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“Authentic but Modern” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Colonial Houses-Colonial Williamsburg

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Colonial Houses-Colonial Williamsburg
136 East Francis Street, Williamsburg, VA 23815   |  
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Ranked #13 of 26 Williamsburg B&B and Inns
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
151 helpful votes 151 helpful votes
“Authentic but Modern”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2012

Stayed for 5 nights in the Colonial Taverns on Francis Street. It was a great location, just one block from the main street (Duke of Gloucester). Everything in Colonial Williamsburg was walkable from this location. The room was large, quiet and comfortable. The building seemed authentic (from the era), but had modern amentities that a hotel would have. The service was very accomodating/couldn't have been nicer. We requested a small refrigerator at check in, and they brought it immediately. Would definitely stay here again.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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182 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (54)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Portland, Oregon
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2012

I wish TA had a six star rating, I would give this a four -- three stars out of five makes it sound like a poor experience, which it wasn't. There were just enough glitches that I can't give it four. I had wanted to stay in one of these colonial houses for 20 years, and I'm glad I did.

This house was a good size for me and my daughter, although we ended up not using the sleeper sofa in the living room. We both felt more comfortable sleeping upstairs. The upstairs bed was very comfortable. The house had a dorm fridge which was handy for milk, etc. They have an excellent coffee maker.

There was plenty of hot water. As with other travelers we did have some problems due to the age of the building, but I was forewarned by the previous reviews, and the inn took care of the issues.

1. One night I checked for hot water and it was out. Maintenance took care of it right away.

2. You can't light the fire yourself because of fire code restrictions, but the inn sent a houseman over within minutes to light one when I asked. They won't light a fire if it's more than 60 degrees outside. I had a few glitches with the front desk. One related to the fireplace -- my weather app said it was 52 degrees out but the front desk staff wouldn't send the houseman because it was "too warm". I tried back a couple of minutes later and got a different person who said a fire was fine.

3. When we arrived at 8:00 p.m. the front door lock wouldn't work, and 40 minutes later I was still on the sidewalk with a hungry and tired child; we had been awake since 3:00 a.m. I think within 10 minutes the inn should have pro-actively (a) offered to put us up in different, comparable lodging; (b) offered to put us up in better lodging at the same price if they didn't have comparable lodging or (c) comp'd us a kid's meal in the Inn for my starving child while they fussed with the lock. I had to ask if they were going to make some arrangements and they offered to put us up in the inn then move us somewhere else the next night. That is disruptive to a vacationer, and at that point we just wanted to eat and get settled in to our permanent lodging. Very nice staff, just not really industry standard on that issue.

4. The furniture needed vacuuming. When we sat on the chair a cloud of dust popped up. There really was no reason for that oversight.

Other advice: The food in CW restaurants is very expensive and generally average. We did not initially have a car, and while you definitely don't need one for the CW experience, as soon as we got one we went to the grocery store to get some basics. I would advise the Inn to offer some breakfast option that is not an expensive meal, maybe a counter with toasted bagels and boxes of cereal with milk. But, with a dorm fridge and a trip to the grocery store you can make do without breaking the budget. The more affordable CW restaurants that I expected to frequent were not yet open.

I should comment on the time of year. We went the last week of March, which is spring break in Oregon. Although the CW travel agent said everything was open, that proved not to be the case. That part of the east apparently has a roving spring break that is tied to Easter (a religious orientation that isn't followed on this side of the continent), and CW is not fully open until the east coast kids are out of school. There were several other houses I would have preferred because they were on quieter streets, but those were not available until the east coast spring break. The blacksmith was not open, nor were a few of the other shops. The two more affordable restaurants were closed, as were the food stands (Huzzah). Merchant Square does have some restaurants, and it is a short walk away. The CW events did seem to be in full swing though, or at least enough that we felt that enjoyed the trip.

Room Tip: We stayed in the Orrell House Kitchen. Very good choice for a smaller group and is right next door...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ft Washington, PA
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2012

Over spring break our family of five (kids' ages 10, 11, 12) stayed at the Nicholas Tyler Laundry House for three nights while touring Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. The interior pics posted by a previous reviewer are very accurate. The house is very conveniently located right in Colonial Williamsburg--it was easy to stop by the house to take a break, grab a forgotten item, go the bathroom, etc. We rented both rooms, which meant we had the whole house to ourselves. The downstairs has a very nice sitting room with fireplace and a bedroom with king bed. The upstairs had a cute little bedroom with two twin beds and a separate sitting room with day bed and trundle. All the rooms had charming period furniture, like secretary desks and delicate dressers. We had plenty of space, and the kids loved playing outside by the well and in their upstairs rooms.

PROS:
*As mentioned already, you can't get closer to the action. There are houses that are even closer, meaning right on Duke of Gloucester street. Ours was on Francis, one street over from the main.
*The charm of the little house went a long way. It was a very unique experience.
*Check-in, concierge services, and breakfast (since we got a package) was all through the Williamsburg Inn, which was charming, beautiful, and clean. Best of all, service was warm, friendly, and competent. Twice a new member of the concierge team got the phone and didn't know how to help us with something--each time s/he apologized and made sure to have a more senior person return our call.
*Housekeeping was friendly, prompt, and did a fine job. One evening we called over to the Inn to get our fireplace lit. They sent someone over very quickly. He was the only less-than-friendly person we encountered, but he got a nice fire going very efficiently, so can't complain too much. =)

CONS:
*The bathrooms really, really need updating. The 1970's formica countertop, dark, dingy lighting, and slooooow toilets were a real turn off. I'm sure the Foundation isn't rolling in money, but a nice facelift could make the bathrooms look far more "period" than now. And far more pleasant for how much the rooms cost.
*Our king mattress was very old, lumpy, thin and hence highly uncomfortable. My husband calls me the princess and the pea, so if you are not picky about mattresses, you will be fine. My husband didn't notice. But if you are sensitive about such things, then be warned.
*The reservations process was not very helpful. There was very little information available about the colonial houses, and the reservations people I spoke with did not have firsthand knowledge about the individual houses. When we checked in, we received a map that shows all the colonial houses marked in red. That map should be on the website so you know the exact location of the house you are picking. The big pdf file describing the individual houses really wasn't enough info. And they should have photos of each house. I think they would rent a lot more of these houses if they updated the bathrooms and mattresses, and advertised them better on the website... I saw some really cute houses that I might have preferred to stay in -- ones with beautiful gardens even -- but there was really no way to know what you were picking apart from how many bedrooms and size beds you were getting.

All in all, our family enjoyed Colonial Williamsburg, and our kids LOVED the colonial house. I am very glad we experienced it -- it really made the trip feel even more historic. If they renovated the bathrooms, updated the mattresses, and had better descriptions on their website, this would be a five-star experience for sure.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Severn, Maryland
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2012

I live only a few hours away, and Colonial Williamsburg generally is our choice for weekend getaways. Our most recent stay was last weekend. There are several hotel options if you want to stay on Colonial Williamsburg property, and we always opt for the colonial houses for the complete "colonial" experience. Colonial houses are restorations/recreations of original colonial Williamsburg buildings, that they've turned into hotel rooms. They're dotted throughout the historic area and there's nothing more convenient than stepping out of your hotel room and onto Williamsburg's main street. We generally park our car when we get to town and never move it again until we're ready to leave. Check in is at the Williamsburg Inn and Colonial Houses guests share the Inn's amenities. Service in Williamsburg is generally terrific. The house we had last week was on Francis Street: not as convenient as being on Duke of Glouchester and a little noisy because its open to traffic (DoG is not, during the day). We've stay in several different colonial houses, and our favorite tends to be a room in one of several taverns on DoG -- they're decorated much more simply than many of rooms in individual houses, but they're much more convenient. The rooms have all the modern conveniences (flat screen TVs, some with large jetted tubs) but no WiFi in the individual rooms (if you're in a tavern, there's generally wifi in the common room). The prices of each Colonial House differs according to its size and ammenities. The least expensive seem to be the tavern rooms, which aren't any more than your average hotel and worth every penny for the atmosphere and the convenience. There are tons of restaurant options within walking distance. In our opinion, "official" Colonial Williamsburg restaurants -- both the hotels and the taverns -- tend to be overpriced for the quality (mediocre, mass-produced hotel food), but there are several top notch options off-site but within walking distance.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Deerfield, Illinois
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2012

We just returned from a 4-night stay at the Colonial Homes in Williamsburg, Virginia. You check in at the Williamsburg Inn and the bellman will drive you directly to your colonial home. Our room was in the Brick House Tavern right on Duke of Gloucester Street. You simply cannot beat the location! You literally step out of your room and directly into the middle of the action. The rooms are very comfortable (although the size does vary so do inquire about that when making the reservation) and have a TV and hair dryer. There is a lot of walking involved with Williamsburg so it's nice to be close to your room if you want to take a break during the day ... especially if you are with young ones or seniors. The rooms are decorated very nicely to correspond to the time period and it just completes the colonial experience. We really enjoyed our time here! The personnel at the Williamsburg Inn are extremely accommodating and will help you with whatever you might need.

Room Tip: Ask about room sizes ... we changed after our first night as the original room was small and had a s...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
los angeles
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2012

We visited with our granddaughters in mid March. We stayed at the Brick House Tavern shop. It is a two story building, very comfortable for two adults and two children. It was superbly located just adjacent to Duke of Gloucester street. There were some minor problems with heating, the faucets, or I would have given this a five star. However, I would give six stars to the Williamsburg historical experience. See the shops on Gloucester street; put your children in the stocks. See all the afternoon and evening performances. Highlights were meeting Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Both are superlative. Food in the Taverns good, not great. Best food in Fat Canary restaurant in Merchant Square.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, NC
Top Contributor
118 reviews 118 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2012

Our family of 3 loved staying in the Masonic Kitchen! The location could not be beat! Located right across the street from the Williamsburg Inn, we only had a short walk for breakfast. The house is 2 stories - the front door opens into a lovely front yard surrounded by a white picket fence, with flowering quince bushes in bloom. The street in front of you is quiet and rarely used. There are benches, a wishing well, and an outdoor oven. The master bedroom is on the 1st floor, and includes a large 4 poster bed with period curtains to close for added privacy. The room has a nice desk, coffee maker, and a small fridge and closet outside the door. The back door opens into the small private parking lot. The bathroom, as well as a second bedroom with 2 twin beds, is located upstairs, and is amply stocked with towels and toiletries. It would be nice if they added bathrobes. Our daughter loved the television set in the armoire in her room - a rare treat for her! The nice sized living room has a couch and chairs, as well as a television set hidden in another armoire, and a working wood burning fire place for chilly nights. We loved feeling a part of history, and being so close to all of the sites.

Room Tip: Great for a small family of 3-4!
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Colonial Houses-Colonial Williamsburg

Address: 136 East Francis Street, Williamsburg, VA 23815
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Virginia > Williamsburg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 26 B&Bs / Inns in Williamsburg
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 82
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Authentic reproductions of colonial houses with 18th century antique furnishings, set in historic area. Authentic period reproductions such as a canopy bed and a crackling fire in the hearth. Stay in the heart of the Revolutionary City with all the comforts of home. Enjoy access to dining, recreation, and spa amenities in addition to admission ticket discounts and exclusive guest-only offerings. ... more   less 
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