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Oheka Long Island Castle


Oheka Long Island Castle

The West Gate driveway. As part of the restoration, 500 mature cedars were planted to flank the entrance drive.

Lyn & Arthur Dobrin.
It is possible to stay in a French chateau without leaving the United States: Oheka Castle, less than 30 miles from New York City, on Long Island, takes you to a distant shore. When Otto Kahn built Oheka Castle in 1919, it was the second-largest residence in the country, after Asheville's Biltmore Estate.

Oheka Castle is one of the few estates that remains from Long Island’s Gold Coast, Great Gatsby era. Listed with the National Register of Historic Places, Oheka Castle is home to Gary Melius, who has lovingly been restoring this architectural gem for nearly 30 years. Today Oheka is finally open to the public and combines a hotel with a restaurant and event venue.

Arrive in Style
The wonders of the castle begin with the long gravel driveway that leads from large wrought-iron gates toward the courtyard. There, at the highest point on Long Island, stands the castle that has been featured in many movies, TV shows and advertisements, most notably as Xanadu, the mansion in Citizen Kane.

Yet Kahn was no mean-spirited Kane/Hearst, although he is said to have been the model for the banker logo in the game Monopoly. Kahn was a generous patron of the arts and brought to Oheka (which stands for Otto Herman Kahn) the likes of tenor Enrico Caruso and conductor Arturo Toscanini. There is still about Oheka Castle a sense of elegance mixed with artistic charm.

Just 32 Guest Rooms
Kahn had a reputation as someone who wanted to make life comfortable for others and that approach is still evident today. Oheka Castle is wholly the product of two families: the Kahns and the Meliuses. This is a large part of what makes staying at Oheka so special. Although enormous as a single residence, because of the limited number of rooms, the small restaurant and quiet environment, Oheka Castle feel as though you are a guest in a private home. There is nothing fussy or corporate about Oheka.

When a designers’ showcase at Oheka Castle ended a few years ago, Melius decided to keep the rooms as displayed. This means that each of the 32 guest rooms is different. We loved our king size bed with its silky Frette linens. The marbled bathrooms are spacious, with some rooms containing a Jacuzzi or soaking tub. We enjoyed the old fashioned claw-leg tub and a big shower. All rooms have large TVs and are wi-fi connected.

Room windows throughout Oheka Castle overlook the 23 acres of lawns, fountains and formal gardens designed by the Olmsted Brothers or the golf course that was originally part of the Kahn estate.

Since Oheka Castle sits on top of a hill, there are tree tops all the way round with not another building to be seen. Through the arching limbs of two trees that form the shape of a heart Cold Spring Harbor can be seen in the distance.

Marry and Tarry
The first wedding took place at Oheka Castle in 1920 when daughter Maud married John Marriott, a Scots Guard officer. The New York Times reported, “The house, like a great French chateau, with terraces and gardens, commands a sweeping view of the countryside. Many of the guests were on the terrace and in the garden, while others danced in the large ballroom. The buffet collation was served in the east wing of the house, in the immense dining hall.” An article about a wedding at Oheka Castle today could read the same. There is only one wedding scheduled per day at the castle. Today’s receptions are similarly customized. Several have involved elephants; the on-premises bakery recently provided a custom designed eight-foot tall wedding cake that will be featured on a wedding show.

Cold Spring Country Club, once part of the Kahn estate, is available to guests. Its Robert Trent Jones golf course is par 71. The club also offers tennis on six Har-Tru courts. There is a smallish fitness center in the castle with weight-training and cardiovascular equipment. Oheka can provide an in-room Swedish, aromatherapy or reflexology massage, for one or both of you.

The property is a little less than halfway to the beginning of Long Island’s wine country, a little more than an hour’s drive east. Nearby Cold Spring Harbor is a quaint village that abuts the larger, Huntington Village. Huntington is full of restaurants, stores, and movies. The castle is an hour from Manhattan by car or by the Long Island Railroad.

Oheka Castle caters primarily to couples. Although corporate events are held here, the facility is so large and the parties relatively small that there is never a sense of being intruded upon. A nook, terrace, library or small dining room at Oheka Castle offers quiet and privacy.

We recommend taking the guided tour offered at Oheka to learn more about Otto and Addie Kahn and their Long Island castle. A good introduction to Oheka is the photo book Images of America: Oheka Castle (compare prices) by Joan Cergol and Ellen Schaffer, with a foreword by Gold Coast expert Nelson DeMille.

Oheka Castle
135 West Gate Drive
Huntington, NY 11743
(631) 659-1400
Official Hotel Website

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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy .

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