by Wendy Irvine
Mark Twain named it the “Gilded Age,” while the railroad barons were raking it in. The Titanic sailed into history in 1912 and one-year later, an elegant hotel on par with the finest European stays added a burst of grandeur to Wilmington, Delaware. Seniors who grew up in Wilmington talk about walking by the hotel as kids, gaping at the impressive architecture and discussing which star graced their hotel – Charles Lindbergh, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Katharine Hepburn to name a few.
Today, Wilmington’s grand dame is just as regal as the day she first rolled out her red carpet. The gorgeous lobby is the hub of the hotel, with brides and their parties swirling in and business people heading out into the business district. (Wilmington is considered the “credit card capital of the world” because of the business-friendly financial laws in Delaware.)
The guest rooms and suites are elegant and updated with flat-screen TVs, modern furnishings and fancy toiletries (Gilchrist & Soames). I was pleased to find a small fridge in our guest room, but wasn’t good with the honor bar items packed inside. (Tip for parents: Don’t touch the honor bar, even to tuck a sip of milk inside, or you’ll find extra charges at check-out.) Instead, the hotel encourages you to request a small refrigerator for your room, compliments of the hotel. Also, you won’t find a coffee maker in your room or the lobby. Buy your caffeine fix from the coffee shop like I did. At a luxury hotel? Not cool in my book, but the free Wi-Fi mellowed me a bit.
Meal-wise, you’re in for a treat. The Hotel du Pont’s famed dining room was christened The Green Room, thanks to a Hotel du Pont Vice President’s wife, Mrs. Green, who secured the breathtaking chandeliers for the dining room. No green here, but plenty of incredible turn of the century decor: Curtains flanking towering windows, chandeliers sparkling and the stunning ceiling captivating your attention almost as much as the French-inspired cuisine. We ate breakfast on a quiet Saturday morning and, along with two other families, had the place to ourselves. My eggbeaters and fruit plate were wonderful, and my husband ordered the buffet and slathered every bite of Belgium waffle in chocolate butter cream.
And there’s more: Nestled on the first floor of the Hotel du Pont is a theater that is home to Broadway shows. Considered “Delaware’s Broadway Experience” since 1913, the old-world theater is home to not only Broadway shows, but comediennes, artist tributes and a Children’s Series for children ages 4 to 12.
Beside the lack of a pool, what’s not to love? One word: Safety. My family and I found downtown Wilmington–where the Hotel du Pont sits–to be, as Jim Croce might have called it, “the baddest part of town.” In fact, just one day after returning from Delaware, I learned that Parenting magazine labeled Wilmington the “#1 Most Dangerous City in the U.S.” In fairness, we visited on a Saturday, and a weekday might feel safer with the thousands of business folk who descend on Wilmington during that time. But don’t expect to find boutiques, coffee houses or upscale dining nearby. Instead, stay cozy inside. Dine in the Green Room, take in a Broadway show and later surprise the kids with an order from the hotel’s bath menu: A deluxe bubble bath with rubber ducks, chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.
Hotels may age with the passage of time, but some special experiences never get old.
Our Editor Loves
- Historic hotel
- Onsite theater
- Delicious dining
- Onsite Dining
My son had his wedding reception at the hotel, and it was a great experience. The staff, food, service and overall value were excellent ,and I would highly recommend the DuPont to others visiting the Wilmington area.
A grand dame of a hotel - but needs updating with decor in the public and private rooms with respect for the architecture and style of the hotel. Staff is attentive and friendly. The Green room is a gem