10 things I now know about The Hamptons

A driveway in the Hamptons
This is what you get to see of most Hamptons houses – the driveway

Full disclosure: We were only there for a day, and we spent most of that day in the villages of Southampton or East Hampton – or travelling between the two.

  1. Boring-but-useful info: lots of little villages make up The Hamptons, and these villages form part of either Southampton Town or East Hampton Town. The confusing thing is that there are also two villages called Southampton (part of Southampton Town) and East Hampton (part of East Hampton Town). Other well-known villages include Bridgehampton, Water Mill and Sagaponack (Southampton Town), and Wainscott, Amagansett and Montauk (East Hampton Town).
  2. It takes cocking ages to get from Southampton to East Hampton. The distance is tiny – about 13 miles along NY State Bicycle Route 27 – but the traffic is just insane. I think they were hinting at something in the road name: best to use a bike.
  3. East Hampton wins over Southampton: prettier roads, prettier houses, prettier shops and more of a villagey feel to it. But when it comes to URLs, East Hampton loses a shedload of points. “www.town.east-hampton.ny.us“? And just check out the website itself – it’s like a parody of sites from the 90s.
  4. I’m not sure why everyone told us to visit Montauk (at the far edge of East Hampton Town). We probably missed out on something spectacular, but we’re not sure what. Please tell us if you know, because we’re a bit confused.
  5. The famous “Lobster Roll” restaurant (aka “Lunch”) on the way to Montauk is great fun and has crayons to use while you wait for your meal. The food isn’t out of this world, but if Billy Joel and Mariah Carey like it…
    Soft-shell crab sandwich at Lobster Roll, Hamptons (Montauk)
    A soft-shell crab sandwich, some Manhattan chowder, a plaid shirt and blurred hand (you can get the sandwich and chowder from Lobster Roll; email us about the shirt and hand)
  6. If you’re an out-of-work gardener, come to The Hamptons. I was convinced it was a designated “gardening day” when we went, but nope: turns out that every day The Hamptons are teeming with men using the most high-tech gardening equipment I’ve ever seen. But they all looked knackered, so I’m sure they could do with an extra few pairs of hands.
  7. If you’re an out-of-work nanny, come to The Hamptons. Apart from the retirees, everyone else who lives there is constantly having babies.
  8. The deer are strangely relaxed around cars and people. They just hang out on front lawns and then engage you in a staring-without-blinking contest that they always seem to win.
  9. Be prepared that you won’t be able to see the most exceptionally beautiful/huge houses: they’re all hidden at the back of long winding driveways.
  10. In 2009, three zip codes in The Hamptons were ranked by Business Week as being the first, sixth and eighth most expensive zip codes in the nation:
    • #1: Sagaponack, Southampton. Median home sale price: $4,421.458
    • #6: Water Mill, Southampton. Median home sale price: $2,238,676
    • #8: Bridgehampton, Southampton. Median home sale price: $2,081,717
And now an extra “thing” (#11) for people who are familiar with parts of London. If you want to get an idea of what The Hamptons are like but don’t actually want to go, here are some comparisons:
  • The pond at East Hampton: Pond Green in Ruislip
  • East Hampton (the main strip of shops): Hampstead High Street
  • Southampton (the main strip of shops): Pinner, but with bigger roads
  • Montauk: a desolate Harrow (sorry sorry; I’m really willing to retract this if someone can point me in the direction of what we were missing)
  • The sizes of the houses in both Southampton and East Hampton: St John’s Wood, but bigger and with much more land
  • The equipment the gardeners use: superior to what the Ministry of Defence has for troops going to war