Hill House Home’s Nell Diamond on Where to Brunch, Beach, and Shop in Nantucket

A lifelong visitor to the island, the nap dress designer shares her favorite restaurants, bookstore, and more.
water boats Nantucket
White Elephant Resorts

For Nell Diamond, Nantucket is home—or the closest thing to it. The Hill House Home founder had a peripatetic childhood, moving around between London and other parts of the world. But Nantucket, where her paternal grandparents had a permanent home, was a place the family would return to year after year. “It was all I knew of America,” Diamond says. “It's how I've spent every summer since I was born, so it's a very special place to me.” This deep-seated connection made it a natural choice as the location for her home goods and clothing brand's current pop-up, which opened on June 3 in a cozy corner spot on the island's Main Street, and will run through the summer. It's the realization of a longtime dream for Diamond, who has spent years seeking out such an opportunity here—a tricky task, thanks to the island's small size and limited retail space.

Like the Hill House brand itself, the shop's design draws on the island's charms. “The roots of Hill House are a combination of this Nantucket, East Coast, New England aesthetic and the very classic British interiors that I grew up with,” says Diamond. “So it felt natural to bring those two things together.” The brand worked with interior designer Madeline Hemingway to bring the space to life, mixing traditionally Nantucket elements—wicker, gingham, shades of blue and red—with Hill House designs, including a blue-and-white version of the trellis print in Diamond's office. And of course, there's ample space to try on the clothes. “We've built this business primarily online, so the whole point of a store is to think, what can you get in store that you can't get online?” says Diamond. “It's that actual experience of putting something on and thinking, oh my gosh, this fits so well—which is really what we pride ourselves on.” 

On the heels of the opening, we spoke to the Hill House Home founder about her favorite things to do on the island, including where to grab the tastiest breakfast, the beach she retreats to for a quiet reading day, and where to shop—beyond Hill House Home, of course. 

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Hill House Home pillows in Nantucket's trademark blues and reds

Hill House Nantucket

Hill House Home founder Nell Diamond behind the counter of the brand's Nantucket pop-up

Hill House Nantucket

Nantucket must-eats

“Nantucket is known for Portuguese bread, this sourdough-y type bread. There's nothing I love more in this world than bread—and I crave the bread from this place called Something Natural. It's stocked in all the grocery stores, and they have an actual sandwich shop on the island called Something Natural. I have dreams about this bread. I could eat the whole loaf. I usually bring back a few and put them in my freezer, and it only lasts me a week. They also prepare these custom sandwiches at Something Natural; I always get turkey with cheese and a ton of veggies. There's another sandwich shop on island called Provisions, and they have something called the Turkey Terrific. It's a Thanksgiving sandwich, so it has literal stuffing on it. It's the best thing ever—just a dream.” 

Her ideal weekend morning

“Usually on the weekends, we'll take a family walk, which is really nice. We'll walk into town and go to either The Counter on Main Street, at Nantucket Pharmacy. It's at a little counter where you sit on these old-fashioned stools, and you can order whatever you want—coffee, delicious food. Then we'll walk down to the boats, because it's right by the wharf. My kids love watching the boats come in.”

Salmon dish at Island Kitchen

Emily Elisabeth

Bikes outside of Island Kitchen

Emily Elisabeth

Another great breakfast option

“If I'm sitting down for breakfast, I love Island Kitchen. It's like the ultimate breakfast place. They'll make you huevos rancheros, eggs Benedict—they'll make you anything you want. They also have an ice cream store attached to it, in case you want breakfast dessert, which is a very important form of dessert that should not be overlooked.”

The best date-night spot

“My favorite restaurant in the world is called Galley Beach, and it's right on the beach, close to town, and it has the most epic sunsets. Every Saturday night, that's where we go. You always see somebody get engaged. It's kind of like dinner and a show. But I also love the food there. They have the most epic crab cake—that's what I usually get. There are other places I love, like Lola 41, which has really good sushi, and a relatively new restaurant called The Nautilus right in town that has Asian fusion food that's really good, too. That one is very hard to get a table at—you have to line up for it. But on a date night, when my parents are babysitting our kids, my husband and I will come in and wait for two seats at the bar. That's how we do Nautilus—always just the two of us.”

Where she heads for a drink—and what she's ordering

“For a late-night experience, you can go to The Chicken Box. It's a real mix of ages. It's very college, but they have great live music, with really good bands, and it's really fun. I'm not a very big drinker. I'm the worst kind of person—I just like it to look really pretty. A glass of Champagne, I think, is the most beautiful drink, so that's what I usually go for.”

The island's best beaches

“Steps Beach is so picturesque. It's probably one of the most photographed beaches on Nantucket, because it has these beautiful steps that it's named after. That's my favorite beach to go to for a quiet book-reading day. There's one called Ladies Beach where I take my kids. There's also a place called Sanford Farm that's basically a bluff walk to the beach. So if I want to have social time with a friend during the day, we'll go take a hot girl walk on Sanford Farm.”

The Whaling Museum’s rooftop deck has views over Nantucket’s harbor and historic downtown.

Emily Elisabeth

What to do beyond the beach

“The Whaling Museum in Nantucket is my favorite place ever. There's this book called In the Heart of the Sea, and it's about the whaleship Essex. It's the whaling ship that Moby Dick was based on, all about Nantucket, and I remember it being one of the first books I read about the island. They have a whole exhibit on this one whale ship with real artifacts from it. My kids love the Whaling Museum. It's right in town, too, which is really nice. I also love having them do the kind of things that I did when I was a child. There's a room called The Candy Room at this place called Force 5 Watersports, which is a store in town that has been there forever. And it's what it sounds like: It's a room full of candy. You have to have cash, and you get a little basket and a paper bag and put candy in it. It is a high like no other for children.”

The island's best bookstore—and what she's reading now

“There's this bookstore called Mitchell's Book Corner that I love—I've been going since I was a child. It has a little kids' section, though I always hang out in the grown-up section. I just read a book called Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach, and the new Emma Straub book, This Time Tomorrow. I also just bought Ghosts by Dolly Alderton, to read on the beach in Nantucket the next time I go up.”

Where to shop for clothes, besides Hill House Home

“There are two great high-end clothing stores on Nantucket that I love. One is called Gypsy, which has the most incredible selection of very high end designers, and so does this other one, called Serenella. I always tell the owners that they have a better selection than most boutiques in New York—their buyers are just so talented. There's also a store called Townpool that was started by a local, and it's the best place to get Nantucket merch—sweatshirts, hats, all of it.”

The White Elephant Nantucket

Richard Mandelkorn/White Elephant Resorts

The hotel she recommends to visitors

“I love the White Elephant. And I haven't stayed there, but the Faraway Nantucket just opened, and I've heard good things about that, too. Most of the B&Bs are also super nice.”

Where to grab souvenirs for friends

“There's one store called Nantucket Looms that hand makes blankets and soaps on Nantucket, and they have a ton of other chic home wares. I always stock up on hostess gifts when I'm there: I get these soaps in the shape of shells that are so pretty. They're so cute and they smell so good. For wedding gifts, I'll sometimes do the Nantucket Looms blankets, which are so beautiful and are handmade in the store. The other store I always go to, but really more for window-shopping, is called Sylvia Antiques. Nantucket is known for its Nantucket baskets—this particular type of weaving—and the store has all of these antique and new Nantucket baskets that are incredible.”

The two Hill House dresses she's definitely packing

“I would take the Ophelia. It's my obsession right now. It's a midi that just works for so many things—I can wear it with ballet flats in my office, or I can put on wedges and wear it out. I would probably also take the Elizabeth, which is a shorter dress with ruffle sleeves that we always do in a smocked chest—and hopefully I could take it in a lot of colors! But there's a colorway called Blue Roses that I would grab.”