Newport, RI, inn delights with European flair
The Boston Globe
(Ellen Albanese/Globe Staff) By Ellen Albanese Globe Staff / September 7, 2008
The kettle is one of several touches that give this downtown Newport lodging the flavor of a European boutique hotel. Others include the striking stenciling in the sunny breakfast room and parlor, where a gold-framed oval mirror "hangs" from a ribbon stenciled on the wall, lots of fresh flowers, and an expanded continental breakfast featuring sliced meats and cheese.
Built in 1854, the inn is named for the English admiral and meteorologist who commanded the HMS Beagle on Charles Darwin's 1830s expedition that inspired "The Origin of Species." It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We helped ourselves to fresh-baked cookies in the lobby while innkeeper Angela Craig checked us in and showed us the common rooms. The deep red walls, sconces, and Oriental carpet give the lobby an Old World feel. New World visitors will appreciate the guest computer in the parlor and Wi-Fi access throughout.
We took an elevator, then a wide, carpeted stairway to our rooftop deck room on the third floor. Sprays of stenciled flowers on creamy white walls replicated the design of the comforter and drapes covering the slider to the private deck. Two skylights admitted lots of sunlight; since we are not early risers, we were glad they had shades.
A king, four-poster bed in honey-colored wood had a Caribbean flair; it was complemented by a rattan dresser and cheval mirror. The floor was covered with rather utilitarian-looking green wall-to-wall carpet.
A round glass-topped table and two upholstered chairs under the skylights made a good spot to read or write or do puzzles. There was bottled water on the table and shell-shaped chocolates in gold foil by the bed. A cabinet held a flat-screen TV and a beverage center, with a plug-in kettle and tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Underneath was a small refrigerator. A helpful guest information booklet listed local restaurants, mansions, museums, and historical sites.
It was pleasant to take a cup of tea onto the private rooftop deck, settle into the swivel patio chairs, and watch the boats in the harbor. We felt far removed from the bustle of the tourist-filled street below. While our deck was attached to the room, another section of the rooftop deck is available to all guests.
The bath was small but adequate, with a single whirlpool tub. We liked the scent of the Tarocco toiletries, made with Sicilian red oranges. We were confused by a note atop a padded stool in our room suggesting the seat could help with "shaving or applying makeup." The mystery was solved when we looked into the bathroom mirror, tucked under an eave, and saw that our reflections were cut off at the chin. Sitting on the stool took care of the problem.
The continental breakfast went above and beyond the typical, with fresh fruit, juices, yogurt, granola, croissants, scones, ham, and assorted cheeses.
The heart of Newport is right outside the door of the Admiral Fitzroy, and best of all, inn guests don't have to worry about finding a parking space.