's drive north of Boston, Cliff House was founded as a small hotel and farm by Elsie Jane. A guest cottage on the site, the Weare Cottage, is named for her husband, Theodore Weare. Cliff House quickly became a favorite destination for the rich families of Boston and later played an important role in World War II as a radar station on alert for Nazi submarines in the coastal waters.

In later decades, more rooms and suites were added, along with banquet facilities (it's a popular wedding spot) and a full-service spa. The hotel remained in the Weare family until 2014 when a hotel development company bought it. Most rooms have private terraces, and the hotel describes itself as casually and elegant. Furnishings and room designs have a maritime theme, in keeping with the ocean views that are seen from nearly every window and balcony.

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Accommodations Offer Cliffside, Ocean Views

Cliff House Hotel has a wide range of rooms and suites, some with ocean and cliffside views, others with resort views. In all, it offers a total of 226 accommodations, including 186 guest rooms and 40 suites, some with fireplaces and all featuring coastal-inspired furnishings and decor.

The top accommodation is the Weare Cottage, which offers two king bedrooms with ocean view terraces, another bedroom with two bunk beds, 3.5 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a front porch. Rates and reservations are available by phone at the hotel.

Another premium choice is the Captain Perkins Suite. Named for Captain Perkins, who built the original Cliff House in 1872, the 1,150-square-foot suite has views of the Ogunquit cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. It features a master bedroom with a king-sized bed, a living room and dining area, and a private terrace.

Other lodging choices include the Sunrise Suite, with a separate living room and balcony, a one- or two-bedroom Oceanfront Corner Suite, offering two terraces, a Premium Oceanfront King, the Ledges or Terraces Oceanfront Kings, and Coastal View and Partial Coastal View Kings.

Rates for all accommodations vary by season. For mid-October stays, the per night rate for the Captain Perkins Suite is $2,100; a Sunrise Suite, $1,069; a Premium Resort View King, $800; and a Cliffscape Oceanfront King, $509, for example.

All rooms and suites include luxury brand bath amenities, LCD flat-screen televisions, high-end linens, and plush bathrobes.

Dining Venues, A Full Spa Offer Luxury Experiences

Cliff House’s signature restaurant, The Tiller, offers guests an elegant dining setting with panoramic ocean views. It serves a seasonal menu and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guests can expect fresh produce from area farms, locally caught fish, and traditional recipes. The Tiller Bar offers international wines and a handcrafted cocktail menu.

Nubb's Lobster Shack serves classic New England cuisine, such as Maine lobster rolls, fried clams, and a raw bar, plus burgers and salads. A selection of local craft beers from regional brewers promises to quench guests' thirst. It's open year-round with both indoor and outdoor seating, weather permitting. For coffee and light breakfast treats, there's the Bald Head Coffee Co., located on the Tidemark Terrace.

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Guests in search of luxury pampering can visit The Spa at Cliff House, a 9,000-square-foot space devoted to relaxation and renewal. Embracing what the hotel calls the wild and free elements of coastal Maine, the spa features eight treatment rooms, including a couples' suite, a salon for manicures and pedicures, the Seaside Sanctuary, where guests can relax in lounge chairs overlooking the cliffs, and a Couples' Signature Suite, with two treatment tables, a drench shower experience, and a fireplaced lounge area.

A fitness center rounds out this section of the hotel, and yoga classes and private strength training are offered. The hotel also has indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, and fire pits where family and friends can gather. An 18-hole golf course, the Cape Neddick Country Club, is located next to Cliff House, and the hotel concierge can arrange for tee times.

Outdoor Adventures Await Guests at Cliff House

The Cliff House Resort and Spa works with several local outfits to provide guests with a choice of outdoor adventures. Arrangements can be handled by the hotel concierge staff and include activities such as guided or self-guided kayak tours on the Ogunquit River, lobster cruises, fishing trips, and guided or self-guided bicycling trips in the region.

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The area also has many trails available for year-round hiking, including The Marginal Way, in Ogunquit, the Wiggly Bridge, and Steedman Woods, in York, and Cliff Walk, also in York and featuring scenic York Harbor Beach.