Screw summer people, the Hamptons are almost nicer in the winter

If you can stand the cold, the Hamptons in the winter months offer small town pleasures without the lines, traffic or VIP sections. On a recent trip to Southampton, LLNYC even spotted a few rare birds: real, live middle-class people.

At the end of each season, dozens of storefronts shutter and the luxury popups vamoose for the city. What is left behind are old standbys (like Shippys Pumpernickel Restaurant) and a few newer business that are actually interested in becoming local establishments (like Union Cantina). There’s not a J. Crew in sight (although Ralph Lauren was still doing business in Southampton over the winter).

In the summer, the pace on the East End can seem even faster than in the city, with party after party tempting city-dwellers with green grass and poolside rosé. But in the winter that pace slows to what the Hamptons actually are: the country.

The off-season also allows people who normally can’t afford a summer rental (or don’t have friends that can) to get out of Manhattan for a weekend that is actually relaxing. The Southampton Inn — a surprisingly huge space with a very charming library dominated by an affable cat) offers comfortable rooms for $199 a night (double occupancy). Rooms cost more than double that during the summer seasons.

Southampton Inn owner Dede Gotthelf told LLNYC that she sees the Hamptons crowd change drastically in the off-season. She says her customers are Manhattanites with cabin fever, foreign tourists who want to see the “Hamptons.” houses hunters and workers from nearby estates.

And while there may not be a laundry list of events to hit up, there is a surprising amount to do really. The Southampton Inn is next door to United Artist Southampton, a really lovely movie theater. And on a recent visit, the inn held a comedy night in its downstairs barroom. A mile or so down the street (put on a coat and walk!) Union Cantina holds regular Latin dance nights with a live DJ. If classical is more your thing, the Southampton Cultural Center puts on regular recitals.

But perhaps the best evening in the off season is the one spent with a nice red by the fire.