Updated: Jan 23, 2019
As a geography nerd and former map maker, location is everything to me. It’s one of the main factors—if not the main factor—that I consider when traveling and deciding where to stay. I’m always looking for that right fit between distance to the places I want to experience and the charm and natural setting of a location. So I knew we were stepping into a perfect scenario when my husband and I partnered with the Hotel Viking for a staycation.
The hotel is at One Bellevue Avenue, the very first address on the famed Bellevue Ave. It was built in 1926, 6 years after women’s right to vote was embedded in our Constitution, and about halfway through that dry time in America called Prohibition when the manufacturing, transport, and sale of alcohol was prohibited. Although the Gilded Age had officially passed, Newport still was a summer destination for the rich and famous and many of the grand “cottages” further down Bellevue Ave were still in full swing during the summer season.
You can imagine that the Hotel Viking with it’s prominent address was built to host the very dignitaries and rich and famous who stopped in to experience our seaside city.
For my husband Daniel and I, this was an opportunity to base ourselves right in the heart of town and experience Newport as a visitor would. Hotel Viking was one of our first supporters when we re-launched Newport's website for LGBTQ+ visitors in early 2018, so we were glad to have the opportunity to experience it for ourselves.
If we had a dog, we would have brought our furry friend, too! Hotel Viking is pet-friendly, and even had a photoshoot session for pets with Santa the weekend we were there.
We checked in on a Friday in mid-December, and the hotel was abuzz with events—holiday parties like the one for the nearby naval college and weddings, too.
(Hotel Viking has been home to many LGBTQ+ ceremonies and receptions with at least one on the books for 2019 in the Kay Chapel space which can hold up to 200 guests).
Mellow, inviting live music flowed across the lobby. We checked in to our room where the loveliest cheese platter and red wine awaited us. The room furniture and decor are inspired by the Gilded Age and along with the overall design of the hotel, are intended to give each guest a sense of history and romance during their stay.
It worked. It was romantic, for sure.
Dinner in the restaurant was a treat at the hotel’s One Bellevue restaurant. The chef Simone Ferrara is a native of Torino Italy and one of Zagat’s 2015 “30 Under 30 - San Francisco” but lucky for us he’s been in Newport at the hotel since September 2017. His food is a direct reflection of his Italian heritage where he brings Italian Piedmonte flavors to life.
Never having traveled to Italy, I can’t say I was familiar with what flavors that entailed. But I’m sure glad I know a bit more now. My scallops were done in a lemon butter sauce with purple cauliflower, chanterelle mushrooms, asparagus, and sweet potato puree. It takes a lot to beat that, in my books.
Really, one of our main intentions for our staycation was to explore and experience some of Newport’s gems that are so accessible to the Hotel Viking. Although the waterfront is just a short walk from the hotel, we based our adventures along Bellevue Ave. We did a little Christmas shopping at local shops including Bohemian Bias right on nearby Touro Park (with its famous Touro Tower).
While it’s mostly a women’s boutique, we are kind of obsessed with the style that local Alexis Souza has integrated into the shop, bringing inspiration from her upbringing on Aquidneck Island (the island Newport is on) and years in San Diego at the Arts Institute of California.
Channing Memorial Universalist Unitarian Church is along Touro Park, just down the street from Hotel Viking. It's just one of Newport's very out and open welcoming churches.
We were long overdue for a visit to our Newport Art Museum, a true gem housed in the former Griswold Mansion. The building itself is an unique and unexpected setting for an art museum and has been classified by the National Registry of Historic Places as being a fine example of a Late Victorian, done in the Stick/Eastlake style. One of the temporary exhibits that we fell in love included contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa. Upcoming in April is an exhibition of the sculpture of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
From there, it was a quick stop at the Bellevue location of Newport’s coffee king, Empire Tea & Coffee. I drool over their vegan blueberry muffins amongst other menu items. Across the street is the International Tennis Hall of Fame, with gorgeous grounds and grass courts and an impressive and worthwhile museum.
We skipped some of the main Newport Mansion properties as we had been in this season already (we spent time at the Elms earlier in the month, just one of the gems opened to visitors and managed by the Preservation Society of Newport County) and opted to head to the end of Bellevue (from one side of Bellevue Avenue to the other!) to visit Rough Point, the former estate and mansion of Doris Duke, now managed by one of her charitable trusts, the Newport Restoration Foundation. We love the topiary camels in every season.
For our Saturday night we tried something a bit new and hit up the bar Celtica on Long Wharf that hosts karaoke every Saturday night. The energy was electric that night, with lots of good cheer and wholehearted singing. Although I imagine this place gets pretty jammed on summer weekends, it was a welcoming spot for an off season fun night out.
The next morning, we hit Spa Fjor to try out some treatments. A Balinese massage for Daniel and a facial for me. When you have the chance to have a professional (or a kind friend or lover, for that matter) focus on doing great things for the skin, muscle, and tissue in your face…say yes. The spa is on site at the hotel and well worth a visit.
We checked out at 10:30 to make it over to our beloved Parlor Bar & Restaurant less than a mile away on Broadway for the monthly drag brunch we help produce with our dear friends and amazing performers and artists the Trailer Park Girls.
Getting to write this up for you all is just an amazing reminder of what a gem of a place we get to call home, in all the seasons. If you’ve been here or not, we hope you’ll make it part of your plans this year, and reach out to us if you need any help planning!