Where the Muskingum’s waters flow into the mighty Ohio river, you’ll find the majestic Lafayette Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Marietta, Ohio, this historic gem will transport you back to the early 1900s. The surrounding town is full of shops and restaurants tucked away into old buildings and parks lining the river fronts. This is the perfect base for a few days exploring the town, most of which is within walking distance.
*Disclaimer: Two nights accommodations were provided as part of a press trip hosted by the Marietta CVB. Opinions, as always, are my own.
Opened in 1918, the Lafayette Hotel retains its highly ornate Victorian style. The grand lobby has tables and chairs to gather with friends, or just relax and take in all of the decorative details. A lounge full of rich, dark wood extends this meeting space. The 77 guest rooms also retain the original style and vary from a small single bed to king parlors.
Putting together this review was a bit different for me since I haven’t stayed in an old hotel before. There is a different set of expectations with an historic property compared to modern accommodations. For example, a century old hotel isn’t likely to have an indoor pool and the rooms aren’t all going to be identical. With this in mind, I try to keep descriptions objective while pointing out features that are important for prospective guests.
Being an older hotel, amenities are a bit sparse but has what you need for a comfortable vacation.
- Free traditional breakfast during weekdays
- Lounge open in afternoon and evenings
- Wifi – Worked well in lobby and room
- No fitness center, but privileges for the local YMCA are included.
- Free parking in side lot and street side
I had a single queen bed room on a corner with great views of the Ohio river. There are several different sizes in the hotel. There are larger king and queen parlors, which I would recommend for more than one person or if you like more space to spread out. There are also small steamship inspired rooms with just a single bed and couch, perfect for a writers’ retreat.
My queen room felt cramped by the standards of most hotels. There was an old writing desk, which wasn’t very functional with its limited surface space. The There is also a small dresser, whose top was taken up with an older TV, and a small bedside table. With only one bed and no real surface space, I ended up using the desk to unpack my small items and kept the rest in my suitcase. I would not recommend this size room for two people.
The bed was comfortable and it was quiet. I didn’t have anyone in the rooms near me, so I can report on how good the insulation in between rooms. Also note that some rooms face the street. It may be slightly noisy during morning traffic, but overall the town was pretty quiet at night.
The bathroom was even more cramped. A toilet, pedestal sink, and bathtub barely fit and the electrical outlet oddly located in the middle of the mirror. Frankly, my legs were practically touching the bathtub while using the toilet. From pictures on the website it looks like the parlor rooms have much more usable bathrooms. Everything was clean, well maintained, and the water pressure was good, which is what really matters in the end.
While there was great lighting in the daytime from the two windows, it was not so good at night. Room lighting is towards the Victorian style; stained glass and fabric shades and dim. Combined with the rich wood and darker fabrics I felt a bit claustrophobic after the sun went down.
Two things I really missed in this room. First, all of the electrical outlets were either in use or difficult to get to. I ended up using the odd bathroom outlet to charge my phone and laptop. One of the other bloggers in my group suggested bringing a power strip when staying at older hotels. Secondly, no coffee machine. This wouldn’t be much of a problem for some rooms as there is a coffee station in the lobby, except my room was a long walk from the lobby and it wouldn’t have been worth the time. The website says mini fridges are available upon request, but frankly I don’t think you could cram one into the queen room let alone plug it in.
Due to the lack of electrical outlets, surface space, and dim lighting, I spent my evenings at the lounge. It was much more relaxing there and I had some good conversation with the bartender. If I stayed at the Lafayette again, I would definitely choose a larger parlor room.
Hotel Dining and Lounge
The Gun Room. Charming steamboat themed restaurant with nautical artifacts, plus connection of long rifles from 1700 and 1800s. They serve breakfast and dinner during limited hours and only brunch on Sundays. Good mix of American standards on the menu and reasonably priced for a slightly formal type restaurant, $15 to $20 dinners. I didn’t see a kids menu and the regular menu wouldn’t really appeal to the younger crowd. Service during the one breakfast we ate there was good.
The Riverview Lounge was more appealing to me. Open typically from 11am to 11pm-ish. The lounge features a bar and several tables for gathering with friends or to spread out and get some work done. The menu includes fish & chips, the classic Kentucky Hot Brown and other sandwiches, plus a few other items. Prices are reasonable and food was good. The bar had a decent selection of beers on tap. The bartender was great. He kept up with the patrons at the bar and tables, plus carried on a good conversation.
There is a good variety of local restaurants downtown plus a coffee shop just down the block for more options.
Hotel Staff and Maintenance
Staff was friendly, but hard to find at the front desk. I didn’t have a chance to really interact with them since we were on a press trip. I usually like to inquire about local restaurants and activities to gauge their familiarity with the area.
The building seemed well maintained. Of course, being a century old, guests need to expect the pervasive musty smell and some creaking floors here and there. There really isn’t much room for landscaping due to the downtown street location, but the outside and parking lot were in good condition.
The hotel is definitely a winner for people looking for Victorian charm and the stern wheeler/steamship aesthetic. The prime location on the river front and heart of downtown Marietta is perfect for spending time on your feet instead of having to drive everywhere, which is something I really enjoy on vacations. The Lafayette is the perfect place to stay in town for the annual stern wheeler festival. I would not recommend the Lafayette for families. There is not a lot of space in many of the rooms and no kid-friendly activities or dining options.
For more information and pricing for the Lafayette Hotel, visit their website.
For more pictures watch my video on Youtube