This hotel is about a fairly easy 30min drive from PHL airport and is located on one of the main roads into Wilmington, so is easy to find. Valet parking is on offer, but the cars are located a few blocks away so you’ll need to give about 20mins notice if you want to pick it up. This can also lead to a shortage of attendants during busy pickup/dropoff times.
Walking into the lobby for the first time you are struck by the old world grandeur, especially the ornate ceiling, and first impressions are good. Check-in was very efficient with the key card being handed over within a couple of minutes and directions to the elevators given. These require the key card to be inserted if you want to access the guest floors from the lobby. If you have lot of luggage you’re probably better off waiting for one of the two larger elevators to arrive rather than the smaller one which gets very cosey with only 4 people in it.
Rooms were large and very comfortable, and the bed one of the most comfortable I’ve come across. Oddly, the clock-radio they had in the room was unplugged when I checked in, but was plugged in during one of the services, but the time not set. The rooms overlooking the interior of the quad are very quiet with only the occasional sound of an air-con unit to disturb you. Rooms overlooking the road are slightly more noisy, but outside of rush hour, there isn’t a huge amount of traffic noise. Unlike most hotels in the US, the bathroom had not only a decent sized shower, but also a full size bath so it’s possible to have a good old soak (or partake in one of the items on the bath menu they offer). The only bugbear was the length of time it took the hot water to come through, so if you fancy a hot bath/shower, run the taps for 5mins before you get in.
As others have commented, there is no tea/coffee making facilities in the room and they’ll charge you for the supply of a kettle. The turn down service does leave a complimentary small bottle of water for you, but if you want another then you have to resort to the typically overprices minibar. Alternatively, pop up to the gym and grab one of the bottles they have on offer there and bring it back to your room.
Internet access was included in the room rate, but WiFi was painfully slow and almost unusable. There was a cable provided to the network point in the wall which improved things but only marginally. It might do for the occasional of emails, but couldn’t sustain a vpn for any period of time.
For breakfast you have a few choices. There is the main, more formal, eating area on the lobby level where you get plush surrounding and a nice choice of food options, or you can go downstairs to, the more informal, The Grill. This feels more like a soup kitchen than the ‘chic’ dining experience mentioned in their website, and is at great odds to the rest of the hotel. The food is edible, but basic, and the staff serves you like robots. If you don’t fancy what’s on offer, then go elsewhere as they have no interest in substituting menu items even though you can see the thinks right in front of you. Having said that, it’s cheap – I can’t think of many hotels where you could get a cooked breakfast for less than $10. If you just want a light start to the day, go to the nearby coffee shop – the coffee and pastries are infinitely better. Dinner in the main restaurant is nice, but expensive, and there are a handful of restaurant in the surrounding area that serve good food – they staff are happy to recommend them and give directions or make reservations – but see comment in a couple of paragraphs if you’re tempted to walk to any of them.
The Green Room bar, located just off the lobby, is small and staffed by probably the most miserably barman they could find. On several occasions during the stay he’d close down the bar despite there being 10+ people in there all still displaying a willingness to spend money on more drinks. But no, there was no interest is lining the hotels coffers as it ‘was more than my jobs worth’. If you fancy a drink when they’ve kicked you out, head down to the Chelsea Tavern and sample the impressive range of beers they have on offer (the food’s not bad too!).
Within a couple of blocks of the hotel you should be fine wandering around, but if you want to venture further afield then you may want to take the hotel up on their offer of supplying chaperones to make sure nothing untoward happens to you – first time I’ve seen a hotel offering bodyguards for guests! I’m sure that in the mists of time the surrounding area would have been quite nice, but clearly it’s gone downhill in more recent history and it’s a shame the hotel now finds itself in a not-so-genteel neighbourhood.
Overall, the hotel is nice, the rooms comfortable, and the staff (with the exception of the barman) are friendly, but it’s lacking the facilities and touches of other historic hotels. You can see why any dignitaries visiting Wilmington would stay here (the King & Queen of Sweden where here during my stay) as it does have that luxury feel about it, but its missing that special ‘something’.