The Cork Factory Hotel’s exterior walls are all original.
CORK FACTORY HOTEL AT URBAN PLACE
480 New Holland Ave Ste 3000, Lancaster, PA
corkfactoryhotel.com; (717) 735-2075
Distance by car: 3½ hours
This 77-room boutique hotel was built brick by handmade brick in 1865 as Lancaster Cork Works for the purpose of pressing cork into disks that were then inserted into bottle caps. The old warehouses and factory complex structures have been transformed into a “mixed-use” center called Urban Place, which has a kids’ science museum, a spa/salon, an artisanal bakery, and a sports bar, among other establishments. The hotel itself is a study in repurposing, utilizing wood, stone, and brick from the original buildings. The ballroom bar top, tables, and chairs in the in-house Cork & Cap Restaurant were all made from salvaged wood found onsite.
ROOM: Guestrooms exude raw charm—you are, after all, sleeping in a former factory building. Exterior walls are original, uneven, handmade brick—warps, pits, and all. Ceilings feature exposed pipes and unadulterated wood planks. With just a few pieces of furniture, designers went for “less is more.”
BOARD: There’s free continental breakfast at Cork & Cap Restaurant, which includes a large fruit plate overflowing with plump berries. For a Francophile breakfast, go downtown to The Shoppes at 301 North Queen, where, along with perfectly flakey croissants and pastries flown in from France, you can pick up chocolates, imported jarred foods, and gift items wrapped extravagantly with ribbon. With help from the landlord, former New Yorker Mary Ellen Kauffman turned an 1800s magistrate office (“the ugliest building in town”) into a sun-streamed trio of French-styled shops.
ONLY HERE: If you’re traveling with curious kids and have done the Amish tours already, walk across the parking lot to Lancaster Science Factory. No kids in tow? Try Plum Salon and Spa.
WHILE HERE: Arrive on the first Friday of any month and the City of Lancaster takes on a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere. Nearly 100 shops and galleries participate in “First Fridays,” with music, wine, and special events. If you don’t make it on Friday, you can still visit Red Raven Art Company, which features mostly local artists. The Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, a leader in the installation of public art, has been a downtown anchor for 30 years, bringing in free speakers, international artists, and signature events. At the very least, pop in to peruse one of the Main Gallery’s exhibitions.
JUST THE FACTS: Rooms are $119 to $219 per night and include complimentary continental breakfast, free parking, and free WiFi.