Inn By the Sea Maine: Cape Elizabeth Beauty

I’ve been writing about Inn By The Sea Maine, an environmentally conscious, dog-friendly, 62 room luxury seaside hotel in Cape Elizabeth ME, for years. And each time I visit, this newly minted Beyond Green hotel just gets better.

Inn By the Sea is on our list of Best Romantic Hotels in Maine.

And is included in this Best Romantic Getaways in Maine post as well.

Back view of Inn By the Sea Maine

Inn By the Sea Maine Overview

My first review, in 2008 read: Grand, but not grandiose, Inn By The Sea keeps both top-notch luxury and eco-friendly practice sacrosanct. To top it off, it’s “big-pet-friendly.”  Sitting by the fireplace in the bar, you’ll hear the clip-clip sound of greyhound, lab, or retriever paw-nails on polished marble; guests and their charges checking in.

Embodying eco-friendliness, the Inn sources 100% of its electricity from local solar farms, and maintains indigenous plantings to draw a Hitchcockian number of birds to its lush gardens. 

Oh – and it tasks goats with a specific kind of landscaping. (More on that later)

Crescent Beach from Inn by the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME

Only seven miles from Portland, a stay at Inn By the Sea provides travelers with the best of two worlds: a rustic, but high-end beach experience. And forays into the foodie paradise of the “other” Portland.

First Impressions of Inn By the Sea Maine

Granted, years ago, my very first impression as I drove up to Inn By The Sea was concern that I was in the right place. The hotel building’s exterior is rather nondescript and could pass for an event hall or apartment house. Especially off-season when colorful plantings don’t provide pizzazz.

Sea view from Inn By the Sea property

How wrong I was. Walking through the front door revealed an inlay marble floored lobby with far wall made of glass that overlooked a striking, beautifully landscaped lawn, and a peek of ocean. And there were dogs. Happy dogs with happy owners.

Dog Friendly

Inn By the Sea is one of the most luxurious, upscale, Big Dog Accommodating hotels in existence. However, the owner’s love for canines goes way beyond allowing Fido on the property. While I was checking in, two humans were in the process of adopting a pup sleeping behind the reception desk.

As an arm of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (Maine), Inn By the Sea fosters and facilitates adoptions of rescued dogs. By May of 2024, the hotel has found forever homes for 176 dogs. Incredible.

“We keep one dog at a time on site, and people come and fall in love with them,” said an Inn By the Sea employee. “Old, blind, no teeth; they all get adopted.”

Dogs here are just as spoiled as their humans. Inn By the Sea offers Dog Spa Treatments and a special Dog Menu (“Meat Roaff,” “K-9 Ice Cream”).

Rooms at Inn By The Sea

Living Room Cottage Suite Inn By the Sea

Cottage Suites offer the height of contemporary luxury. Impeccably designed sitting areas and small stocked kitchens include fireplace, flat screen T.V. and a little writing nooks illuminated by porthole windows.

Bedroom in Cove Suite Inn By the Sea ME

I’m a nut for comfortable beds, and this one, in a ship-shape bedroom, is heavenly.  The work of local artists cover bright white walls.

Inn By the Sea Bathroom Cape Elizabeth ME
Inn By the Sea Bathroom Cape Elizabeth ME

The expansive marble bathroom is as classy and opulent as it gets, with a “couples” size travertine shower and large soaking tub.

Seaside Suite Balcony View, Inn By the Sea, Cape Elizabeth ME

But my favorite spot in a Seaside Suite was the private balcony overlooking the grounds, Crescent Beach and ocean. All that I needed to be happy and content was a glass of wine, a good book, and that view. Good thing, I had all three.

Dining at Inn By the Sea

Sea Glass Restaurant Inn By the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME

The 44-seat Sea Glass Restaurant is destination dining at its best. Not only is the food excellent (OMG – the Clam Chowder is a guest favorite), but the wine selection is world class.

Views are incredible, both inside the dining room and out on the terrace. Peer at gardens, bogs, salt marsh, and a slice of sea from the cozy dining space. Or study a series of paintings and lithographs, by Chagall and Matisse, on the walls. It’s a cultural experience for all the senses.

Breakfast inside or out on the patio is also a feast for the eyes, with healthy options like fresh fruit and yogurt parfait.

Amenities at Inn By the Sea

The Spa

The LEED certified in-house Spa offers a menu of treatments in several treatment rooms. My Hot-Stone Massage Therapist professionally kneaded and released some tight muscles that had been plaguing me for weeks.

The Higgins Beach Signature Sea Waves Massage incorporates aromatic massage oil on a “surf surround sound” undulating waves motion massage bed.

For guests who can’t stand standing around, there’s also a nicely sized fitness room with up-to-the-minute equipment.

New and Ongoing Programming

IBTS just opened up the “Crescent Beach Kitchen” – an outdoor grill near the pool that serves small finger food for guests

For those who want a shaded outdoor place to sit, read, and/or stare at the Ocean, the hotel has set up several cabanas on the lawn outside the cottage buildings.

In Spring and Fall, the Inn offers Afternoon Tea service – with Maine tweaks, like Lobster Rolls. And what would a New England summer be without traditional Clam Bakes? Yep, they’ve got that too.

Bikes, S’Mores, and Hungry Goats

Fire Pit for nightly S'Mores Inn By the Sea ME

Guest can also borrow a cruising bike and head out to area lighthouses, join Adult Yoga (in season) on the front lawn (daily mid June to early October), and enjoy S’Mores around a firepit a few paces from the sparkling pool.

What’s with the goats? Inn By the Sea uses this low-tech, sustainable solution to a knotty problem – the Japanese Knotweed. Apparently, goats just can’t get enough of this invasive plant that, if left to its own devices, will grow rapidly, threatening the native vegetation. These goats are a win-win for the Inn – guests love them, and they love feasting on those problematic plants.

Family Reunion Hotspot

Morning Yoga Inn By the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME
Morning Yoga Inn By the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME

In summertime, when kids are out of school, this place becomes a family reunion hotspot. Scores of children run around, involved in on-site programs that include Juggling 101, Family Yoga, Children’s Art, Bug’s Life, Tide Pool and Beach Ecology Walks and Explorations and a slew more.

Adults can take gardening classes and join the kids for yoga and nature walks.

Path to Crescent Beach from Inn By the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME

No matter what you choose to do here, though, don’t miss the  ¼ mile boardwalk stroll through a salt marsh and bog.


Rabbitat Inn By the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME
Rabbitat Inn By the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME

It’s here that Inn By the Sea has been attempting to bring back the engendered New England Cottontail in its “Rabitat,” an initiative that explains the rabbit paperweight in each room and other bunny paraphernalia around the property.

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach Inn by the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME
Crescent Beach Inn by the Sea Cape Elizabeth ME

The Boardwalk extends to Crescent Beach, a clean fine-sand beach where you can swim in protected harbor waters. Come out at sunset to see lobster boats swinging at mornings in the cove: a classic Maine scene. This vista and save-the-earth ethos engenders such a feeling of wellbeing, guests come back repeatedly just for that rare sensation.

Inn By The Sea Cape Elizabeth Maine Pin


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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