George

The Cliff House in Cape Neddick is, of course, on a cliff, and every one of their 132 rooms has an amazing ocean view. This is a place that pampers you, from their Cliff Top hot tub to the elegant spa sanctuary.

Scott, who checked us in, offered a lot of great suggestions for things to do there. At that point, I knew we should have booked for more than one night.

In addition to the many opportunities right there at the hotel, there are a lot of great conservation lands and places to hike in the Ogunquit area, which has become a favorite destination for us. They also offer special packages, including family visits during school vacation. There were 50 kids there the night we were visited, and boy, were they having fun.

I also like their commitment to protecting the environment, which includes the use of a large solar array, a charger for electric cars, water-saving devices, composting food waste at a local farm and focusing on recycling.

There’s a lot of history here, too. The first Cliff House opened in 1872, with a summer rate of $6 a week, including three meals a day. Today, it’s a little more expensive.

I could have spent a lot of time on the deck outside of our room, watching the waves crashing on the shore, or sitting in one of the many comfy, cliffside chairs, but dinner beckoned in the Tiller Restaurant. As we walked by the bar, where many guests were enjoying food and beverages, we were stunned by the floor-to-ceiling windows across the front of the restaurant. Wow, what a view!

Thanks to our super server, Tara, I enjoyed two fabulous dishes. Remembering the Finnan haddie my Mom used to make, I ordered the Finnan haddie paté appetizer. It was like nothing I’d ever had before, and really tasty: A fish paté on toasted rye crostini, topped with asparagus salad and petite herbs, with grated lemon. The serving was huge, and while Linda urged me to save room for my entree, I couldn’t help myself. I ate every bit of it.

Tara also recommended the day boat jumbo scallops. Again, this was a creative presentation of scallops, with tasty pork belly fried rice, topped with a sunny-side up duck egg and covered with a green curry glaze.

The staff was eager to assist us, and we had a great visit with Bill, the banquet manager, who was helping out in the restaurant that evening. Bill said that starting in May they have a banquet scheduled every day. Yes, the Cliff House is very popular for events, including weddings.

Linda

The Cliff House is a “you’ve got to see it to believe it” kind of place. The massive, sprawling complex sits high on a cliff, affording incredible ocean views. Several features make this place special.

The two-story wall of windows in the common space was a popular place to relax in comfortable seating while the waves crashed onto the rocks below. Our oceanscape room had off-white walls accented with pops of sea green. The decor is clean and understated, with a gas fireplace, flat-screen TV and wide-planked wood floors.

The double-sheeted, king-size bed with exquisite linens and a down comforter provided a great night’s sleep. The luxurious bathroom had including an enormous walk-in shower. George wondered why we didn’t have gigantic towels like this at home. (I think two of them would be a full load of laundry!)

The Tiller Restaurant has an open design with ocean views from every table. Nautical rope criss-crosses to provide a divider, and large bell buoys serve as lighting fixtures at some of the tables.

The roasted beet appetizer featured beets three ways. Roasted golden and red beets were chilled and served on top of a red beet hummus with fresh local ricotta cheese. There was also a salad of raw beet greens and fennel. The colored hummus was very smooth, and was both sweet and salty. I could eat this dish forever. It was nice and light without spoiling my appetite.

The stoneground polenta was another favorite. Marscapone cheese made the polenta creamy, and it was topped with roasted winter squash, foraged mushrooms and kale. I don’t know what kind of mushroom it was, but it was incredibly tasty. Served piping hot, this was a perfect dish for a cold night.

George was full, but I had room for the flourless chocolate torte. Served with strawberry sauce, sea salt and whipped cream, it was dark chocolate decadence. And yes, George did find room to share it.

Breakfast here is also very impressive. Luckily, I ordered my farmer’s omelet to be made with two eggs instead of three. The addition of artichokes, tomatoes, spinach and shishito peppers made for an amazing omelet. The Tiller values freshly sourced products and listed 14 farmer friends on their menu. Stunningly plated dishes are sure to impress. And so will the hotel.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.