We stayed there last evening which was the last part of an extended vacation. I had always wanted to see Chautauqua Institution. We called the day before from Indiana and they offered a room with dinner and breakfast.
This is a HUGE old hotel built in the late 1800s. We found the experience to be relatively good given the reviews that were posted. That is not to say there weren't some flaws. The valet parking was done efficiently, the bell hop was friendly and efficient.
Our room was VERY small and that was okay with us. Very high ceilings and big flowered wallpaper. All was very clean, including the bathroom, except the rug...which needed a shampooing. The bedspread was so clean that it was a little scratchy from lack of fabric softener. There was no stopper in the bathroom sink. We had to get creative with that.
This building is very old and that's fine but what you need to know is that the floors are typically uneven. There was a gap between the door and hallway. You could hear the person the next room coughing. A way to deal with that was air conditioning and or keep TV on. Given that we called the day before, we didn't expect much else. Also, the evening meal and breakfast were included in the price of the room.
The restaurant: We made reservations right after we got there for 7 p.m. We had no wait time at all. There were plenty of people there. It appeared that there were people who attended the Institute lectures AND groups of other people. What was included in our price was the meal. Contrary to other reviews I had read...the food was really quite good. The waitstaff guy had only been doing his job for one week. He was very sweet, engaging and did a very good job. There seemed to be a new or different chef who came out and mingled with people there. If the food wasn't good...I am sure the chef wouldn't come out and mingle. I overheard the chef talking with folks who had been there before and they were happy with the food and definitely noticed the difference. Included in the meal were an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Coffee and wine were not included. For example I had stuffed mushrooms with artichoke and spinach and it was delicious. Main course - seared scallops with two sides - risotto and mushrooms - this was very good except the scallops were too salty. Dessert - pecan tart with a dollop of ice cream and a truffle. The kitchen staff mixed up my main course order and it was quickly remedied. We shared a bottle of wine that was very reasonable and good. Breakfast consisted of a wonderful buffet that included smoothies made from just about everything and a separate table of omelets made to order. We were able to sit outside on the huge porch and eat breakfast. It was lovely because it overlooked the Lake.
One could easily roam around the Institution grounds by the lake and take in the adorable victorian homes in the village.
A neat thing was that we were able to see Vince Gill and his band of country instrumentalists in the amphitheater and that was a special treat...even if one isn't a great fan of country music.
Lastly, we had a very nice time. The staff were really very polite and efficient. Before checking out I was able to see some of the other rooms and they were much large than ours. So not all the rooms area as small as ours. We probably would not go back there to that hotel again because we have experienced it once and that is enough. It grounds are a place where one can really relax and enjoy the village without hustle and bustle.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Throughout Chautauqua Institution's summer season, Athenaeum Hotel guests are inspired by a variety of learning, recreational and entertainment programs that are all part of the unique Chautauqua experience. For 140 summers, people have come to Chautauqua's 750-acre community to experience arts, education, concerts, lectures and lively discussions. During the spring and fall months, the Athenaeum Hotel acts as a host to well-organized conferences, beautiful weddings, and special events. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Athenaeum Hotel Chautauqua, New York