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“Be realistic: you get what you pay, and ask, for”
Review of Duncan Hotel

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Duncan Hotel
Ranked #6 of 12 Hotels in New Haven
NJ
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Be realistic: you get what you pay, and ask, for”
Reviewed May 28, 2012

$80/night in the center of New Haven, steps from the Yale Campus, museums, great restaurants. You could pay $280/night to stay at The Study next door. So don't make your reservation at The Duncan if you really want The Study, and don't think you're going to get $280 center-city accommodations at $80. Be realistic. Second, some reviews say it reminds them of a haunted house from the 1970s. Not quite: the Duncan was built in 1894 and has probably not been renovated in a substantial way since the 1930s. So you're getting *old* facilities. The reason The Study costs over 3x as much is because it has been renovated to the 21st century. The Duncan's facilities are what they are, and you will be stepping back in time to stay here. The floors are not level, the lintels are not level, the ceilings are high, the windows huge, the elevator, human-operated (it only runs 8am-10:45pm, but the single night watchman closed the front-doors of the hotel to take us up when we arrived at 11:30pm. Yes: like that movie where the guy is the mayor, gas station attendant, sheriff, etc). All part of the history of the building and its lack of serious renovation and need for influx of capital. Again: if you want the Omni or the New Haven Hotel book there, and your price will reflect your experience. Third, ask for a non-smoking room. The fact that they still even HAVE smoking rooms should tell you that your room will smell if you don't ask for a non-smoking room. As another reviewer wrote, your stay will really depend on what room you are in. The non-smoking room we stayed in most recently *has* been updated: new mattress (very comfortable), new carpet, new paint job, new mini-fridge (very clean). But there is also a claw-foot tub for a shower (you have to step in), the pipes "sing" when they're turned on, no wireless amenities, and no AC (they should put in a small window unit). Until a new owner invests multi-millions in this hotel to restore it to its glory-days (and I hope someone does, cause that's what it will cost), it will remain what it is; and you can bet that if/when the necessary renovations happen, the price will triple, as it should. Last: I stayed here in the 1980s as a college student, in the early 2000s as a nostalgic look back, and just last week to save money on a weekend trip with my family. So I have a fondness for the place, but I'm not blind either: I think the bad Internet reviews are finally helping the owners/staff to understand that to stay open, they need to be more service-oriented, and they need to clean the place up. The staff were all *very* helpful and kind, provided a Graco pack-and-play (we brought our own baby-mattress/sheets) that had a roughed-up cover from where it was stored, but was perfectly fine unpacked. The room was clean, neat, dusted, comfortable, $80/night high-season college-town accommodations; and it still felt like a time-warp combo of the 19th and early 20th centuries. If you don't want this experience, stay elsewhere. If you want to save money, and you want to create a memory, then book at the Hotel Duncan. Caveat emptor: be realistic and remember that *you* are living in the 21st century even if the Hotel Duncan is not. You get what you pay, and ask, for.

Room Tip: Suite 300.
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
10 Thank Michelle B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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103 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (22)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Redwood City, California, United States
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed May 2, 2012

Ok, I read a lot of reviews before staying at the Duncan. Good, bad, and indifferent. I decided to jump and take a chance and what I found was wonderful. There are undoubtedly countless reviewers who will disagree with me but I'm being honest. I've stayed in a lot of old/historic hotels while on my travels and this one has left me with some of the fondest memories I have. While the reviews are correct, the decor hasn't been updated since the 70's and the furnishings are at a minimum, the historic relevance of this property is unmistakable. It is still possible to find copies of the article published in the 19th century about the opening of the location and even the period reviews, not to mention the lengthy one dedicated in its entirety to the marble stairway. If you love old architecture and can appreciate it, even under a bit of a tired exterior, then this is the place for you. New Haven has a rich history of growth and industrial might in the 19th cent and this hotel property has a place in that history as well. Be a little adventurous and try something a little different. You just might be surprised. And to the reviewer who mentioned that the Duncan might be the last place to see a rotary dial phone, please...I have one in my home I use every day. We can all do without a few modern conveniences once and a while.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Jen R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 29, 2012

I was so scared to go to this place based on the reviews. I generally like to have a nice clean hotel with crispy sheets and a flat screen TV. But I knew what I was getting into here.

Your experience will really depend on the room. You have to ask for a non smoking room. I saw a smoking room and it was a nightmare. Sunken bed, absolutely horrific smell of stale smoke, brown walls, etc. But when I moved to a non smoking room it was much better. You still have the wood panel walls and the old green carpet, but at least there were some ikea sheets and a clean mattress. The water was hot and the pressure was fine. The toilet was clean, etc. You don't want to hang out in the room, but its a place to sleep.

Everything is very old and rough around the edges here. Some people see the charm in this. To me, it felt like I was in an episode of Scooby Doo. I expected to hear bongos if I started running or to pull a mask off someone at the end of my stay, who would say "and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you snooping kids!" And the staff (straight out of Scooby Doo) were very nice. But I didn't ask for anything other than to change from a smoking room, which was very easy.

Room Tip: I got a room in the front. It was a bit noisy with the street, but had a pleasant view. Definitely...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Bo H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these New Haven hotels

Providence, Rhode Island
1 review
Reviewed April 19, 2012

This place looks like an old "flop house" you might see on a 70's tv show. My partner and I made reservations for a recent softball tournament. After seeing the horrible conditions we decided not to check in. We along with three other friends who also booked rooms were being told that we would be charged anyway. despite our refusal to go in. Before within minutes my card that I reserved the room with was already charge. This place is running a scam

Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
Helpful?
Thank Phil L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed April 16, 2012

After reading many bad reviews, I was concerned about my impending stay. However I am happy to report that it was perfectly fine. It is a beautiful, old, but worn at the edges hotel w/ a big lobby w/ comfortable seating. The staff was very friendly and accommodating (except somewhat strict about check out time). The only relatively unimportant disappointment was that I was told that though the elevator operator is off duty overnight someone would still be available to take me up; this was not the case as the overnight desk person was alone and therefore unavailable to leave the desk. The room and bathroom were clean, the bed was comfortable. The sofa bed was like most sofa beds; thin and soft, but this was to be expected. It is very centrally located; accessible to everything. The rooms have nice thick curtains to block out light.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank stuffedcabbage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, New York, United States
1 review
Reviewed April 8, 2012

for $92 a night to stay in a hotel with a hand operated elevator, marble staircase, view of downtown, and the best location in town? it s a no brainer. the staff were extremely helpful after we talked to them for a minute, tho initially they were a little stand off ish. honestly just a fun place to stay if your in new haven, we had lowered expectations from the reviews we'd seen and we came anyways, hopefully you will go with an open mind and a friendly demeanor and have as nice a time as we did

Room Tip: 303 had the view, make sure to chat with the staff.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Sean D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Plantation, Florida
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed September 29, 2011

This is your classical 1 star no frills hotel, located right across the street from the prestigious Yale University campus. Everyone else within walking distance of Yale was sold out so this was the only choice outside of renting a vehicle. I suggest renting a vehicle.

The question is WHY they would not renovate this ancient place with their large rooms and easily get triple the price. But some people just don't get it & the family who owns this just doesn't get it. Don't expect decent furnishings, towels, hair dryers or internet service. In fact, don't expect air conditioning because the majority of the rooms don't have it. Don't expect decent carpeting as it was likely last changed in the 1970's or a level floor. It may be one of your last opportunities to see a rotary phone & bring your own alarm clock. You may also want to make certain that you're in good enough shape to go up & down the stairs as the "lift" operator is not there all night.

Now they probably have many excuses such as the "historic" hotel option but there are NO excuses for the occasional obnoxious front desk clerk (especially at night) or the DIRT that you'll find in every room, on the ancient floors, sinks, tubs (yes, I said tubs), which just makes you want to keep a tight lid on your toothbrush.

We expected the worst, reading the reviews, which were accurate so we came prepared with spray for the musty odors. The best part of the hotel without a doubt is checking out, knowing you will not be back. And don't misplace the room key or they'll hit you up for $10.00!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mistermcgregor2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Duncan Hotel

Property: Duncan Hotel
Address: 1151 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Location: United States > Connecticut > New Haven
Amenities:
Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 12 Hotels in New Haven
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Duncan Hotel 2.5*
Number of rooms: 90
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Clean, Quiet, Comfortable.Conveniently located on the edge of the Yale campus and within walking distance of theaters, museums, boutiques, restaurants and more. The Duncan Hotel has been in business for over 100 years. Rooms are always available for daily or weekly rental. On-street metered parking is available. There is also a parking garage just around the corner on York St between Crown St & Chapel St. The hotel now has free wi-fi, there are also many wifi networks available in the area. Remember - Clean, Quiet, Comfortable. We look forward to your visit. Hotel Duncan ... more   less 
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