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“Don't do it!” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Old Rittenhouse Inn

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Old Rittenhouse Inn
3.5 of 5 Bed and Breakfast   |   301 Rittenhouse Ave., Bayfield, WI 54814   |  
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Ranked #3 of 16 Bayfield B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence 2014
UK
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
“Don't do it!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2006

We'd heard good things about this hotel, so didn't hesitate to book a room when we found ourselves "homeless" in Bayfield early evening a couple of weeks ago.

We were shown 5 available rooms, 2 in the Chateau, 2 in the Silvernail and 1 (suite 11) in the main house. The rates ranged from $149 to $299 excluding tax. All were awful! None of the rooms felt particularly clean (probably due for the most part to their decoration - old thick carpets, old style bathrooms, old style furnishings - although I did find as well, an old mint under a piece of furniture in the room we finally chose), most were small/cramped, and there were few amenities (a cake of soap, some make-up wipes and a small shampoo). Quite depressing. We had just travelled from another Inn in Door County (Hillside Inn) where we'd paid a similar price for a huge, very modern, spotless room with balcony and an array of amenities that you'd find in a 5* city/resort hotel - the difference could not have been greater (hence the depression that overcame us).

We decided to stay however, as it was getting late and booked in for a dinner (which is what we'd actually heard the good things about come to think of it). There is very little good we can say about it. The service was rushed (we opted for a "late" dinner - 8.30pm), there were menu changes, the food was bland/overcooked and just dull.

Breakfast the next morning was no better. We did not want the full breakfast (we just cannot eat that much!) so opted for the continental. Don't believe the Inn's own literature promising freshly baked muffin and scones. This was 2 small stone cold bland muffins (plus OJ/fruit cup) - oh and a dismissive waitress who lost interest when we didn't opt for the full breakfast (for which you pay more; the continental is included in the room rate).

So the room is awful, the food just as bad - what else? Try the 20% obligatory service charge everyone else has moaned about (that you only find out about once you are seated) and the fact that the rooms have no keys so you cannot lock your room/balcony door when leaving it (geez - that helps with our insurance policy!!). We could go on, but...

Our opinion - don't do it! Find somewhere else. You can spend far less for the same experience (or better) elsewhere in Bayfield. We left lamenting our lost $350 plus. From now on, give us bog standard corporate style hotels where you get what you pay for...

  • Liked — Nothing
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Old_Rit_Innkeeper, Co-owner, Innkeeper, Marketing Manager at Old Rittenhouse Inn, responded to this review, February 27, 2007
The Old Rittenhouse Inn is comprised of five historic properties dating from late 1800’s. All rooms have been lovingly restored, or are part of an addition to the Rittenhouse completed in 1985. Some have antique fixtures and many are decorated with antiques.

Anyone who has toured our guest rooms or taken an online virtual tour knows that our rooms are not awful. We deduce that this party stayed in our third floor luxury suite, Rittenhouse XI, because it is the only one of the rooms mentioned that has a balcony and no key.

None of the eleven guest rooms at the Rittenhouse Inn have keys, and we have never had a problem. However, we have come to understand that this makes some people feel uncomfortable; therefore, we are in the process of having each room at the Rittenhouse keyed. In the meantime, as has been our policy for 30+ years, our safe is available to guests who wish to use it. (Each of our satellite buildings already uses keys).

Rittenhouse XI was newly constructed within the last 5 years. We struggle to find anything old, cramped, or yucky about it.
It has new carpeting, the most modern furniture in our entire Inn, and classy features like a crystal chandelier, stained glass, a wood-burning fireplace, and a marble bathroom and tub surround. As to the mention of cleanliness, unfortunately, marble is a very soft and delicate surface and guests are not very considerate about using coasters. Consequently, wine glass and bottle rings have been etched into the marble around the whirlpool tub and bathroom vanities. Much to our dismay, the marble has been ruined, and despite guests who may think it is not clean, it is. (Update: The Inn is currently receiving bids for the replacement of all marble surfaces in this room.)

We are sorry our food and service did not live up to this guest’s expectations. We were not made aware of any problems during their visit or an adjustment to their bill could have been made. Furthermore, the fact that a 20% gratuity is added to guest tabs for dinner and/or full breakfast is mentioned to every guest, either in person or on the phone. It is published in all of our dining literature, listed on every confirmation, on our website, and in our room portfolios. The first time this person heard about the service charge was NOT at the table.

As a seasonal restaurant utilizing local ingredients whenever possible, we hope our guests understand that it is sometimes necessary to change the menu; especially if a particular item has been very popular and sells out. Since we do not know what was ordered, we cannot interpret what is meant by “bland/overcooked”, but to our estimation, there is nothing dull about entrées such as Cocoa Dusted Scallops or Duck Saltimbocca.

The Inn has always offered two breakfast options to suit our guests’ needs: continental breakfast (included with room) and an optional full breakfast of hot entrée items ($8.50 for house guests, and $11.50 for the public).

Baked goods like muffins and scones are freshly baked on premise each morning. Guests are each served a sweet or savory muffin and a neutral muffin, which becomes the perfect vehicle for our delicious homemade preserves. Coffee, tea, milk and fruit juices are served along with fresh or prepared fruit. Since this visit was shortly after Bayfield’s Apple Festival, we can only guess that apple crisp, a baked apple, or some variation was served. As self-proclaimed “light eaters”, we are sorry the continental breakfast did not suit this guest’s needs. As mentioned, our full breakfast is always available, and it is permissible to order one continental and one full breakfast.

The Inn prides itself on offering the best accommodations and service possible. We are helpless to address problems of which we are unaware. We are reasonable people who welcome face-to-face interaction. Perhaps these guests are indeed more comfortable in a “corporate style hotel”.
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263 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (106)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
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English first
St. Paul
1 review
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2006

We stayed for 2 nights in room 3. The bathroom was small and the water fluctuated between ice cold and scalding. There was hair in the sink and the shower curtain was moldy. The bedroom was fine. We "dined" at The Rittenhouse Friday night. The lamb was tough and overdone. The service was lack luster but they automatically tack on a 20% service fee. The following morning we had breakfast (which is not included in your room fee). The eggs were horrible and the presentaion was sophmoric. Upon checkout, I waited 15 minutes for a free staff member to help me. None did. I also noticed complaints from other guests. We left and I had to check out by phone. I would not recommend the Rittenhouse. The food is not the best in the area and there are numerous places to stay in Bayfield. It is clear that the focus is on marketing, and the inn falls very short on fulfilling its billing.

  • Liked — Nothing
  • Disliked — Staff
  • Stayed July 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Old_Rit_Innkeeper, Co-owner, Innkeeper, Marketing Manager at Old Rittenhouse Inn, responded to this review, February 27, 2007
Clearly, we are dismayed with the experience these guests had at our Inn. Rittenhouse Room 3 is one of the Inn’s original guest rooms. Despite a comfortable Queen bed, cozy fireplace and lakeview, it is a modest-sized room with an admittedly small bathroom housing the toilet and shower. Our guest rooms are thoroughly cleaned each day and are toured by loads of visitors on a summer day. A stray hair in the sink could have come from anyone, even from the guest’s themselves. (Did you know the average person loses 100 strands of hair per day?!) We are sorry about that, but something similar has probably happened to all of us at one time or another.

We can only take the guest’s word about the condition of their shower curtain, but rest assured, it most definitely would have been replaced. The fluctuation in water temperature is being addressed with the installation of a more efficient hot water system.

We are sorry our breakfast and service did not live up to this guest’s expectations. We were not made aware of any problems during their visit or an adjustment to the meal and/or gratuity could have been made.

Check-out can be a hectic time on a summer morning. The limited space and flow of traffic through a small area may have prevented our staff from knowing this person was actually waiting in line. However, we are confident that our front desk staff does everything possible to assist our guests.

Hospitality and customer service are our top priorities. We offer on-going staff training for every department so that we are better able to meet the needs of our guests. We are committed to providing an excellent experience for everyone. Just remember, one bad experience does not necessarily ensure another. We welcome the opportunity to exceed this person’s expectations in the future.
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A TripAdvisor Member
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2005

We just returned from a 3 night stay. Our room was in the Silvernail cottage. The room we had was VERY small. The bathroom had a huge jacuzze tub which took up all the space. No counter space to put away our bathroom accessories (rollers, shaver, etc.). We would much rather have had a smaller tub and more room to put things away. Also, the sliding doors between the bathroom and bedroom were very hard to use (they were stuck). Also, lots of street noise. The continental breakfast which was included had awful baked goods (hard, tasteless). The fruit cup was tasty, but that was it. The hot food was also very disappointing. They provided a plate with cookies down the hall, but they were hard and tasteless. We ended up eating breakfast elsewhere the rest of the time. We did have their 5 course meal one night. Expensive and not worth it. The best part of the Inn is the outdoor porch sitting area....swing, beautiful flowers, etc. But that's it. Would not stay there again.

  • Stayed August 2005
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Old_Rit_Innkeeper, Co-owner, Innkeeper, Marketing Manager at Old Rittenhouse Inn, responded to this review, February 27, 2007
A few of the issues mentioned about this guest’s room are beyond our control. The Silvernail Guest House is located on Bayfield’s main street, which harbors its share of traffic during the summer.

The building is owned by a third party and leased to the Rittenhouse Inn. We have no say in how large the rooms are, nor how the whirlpool tubs are placed. Since submission of this comment in 2005, many of our guest bathrooms have had additional shelving and hairdryers installed; some even have lighted make-up mirrors.

Having eaten breakfast elsewhere during their visit, there isn’t much to comment upon here. There is definitely something to be said for first impressions, but there is also such a thing as a second chance.
An “expensive meal that is not worth it” doesn’t offer anything constructive about what could have been improved and is simply one person’s point of view.
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A TripAdvisor Member
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2005

We stayed at Le Chateau Boutin - another mansion owned by the Rittenhouse Inn. And boy am I glad we did! The Rittenhouse appeared crowded and busy when we went there to check in and have breakfast. There was even a tour bus parked out front - noisy and smelly!

Unlike the Rittenhouse, the Chateau has unlimited views of Lake Superior and is unattended by staff other than the guests. That makes it very private and quiet as you walk through this magnificent home, its music parlor, dining areas and stunning front porch. Each of the rooms has a natural fireplace and is decorated quite nicely. Bathrooms are modern as well. We were there for an anniversary and enjoyed the peace and privacy.

The only reason it did not get an "Excellent" rating was that it was August and the central air wasn't up to par - making our Turret Room suite on the 3rd floor unbelievably hot during the day. Also having to pay extra for a hot breakfast when the room was $200 seems ludicrous. I've stayed at other B&Bs for less money (in Napa Valley, no less), where I was served a hot gourmet breakfast. Juice, cold scones and a fruit cup seemed insulting.

  • Stayed August 2005
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Old_Rit_Innkeeper, Manager at Old Rittenhouse Inn, responded to this review, July 13, 2007
Thank you for your review. We’re so glad that you enjoyed your stay at Le Chateau Boutin—it certainly is a gem. The Rittenhouse is, as you might have guessed, the headquarters of our business, and so it certainly receives more traffic than our other properties do on a daily basis. That said, we’ve always loved the privacy that our sister Victorian mansion offers to our guests, and so we are pleased to hear that you found that aspect of the building satisfactory.

We apologize for any inconvenience that the central air system at the Chateau might have caused during your visit—we know how hot it can get up here, even if Lake Superior generally serves as the town’s natural air conditioner during the summer months. We’ve had some minor problems with the air conditioning in that building, but they have, for the most part, been resolved.

In regards to your concern about the extra charge we place on our full breakfast, allow me to explain that the Inn has always offered two breakfast options in order to suit our guests’ needs. Many guests enjoy our 5-course traditional dinner during at least one evening of their stay, and thus prefer a lighter, more manageable meal the following morning. The $8.50 price point for houseguests to enjoy our full breakfast is reduced from the $11.50 we charge the general public. We are, however, sorry that the continental breakfast did not meet your needs.

Thank you, once again, for visiting us and for sharing with us not only the favorable aspects of your visit, but also the less favorable. Your feedback helps us address the aspects of our business that may not meet our customers’ needs—we are grateful for the information you have provided.

Should your travels bring you back to the southern shores of Lake Superior, we hope you will consider visiting us again!
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A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2005

My new husband and I stayed two nights in suite 11 in the rittenhouse. We thought that the room was gorgeous and thoroughly enjoyed all its amenities (fireplace, large whirlpool tub, steam shower, balcony, and comfy window seats overlooking Bayfield and Lake Superior). We opted for the Special Occasion package which included a two night stay, dinner for one night, full breakfasts each morning, champagne and a plate of homemade sweets. We thought dinner was delicious and the atmosphere romantic... likewise, breakfast was also wonderful. We really loved that they served food that was in season, which meant that we had lots of fresh, locally grown blueberries and raspberries and fresh trout from the lake. The staff was extremely courteous, friendly and welcoming.

A couple years ago we took a day trip to Bayfield and had wanted to eat lunch in the dinning room but had been turned away because of their dress code. However, this code has seemingly been lifted making for a much lighter atmosphere. Many diners still opt to dress up for dinner and some dress more casual. We found this colorful atmosphere delightful and appreciate the fact that the hotel does not wish to turn away business...a wise move in a touristy town.

This was the first time we stayed at the Old Rittenhouse and would highly recommend this place for honeymooners or anyone else looking for a romantic escape. We plan on returning to the Inn soon to sample more of their menu (which changes seasonally) and try out some of their other rooms...we're especially interested in staying in their private cottage!

  • Stayed August 2005
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2005

We did not stay at the Rittenhouse, but my husband and I had dinner here our last night in Bayfield. We had heard good things about it, but were very disappointed. First of all, the ambiance is terrible. Even if you really love doilies, this is just too much! Large tables (even though all of the diners were couples) are crammed together in a small eating area making it quite unromantic. The wait staff was pleasant enough, but not spectacular. Dinner costs $45.00 a plate and includes several courses. Most of the food was fine, but not remarkable. What really got us was the required gratuity added on to our check at the end of the meal--for two people! We would not go back.

  • Stayed May 2005
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Old_Rit_Innkeeper, Co-owner, Innkeeper, Marketing Manager at Old Rittenhouse Inn, responded to this review, February 27, 2007
We are very sorry that this guest did not enjoy her dining experience at the Old Rittenhouse Inn. Unfortunately, she never voiced her concerns while she was here, which negated any chance for us to fix them.

This review makes it sound as if our dining rooms were a warehouse for doilies, which is simply not the case. (We do have a few pieces of fine, hand-crocheted needlework). The sentence “Large tables (even though all of the diners were couples) are crammed together…” is also misleading. Many of our tables are expandable to accommodate 4-10 diners. We can make them larger, but we can’t make them smaller. Our largest dining room has only 5 tables, and two of them are tables for 2. None of the tables are “crammed together.”

As of this writing, we offer two options for evening diners. Our Traditional 5-Course Dinner, at $49/person plus tax & gratuity, offers a choice of soup, salad, a sorbet, entrée, and dessert. Our Petite 2-Course Dinner, at $35/person plus tax & gratuity, offers a choice of soup or salad, plus and entrée.

Our chef de cuisine was valedictorian of his class at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He also worked for several years at the esteemed L’Etoile restaurant in Madison. Since the reviewer did not mention any specific details of her meal, other than to say it was “fine, but not remarkable,” there is not much here for me to address.

Over the years, several guests have expressed their dislike of our added gratuity policy. While I can assure you there are many good reasons for the policy, this is an issue that is currently under review, and we are exploring the option of removing this policy for summer of 2007.
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A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 13, 2004

Last Tuesday, October 5, we were married at the Le Chateau Boutin, which is owned by the Old Rittenhouse Inn. Our ceremony was held in the music room of the Chateau. It was absolutly the most perfect wedding we could have ever wished for. The Chateau has several rooms and out door locations perfect for weddings, including the parlor and the beautiful porch overlooking Lake Superior. We were provided with excellant service from all the staff of the Old Rittenhouse.
Our Champagne suite at the Old Rittenhouse Inn was magnificant. The furnishings were beautiful and the fireplace was a wonderful amenity. The view from all the different windows provided us with splashes of fall color. The beatiful bouquet of flowers, champagne and candy, accented by eatable orchids added to the memory of our wedding day.
The dining room staff and chefs are top notch in their jobs. They were courtious, attentive and very professional. We have never experience such beautifully presented and prepare food. Breakfast in the morning was an experience in itself. From the wedding to the five course dinner to our honeymoon suite and breakfast in the morning, we had the wedding day we had dreamed of.
I would highly recommend the Old Rittenhouse Inn for any special occasion or for that special time away. We were treated like royalty from the minute we walked in the door.
We were referred to a minister, photographer, and videograher with just one telephone call to the Rittenhouse. The staff made our wedding planning long distance very easy.
We will be returning for many anniversaries to come.

Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Old Rittenhouse Inn

Address: 301 Rittenhouse Ave., Bayfield, WI 54814
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Wisconsin > Bayfield
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 16 B&Bs / Inns in Bayfield
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Old Rittenhouse Inn 3.5*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Old Rittenhouse Inn is Bayfield, Wisconsin's first Country Inn Bed & Breakfast and gourmet restaurant offering 20 guest rooms in 2 Victorian homes and a private cottage. Accommodations include wood-burning fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and spectacular views of Lake Superior. A full service restaurant offers breakfast, brunch, and dinner, and showcases regional cuisine in season. The Inn is located blocks from Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands. This year-round getaway offers seasonal rates and special events. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Old Rittenhouse Hotel Bayfield

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