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The Hotel Nantucket: Plot Summary

The Hotel Nantucket, published in 2022, marks Elin Hilderbrand’s 28th book and has been dubbed by New York Magazine journalist Katie Heaney as “the Queen of beach reads.” Heaney praises Hilderbrand for mastering the formula of a beach read, which is typically light, fun, and high on interpersonal drama but low on plot.

Despite being dismissed as low-brow, beach reads appeal to a broad spectrum of readers due to their largely apolitical nature. The Hotel Nantucket, a bestseller, received mixed reviews. While some praised its exquisite travelogue-like descriptions of the island, others felt that the characters and their stories were too fleetingly described. Nevertheless, Hilderbrand herself considers it the type of beach read that she excels at.

This summary is based on the Hodder & Stoughton Kindle edition, which was published in 2022.

The Hotel Nantucket Summary

The story of “The Hotel Nantucket” revolves around Lizbet Keaton, who finds herself heartbroken after discovering her boyfriend JJ O’Malley’s sexually explicit messages with another employee. As a result, Lizbet throws herself into her work and takes on the challenge of becoming the General Manager of The Hotel Nantucket.

The hotel is owned by Xavier Darling, a distant British man, who desires to receive a five-key rating from the renowned travel journalist, Shelly Carpenter. The task is challenging since the hotel is haunted by the ghost of Grace Hadley, a chambermaid who died in a fire that started in 1922 by the mistress of her lover, the hotel owner. The presence of the ghost makes it difficult for the hotel to achieve the five-key rating.

The opening of the hotel is met with a series of challenges, as each staff member is plagued with their own secrets and personal agendas. One example of this is Alessandra Powell, a charismatic woman who visits the rooms of male guests in search of a replacement for Michael Bick, a wealthy married man she was with when she first arrived on the island.

In another instance, Chadwick Winslow, a wealthy young man, takes on the role of a housekeeper in the hotel as a form of self-punishment for an accident that left his college friend, Paddy, partially blind. As the summer progresses, guest Kimber Marsh and her daughter, Wanda, cause chaos when Wanda begins investigating a ghost rumored to haunt the hotel. Edie, a member of the hotel staff, assists Wanda in getting an article about the ghost published in the local newspaper, which ultimately brings the hotel more publicity.

With each staff member having their own secret agenda, and guests causing unexpected disruptions, the hotel must navigate through these challenges to ensure the smooth running of their business.

Lizbet, still dealing with trust issues stemming from JJ’s infidelity, begins a relationship with Mario Subiaco, the renowned chef of the hotel’s restaurant. However, she struggles to fully trust him, and worries that he might be seeing Yolanda Tolentino, the wellness coach at the hotel. Eventually, Lizbet realizes that Mario is faithful to her and allows herself to fully love him, embracing a fresh start.

As the summer draws to a close, Xavier Darling arrives and the hotel staff goes to great lengths to satisfy his every need. Despite their efforts, Magda, the head of housekeeping, rejects Xavier’s proposal after years of him wooing her, causing him to make the decision to sell the hotel to a corporate buyer. This news comes as a crushing blow, especially given that the hotel just received a five-key rating from Shelly Carpenter, who unbeknownst to everyone, was actually Kimber Marsh, a guest who had been staying at the hotel all summer.

Fortunately, the hotel is saved from being sold to a corporate buyer thanks to the combined efforts of Magda, who secretly possesses great wealth, and Paul Winslow, Chad’s father. Together, they pool their resources and successfully purchase the hotel from Xavier.

However, their joy is short-lived as they must confront a shocking revelation from the past. The discovery of Jackson Benedict’s journal reveals that his wife, Dahlia, was responsible for locking Grace in the attic, ultimately leading to her death in the fire. With this long-hidden truth finally coming to light, Grace is finally at peace and decides to remain at the hotel, as it has become her home.

As the hotel moves forward with new ownership and a newfound sense of closure, the staff is left to reflect on the events of the past summer and how they have shaped their lives. Despite the challenges they faced, the hotel remains a beloved place of comfort and refuge for all who visit.