I recently had the opportunity to check out the beautiful Providence Biltmore Hotel in the heart of downtown Providence. I was excited to experience the hotel’s full-service spa (the only on-site hotel spa in the city of Providence), McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks restaurant, their updated fitness center and the super convenient down city Starbucks located in the grand lobby.
We arrived via Amtrak from New York City at about four in the afternoon on a beautiful Friday and were greeted by beautiful late summer temperatures in Providence, which is the capitol of Rhode Island. The capitol is known for its close proximity to beaches such as Newport and Narragansett. Providence is also well known for its access to delicious seafood. The hotel, which opened in 1922, was designed by the celebrated firm, Warren and Wetmore, the architects behind New York City’s Grand Central Station.
The Biltmore is located at 11 Dorrance Street, across from Burnside Park and in walking distance to the Providence Convention Center, shopping and dining options. For those looking to visit The Biltmore via train the Amtrak station is about an 8-10 minute walk from the hotel and easily accessible.
After we checked-in, we were greeted with a very nice bottle of Malbec, a fresh fruit selection, and a card welcoming us to Providence and The Biltmore. It was the start of a great weekend and the sign of truly excellent customer service; thanks to Pamela the General Manager of the Providence Biltmore. The hotel itself is charming with wonderful accents that show you its past as a grand dame of the hotel world.
Our room was amazing; it was a suite with an open floor plan that allowed you to continue to chat with you companions without a door blocking your space. The sitting area was equipped with a soda, flat screen TV, and a very handsome dark wood table.
Happy Hour Bites and Libations
Located on the same street as The Biltmore is Garde de La Mer. We stopped in for their excellent happy hour after dropping our luggage off and taking in the beauty of our suite. After doing some research, I selected their happy hour based off of their awesome menu, which you can find here! We tried a bit of everything!
My favorite cocktail was the “Jessy Juice” that our very informative and professional bartender,Jessy, made for us. The cocktail was created at another establishment where he previously bartended. It was slightly sweet, very refreshing and one of those drinks that you could easily have five. Just imagine some of the ingredients: pear vodka, St. Germaine, and cucumber. To accompany our cocktails, we ordered: Prince Edward Island oysters, fried oysters for a bit of comparison, and a creamy and slightly tangy lobster bisque. The oysters were a must have – they were fresh and delicious with a slight brine – try them with the mignonette sauce. My advice would be to get there as close to the start of the happy hour as possible as the bar was quite packed and no one appeared to be giving up their seats quickly. All in all this was a wonderful restaurant close to the Biltmore and with fresh delicious oysters on the half shell.
The next day we got up bright and early to take advantage of The Biltmore’s excellent downtown location, literally across the street from the Kennedy Plaza transit hub and hop a RIPTA bus out to Narragansett. Using bus line 66 to Galilee beaches and after paying the super cheap price of $2.00 each, we were on our way, an hour and a half later we had arrived and it was absolutely beautiful. The first thing that we saw was a sign announcing the ferry to Block Island. Unfortunately, we were short on time and didn’t get a chance to visit Block Island, but from all reports it’s an amazingly beautiful Island and not to be missed. In fact two of our fellow travelers at The Biltmore were taking the high speed ferry over and promised to show us pictures of the Island when they returned.
After seeing the ferry off, we went in search of fried seafood and adult libations to start the day off on the right foot. What we found was Champlin’s, in business since the 1930’s. Champlin’s overlooks the Manasota Key and has a fairly large section where you can purchase seafood and other items for cooking at home. We had an epic fried seafood plate and it did not disappoint. After stuffing ourselves we spent a pleasant few hours on the beach and it was time to head back to Providence for the Riverwalk WaterFire show that evening.
After making our way back to Providence we headed back to The Biltmore for a bit and lounged in in the lobby and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. While we were people watching we saw a wedding partying prepping for the night ahead. The Biltmore boasts a Grand Ballroom perfect for weddings and celebrations, a very popular garden room for smaller events and an additional 12 other rooms which can be configured to held different events. Afterwards we headed to the well known Providence Oyster Bar to enjoy their fabulous happy hour, menu found here. We’re talking $6.00 lobster rolls and fries, sliders, Asian wings, lobster bisque, $1.00 oysters and the best $1.50 jumbo shrimp cocktail. The venue boasts a very upscale feel and the service at the bar during happy hour was excellent.
Here’s a rundown of what felt like the last supper:
Our last evening in Providence was spent enjoying WaterFire Providence- an interactive art festival and display featuring lighted barges floating on the river. All full WaterFire installations light up over eighty braziers from WaterFire Park to Memorial/South Main Street Park in Providence. Lighting occurs shortly after sunset and the event continues until half past midnight. It was an amazing event and I highly recommend making a trip to Providence to check it out. I have visited over 15 countries and many cities and WaterFire is now in my top five events I have been to in my travels. The streets and banks of the river are thronged with attendees enjoying the evening’s entertainment, which also included tango dancing volunteers from the tri-state area, food vendors, crafts and lots of food trucks.
On our last day at the Biltmore, we checked out Providence Place which features over 170 stores, eight restaurants, and entertainment venues. You’ll find something for every age, taste and style. This shopping, dining and entertainment destination is the centerpiece of a downtown Providence renaissance. The impressive line-up of retailers includes the area’s only Nordstrom and of course an Apple Store. I also had an opportunity to check in with the General Manager, Pamela Martin who was able to share her insights with me on why the Biltmore should be your destination of choice.
An Insider’s view
To learn more about Providence Biltmore, visit: http://www.providencebiltmore.com/