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- Best Overall: Congress Hall – See Rates at TripAdvisor "While priding itself on its impeccable service, the hotel is still relaxed enough to be a getaway for families."
- Best for Families: The Beach Shack – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Provides a place where children can run around sandy and barefoot and no one will blink an eye."
- Best Budget: Madison Avenue Beach Club – See Rates at TripAdvisor "While rooms are basic in decor, they are clean and the hotel goes above and beyond with amenities."
- Best Luxury: The Virginia Hotel – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Its privileged location puts guests right in the middle of Cape May’s historic district."
- Best for Surfers: The Boarding House – See Rates at TripAdvisor "The front desk provides a detailed surf report each day and sends guests to the best beaches depending on surf conditions."
- Best for Foodies: Carroll Villa Hotel – See Rates at TripAdvisor "In trying to keep with the original aesthetic charm, each of the 19 guest rooms are uniquely decorated with Victorian charm."
- Most Historical: Chalfonte Hotel – See Rates at TripAdvisor "There are room types to suit many different budgets, from spacious suites with premium baths to smaller, traditional rooms."
- Best Bed and Breakfast: The Southern Mansion – See Rates at TripAdvisor "It is easy to get all too cozy in the suites and not want to leave, despite its central location."
- Best Beachfront: ICONA – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Developed by world-renowned Achristavest, the hotel is chic and cozy, with clean lines and lots of natural light."
Best Overall: Congress Hall
Once known as “The Summer White House”, Congress Hall has been a prized retreat to many elite, discerning guests in the past. While priding itself on its impeccable service (including twice-daily housekeeping), the hotel is still relaxed enough to be a getaway for families visiting Cape May just for some laid-back fun in the sun. Visits to Beach Plum, a 62-acre working farm, can be arranged, and the hotel could not be any closer to the beach where guests can relax in a private beach tent. Beach service, chairs, towels, and umbrellas are included in any stay.
The Presidential Suite is the pinnacle of luxury at “The Summer White House.” It has a massive parlor with a wet bar and two queen sleeper sofas. The separate bedroom overlooks the Grand Lawn with a King canopy bed with 100 percent Belgian cotton sheets and a luxurious Jacuzzi tub. The on-site restaurant is the acclaimed Blue Pig Tavern, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After a day at the beach, guests can unwind at the spa with a signature 100-minute Ocean Memory Marine ritual, an exfoliation with salt scrubs, a self-heating algae mousse and a massage that replicates the movements of the sea.
Best for Families: The Beach Shack
While Cape May is famous for its Victorian-era mansions and formal bed and breakfasts, that may not be the vibe that traveling families are looking for. The Beach Shack, nestled on Beach Avenue close to Cove Beach, has guests with kids in tow covered; it provides a place where children can run around sandy and barefoot and no one will blink an eye. The large rooms are not just kid-friendly, but they are dog-friendly as well.
From the end of August to the end of October, families receive a complimentary late check-out and kids eat for free. The Rusty Nail, Cape May’s legendary hang-out for lifeguards, surfers, and other beachgoers has a casual outdoor ambiance, live entertainment and seaside favorites such as clams, oysters and fresh fish, and is a chill place for families to unwind together.
Best Budget: Madison Avenue Beach Club
There are forty-two suites and studios at the Madison Avenue Beach Club, many of which come with either kitchenettes or full kitchens to help guests on a budget cook on-site. While rooms are basic in decor, they are clean and the hotel goes above and beyond with amenities not usually provided at a budget option – they even offer a swimming pool towel service, heated pool, and hot tub, and trolley service to the center of town in the high season of summer.
Each suite includes a flat-screen television and wireless Internet access. To further attract budget-conscious travelers, the Beach Club offers both a discounted AAA rate and a U.S. Coast Guard rate. Not only is the hotel dog- and cat- friendly, but it donates a portion of its revenue to the Beacon Animal Rescue.
Best Luxury: The Virginia Hotel
The Virginia Hotel is in a landmark 1879 building which has been perfectly updated to a 24-room boutique hotel with five additional cottages available for rent. In a place like Cape May that knows upscale accommodation, The Virginia sets the standard for luxury hotels in town. Its privileged location on tree-lined Jackson St. (a half block from the beach) puts guests right in the middle of Cape May’s historic district. Enjoying late afternoon cocktails on the front porch is a wonderfully relaxed way to watch town life pass by. Free beach perks include chairs, towels, umbrellas, and cabanas.
The award-winning Ebbitt Room restaurant underwent renovations recently and under Executive Chef Anthony Micari, serves fresh farm-to-table fare. There is nightly live music and dinner-and-a-show events throughout the summer season. Guest rooms are well lit with natural light, beds are dressed in luxe linens and the large bathrooms are stocked with Bulgari toiletries. There is free valet parking and even a golf cart available to get around.
Best for Surfers: The Boarding House
Boasting the most powerful and challenging beach breaks on the East Coast, Cape May attracts hordes of surfers not just in summer, but even in winter when the southern tip of the cape provides shelter from the howling winds. The Boarding House knows its market and provides a refreshing alternative to the historic mansions that Cape May is usually known for. Each of the 11 rooms in the house is light and airy and comes with its own surfboard rack. The front desk provides a detailed surf report each day and sends guests to the best beaches depending on surf conditions.
For those traveling with friends or family, the King Suite sleeps four and comes with a king bed, a Queen-sized pull-out sofa, a spacious living area, and a private balcony. All rooms include a refrigerator, microwave, pour-over coffee maker, 43-inch LED TV, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
The Boarding House is not only dog-friendly but eco-friendly as well, demonstrated by its choice of LED lighting, low flow toilets, Lather Amenities bath products, energy-efficient appliances, and eco-friendly cleaning products.
After a day enjoying the surf, guests can return and relax on the spacious rooftop deck, with deluxe chaise lounges and large shade umbrellas.
Best for Foodies: Carroll Villa Hotel
Housed in a national historic building in Cape May and just a half of a block from the beach, The Carroll Villa Hotel is home to The Mad Batter Restaurant, consistently awarded for being one of the best restaurants in town. In trying to keep with the original aesthetic charm, the 19 guestrooms are uniquely decorated with Victorian charm. All of the Jackson Rooms feature a King bed, private bathroom and large windows offering ample natural light (and a privileged few have ocean views).
The Mad Batter Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the sky lit dining room, the bright garden terrace room, or on the front porch overlooking historic Jackson Street. The hotel is said to be home to Cape May’s best crab cakes and Bloody Marys, although there are quite a bit of kid-friendly options available on the menu as well.
For travelers looking for a romantic touch upon check-in, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne can be ordered ahead of time for placement in the room.
Most Historical: Chalfonte Hotel
Recognized as the oldest original hotel in Cape May, the historic Chalfonte Hotel was established all the way back in 1876. It prides itself on its old-fashioned Southern-style hospitality, and in 2009 upgraded its facilities to include air conditioning, Wi-Fi and more private baths. It’s located two blocks from the ocean and steps from the center of town. There are room types to suit many different budgets, from spacious suites with premium baths to smaller, traditional rooms with shared baths.
Though the Chalfonte Hotel does not have an elevator, guestrooms are available on the ground level perfect for guests with special needs. For travelers wanting maximum space and privacy, the landmark Old Laundry Cottage is a two-story whole house rental on site that can accommodate seven guests comfortably.
Wanting to support the full relaxation of its guests, The Chalfonte helps travelers to unplug from their typical day-to-day routine by not providing televisions, phones or clock radios. In honor of the rich history of the hotel, the nationally acclaimed Magnolia Room Restaurant serves up Southern fare straight from family recipes of third-generation Dickerson women, whose matriarch Clementine visited the hotel every summer from her Virginia home.
Best Bed and Breakfast: The Southern Mansion
Fitting for an opulent bed and breakfast set in a mansion from 1860, the rooms and suites are the largest that Cape May has to offer. It offers a more formal atmosphere not ideal for children under ten years old – and even older kids might have a difficult time feeling at home here. This mansion on one and a half acres of award-winning gardens is also close to the Willow Creek Winery, with its 12,000-square-foot tasting room to test out the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Malvasia varietals.
Picturesque game birds roam the vineyard grounds, and the mansion itself is just a five-minute walk to the best beaches, shops, and restaurants in South Jersey, but it is easy to get all too cozy in the suites and not want to leave. Amenities in some suites include a private bath with hand-painted tiles, a full turndown service, a clawfoot soaking tub, and a private balcony.
All rooms are decorated very differently, some more formal and antique and some much more bright, airy and modern, so rooms should be chosen carefully from the hotel website.
Best Beachfront: ICONA
In a town that includes some of America’s oldest seaside motels and charming Victorian B&Bs, ICONA offers a modern lodging option for travelers to Cape May’s famous Beach Ave. Developed by world-renowned Achristavest, the hotel is chic and cozy, with clean lines and lots of natural light. While there are some downfalls (no restaurant on-site and very limited parking), during the high-season a complimentary shuttle will transport guests to a sister property in Diamond Beach to dine at the Star Beach Bar and enjoy private beach access.
Guests usually check-in to this hotel for its beachfront location and free beach chairs, although there is a small on-site seasonal pool (May to October). While it is a bit less than a mile to the main center of town, many guests enjoy the stroll. The hotel goes above and beyond with amenities, including extras such as chapstick for sun-dried lips.