Arrival Experience: The Omni New Haven hotel at Yale could not be more centrally located. It towers 19 floors in the downtown core within walking distance to Yale University’s campus and the Green, a square that commonly hosts concerts, farmer’s markets and a perfect place to bask in the sun. The elegant lobby is a quiet haven with leather furnishings, beautiful artwork, and small conversation areas to enjoy fruit-scented water or apples. The atmosphere is hushed, but the guest list runs the gamut from visitors to the university to social functions. Weekends often book up with weddings and conferences, and the hotel does a strong repeat business. With such constant activity, it is a pleasure to have a constantly smiling staff at reception.
Dining: The 19th floor restaurant, John Davenport’s at the Top of the Park, kicks off the day with a delicious breakfast buffet overlooking the magnificent cityscape including the Green and Yale University’s ornate architecture. During the evening hours, a fine dinner menu is open to all, and the new chef (hailing from Texas) is blending a bit of southwestern flair with the New England-inspired menu. Also on the top floor is a lively bar and conference space that is popular with groups. The lobby has a coffee bar with light snacks available throughout the day, and room service runs nonstop. Another popular feature of any Omni hotel is that Select Guest members (the free-to-join loyalty program) can enjoy complimentary morning beverages delivered to their room. They simply complete the menu form and hang it on their door the night before. A simple knock on the door at the pre-designated morning time leaves behind a tray of free drinks like coffee, juice, or bottled water. It is the perfect start to the day, and a simple benefit that goes a long way. Within walking distance of the hotel are dozens of popular cafes and restaurants including Basta and Claire’s Corner Copia, owned by a local chef, philanthropist and lover of all things organic. Both are area favorites serving fresh, sustainable cuisine and homemade recipes with a dose of authentic New Haven hospitality. Connected to the hotel is Cask Republic, a popular bar and bistro serving tasty fare and more craft brews and international beers than any other spot in town. Be sure to take a peek at the refrigerated beer cellar in the back, which keeps some of the most unique brews on hand including a variety of aged beers.
Rooms: Guest rooms in this tall tower have excellent views, especially from the higher floors. Options include the Green, campus vistas, or glimpses of the ocean and nearby port. All have soft carpeting, softly padded mattresses with thick pillows and duvets, and large desks with easy-access power outlets hidden on the side. Wireless high speed Internet is free for Select Guest members (remember, there is no charge to join), but carries a charge for others. Bedside alarm clocks, refrigerators with free bottled water, coffeemakers, and full-length mirrors are a nice touch. Closets have loads of hangers and a safe, and flat-screen cable TVs sit atop armoires facing the beds. The best rooms are the corner units with dual-sided views and walls of windows.
Amenities: While the hotel has its own 24-hour fitness center, reception can arrange free passes to a swimming pool and racquetball court on the Yale University campus. Meeting space, the largest in town, is often booked with university events or social functions. With a staff that aims to please, a central location and a full-service range of amenities, this is the best internationally branded hotel in town. It is not unusual for rooms to book up months in advance, and the community ties between the hotel and surrounding organizations keep the demand going in this popular New England destination.