I’d been by the grand old Hotel Viking in Newport a million times but never set foot in the place with its rather prestigious address of 1 Bellevue Ave., the first on a street fabled for its opulent mansions. So I figured Valentine’s Day weekend might be a good time to try.
This 1926 Georgian colonial-style structure with rich brick façade over the years has hosted the likes of John and Jacqueline Kennedy, Will Rogers, the Astors and the Vanderbilts. Staying here on the most romantic of occasions seemed a natural.
The hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America, is in the end phase of a $3 million renovation, due for completion by March 18 that includes new furniture and flooring in 136 rooms of the hotel’s Newport Wing. Four years ago, the hotel, part of Noble Hotels and Resorts, pumped $6.2 million into renovating the original wing. The hotel has 209 guest rooms and suites in all.
Our room was a beauty, one most recently renovated, with charcoal-gray paint on one wall, criss-crossed patterned wallpaper on the others, comfy king bed, free wireless, spacious bath and a terrific view of the Newport Bridge and its necklace lighting twinkling in the distance.
We had a most romantic dinner at the hotel’s eatery, the aptly named One Bellevue, with a reasonably priced menu of locally grown or harvested food. The Narragansett littlenecks were superb, icy cold and salty with a perfect cocktail sauce, the apple wood bacon-wrapped filet fork tender, the frutti de mare absolutely loaded with shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams. Waitstaffers here are friendly, quick and helpful, the dining area dark and moody.
The staff throughout was first rate, starting with the valet parking attendants through to the desk clerks and over at Spa Terre (rated “best energizing spa treatment” by Boston magazine a few years back). We didn’t have time for a couples massage, perhaps next outing.
Newport’s a pretty pricey place in summer, including Hotel Viking, but this time of year is the best to catch breaks. For example, a room like the one we had fetches $112 a night, including taxes. One way to save a few bucks on your liquor tab: Wander across the street to Newport Wine Cellars and pick up a nice little bottle of vino for less than $20 and bring it back to your room
Valentine’s was a perfect time for our first stay at Hotel Viking but in a place imbued with this much romance, any time of the year is likely to give you that loving feeling.
Viking, 1 Bellevue Ave., Newport, R.I., 401-847-3300, www.hotelviking.com)
Hotel Viking photo