Our second visit to Congress Hall coincided with the 2013 Exit 0 Cape May Jazz Festival, during the second weekend in November of 2013. Our first visit was for the 2011 Cape May Jazz Festival in April of 2011. Life’s too short to deal with subpar hotels, so our return visit confirmed our satisfaction with Congress Hall.
This is an OLD hotel (going back to 1816, the oldest on the Jersey Shore – the current building dates from 1880 or so), and Cape May is an OLD town (one of the first seaside resorts). If you like gleaming chrome and steel and a post-modern vibe, this is not your place.
If you like modern conveniences integrated into the historic fabric of an old building, this might be your place. Stairs and floors creak, floors are uneven, doors aren’t square in their openings, but you’ve got wifi, really nice bathrooms, and atmosphere by the boatload.
The hotel has two parts: The Annex and the main hotel. We’ve stayed in both, and prefer the main hotel. We were last in a corner room in the Annex, and while we had an ocean (and parking lot) view, we were also over the spot where smokers congregate. An onshore breeze and our room smelled like cigarettes.
Off-season, Cape May can be a very romantic place, with all the clichés: Walks on the beach; lingering dinners; cocktails in a dark hotel lounge; quiet.
Unless Congress Hall is hosting a wedding. It is a popular wedding venue, and if mom and dad are going all out for their daughter, you may be sharing your quiet romantic weekend with several dozen (or more) wedding guests, including a few who invariably leave their good sense and inhibitions at home.
If you want quiet, first see if the hotel is hosting any weddings during your stay.
The hotel has several restaurants/bars attached: The Blue Pig Tavern (reviewed separately), The Boiler Room Bar, and The Brown Room Bar. A very short walk to the other side of the parking lot is the Cape May institution of Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. If it is open, it is the best way to cure a hangover.
Our two visits were off-season – your experiences during a Cape May summer may be entirely different.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Congress Hall in Cape May is America's First and Oldest Seaside Resort Hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Congress Hall Cape May, New Jersey