Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Peter Shields Inn - Cape May, NJ

**I started this post back in late October but due to the hurricane, put off finishing. While New Jersey was struggling to recover from Sandy, I didn't feel the time was right to post it. Months later, I'm revisiting the review and am happy to say that Cape May survived surprisingly (and thankfully) unscathed. 

This summer, when we were in Maine, we stayed at a darling B&B that was a member of the Select Registry hotels. Upon checking out, The Boy grabbed the Select Registry catalog to peruse, which sparked the idea to visit Cape May over Labor Day. We came across the Peter Shields Inn which we promptly booked for the long weekend!

This ocean front property is located at the north end of Cape May away from the bustling nightlife of Cape May, but close enough that you can jump on one of the Inn's bikes and quickly be in the heart of it all. The inn is housed in a gorgeous Georgian Revival Mansion with huge columns that loom above the beach. There are a variety of other similarly restored inns in the Cape May area, but I didn't see one with such curb appeal.
Peter Shields Inn. *Photo courtesy of the Select Registry Website.

Best known for their BYOB restaurant, the inn was teeming with guests each night seeking their acclaimed dining experience. We'd booked reservations outside of the inn for dinner but had the breakfast that was included with our stay. Service wasn't a strong suit, at least for breakfast, but that's probably because the inn manager served it instead of a true server. The overall meal was good but nothing to write home about.

One charming touch of the inn that we enjoyed both evenings during our stay was an afternoon wine and cheese happy hour for hotel guests. It was served on the second floor veranda overlooking the beach, the perfect kick off to the rest of the night!

Restored homes can go a variety of ways in terms of renovation, decor, upkeep, and style. Overall, I was quite pleased with the look and feel of the common areas of the inn. It was contemporary while still respecting the architecture of the building. Each area was decorated with updated furnishings that mixed the right amount of beach house with modern decor. The common areas were well accessorized and the amenities like the bicycles, beach towels and beach chairs were thoughtful additions.

Unfortunately, those accolades end once you reach the threshold of your bedroom (or at least ours). We stayed in guest room four, which touts a private porch and promises privacy and romance. The porch overlooks a parking lot. That's romantic. And the bathroom, while huge, lacks any element of utility. There isn't a place to put your cosmetics or overnight kit so we stored ours in the cheap, rundown wicker armoire in the bathroom (no closet in the main room). In the shower, it is almost impossible to turn around and you have to bend back to get your head under the shower head, which was almost impossible for The Boy who is 6'2". The "two person tub" is a relic of the 1980's fad for whirlpool tubs and lacked any appeal whatsoever. I'd have much preferred a claw foot tub - much more appropriate for the inn's style.

The wiring throughout the room and bathroom was messy, exposed, and had pipes running across the ceiling. At night, we lay in bed looking at one of those unsightly pipes and considered how much we were overpaying for that experience. One morning while getting ready, the boy was drying off under the overhead light when a fuse burst and sparks flew everywhere! When we shared this experience with the front desk, they barely acknowledged any problem. For over $400 a night, we both expected much more from our room and the staff.

Older homes have their own issues when retrofitted for commercial and contemporary uses, but it is incumbent upon the ownership to diligently identify and abate the most obvious and ensure their guests are pleased with the experience. While this wasn't as bad as our motel experience, the price tag certainly didn't warrant the disappointment.