Very Nice - But Not Very Kid Friendly A review of Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront
We just returned from 5 nights at the Hilton Oceanfront, our feeling is a bit mixed, so let me just list the pros and cons. We went with our two boys, ages 2 and 4. Let me first say that it becomes obvious when you arrive that the main focus on this hotel is conferences and meetings, there were two big events going on when we were there, and most of the guests seemed to be there for those events, rather than families on vacation like we were. We didn't see very many kids at the hotel.
- Staff was excellent, extremely responsive, very nice, and that includes just about everyone we came into contact with including valets, bellmen, activities desk staff, pool workers, restaurant staff, etc. (with a notable exception about an issue with a port-a-crib described below).
- The surroundings are in a word; incredible. From a purely asthetic point of view it is the class of Virginia Beach. Even if you don't stay here come to the hotel just to see the place (especially at night). The bathrooms at Catch 31 are a work of art. The rooftop pool is amazing, though small (and cold). Catch 31 itself is an architecural masterpiece, even the coffee pots match the room theme.
- As others have posted, the rooms are wonderful. The beds are very comfortable with nice sheets and comfy pillows and comforters. The bathroom was a bit small, but had nice fixtures. The towels were the best I'd ever seen at a hotel.
- The radio has a plug for your MP3 player. The kids loved being able to listen to our iPod while we were in our room.
- The TV had the standard suite of 20 or so channels, but also had an extensive collection of television shows on demand, which had a nice choice of disney channel shows for the kids. However, it was $2.95 per show to view.
- We really liked the location, it was in the quieter northern part of the strip, and was within easy walking distance to a good deal of restaurants (including Pi Pizzeria, which we visited several times). The beach area near the hotel was nice, and not very crowded.
- We ate breakfast every morning at Catch 31, the menu was limited, and the buffet had no pancakes or french toast. Service was pleasant but very slow. At one point it took about 20 minutes to get a bowl of oatmeal.
- As others have mentioned, the elevators were slow. On Saturday afternoon one of the elevators went out of service and it was roughly a 25 minute wait to get to our room. At busy times the wait was usually at least 5-10 minutes to get an elevator. They really should have had four elevators instead of three.
- The outdoor pool on the roof, while beautiful, was extremely small, and the winds off the beach make it very cold. It isn't heated, and in fact it was closed the first two days we arrived due to a lighting problem. The hot tub next to it wasn't very hot either, and the Sky Bar, as someone else mentioned, is about six stools. The indoor pool isn't bad, but it is a bit small as well. From a kid/family point of view, the pools at the Holiday Inn Sunspree and the Courtyard North seemed much more lively and more fun. One other note, they do post a sign saying that the pool and Sky Bar are only for hotel guests, but they don't enforce access controls. One time when we were there several individuals who obviously weren't staying at the hotel were escorted out.
- We requested a refrigerator when we made our reservations, though when we checked in none were available. We were told we'd be put at the top of the wait list, but throughout our stay there were no refrigerators available.
- The shower had no tub, this was a major problem for our two year old, who screamed when we tried to wash him in the shower, we resorted to having him stand in the back of the shower (which fortunately was huge), and douse him with cups from the shower head. Our room was a corner room on the 9th floor, I'm not sure if all the rooms were like this.
- We requested a crib and it was promptly delivered after we checked in, though the hotel supplied a plain queen-size bed sheet instead of a fitted crib sheet. When we called the front desk we were told that fitted sheets had been ordered but hadn't arrived and there was nothing they could do. We ended up having to fold the bed sheet around the crib pad and then stuff it into the crib, which was uncomfortable, and unsafe, for a baby. Our two-year old ended up staying with us in our bed. I don't understand why the hotel couldn't send someone to the local WalMart and buy a bunch of sheets. If a child gets tangled up it could be extremely dangerous.
- There is nowhere to shower off when returning from the beach. There is a foot-wash near Catch 31, which we used, but the strategy we employed most days was to go up to the indoor pool and use the shower there, but unfortunately that was WAY too hot for small kids, so we did what it seems everyone else did judging by the amount of sand in the indoor pool, just put the kids in there and let them get washed off in the pool.
- Even though the hotel information book in the room said that there were life vests available for kids there weren't any when we checked at the pool, good thing we brought our own.
- There was no place to get towels for going to the beach, so we did what most others seemed to do, go to the roof-top pool and take some from there.
- There are no towel racks save for the one in the shower, so we were scrambling for places to hang wet bathing suits and wet towels.
- Catch-31 seems to be a very popular night-spot, it gets pretty crowded (and noisy) at night
- There is no sundry store in the hotel. We tried to find milk for the kids and had to walk across the street to the BP gas station as there was absolutely no place to buy milk in the place.
- They are building a bunch of shops across the street, which will be connected by a covered walk-way, a few are open already and a Starbucks is coming.
Overall, if I were just going to Va. Beach with my wife, or going by myself on a business trip, the Hilton would be my first choice. However, with young kids, we'll look elsewhere next time, probably the Courtyard By Marriott which looked a lot more kid friendly.
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