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“A wonderfully relaxing experience”
Review of Athenaeum Hotel

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Athenaeum Hotel
Ranked #3 of 6 Hotels in Chautauqua
Reviewed 27 July 2010

First - I've just read all the negative reviews. Perhaps I went to a different hotel. The Anthenaeum looks, pretty much, as it did when it was built. Sweeping veranda's facing the lake, antique furniture, and bell boys who still operate the elevator.

The hotel is so clean, that when I was coming down a central staircase for breakfast, someone was on their hands and knees cleaning the treads. The food service is meticulous and was the staff assistance. In one case, I had to go to a business meeting at the Golf Club outside the gates. On the way I saw an employee taking two colleagues to the destination on a hotel golf cart.

My room was in the annex. I had air conditioning, cable TV and a comfortable bathroom. My room was attended at least twice each day. I remember returning from a meeting on a humid day and washing my face AFTER maid service was completed. By that evening the towels were replaced and there was chocolate on my pillow. There were extra blankets and pillows in the closet, a writing desk, and a huge Craftsman-style dresser.

What was not to love? The prices in the gift shop were just right and comparable to those in the town's bookstore (i.e. not inflated and cheaper than I expected). Each evening the hotel booked entertainment to supplement the activities in the ampitheater (which is half a block up the hill). Opera singers to introduce the nights events, live music, guest lecturers etc.

Too much to say, except - yes - the hotel is expensive. (Probably too expensive if you are traveling with children.) Yes - they only operate Spring through Fall. And yes - there are a lot of college students (all polite) on the grounds. There is also an ATM in the lobby, wireless internet, and a Concierge desk.

For those who don't like the ambiance or the prices - I recommend looking at what it costs to stay elsewhere in the town. During the "Season" pricing for tiny efficiencies are just as high, don't include meals, and don't have the view. I know - I stayed at a smaller hotel my first year and grew sick from the mold. I stayed in a rented house the second year with the same problem - large space, musty interior, very old bathroom that I shared with other house guests.

So would I stay at the Antheneum again? Absolutely.

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled on business
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2  Thank KCkidwriter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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98 - 104 of 111 reviews

Reviewed 6 August 2009

We just returned from one night in a $560 dollar suite at the Athenaeum Hotel. I have stayed at older hotels, like The Otesaga in Cooperstown, and expected it to not be as modern as a Marriott. but nicely redone. It was nothing like The Otesaga. Our first impressions with the staff were not good. They acted as if they were doing us a favor by speaking to us when we checked in. They directed my relative who walks with a cane across the lobby to the bell hop for help instead of calling the bell hop over to assist us. And the accessible room was a walk up a steep hill! The rooms had two old and noisy air conditioners, a dented dorm-size refrigerator and small televisions. The furniture was an attempt at antique, but in reality just looked like items from a second-hand store. They had a musty smell and I noticed some bleached out stains in the carpet. I let my older relative have the room with the queen size bed and took the room with the fold-out couch. I felt like I slept on a waffle iron because the mattress was so thin and inadequate. The only good feature of the suite was that the bathroom was modernized and suitable for someone handicapped, although there was no fan and poor lighting. We were on the meal plan and the food and service was mediocre, certainly not worth the extra price. We were there on a warm afternoon and the dining room and lobby did not have air conditioning! All that for over $500 night. There seemed to be better options in houses and apartments available to rent on the Institution grounds. We knew the hotel was old, but at least at that price there is an expectation of cleanliness and top-notch service. That was not our experience and will never stay there again.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled with family
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3  Thank tessie24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 July 2009

Plenty of folks speak poorly of the Athenaeum on Chautauqua lake but they miss the point. The hotel is in the middle of the Chatauqua Institute that week in and week out provides the most interesting and intellectually challenging programs. The Athenaeum is perfectly suited to the pace and mission of the Institute. It is over 100 yeas old so don't expect cookie cutter rooms and standard sized bath rooms. It is located in upstate New York and operates during the summer so don't expect Lago di Como service. The staff you interact with is kids working their way through college. Their effort is earnest, if not smoothly professional. The food is fine. We had a great room overlooking the lake. Great Victorian porch, comfortable wicker chairs, beautiful view. What's not to like? We enjoyed every bit of our experience and plan to return.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank RustyVa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 June 2008

My husband and I just returned today from such a wonderful experience. Despite the somewhat poor reviews, we found this experience wonderful. Its a charming, quiet, friendly atmosphere. We knew that by booking a room at a hotel more then 100 years old, we were not expecing the Ritz Carlton. Our room was small but had excellent old world charm. Our room slanted slightly to the left which was very noticable. We found it unique, the age of the building was responsible for that. We ate every meal at the hotel and the food and service were excellent. All staff were friendly and willing to go the extra distance for you. Numerous hours were spent rocking on the porch chairs free from tv and cell phone. My husband and I live a very busy stressful life and for the first time in several years, no demands were place on us. We are thinking of making this a summer ritual and would highly recommend the relaxed feeling the institution brings. We were more the pleased with our experience and will be back very soon.

  • Stayed: June 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Doctor_Mrs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2008

This hotel consists of a ground, 1st & 2nd floor, built in 1880 in wood. Frankly the hotel is in need of either pulling down and a new hotel built in it's place or a complete rebuild. The hotel is run down and looks like it is the subject of continuing maintainance. The lift dates from the very, very early 1900's and can only be operated (for safety reasons) by the hotel staff. The rooms are large but worn and tired out, the windows and their frames were falling apart and difficult to open and close. The staff on the reception were a mixed bunch ranging from helpful to "I don't know" types, the serving staff were good nothing was too much trouble. There is no parking at the hotel one has to make arrangements to park well away and walk or take the electric golf buggy to the hotel. We were more or less obliged to stay there because of a function being held at the hotel. On the positive side the lake views are great with evening strolls along its shore being the order of the day, not to miss of an evening watching the sun go down. I highly recommend the local restuarant "Webbs" the food is great with plenty of local micro-brewery beers on tap. For a cheap breakfast try next door at "Dicks Diner" where you can have a breakfast for around $6.00. If you absolutely do not need to stay at this hotel and you do like your creature comforts I would recommend looking for something more modern.

  • Stayed: June 2008, travelled with family
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1  Thank chris.lalor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 September 2007

Let me be clear, I love The Chautauqua Institute. I've been there several times over the past 30 years for one program or another. There is no other place like for quaint Victorian architecture, peace, history and intellectual rejuvenation.

I decided to treat my partner, a veteran teacher, to the closing weekend and three nights at the Athenaeum Hotel in the center of The Institute before she had to start school. Her face dropped as soon as we entered the room. We almost left. What a disappointment. It was our fatigue from the long trip that kept us from going anywhere else.

Tiny bathroom, no fan, old window a/c unit, small room, dirty windows, no pictures on the wall, two queen mattresses shoved together to make one bed and the headboards propped up against the wall by the window. Old carpet. But, it was clean.

No a/c in the hallway, the hallway floors were creaky and concealed dangerous dips, caulking peeled off the windows, wood gingerbread trim rotting away, no ice machine and a coffin size elevator with wires hanging out. A generally depressing place. I dread to think what a careless match would do the old place.

$1,500 for three nights.

The price included three meals of decent hotel food. The dining room was good. The price also included gate passes to The Chautauqua Institute grounds and all entertainment and lectures which were great and the reason we came.

The hotel staff was helpful but there was not much they could do.

MY ADVICE. Buy the gate passes, meals and entertainment separately and sleep ANYWHERE else. The St. Elmo, on The Institute grounds, seems much newer and up to date. Staying at a Budget Inn up by the highway and commuting would even be a better value.

I wasn't expecting the Grand Hotel when I booked the Anthenaem Hotel but what a disappointment!

I have no photos and don't want any.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank TravelDocOhio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 August 2007

I havent written a review in some time, but use these pages often in planning my own trips so i though i would add something here. in addition to our own travels,my in-laws give my wife and i a summer weekend trip every year and this year it was at the anthenuem, on the grounds of the chautauqua institute. first of all, be prepared, even though you have paid $450 per night for accomodations, to fork over another $50 dollars per person (per day) just to gain admittance to the grounds and reach your hotel. this is for the institute itself, which boasts "extensive recreation opportunities." unfortunately, this apparently doesnt include, at least, week 9 of a 9 week season, as all the shuffleboard courts, horshoe pits and boating/kayak rentals were" closed for the season." your 50 dollars a day does get the wonderful opportunity to be harrassed by the gate keepers everytime you enter or leave the institute. a note- check the fine print on the back of your pass.upon leaving the institute, for any reason, including after you have checked out (you need to park across the street from the institute, quite a walk form the hotel itself, as the institute aloows only "limited use of cars on the grounds, unless of course you drive an expensive vehicle and dont want to park with the commoners and/or pay an adittional "valet" fee- they park the car 15 feet from the hotel entrance and jam up the traffic circle), if you have departed past the time indicated on your ticket, you are responsible for additional usage charges for utilizing the institute past your aloowed time (i.e., they try to whack you for another 50 bucks per person). the hotel itself looks very nice and anitquated both from the outside and in the lobby and staircases. opening the door to our room was shocking. our "queen bed" was two double beds pushed together, i havent slept on a mattress in such poor condition since i lived in the college dorms. our room was supposed to have A balcony. this, i suppose in chautauquan, means two windows that do not open, looking over a tarred deck littered with pieces of paint and other pieces of the hotel that have fallen off. in any event, it was closed, though others with less enticing views were open, if you cared to stand around in the searing heat on a tar platform with one chair, apparently lifted from the pool area of another hotel. the air conditioning unit was wonderfully noisy and indeed vintage, probably dating from the 1970s, with a front panel that completely fell of everytime you adjusted it. the "blend of period decor?" not at all authentic period pieces (i do a fair bit of antiquing but even someone who doesnt could tell the difference). they actually look like the dressers, tables and lamps you would see set out to the curb for the garbagemen. horribly mismatched and in poor condition. the wallpaper bulged in several spots and there were stains on the ceiling. the "linens" were budget motel quality, at best, with a very worn and discolored comforter, one of those rust colored bargain blankets, and a sheet that had initials written in marker on it, the way you might label your kid's sheets if he or she was going to summer camp. everything in the "recently remodeled" bathroom was loose, with both the basin and toilet facing strange angles. hot water took about 15 minutes to get, and the pressure was woefully inadequate. stains on the carpet were everywhere. sound nice for 450 a night? well, your meals are included. these consist of dining in the main restaurant -there is really only one- in which about a dozen overworked waiters run around, sweating in the heat, trying to move you in and out as quickly as possible. the dinner is a five course meal and everything is delivered to you piping lukewar, including the soup, vegetables and main course, be it staek, chicken, etc. you do get your meal quickly, too quickly,actually, leading me to assume that these meals are prepared in advance- the menu is limited- and left waiting until someone orders it. they are aout of half of everything so just order what the waiter recommends (i.e., what they have an excess of and are trying to get rid of). the wait staff do the best they can, as well as housekeeping, but the rest of the staff-hosts/hostesses, desk staff,etc. really seem like they would rather just not have to bother with you. as far as the institute itself, dont dare call it a "vacation" destination. my wife made this mistake in inquiring about the origins and was quickly reprimanded by the staff "this is not a vacation, this is a place for artists, and musicians, writers and spiritual awakenment." funny because the whole time i was there, i didnt see one person, writing,playing music, drawing, painting, etc. i did see a number of folks enjoying what seems to be the popular pastime, sitting and reading, occasionally taking a break to scowl at someone. i should mention that i do not expect anything remarkable from my vacations- i dont want/need to be pampered or have unrealistic expectations. this place, as a whole reminds me of a summer camp, convalescent home, or cult, maybe a combination of all three, with a healthy does of stuck-up thrown in for good measure. this is by far the worst "vacation" ive ever had, and the hotel was the grossest, shabbiest room ive ever slept in, not worth even a fraction of the 450 per night. the hotel gets an F (id go even lower if i could) and the whole institute gets a D - , avoiding the F only because there are indeed some very beautiful buildings. a couple of additional notes: i wouldnt even dream of bringing kids to this place, regardless of the "countless activities" "available" for them. this really is a destination for the elderly (case in point- the hotel actually boasts a rack in the lobby where you can store your "butt-pads," saving you the trouble of carrying this heavy item back and forth from your room - the sign actually says "store at your own risk,"-unbelieveable). i might like this when im 90, but for anyone else, prepare to be remarkably unimpressed and understimulated. again, i have to emphasize that im only writing this because i use many of these reviews myself in planning my own vacations, and i think its important for folks to know what they are getting, and gettin into, when looking into this place. the owners of the hotel, and the institute, should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled with family
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10  Thank slats33
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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