Immerse yourself in Gilded Age glam and Southern hospitality with a stay at The Hotel Roanoke. It’s a romantic getaway to a city that will win your heart and call you back again and again. Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains are magical, and Roanoke’s downtown vibe is truly cosmopolitan.
The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Curio Collection by Hilton, dates to the early 1880s. That’s when the upstart Norfolk & Western Railway rooted its headquarters and manufacturing facility in what was then just a small town. The population quickly grew as did the number of visitors. In response, the railway built the first version of the hotel on a hill overlooking the tracks. A wooden structure with fewer than three dozen rooms, it opened on Christmas Day 1882.
Over the years, the hotel was expanded, rebuilt after a fire, remodeled and restored several times. The 1938 makeover gave the facade its present-day Tudor-style appearance. The interior was lavished with rich walnut paneling, ornate chandeliers, masterful artwork and precious antiques. The hotel became the social center of the region, drawing dignitaries and luminaries from around the world.
Alas, the ages were not kind to the illustrious Hotel Roanoke. A century after its grand opening, the hotel was badly in need of loving care. Occupancy rates dwindled. The railway, then the Norfolk Southern Corporation, closed the hotel in 1989 and auctioned off its valuable contents. There was one glimmer of hope, however: The hotel was given to the Virginia Tech Foundation on the condition it would be redeveloped.
In response, community and corporate forces sprang to life to preserve their legacy. A massive fundraising campaign and renovation project ensued, and the Hotel Roanoke reopened to great fanfare in 1995. Many of the original furnishings were repurchased and reinstated.
Today the hotel is alive with new energy and preserved memories. A lineup of rocking chairs at the portico welcomes guests and invites them to sit a spell. Expansive lobbies and lounges are elegantly decorated, reminiscent of a bygone era. The 330 refurbished guest rooms and suites are traditionally attired but with a modern clientele in mind: plush bedding, combed cotton towels and luxe toiletries. Among the amenities are a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, in-room spa services and complimentary wi-fi.
You’ll eat well at the Hotel Roanoke. The renowned Regency Room restaurant serves French-inspired Southern cuisine including its signature crabcakes, peanut soup, spoonbread and fried oysters. The Sunday Brunch is frequently lauded as one of the finest in America. The Pine Club Pub, a former World War II officers’ club, offers casual fare and weekend entertainment.
When you’re ready to roam, the enclosed Market Square Walkway leads you safely across the railroad tracks to the downtown restaurants and attractions.
The Hotel Roanoke is on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
110 Shenandoah Ave. NW, Roanoke VA 24016
(Many thanks to Visit Virginia Blue Ridge and The Hotel Roanoke for hosting my breakfast and media tour!)