by Lissa Poirot
This new hotel lovingly restored an 18th century building into a boutique property with spacious rooms with home-like dÃ©cor, including fireplaces and plush furnishings. Opened in late November 2015, the new hotel is the first boutique property in Salem and features only 11 guestrooms and suites. The building was once home to Joshua Ward, a sea merchant who invited President George Washington to his home in 1789, so guests can say they slept where the president slept! Rooms are equipped with 40-inch Apple TVs, iPads, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel is best suited for families with older children who can have their own room, as rooms are not large enough for more than three guests.
Our Editor Loves
- New property
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free Wi-Fi
This was the best hotel I think I have ever stayed in, and there have been MANY. I felt welcomed in immediately upon ringing the doorbell. Tamara showed me around the hotel, carried my bag to my room and showed me how to work everything in my room. The room even had a hand written note with yummy sweets. The decor of the hotel is absolutely stunning, it's incredibly clean and very quiet. It instills a sense of community since it's a boutique hotel and other quests were so friendly. I would HIGHLY recommend this hotel, to others. I cannot wait to visit again, and hope to enjoy other Lark hotels too! (I will be reviewing the hotel and Salem on my blog - SarahInStyle.com. Check it out for more!)
The Merchant is probably the most charming hotel in all of Salem, and luckily, they had availability in the George Washington room for our stay in mid-October.
The hotel is beautiful, flawless in its design and décor, and immaculately clean and well kept. We didn't know that The Merchant Hotel is also known as The Joshua Ward / George Corwin house and that it has a famously "haunted" past. During our stay, multiple tour groups stood outside the hotel day and night as tour guides boasted of the "phantasms" and "tortured apparitions" that roam the halls of this historic hotel. A salty trolley guide pointed out that what is even scarier than the weary souls that haunt the Merchant hotel is the $450 per night cost to stay there… that was funny.
All in all, our stay was great, but could have been outstanding if some more details would have been shared prior to our arrival. I hope you read this before your visit, or even better, The Merchant Hotel reads this and includes this information for future guests so they can avoid the minor frustrations we experienced.
Parking – You NEED to Read this:
Tamara, who booked our reservation, was accommodating in pointing out that October in Salem is all-out mayhem and streets, and parking is a big challenge. She suggested we park on sight for an addition $35 a day to avoid any headaches. SOLD. What Tamara didn't explain is that onsite parking is found up and behind a hidden pathway adjacent to the hotel, and if you blink, you will miss it. We were not familiar with Salem, B&B's, or anything about The Merchant's onsite parking set up prior to arrival. As a result, had to pass the hotel as we had no clue what we were supposed to do. We assumed there was a valet, but no one was in sight, so I jumped out in the middle of traffic as my husband circled the block. Because of traffic, it took 20 minutes for him to make it back to The Merchant. I was so frantic when I got inside The Merchant, I was trying to direct my husband on what to do over the phone, and Tamara exclaimed, "Ma'am – CALM DOWN!" not a great start. Tamara explained this happens all the time, there is no Valet and my husband could catch the turn in back alley after he circled the gridlocked block. I commented, "If you know this is a problem, maybe you could let arriving guests (who'd reserved parking) how to get to the parking before they pass it (especially since they know traffic is a nightmare)! Another couple we met at the hotel said they did the same thing, and circling the block on a Saturday took them 45 minutes! CRAZY, but that's how jam-packed the streets are this time of year!
So, if you are driving to this hotel, please look for a basic sign that reads "Private Road for Residents and Guests ONLY" – that is your signal to turn into that alleyway adjacent to the hotel and find your reserved parking spot in the back, for The Merchant hotel.
Front Door Lock:
I don't want to give away too much here, but ask the staff to write the code down for you in each step by step sequence. Even then, it only worked 30% of the time. All the employees acknowledged the lock sticks and has issues, so you may want to use the back door instead.
No Booze; Bring your own fun:
This is a dry hotel. In the evenings, they set up a nice selection of bar mixers for spirits, but you need to bring your own. Again, would have been great to know in advance.
Leftovers Are Allowed:
No one mentioned it, but we saw that there were labels and markers in the shared kitchen so guests could store their restaurant leftovers and reheat as desired. We didn't discover this until checkout day, would have been great as we left behind lots of chowders and desserts at restaurants during our stay.
Tamara strongly suggested dinner reservations, and we booked every place she named and all were fantastic. However, I will tell you that you should skip Turner's seafood as it was one of the most disappointing dining experiences we've had in 10 years. The food is just simply not good in our opinion. Go for a drink or a cup of Lobster bisque but don't count on this place to deliver on taste or quality. I've had better seafood at the cafeteria in my grandpa's retirement home.
All in all, The Merchant is a great place, and the staff is kind. We loved spending time on the balcony and were grateful for no ghostly encounters.