The woods were lovely, dark, and deep;
I never even heard a peep,
Yet still I felt unsafe to sleep.
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The Griffin Hotel began life as the Providence Hall Guest Houses, two modern detached appendages of the luxury Williamsburg Inn. In 2017, Colonial Williamsburg Resorts renamed the buildings as the Gold Wing and the Green Wing and rebranded them together as the Griffin Hotel. But the afterthought vibe remains.
There are many nice things about the Griffin Hotel. It is in a lovely wooded setting. It was quiet. There is very convenient parking. It is easily walkable to the Historic Area, Merchants Square, and the College of William and Mary. There’s even a corral nearby where I saw two beautiful horses.
And since it’s an official Colonial Williamsburg hotel, it comes with perks like a discount for Virginia residents and complimentary admission tickets.
My room in the Gold Wing was clean and spacious, with understatedly elegant furnishings. There was a small dressing area. It had a refrigerator. The bathroom was decent-sized and equipped with a detached 1875-Watt hair dryer and individual toiletries from the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg — not those horrid shower dispensers touched by every previous guest. Best of all, the room featured a large patio and a lovely view of a peaceful pond.
On the other hand, it was on the basement level of a frankly depressing building. The interior is corporate bland and feels unwelcoming. The three-storey structure has no elevator, meaning that I carried my luggage down and up the stairs. (I could have requested a bellman to help me with my bags, but I didn’t because I hadn’t realized at check-in that there was no elevator, or that I’d been stuck a flight below the building’s entrance level.)
The Griffin’s big drawback is that it isn’t really a hotel; it’s two modern buildings with ugly hallways and elegant rooms in a bucolic setting, but nothing else — no reception area, no lobby, no bar or restaurant, no breakfast, no room service, no on-site personnel, nothing. Check-in is at the Williamsburg Inn, a five-minute walk away. Guests do have access to amenities like the pools — but they also have to pay a resort fee for a place that is the antithesis of a resort. It honestly felt to me like cabin camping (of which I am not a fan).
And as a woman alone, I just didn’t feel safe there, especially since I was on the bottom level, and that matters to me above all else. It didn’t give me the sense of security and connection that I value when staying in a hotel.
I think the Griffin might be a good choice for other travellers, especially groups who want several rooms in an isolated location, like large families or businesses holding corporate retreats. But I can’t recommend it for solo travellers, especially women. I also don’t recommend it when the weather is unpleasant, which it often is in Virginia.
Over the years, I’ve stayed more than once at the Williamsburg Inn and the Williamsburg Lodge, Colonial Williamsburg’s two best hotels. I also once enjoyed a fabulous night in a Tavern Room. And I’ve stayed at a few of the surrounding area’s many select-service hotels. I prefer them all to the Griffin Hotel. I hope my experience has helped you determine whether the Griffin Hotel is right for you.
I fell in love with travel on a trip to Mexico when I was nine years old. Since then, I’ve travelled the globe from Israel to El Salvador. I’ve skied the Swiss Alps and hiked national parks like Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, and Virgin Islands. I’ve marvelled at masterpieces in the Prado, the Uffizi, the Huntington, and the National Gallery of Art. I’ve stayed in a cabin on a mountaintop in Norway and on a kibbutz along the Sea of Galilee, and been kicked out of the Ritz at the Place Vendôme. I’ve taken cooking classes from New England to the Caribbean, and watched a chef prepare traditional shakshuka in the kitchen of his restaurant in Tel Aviv. I weave historical research and my personal experiences together in writing this blog. I hope you find it helpful. Read more …