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“Old and Charming”
Review of Athenaeum Hotel

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Athenaeum Hotel
Ranked #3 of 6 Hotels in Chautauqua
Reviewed 26 July 2014

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.

Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
Thank SandyKingstonNewYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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56 - 62 of 111 reviews

Reviewed 22 July 2014

The rooms are small and cell-like. Bathtubs are in short supply in most rooms, but showers are provided. The rooms are sparsely furnished and luxury is not the concept. We changed our room three times before we found one that was satisfactory. The first room had a twin beds and a dresser. The second had full or queen bed, hard to determine, one chair and a dresser. It had a shower. The third room was a tiny suite. One room had a couch and a terrible, hazy tv, a desk with a broken chair and a closet. The other room had the bed and bathroom with a bathtub and a hand held shower.

Service was non-existent, but by the end of the week, it improved. They offered turn down service and chocolates, the latter part of the week, which was quite surprising and seemed out of character when one considered the overall impression of the hotel. The staff is very young and not well trained.

The restaurant, I believe, opened this year. The food is nothing to write home about, but it improved from inedible on the first night to quite good four days later when there was a dinner buffet. Breakfast was good and even that improved on a daily basis. It seemed to be a work in progress. The staff is very young, 14 and up.

The day we departed, we left money in the room for the housekeeper. After the luggage was taken downstairs, I happened to run back up to add money to my tip, and I noticed that the tip I left had completely disappeared. A word to the wise, leave the money for the housekeeper at the front desk. In a place where everyone says they don't lock their doors, I was pretty surprised.

One has to excuse much of the shortcomings because it is a non profit establishment and amenities are not their priority.

Room Tip: Ask for a quiet room, away from the road, perhaps with a desk and two chairs. If you want a bathtub...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank thewanderingdiner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2014

The dining room at the Athenaeum has been converted to an ala carte restaurant. The room has been re-decorated and is very plain - painted walls, balloon shades on the floor to ceiling windowsn and one mirror on the walls. One good aspect is the Tapas and WIne menu available from 4:30-6:30 pm. Ham/Cheeseburgers at $12. with fries and appetizers/salads with a wine and beer menu is a good way to try this new venture. The cheeseburger was great, well cooked medium/medium rare was juicy. The steak/ranch fries were not - looked like they had been dunked in hot oil. Order them well done. The iceberg wedge salad was passable. Service still needs to be refined, the service station for utensils, etc. is in the corner next to the kitchen door and everytime a server needs something they must run to the station dodging other servers and around tables. It may be more than 75 feet from the table in the corner. Bottled beers - domestic or imported are $6.50 each.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Thank njdaveus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2014

My husband and I made a reservation for dinner at this "hotel " based on previous reviews. When we tried to access the hotel which is a part of the Chautauqua Institution we felt that we were trying to enter Fort Knox. Had to ask four people how to get to the hotel and eventually we were issued two passes that would allow us through the gate to travel to the hotel. We were told that there would be valet parking available. When we finally reached the hotel there was no valet to be found. I went inside and asked about parking our car and was advised that we should have parked at the South entrance and taken the shuttle to the hotel. Since we were not going back the valet finally appeared and told us there would be a $5.00 charge to park the car. No problem. We entered the hotel and were told to follow the waitress to a table, oops table was not set. So we went to another table which was under a fan running full blast, no good, so a third table!! We sat down, looked around at the tired dining room and the age of the guests dining there and decided to leave without dining. I think we made the right decision. This place is old, old, old!! Looked like something out of Dirty Dancing except it had a wonderful view.

Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
3  Thank carol a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 July 2014

We booked a suite hoping to have a marvelous 4th of july week overlooking gorgeous lake.we were given a 2 room dingy cubby w a view of a wall one foot from the window, and the second room had a tiny bed , one nightstand,and a view of a tar roof .bathroom didnt even have a place for a toothbrush,no shelf or storage drawer, the floor slanted so much you could lose your '"balance,i had to keep my toiletries in the suitcase on the floor.staff was pleasant,young and ok in dining room but the GM and room managers promised to try to move us but neither one ever had the decency to call us back.we love scenic and charming, this.hotel is old and ugly,my husband was eating breakfast early one morning and the staff asked him to move his table because a lady wanted his table only. Huh?.gives you an idea of their attitudes here..?..room was a
..ridiculous charge for what we had.spoiled the whole chautaugua experience and our vacation for us.

Room Tip: Ask for a renovated lake front room only
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Hogan N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vanessa W, Public Relations Manager at Athenaeum Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 7 July 2014

Thank you for reviewing your stay with us this past weekend. We are continually looking for ways to improve upon the guest experience and are interested in finding ways to create a comfortable stay with modern amenities in a historic building.

While we are saddened to hear that you were disappointed in your stay, we would love the opportunity to create a better experience for you. Our staff is eager to provide high quality service and we would like the chance to speak with you about a reservation in future seasons in a room that may be more suitable to your preferences.

This year we decided it was in the guests’ best interested to transition our dining experience from an American Plan hotel into what is now Heirloom Restaurant. We would be interested in speaking to you about your difficulties in the restaurant in more detail to learn from so that we can guarantee a similar situation will not happen in the future.

Please feel free to contact us at 1-800-821-1881. We truly hope that you enjoyed Chautauqua Institution’s programming and will visit the grounds again.

Sincerely,

Vanessa Weinert
Marketing Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 June 2014

Ok. I like Vegas, Cancun Mexico, Spring Break Cruises. This was different. You would really need a tour to understand the place. You would also need to go during peak times. We went a week before peak.

From what I understand you need a pass during peak times. I went for my nephew's wedding. Not expecting anything like it.

The homes were mostly built 150 years ago. They have a Donald Ross Golf Course. What most people go for however is the "entertainment'

You can hear symphonies, Hear poets, Hear Philosophers.

Most of the people who live here (not year round) are 3rd 4th 5th generations of families.

I was not aware of the Chataqua movement. I found it an eye opener. With great people.

You really should research this place.

Sloppy Bachelor

Room Tip: You don't go for the room. You go for the experience
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Stayed: June 2014, travelled with family
Thank sloppybachelor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 June 2014

We just returned from a one night stay at the Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua which included all our meals. We have been at this hotel a number of times over the years and always had a terrific time. This time it was a disaster. The dinner which normally is very good went from bad to worse as the time passed. We had ordered shrimp cocktails which arrived in a dish so small that the waiter put his fingers in with the shrimp in order to serve them. He never thought of putting them on a serving plate. We asked for extra sauce four times and it never arrived. The waitress took our order for the main course and after one hour came back to our table and asked what we were waiting for! We had reserved dinner for 6pm because we had tickets for a concert at 8pm. We had to leave without eating since we simply ran out of time. We were worried that our waitress was going to have a nervous breakdown since nothing was going right. We really couldn't get angry since this was opening weekend and most of the wait staff are students working for the summer. We actually felt sorry for them. From the dining room we went to the front desk to advise them of our experience. The were very apologetic and arranged to have a meal ready for us after the concert. They also said we would not be charged for anything during our stay.
The rest of our stay was what we expected based on past experiences. Nice clear rooms in a historic hotel, good breakfast and an excellent Sunday brunch. The staff did more than was necessary to overcome the dinner the previous evening.
We will be back again but maybe not on opening weekend.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank Matty348
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Athenaeum Hotel

Address: 3 S Lake Dr, Chautauqua, NY 14722-2547
Region: United States > New York > Chautauqua County > Chautauqua
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 6 Hotels in Chautauqua
Number of rooms: 153
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

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