Right at the start of the winter season, I had the distinct honor of being invited to participate in a press event for the beautiful Delamar Hotel and Spa in West Hartford, Connecticut. Having visited Connecticut previously only once – for a wedding in Mystic, I had otherwise just driven through the picturesque state en route to PTown for summer vacations.
I had no reference really for what to expect from West Hartford as a city, let alone a tourism destination, but I’m always up for new adventures. So Joe and I booked two tickets on Amtrak, packed up our new fabulous iFly weekend bags, and headed to West Hartford for our Delamar Holiday Shopping & Spa Getaway Press Trip.
One thing to share upfront is that as a member of the LGBTQ community, one concern I have sometimes when I travel with my partner is whether or not an environment is welcoming and inclusive. It might seem like an odd concern in 2020 as in many ways society is more accepting, however, you never know what attitudes prevail, especially in smaller American towns. I’m pleased to share, that from the moment Joe and I stepped off the train, as an out couple, we felt welcomed and safe throughout our stay.
The Delamar Hotel:
Not to be confused with its neighboring city of East Hartford, West Hartford is more of a suburb. Its picturesque aesthetic is a fusion of New England-lite and Norman Rockwell charm with trendsetting shops, boutiques, and an eclectic culinary scene.
Offering proximity to all that Connecticut’s Capital Region has to offer, Delamar is a beacon of exceptional hospitality for the area. The luxury boutique property offers a hotel experience that feels warm and inviting, but before I even got to my room, I was immediately enamored with its walls, hallways, foyers, and palatial lobby with its cozy fireplace. Nearly all those spaces were adorned with original artwork, created by some of the world’s greatest artists; past and present.
‘Art’ itself is one of the critical differentiators of Delamar West Hartford, thanks in part to a relationship it has cultivated directly with artists and the nearby NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART (NBMAA). NBMAA features permanent collections, exhibitions, and programs that highlight rare and lesser-known works by famous and emerging artists. Through a collaborative partnership with the museum, hotel guests get to enjoy art installations on display throughout the property. One of the highlights for me was heading to breakfast each morning, greeted by stunning large-format photographic masterpieces by iconic landscape photographer, Ansel Adams.
The design of Delamar was inspired by historic industrial buildings that play homage to French-Canadian and Northern European architectural design. It reminded me of my first trip to Saint Michelle on the northern coast of France, where it was common to see old rail stations and farmhouses converted into charming, modern-day cottages and eateries.
With 114 rooms, Delamar has a homey vibe and feels somewhat neighborly. The staff went out of their way to assist, especially the very handsome Ronny who always had a warm smile and was quick to share the fitness and wellness tips that keep in great shape. The guest services team assisted us effortlessly with any need, and even coordinated excursions into town via their complimentary, onsite chauffeured Tesla! My first Tesla ride ever!
Our accommodations included a spacious and elegant Junior Suite. Now, I have stayed in many luxury properties over the years, and I have learned that lovely room decor does not always equate to comfort. So, as I entered the room, my eyes scanned quickly to see the bed. It looked very promising and plush with seemingly comfortable bedding. I tried the pillows out, resting my head anticipating the sleep that was to come later (it had been a long day). I was so pleased to discover a well-balanced mix of fluffy and firm pillows, with beautifully soft textured bed linens –a luxury blend with a high thread count. Seriously, A+ on the comfortable bed. I slept like a baby my entire stay.
One of the key standouts offered by Delamar is its restaurant, Artisan West Hartford – a collaborative vision of Charles Mallory, Rick Wahlstedt, and Frederic Kieffer. The three, joined by their culinary and business expertise, set out to create an innovative yet non-pretentious fine-dining experience.
An elegant blend of country-chic decor, Artisan is swanky but approachable. It’s cozy enough to allow conversations or elegant romantic dinners. It’s also paired with an ambient bar-lounge boasting the energy of a lively tavern where various types of people come together for libations and laughs.
Artisan’s menu is stellar, and the food was delicious. The servers were attentive and accommodating. We were in a party of more than ten people, and my only service critique is that a couple of our entrees came out later than others. It was a busy night, and that happens under such circumstances.
It’s essential also to note that Artisan is Chef-managed with a focus on delivering farm-fresh ingredients grown in its own onsite garden and local and regional farms.
The Delamar Spa – West Hartford at the hotel, also offers a range of services. It’s a bit of a hidden oasis on the property, designed delicately with a soft color pallet with yellow accents, calming artwork, live orchids, and plush seating in the waiting area.
Joe and I booked individual, full-body Swedish massages and paraffin treatments for our feet. Our sessions were scheduled back to back with the same masseur, who happens to also work as a personal trainer.
It’s not relevant, of course, but I should mention to our readers, this man was damn good looking and very muscular. I don’t know his ethnicity, but he was giving off a serious a muscled, Stanley Tucci -Italian Daddy vibe, with a soothing voice and strong hands that delivered a range – from gentility to deep kneading.
Joe and I both enjoyed our treatments, and afterward, I chilled in the spa’s lounge area in my comfy provided robe enjoying a complimentary fruit and nut plate with assorted hot teas. It was a rejuvenating detoxifying spa experience from start to finish.
Side note for you boys wanting to have a ‘little something done,” The Medspa is just around the corner (65 Raymond Road) where they offer Botox, Coolsculpting, and many other things. Owner Roni Rodman states they’re even hosting a drag brunch on Feb 8th.
The Town of West Hartford, CT.
Though we were in the winter season, the temperature was just mild enough for us to bundle up lightly and take a stroll through the town’s Blue Black Square. The modern, urban landscape was the ideal holiday village, complete with traditional ornaments adding to the appeal of the shop-lined streets. There was a massive public Christmas tree decorated for the season in front of the West Hartford town hall, with a host of trendy boutiques, eateries, and cultural attractions all within walking distance.
One of my favorite shops in town was Kimberly Boutique. Headed by fashion enthusiast Kimberly Moster, the boutique offers an intimate and friendly shopping experience, where the owners and her team are hands-on with the daily business operation, including buying, marketing, and identifying and forecasting the trends. From Jeans to glittery jumpsuits, Kimberly Boutique’s got your look!
Moster’s namesake shopping haven for women is one of the few remaining businesses in town that continues to thrive independently in an era of big-box stores and Amazon sales. She shared with me her focused objective of maintaining the specialty, personal shopping experience that women want. Though the shop features mainly women’s fashions, I saw some fabulous things I would buy to accent my wardrobe, like bold animal print rockstar coats, dramatic over-sized scarves, and retro hats. Let’s just say, both Lenny and Zoey Kravitz would have a field day at Kimberly Boutique!
Members of the press were invited to a meet and greet wine and cheese reception at Kimberly Boutique. The evening included a fashion show preview of upcoming trends and some of Kimberly’s personal favorites. It was a fabulous time overall!
From the art lover and hotel aficionado to wedding planners and couples on a quest for a romantic getaway, the town of West Hartford is a gem of many facets, and the Delamar West Hartford beautifully adds to the setting of the stone.
I can’t wait to visit again!