I went to Roanoke last fall on one of my hubby’s business trips. He had to be there for three days, so we tacked an additional two days onto the front end of the trip so we could do some things outside of the hotel and conference schedule. See my related reviews of
- The Pine Room Pub in the Hotel Roanoke.
- The Regency Dining Room in the Hotel Roanoke.
- Table 50 in downtown Roanoke.
- Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke
- Local Roots in Roanoke.
- Black Dog Antiques in Roanoke.
- Parkway Brewery in Salem, Virginia.
- The Blue Apron and Red Rooster in Salem, Virginia.
We stayed in the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center which I was excited about because it’s one of those old school Virginia hotels that it’s essential to stay in at least once — or at least visit/dine there/have a cocktail.
The Hotel Roanoke is one of those places that’s old, and essential to the economic vitality of its downtown, but too often falls into disrepair. When that happens, either an independent hotelier initiates a revival, or, more commonly, a corporate hotel chain comes to the rescue, sometimes at a cost to historic features, original interior elements, and old Virginia customer-service charms.
That was the fate of the Hotel Roanoke, which is now a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel (in case you have their points and this is an asset to you).
Locally the hotel is known as the “Grand Old Lady,” and it’s gone through several phases of development over its more than a century of on-and-off operations. Driven largely by the formidable presence of Roanoke’s railroad industry, over the years she’s been a smaller scale wooden building, then Queen Anne in style, and now with a Tudor appearance. There’s a history on their Website worth checking out.
The happy stay
Everything was mostly fine about our stay — nice room, consistent maid service, fine enough bathroom.
The stately lobby, rambling front porch, quieter lounging rooms, dining rooms, and the Pine Room Bar possess what I believe is their original beauty and charm — historic decorative art, early 19th century reproduction wallpaper style murals, antique furnishings, and fabulous architectural features such as crown molding, columns, and oddities like brass mail chutes.
It was all delightful to see and a gracious setting (not on the level of, say, the lobbies and lower ground floor of the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, but still very nice).
The less happy stay
But I did have some beefs.
I found the linens and blankets wimpy and unstylish for such a place, and, since my room was cold, I asked for another blanket. I received one promptly, and cordially, but it was one of those light, supposedly soft, but utterly synthetic ones that provide neither warmth nor weight, the two comforts one seeks in a real blanket.
I asked if they could do anything else and to their credit they brought me another comforter which helped because it was thicker and definitely provided warmth. But better linens all around would be an upgrade in my view.
Sadly the pool was decommissioned for repairs which meant they closed the outdoor hot tub, too. (Too few hotels have hot tubs any more which is a bummer — we love that little luxury on a getaway.) We thought that with some planning they could have done a workaround to allow entry to the hot tub and I wish they had. We stayed four nights and had planned to hot tub it up every night. But that was fall 2014 — that fix has probably happened by now and the hot tub will be a year-round feature I think.
Final complaint: the electricity was awful. None of our devices — smart phones, iPads, laptops — would charge easily, and Erik needed his for business. We struggle d constantly to get a connection out of them.
When you’re in a conference center for business or education you need to readily power your communication tools. I seriously give this piece an F. They either need to fully rewire the place, or go room-by-room to figure what deficits in the wall units and lamp need fixes. This was a huge downer in our experience of the place.
That said, I’m sure they are always working to make this hotel a thriving showplace where guests are made comfortable and infrastructure and amenities are always being addressed to the highest standards. I have every confidence in this place, it just needs a few tweaks.
— Lindsay Curren, Girl Goes Virginia
110 Shenandoah Avenue
Roanoke, VA 24016