Hotel Roanoke (A Doubletree Hotel)
110 Shenandoah Avenue NE
Roanoke, VA, US 24016
By Dave Grossman, Hotel Magician
When I found myself heading to Roanoke, Virginia for a weekend, I knew there was but one option: the Hotel Roanoke.
The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, now operated by Hilton Hotel’s “Doubletree” brand, is the most storied hotel in the area.
First opened in 1882, when the city of Roanoke was called “Big Lick”, it has always been upscale. Even during the depression, the railroad that then owned it spent $225,000 on renovations. It was around that time that the hotel evolved from its origins into the Tudorean building we see today (minus the Conference Center that wasn’t added until the more recent 1989 renovations after the railroad gifted the hotel to Virginia Tech).
Staying at this hotel today is a wonderful experience that combines the charm of the old hotel with the recent renovations that bring it into the 21st century.
The staff was friendly at all times, from check-in to special requests. The room we received was one of the recently renovated ones. It was small but contained a flat panel TV, a remarkably comfortable bed, and upscale furnishings with a classic touch. Very nicely done.
For Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members as well as those choosing a room on the Executive Level, there is a nice lounge on the 1st Floor offering coffee, pastries, and chicken and biscuits for breakfast in addition to a nightly happy hour with snacks, beer and wine from 6:30 until 8:30pm. The staff in the lounge was very friendly and the atmosphere is nice as well, albeit a bit small. They also have a computer for personal use in the lounge.
Out front is a nice porch, complete with about a dozen rocking chairs. Whether waiting for the valet to bring your car or just relaxing in the sun, it’s a real nice touch.
Restaurants in the Hotel Roanoke include the fabled Regency Room with very upscale fare and the Pine Room Pub with moderate fare, a lively bar at night (sometimes with a live musical performance) and a pool table. In the basement, they’ve recently opened a dance club for the younger set. I’m told it can get busy in there although it was fairly empty on our visit.
There is a pool and hot tub, but they are outside and are therefore seasonal.
Hot Tip from the Hotel Magician: As of September 2007, only half of the guest rooms have been renovated. It’s advisable to call the hotel the morning of the day of your arrival and ask if they can block you into a renovated room. They are not sold as such.
One of the best things about the Hotel Roanoke is its location. From the lobby, it’s about 30 feet to a connector overpass right into downtown Roanoke, dropping you across the street from Market Square. If you want to check out the local bars, this would be the spot and no car is required.
While in the area, don’t miss out on a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and, if you have the time, a hike up one of the many trails in the mountains. We went all the way to Bedford to hike the Sharp Top trail in the Peaks of Otter (1.5 miles nearly straight up the mountain!) but there are a wide range of trails to choose from in the area.
For food in the Roanoke region, we can recommend the Home Place in Catawba (ask for directions) which serves real country food (fried chicken, roast beef, and country ham with a bevy of sides for under $15 – all you can eat). They don’t serve any alcohol in the interest of preserving Christian values and it doesn’t hurt business one bit. Of course, being the only restaurant in town doesn’t hurt either!
Closer to the Hotel Roanoke is the BBQ joint “Henry Memphis” which has outstanding pulled pork, ribs, and mac and cheese. See the site for directions.
Hot Tip from the Hotel Magician: The Hotel Roanoke is ideal for group hotel reservations and conferences in Roanoke.