We recently returned from a one-night stay at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel. Overall, we had a great stay. The hotel is in a lovely location, right on the Elizabeth River, overlooking downtown Norfolk. Portsmouth is a very charming little town, but there was very little activity while we were there. This may be due to the fact that we were there right after a large snowstorm, but there were very few people in the town when we were walking around. The historic area of Portsmouth is only a couple of blocks from the hotel, with many charming colonial homes to walk around and see. About 5 minutes walk from the hotel is the main commercial thoroughfare of the town, which features just a few small restaurants and shops. There isn’t all that much in Portsmouth itself, in terms of things to do, but we managed to pass an afternoon walking around the town. It was a very peaceful and pretty little town, so I would recommend staying here: just realize that the Renaissance isn’t necessarily in a particularly active area. It is easily accessible to Norfolk by ferry—there is a ferry dock right next to the hotel, and the ferries appeared to leave relatively frequently to cross the river.
My basic comment about the hotel is that it is very lovely. The structure is positioned beautifully on the river, and the common areas are very beautiful. The lobby had very high ceilings, with several pleasant seating areas overlooking the river. One weird thing that we noted about its design is how long the walk is from the entrance/parking garage to the elevators to the rooms. Walking from the hotel entrance to the elevator involved walking down one very long hallway, then down another past the front desk, past the ballrooms, to the elevator bank. It wasn’t a big deal for us, but I noticed that it would be very difficult for someone with mobility issues to simply get from the front of the hotel to the elevators.
Hotel parking is in an adjacent garage, which does not have an indoor attachment to the hotel, but is right by the hotel entrance. Parking is $10 per night, which I think is a little bit ridiculous, given that parking is not really at a premium in Portsmouth. The garage itself is operated by the city, and it was actually a bit gross while we were there, with trash strewn around. The elevators in the parking garage were equally filthy, with ketchup splattered around. We didn’t really investigate to see if there were any other parking options in the area, but I would in the future.
We were in the area for just the one night, and arrived at the hotel around 1:00 pm. We had requested an early-check in ahead of time, and based on the fact that the hotel was quite empty when we were there, I didn’t think it was unreasonable to expect to get into the room a little early. We had booked a club level room, and were told upon check-in that there were no rooms clean yet on the club level, but that we could have a regular room immediately if we wanted it. Knowing that we wanted the club level amenities, we decided to wait for the club level room, and walked around Portsmouth for a couple of hours in the meantime. The front desk staff said they would call housekeeping immediately to get the room cleaned as quickly as possible. We returned to the hotel after 3:00, hoping that the room would be ready. It still was not. Granted, we were still early for normal check-in, but at an empty hotel, it should not be hard to get rooms ready early. We ended up waiting in the lobby until the room was ready. The front desk staff was very nice, and offered us drinks and food while we were waiting, and genuinely seemed to be doing everything they could to get our room ready as quickly as possible. We attribute the problems in this situation to the housekeeping staff. It simply seemed that whoever was upstairs cleaning was lazy and/or overly slow in getting rooms cleaned. It almost seemed as if the housekeeping staff was purposely defying the request to get the room cleaned.
However, after the minor annoyance of waiting for the room, our stay was absolutely excellent. The room was beautiful (and luckily very clean after the wait!). We had a room on the 16th floor, overlooking the river and the Norfolk skyline. The view was perfect. We really enjoyed looking at Norfolk and watching barges go by in the river. The rooms have recently been renovated, and are a nice size with a blue/yellow somewhat nautical look. The windows are large, and I think most rooms have a view of the river, some on the Norfolk side, some not.
We were on the club level, and the club lounge here was one of the best we’ve had in a hotel. The food offerings were great-actually something substantial for a change. There were several items available for appetizers at night, including very good fajitas and taco wraps that we could have made into a full dinner. In particular we’d also like to compliment the nighttime club lounge staff member. We didn’t get her name, but she was very friendly and gave very good recommendations about the local area. The club lounge breakfast in the morning was also very good, with a couple of hot items in addition to the usual continental offerings.
Overall, we had an excellent stay at this hotel. I would definitely recommend it. The only annoyance was in the wait for check-in, but the rest of the stay was great, so it wasn’t a big deal. I’m not sure what the hotel options are like in Norfolk, but I think the Renaissance Portsmouth is a great, quieter option, right across the river with beautiful views.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Blending traditional elegance and modern style, our waterside Norfolk, VA area hotel in the historic downtown district of Olde Towne Portsmouth provides calming comfort and soothing relaxation. The Renaissance Portsmouth hotel boasts a hip location overlooking the vibrant, revitalized waterfront and offers stunning views of the Elizabeth River. Set above the harbor, the Portsmouth Ballroom's unique outdoor terrace, part of the 24,000 square feet of Norfolk area hotel meeting space, provides a stunning reception area sure to draw rave reviews from your guests. This updated luxurious Norfolk, Virginia area hotel also features 23 meeting rooms including a 70-seat Amphitheater. Savor the atmosphere of this waterside hotel in Portsmouth at Foggy Point Bar & Grill, presenting a selection of fresh seafood. Visitors to the area can enjoy the unique experience of taking the nearby water taxi across to many of the Norfolk business and visitor destinations including the Norfolk Naval facilities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel And Waterfront Conference Center
- Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Portsmouth