Where to Stay in Cape May: Best Areas & Hotels

Written by Lisa Alexander
Updated Jun 23, 2021

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In Cape May, where you stay is half the fun. As America's "First Seashore Resort," this picturesque beachfront town has a well-preserved Historic District brimming with ornate Victorian-era summer cottages. Many of these gorgeous "Painted Ladies" have been converted into romantic bed and breakfasts, which offer old-fashioned charm, as well as proximity to restaurants and shops.

The Historic District is also within easy walking distance of the beach; quite a few hotels in this area are just a block or two from the oceanfront. (Families should take note that the bed-and-breakfast hotels generally do not allow children.)

For a classic seaside vacation, the hotels along Beach Avenue (across the street from beach access) are the best places to stay. These oceanfront resort hotels offer sensational views of the Atlantic, and amenities such as swimming pools and beachside services. The large hotels on Beach Avenue often have adjoining rooms and suites (ideal for families), as well as activities for children.

Cape May accommodations tend to be expensive, but a few affordable options are found in the Historic District, as well as in West Cape May, a rural area that is a short drive or bike ride from the center of town.

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Where to Stay in Cape May for Sightseeing

The Queen Victoria hotel in the Cape May Historic District
The Queen Victoria hotel in the Cape May Historic District

In the Historic District, The Queen Victoria is a boutique hotel and luxury inn, which includes four immaculately restored Victorian-era buildings decorated with elegant period furnishings. Guest rooms are outfitted in sumptuous vintage style, including 400-thread-count sheets, antiques, and William Morris wallpaper.

Accommodations include a generous (complimentary) breakfast buffet and afternoon tea. All of The Queen Victoria's buildings are located a block away from the beach and two blocks from the Washington Street Mall restaurants and shops. The Queen Victoria hotel primarily caters to couples; the hotel does not allow children younger than eight years old.

Tucked away in the Historic District on a pleasant tree-lined street, The Mason Cottage Bed & Breakfast Inn is just a few blocks away from the Washington Street Mall and two blocks from the beach. The Mason Cottage was built in 1871 with graceful details, such as high ceilings and a delightful veranda. Guest rooms are adorned in old-fashioned style.

Accommodations include concierge services, a two-course breakfast; afternoon refreshments; and complimentary use of bicycles, beach chairs, and beach towels. The Mason Cottage is perfect for couples; the hotel does not allow children younger than 12 years old.

The Bedford Inn offers a romantic ambience and a convenient location in the Historic District just a block from the beach, close to restaurants and shops. The exquisite Victorian building dates to 1883 and reveals details typical of Cape May houses, such as chandelier-illuminated parlors and inviting verandas with rocking chairs.

This 3-star bed-and-breakfast hotel has small but handsomely decorated guest rooms with antique furniture. More spacious suites are also available. Accommodations include a full breakfast, afternoon snacks, complimentary use of beach chairs and beach towels, and limited on-site parking.

Captain Mey's Inn is centrally located in the Historic District, next to the Washington Street Mall and two blocks away from the beach. This small boutique hotel occupies a Victorian summer cottage with a wraparound front porch. The charming guest rooms are decorated with vintage wallpaper and chestnut oak paneling; two luxurious suites have whirlpool hot tubs.

Accommodations include complimentary use of beach towels and beach chairs, and free on-site parking. The inn does not serve breakfast but does provide refreshments throughout the day. Children age 15 and younger are not allowed.

Where to Stay in Cape May near the Beach

The beach at Cape May
The beach at Cape May

Cape May's most esteemed landmark, Congress Hall is America's first seaside resort hotel. This prestigious coastal retreat has been welcoming guests since 1816, including several U.S. presidents. Tastefully decorated, Congress Hall delights visitors with its sophisticated ambience and luxurious beach-cottage style guest rooms.

The 4-star hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, on-site boutiques, a fitness center, spa, restaurant, pizzeria, café, and poolside beverages, as well as room service. During summertime, the hotel provides beach tags (entry tickets to the beach), as well as poolside and beachside service: towels, lounge chairs, umbrellas, and refreshments.

Throughout the year, Congress Hall hosts music concerts, comedy shows, and farm-to-table dinners. A shuttle bus takes hotel guests to and from Beach Plum Farm in West Cape May.

Along a quiet stretch of Beach Avenue, the ICONA Cape May is a dreamy resort hotel with a nautical-inspired interior. The boutique hotel offers a wonderful seaside setting, an outdoor swimming pool, complimentary use of beach chairs, and a private beach with its own snack bar. Guests rooms feature flat-screen televisions, sleek modern bathrooms, and balconies for enjoying the refreshing ocean air; suites also include kitchenettes.

Next to its private beach, the ICONA Cape May hotel's restaurant features ocean views and serves classic American cuisine prepared from local ingredients. The hotel provides free on-site parking and a seasonal shuttle service to the restaurant and private beach (which are about five miles from the hotel).

In a tranquil spot along Beach Avenue, the Sea Crest Inn is an oasis of relaxation with its landscaped gardens, swimming pool, and poolside gazebo. The guest rooms include refrigerators and microwaves; suites have kitchens and dining rooms, and many of the rooms feature balconies with panoramic ocean views. This hotel is in a fabulous oceanfront location near a wide selection of restaurants. Free parking is available.

Near the Cape May Promenade (a great place for walks along the beach), the sleek, contemporary-style Ocean Club Hotel offers sweeping views of the Atlantic from almost everywhere on the property. All of the hotel's guest rooms feature private balconies and ocean vistas.

Highlights of this 4-star resort property are the swimming pool and sundeck area with poolside snack bar. The hotel also has a trendy fine-dining restaurant with an outdoor terrace and ocean views. During the summertime, the hotel offers beachside service: beach towels, lounge chairs and beach umbrellas. Accommodations include free parking.

The Montreal Beach Resort is at the easternmost point of Beach Avenue, which affords views of both the ocean and the harbor. This 3-star resort hotel has an outdoor pool and fitness center. Guest rooms and suites feature kitchenettes. The hotel's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a casual dining room or on the outdoor rooftop deck, which has amazing ocean views. Accommodations include free parking.

Where to Stay in Cape May for Luxury

Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast
Angel of the Sea

A beautifully renovated Victorian home (circa 1850) has found a new lease on life in the 3-star Angel of the Sea bed-and-breakfast hotel. This upscale lodging offers historic charm along with a quiet location just a half-block away from the beach. The elegant interior has an inviting feel, while the wraparound front porch provides a place to watch the waves and soak up the sea breezes.

Guest rooms feature wicker furniture and vintage-inspired floral wallpaper and bedding. The hotel pampers guests with afternoon tea, refreshments, baked goods, and sweet treats (served daily at 4pm), as well as free use of bicycles, beach chairs, towels, and beach umbrellas. Accommodations include a full breakfast with coffee, tea, caffè latte or cappuccino, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola and cereal, plus a choice of breakfast entrée.

A classy seaside getaway, The Peter Shields Inn is a small boutique hotel in a Georgian Revival-style mansion. The location on a quiet spot of Beach Avenue appeals to visitors looking for peaceful oceanfront accommodations. From the building's front porch, guests can admire the serene Atlantic shoreline, watch seagulls soar through the skies, and occasionally spot dolphins splashing through ocean waves in the distance.

The hotel's award-winning fine-dining restaurant serves seasonal gourmet cuisine inspired by French and Italian recipes. Guest rooms feature plush bedding, fresh flowers, and nightly turndown service. Accommodations include breakfast; parking; and complimentary use of bicycles, beach chairs, and sun umbrellas.

With its refined decor and intimate atmosphere, The Harrison provides luxurious accommodations in the Historic District. This boutique bed-and-breakfast hotel occupies a beautiful Victorian house built in 1867 (remodeled in 2015) with a lovely English garden. Guest rooms include modern conveniences such as flat-screen televisions.

Just one block away from Beach Avenue, The Harrison makes sure that guests have everything they need for seaside enjoyment: bicycles, tote bags, lounge chairs, and beach towels. Accommodations include a made-to-order gourmet breakfast and afternoon tea. Breakfast is served in an elegant dining room or on the shaded veranda.

In the Historic District only a half block away from Beach Avenue, the Carroll Villa Hotel is a family-run boutique hotel that offers both traditional style and modern amenities. The National Historic Landmark property dates to 1882, however the interior and guest rooms are decorated with bright, up-to-date furnishings, which blend well with the Victorian architecture.

This 3-star hotel has an award-winning restaurant that serves hearty all-American cuisine and international favorites (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Meals are served in a casual dining room, on the front porch, or garden terrace. At dinnertime every night, the restaurant entertains guests with live music.

The Casablanca is a boutique hotel in the heart of the Historic District, near the Washington Street Mall and two blocks away from the beach. The Casablanca stands out from Cape May's other Victorian bed-and-breakfast properties because the renovated building (circa mid-1880s) is decorated in a contemporary tropical-inspired style.

The bright, minimalistic interior is accented with exotic plants and hardwood floors, while guest rooms feature natural wood furniture, crisp white bed linens, and stylish state-of-the-art bathrooms. Accommodations include breakfast, afternoon tea, and complimentary use of bicycles, beach chairs, and beach towels.

Where to Stay in Cape May for Romance

The Southern Mansion
The Southern Mansion

Surrounded by expansive gardens, The Southern Mansion is a 4-star bed-and-breakfast hotel in the Historic District. Built in 1863, the stately mansion graces a 1.5-acre estate with lush Italian gardens. Guest rooms and suites feature antique furniture and traditional Victorian decor. The hotel grounds and banquet room are often used as a venue for weddings.

The Southern Mansion is two blocks from the Washington Street Mall and about a five-minute walk to the beach. Accommodations include parking, a full breakfast, and evening turndown service. During summertime, the hotel provides beach chairs and beach towels.

Dating to 1878, the Hotel Alcott is Cape May's second oldest lodging (after Congress Hall) and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Just a short walk away from the beach, the handsomely renovated Victorian-era hotel is decorated in contemporary style. The 3-star hotel has a charming restaurant, which is perfect for romantic dinners.

Guest rooms at the Hotel Alcott feature luxurious 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton bed linens and down comforters. Accommodations include a continental breakfast, complimentary beach towels, beach tags (entry tickets to the beach), and access to a lending library. Please note that this three-story historic property does not have an elevator; the first floor only has one guest suite.

On a tree-lined street in the Historic District, The Virginia Hotel is an exquisitely restored Historic Landmark that dates to 1879. This 4-star boutique hotel pampers guests with sumptuously decorated accommodations and a complimentary continental breakfast, which may be delivered to your room or the front porch. This hotel primarily caters to couples seeking a relaxing getaway; children are not allowed.

The Virginia Hotel's fashionable farm-to-table restaurant, The Ebbitt Room, has been described as having the "best ambience" in Cape May. In a candlelit dining room with live music, guests are treated to superb seasonal cuisine prepared from local ingredients. Menu items make use of fresh fish caught off the New Jersey coast, as well as fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown on Beach Plum Farm in West Cape May.

In the boutique hotel category, the Rhythm of the Sea sets itself apart from the town's fanciful Victorian-era accommodations. This intimate 3-star bed-and-breakfast hotel is found on Beach Avenue in a distinctive Craftsman-style house that dates to 1912. All nine guest rooms are outfitted with soft linens, wicker chairs, and simple mission-style L. & J.G. Stickley oak furniture. Most rooms have full, partial, or side ocean views.

Accommodations at Rhythm of the Sea include a hearty gourmet breakfast with good coffee, fresh juice, and specialties such as brioche French Toast. During the high season, the hotel serves "Chef's Dinners" on Saturday nights. Hotel amenities include concierge services, and complimentary use of bicycles, beach chairs, and towels. On sunny days and balmy evenings, guests can relax on the front porch that overlooks the beach.

Where to Stay in Cape May: Mid-Range

Wilbraham Park near the Wilbraham Mansion
Wilbraham Park near the Wilbraham Mansion | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

The Wilbraham Mansion offers 4-star accommodations in a renovated Victorian-era house (built in the 1840s and renovated in the 1890s) with vintage moldings, gilded mirrors, and beveled-glass French doors. This 4-star bed-and-breakfast hotel is on a tree-lined street near Wilbraham Park in West Cape May, about a 10-minute walk away from the Historic District and the beach. Guest rooms are adorned with floral wallpaper and old-fashioned decor.

Accommodations include a full breakfast, afternoon tea, use of the property's indoor swimming pool, a limited amount of free on-site parking, and complimentary use of bicycles, beach chairs, and towels. This hotel does not allow children younger than 12 years old.

A cozy bed-and-breakfast hotel in the Historic District, The Dormer House provides gracious accommodations in a converted summer cottage (circa 1899). Unlike the town's frilly "painted ladies" (Victorian Houses), the Dormer House was designed in subdued "Colonial Revival" style, although it does have a typical wraparound porch.

Guest rooms feature period furnishings, antique mirrors, and lace curtains. The Dormer House is two blocks from the Washington Street Mall and a short walk from the beach. Accommodations include a hearty full breakfast (served on the sun porch), afternoon tea and snacks, free on-site parking, and complimentary use of beach chairs and beach towels.

On a shady, tree-lined street, Elaine's Cape May is conveniently located in the Historic District near the Washington Street Mall and three blocks from the beach. A converted Victorian house, this boutique bed-and-breakfast hotel is famous for its Dinner Theater performances shown at the property's restaurant (equally praised for its seasonal cuisine). The hotel also has summertime music concerts held on the outdoor porch and themed events throughout the year.

Guest rooms are classic and cheerful in style. Accommodations include a full breakfast, free parking, and complimentary use of beach chairs and beach towels.

The 3-star Beauclaire's Bed and Breakfast hotel offers quaint accommodations in a lovely Queen Anne Victorian that features original woodworking, stained-glass windows, and antique furniture. The historic house has an old-fashioned charm and convivial ambience; guests enjoy lingering in the cozy Victorian parlors or on the ocean-facing porch.

A top selling point is the location on a quiet street of the Historic District, a half block from the center of town, close to many restaurants, and steps away from the beach. Accommodations include free on-site parking; a full breakfast; afternoon tea, refreshments, and snacks; and complimentary use of bicycles and beach chairs. The hotel also provides beach tags (entry tickets to the beach).

Where to Stay in Cape May for Families

Families at the beach
Families at the beach | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

The Hotel Macomber is a small boutique hotel on Beach Avenue. Listed as a Historic Landmark, the shingled mansion features breezy ocean-facing verandas with rocking chairs, which allow guests to enjoy the seaside scenery. (Note, there are three floors and no elevator.) Accommodations include free parking.

Guest rooms are bright and airy, with a beach cottage feel; many of the rooms have stunning ocean views. Two of the rooms are especially spacious, ideal for families. Hotel amenities include a boutique; bicycle shop; a café that's open for breakfast and lunch every day; and an upscale restaurant that serves classic American cuisine in a candlelit dining room or on an outdoor patio overlooking the beach.

Well-designed for summertime beach vacations, the Beach Shack has everything to keep the whole family happy: a spa, fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, kids' activities, and a restaurant with live musical entertainment. This 3-star hotel on Beach Avenue features Hawaiian-inspired "beach chic" and "surfer chic" decor.

The spacious one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom suites at the Beach Shack are perfect for extended families or groups of friends. The three-bedroom suite sleeps up to 10 people. There is also a "Bunk Shack" (with a king bed, pull-out sofa bed, and a twin bunk bed) that sleeps up to six people. Accommodations include kitchenettes and free parking.

Offering splendid ocean views, the 3-star La Mer Beachfront Resort on Beach Avenue has a wide variety of accommodations: hotel rooms with kitchenettes, one-bedroom and two-bedroom condominiums, and a 10-bedroom beach house rental that accommodates up to 22 people. Most guest rooms look out onto the beach.

This large resort hotel has laundry facilities, a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool with a kids' area, a fitness center, and private beach with complimentary use of lounge chairs and beach umbrellas (or cabanas for a fee). Free parking is included.

Where to Stay in Cape May on a Budget

West Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge
West Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge

The 2-star Buckingham Motel is a relatively affordable place to stay on Beach Avenue near a prized stretch of wide sandy shoreline. The accommodations range from simple guest rooms to basic one-bedroom apartments with ocean views. Amenities include mini-refrigerators, microwaves, barbecue grills, and coffee makers. Accommodations include free parking.

Set on expansive 90-acre grounds in West Cape May, the Seashore Campsites & RV Resort offers the amenities of a resort hotel without the steep prices. The property includes a playground, picnic area, miniature golf course, game room, lake with private beach, and fishing spots. Sporty types will appreciate the fitness center, tennis courts, basketball court, and swimming pool.

The Seashore Campsites & RV Resort provides camping and RV sites, as well as cottage rentals with fully equipped kitchens. The various options allow families and groups of friends to save on vacation costs by choosing accommodations that can fit up to six overnight guests. Accommodations include restrooms and shower facilities (with hot showers), cable television, laundry facilities, and use of campfires.

Nestled in a verdant corner of West Cape May, the West Cape Motel is across the street from the West Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge and a short drive or bike ride from the Historic District. All the guest rooms feature stylish contemporary decor and refrigerators. Efficiency units have kitchenettes, and the suites have fully equipped kitchens. The motel's amenities include laundry facilities, an outdoor swimming pool, and free parking.

The Bacchus Inn is a quaint bed-and-breakfast hotel that includes a renovated Victorian-era house (dating to 1872) and cottage (built a few years later in 1878). Both buildings are decorated with period antiques and have rocking chairs on the front porch. Two small guest rooms on the third floor of the "cottage" (rather than the "main house") are available at budget rates.

The Bacchus Inn provides a generous breakfast; afternoon tea, refreshments, and snacks; and complimentary use of bicycles, beach chairs, and towels. This small family-run boutique hotel is found in the heart of Cape May's Historic District near many shops and restaurants.

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imageVisiting Cape May and New Jersey: The picture-perfect seaside resort of Cape May is a gem of the southern Jersey Shore. Read about the best places to visit and things to do with our top attractions in Cape May guide. If you have time to travel further afield, be sure to see our piece on the top attractions in New Jersey and our list of the top resorts in New Jersey.

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