The Hotel Providence was once a row of high-end shops.
139 Mathewson St, Providence, RI
hotelprovidence.com; (401) 861-8000
Distance by car: 3 hours
Built in 1882, what is now the Hotel Providence was once a high-end mercantile row where milliners and dressmakers outfitted the crème de la crème of Victorian high society. Shops were folded into an adjacent hotel, which hosted thousands of guests before its decline and subsequent vacancy. Antique furniture and art collector Stanley Weiss purchased the sad vestige of the once-prominent hotel in the early-aughts, saw to its renovation, and reopened it in 2005 as a pet-friendly boutique hotel and art gallery. As opposed to a funky-modern aesthetic, this boutique was rejuvenated with belle époque flair, via burled-wood paneled walls, Italian marble floors, antique Oriental rugs, gilded framed mirrors, and bronze and jade sculptures.
ROOM: Each room, cloaked in red and green brocades, features a sketch of the hotel done by Nancy Friese, a Rhode Island School of Design professor; flatscreen TVs; and traditional furniture (guests rave about the Sealy Encore mattress). Each bathroom, sporting Gilchrist & Soames grooming products, has been updated with granite and glass showers.
BOARD: All the cool modernism went into the hotel restaurant, Aspire Restaurant, cast in a rotating carnival of color from lights beamed into crystal chandeliers. Start with a drink there, and then walk a block to Chef Dave Johnson’s Local 121, which serves the best locally harvested food.
ONLY HERE: Hotel Providence is haunted. Or so they say. Book the Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft Suite (both masters of horror had ties to Providence) and see for yourself. The hotel offers a Wicked Weekend Package in the Halloween season. And guests either love or hate the 16-church-bell concert from next-door Grace Episcopal Church, which clangs away at intervals throughout the day.
WHILE HERE: Attend WaterFire, one of Providence’s most popular events, where three downtown rivers are illuminated by 100 floating bonfires (September 15 and 29). Or visit the Culinary Arts Museum on the Johnson & Wales University campus to see a gas-fired candy kettle, all things Tabasco, antique appliances, and one of the neatest cake-decorating exhibits in the world.
JUST THE FACTS: Rooms and suites range from $159 to $699 per night and include free WiFi.