Historic hotels and the classic cozy bed and breakfast have never had much appeal for me. I find them stuffy, over-decorated, and dimly lit. While I appreciate the architecture of the past, the tiny rooms and musty hallways are not my cup of tea. I prefer the smell of crisp linens and a bit of space to call my own, even for just one night. Second chances are my rule in travel writing and a recent stay in the Blennerhassett Hotel has reinforced that decision.
Located in the heart of downtown Parkersburg, West Virginia, the Blennerhassett Hotel was originally opened in 1889. It was one among many such establishments providing room and board for the influx of people traveling to the area due to the first major oil and gas wells in the country. The Blennerhassett provided accommodations for the wealthier customers of the day. Today, it’s the only remaining hotel from the period and by the 1970s it had lost its shine.
In the mid 1980s massive renovations were undertaken to restore the hotel to its former glory. A second round of renovations took place from 2002 to 2006, which brought the hotel into its current configuration. There are now 89 rooms and suites, three meeting rooms, a restaurant, lounge, and outdoor entertaining areas.
Second Chances at the Blennerhassett
This past Fall I stayed in the Lafayette Hotel across the Ohio River in Marietta. While it was a beautiful and well-maintained property, the tiny room made me feel claustrophobic and it just felt dated. Many colder hotels keep as much as possible to their original form and feel, which still holds appeal to many travelers. I, on the other hand, prefer accommodations of the more modern type. While en route to a press trip in Parkersburg and scouting for a place to stay, the Blennerhassett jumped out at me. It is of a similar era to the Lafayette, but looked much different on the inside. I felt the need to give older hotels another go.
The Blennerhassett hasn’t just been renovated over the years, it’s been reconfigured and reconditioned. The 1889 veneer hides modern rooms and amenities within. The hotel is spacious and well-lit, while still decorated in a classic Victorian style. The walls are adorned with crown moldings and rich wood trim, classic but bright chandeliers and large windows provide plenty of light in the wide open lobby and dining areas. It looked old, but feels almost crisp and modern. Within a moment and felt at home.
Complimentary valet service was the perfect greeting for a downtown hotel. Nothing is worse than having to circle around for blocks to find a space or pay through the nose just to park. I was greeted at the door and immediately surprised by the atmosphere; refreshingly new. I also noted the Starbucks counter off to the side of the lobby; I’d make great use of that during my stay in town. The staff were friendly and efficient and I was in my room in no time.
While booking the hotel I noticed the variety of special suites. At only $150 per night, I booked a junior suite. There is nothing junior about this one room suite, it clocks in at over 500 square feet with a king bed, couch , three overstuffed chairs, and large desk with comfy wing back chair. The room was worth every penny, and could easily have been twice the price for the amount of space. After a walk around town in the 90 degree heat, I was extra glad for my larger space. Iced coffee in hand, I settled in to relax and get some writing done that evening. I found myself moving to different places every so often just to take advantage of all the seating spaces. Desk, couch, huge chair, other chair, back to the desk to look out the window. I could move in there for a couple of weeks and not feel cramped.
There are three things that really make or break a hotel room for me: cleanliness, a good night’s sleep, and refreshing shower in the morning. The Blennerhassett scored pretty well here. The room was very clean and well-stocked with supplies. No hairballs in the corner or dust bunnies hiding under the desk. The hotel, overall, was also spotless. Hallways, lobby, and even the patio and street areas were well-maintained. Sleeping, though, didn’t go as well.
The bed was comfortable with plenty of pillows and nice sheets, but noise was an issue. While I enjoyed being able to open the three windows at night, the rantings of a local drunk from three floors below forced me to close them and switch on the AC; which I’ll note is a quiet system compared to most hotel rooms. Also, the police office is located nearby and lights and sirens woke me a few times, plus the train horns at 5am. I was frustrated to have slept so poorly in such a comfortable room.
The bathroom is the one area that didn’t seem to match the suite. While the room was enormous, the bathroom was what you’d typically find in any standard hotel. The sink area is separate from the toilet/shower, which is normally a benefit when there is more than one person, but in this case it is behind the same door. The shower was also confusing. There is an overhead rain fall type shower head accompanied by a hand held secondary. It took a few minutes to figure out how to switch between the two and was fine after that initial hiccup. Overall, a decent bathroom that got the job done.
Blennerhassett Hotel Dining Options
Free breakfast is included with your hotel stay. It was a similar selection to standard chain hotel breakfasts with a little better quality ingredients. There was also a station with a cook making fresh omelets. Spats restaurant features higher end dining and serves up a delicious Sunday brunch. A large, comfortable lounge and an outdoor patio offer lunch and dinner menus and drinks. And, of course, Starbucks is on hand for that extra caffeine boost to get your day going. I didn’t have a chance to eat dinner at the hotel, but the breakfast was excellent and I came back for the Sunday brunch.
One final item to mention is the Blennerhasset Hotel’s location. It’s located in the heart of downtown Parkersburg. Festivals are held right next to it, such as the Taste of Parkersburg which I was in town for that weekend. Several places of interest are within walking distance, such as the Oil & Gas Museum, Blennerhassett Museum, art center, theaters, and historic district. It’s the perfect central location for touring locally, or even visiting places within a short drive, like Marietta, Ohio.
The Blennerhassett Hotel really turned me on to taking historic hotels into consideration during my travels. The difference between restoring a place to keep it as it always has been and renovating to bring modern comforts and conveniences makes a huge difference. I give the Blennerhassett a high rating for its combination of comfort, cleanliness, friendly staff, and a very reasonable price. I look forward to staying there again in the future.
Looking for something long term or more modern? Check out the TownPlace Suites just a few blocks away.
Parkersburg, West Virginia is a place full of history. Read more about some of the interesting locations below and plan your own adventure.