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Where to Stay in Cape May: Best Areas & Hotels, 2019

Written by Lisa Alexander
Apr 18, 2019

In Cape May, where you stay is half the fun. As America's "First Seashore Resort," the town has a well-preserved Historic District, which is full of lovely Victorian-era summer cottages. Many of these beautiful "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, as well as 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.

Where to Stay for Sightseeing

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. Children are not allowed.

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 access to a library of books and games, 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 near the Beach

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. Exquisitely decorated, Congress Hall delights visitors with its refined atmosphere and luxurious beach-cottage style guest rooms.

The 4-star hotel has a swimming pool, on-site boutiques, a fitness center, bike shop, spa, restaurant, pizzeria, coffee shop, and outdoor snack bar, as well as room service. During summertime, the hotel provides beach service, towels, umbrellas, and refreshments. Throughout the year, Congress Hall hosts music concerts, comedy shows, and farm-to-table dinners.

Along a quiet stretch of Beach Avenue, the ICONA Cape May is a dreamy resort hotel with a nautical-inspired interior. The 3-star 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.

The hotel's restaurant serves classic American cuisine prepared from local ingredients, while other dining options are within walking distance. Free on-site parking and a shuttle service to the private beach are available.

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 outdoor pool and a sundeck area with marvelous ocean vistas. The hotel also has a casual poolside snack bar and a trendy seaside restaurant. During the summertime, the hotel offers beachside service. Accommodations include a concierge and free parking.

The Montreal Beach Club 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 casual restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a casual dining room or on the outdoor rooftop deck. Accommodations include free parking.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast

A beautifully renovated Victorian home (circa 1850) has found a new lease on life in the 3-star Angel of the Sea hotel. This upscale bed and breakfast offers historic charm along with a perfect location, across the street from the beach. The elegant interior is decorated in fancy vintage style, and guest rooms feature charming floral wallpaper. The hotel delights guests with its afternoon tea service, as well as free use of bicycles, beach chairs, towels and beach umbrellas.

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 fine-dining restaurant serves superb gourmet cuisine. 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 lovely boutique hotel occupies a Victorian house built in 1867 and renovated in 2015. Guest rooms include modern conveniences such as flat-screen televisions. Just one block away from Beach Avenue, the hotel provides everything guests need for seaside enjoyment: tote bags, lounge chairs, and sun umbrellas. Accommodations include breakfast and afternoon tea.

For those seeking upscale accommodations in the Historic District, the Carroll Villa Hotel is the perfect choice. Only a half block away from Beach Avenue, this family-run boutique hotel offers both historic charm 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, which serves gourmet cuisine in a casual dining room, on the front porch, or garden terrace.

The Casablanca is a 3-star 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 for Romance

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 inn. Just a short walk away from the beach, the handsomely renovated Victorian-era hotel is decorated in upscale contemporary style. Guest rooms feature luxurious 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton bed linens and down comforters. The hotel has a charming restaurant, which is perfect for romantic dinners. Accommodations include refreshments, complimentary daily beach towels, and access to a lending library.

On a tree-lined street in the Historic District, The Virginia Hotel is a beautifully restored landmark that dates to 1879. This award-winning 4-star hotel pampers guests with sophisticated, sumptuously decorated guest rooms and a complimentary continental breakfast.

The hotel's upscale farm-to-table restaurant, the Ebbitt Room, has been described as the "most romantic" in Cape May. The Virginia Hotel primarily caters to couples seeking a romantic getaway; children are not allowed at the hotel.

Where to Stay: Mid-Range

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

The Wilbraham Mansion offers delightful accommodations in a renovated Victorian-era house with vintage moldings, gilded mirrors, and beveled-glass French doors. The 4-star B&B 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, complimentary use of bicycles, and beach chairs. This hotel does not allow children younger than 12 years old.

A quaint bed and breakfast in the Historic District, The Dormer House bed and breakfast is 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, delicate floral wallpaper, 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 full breakfast, afternoon tea and snacks, free parking, and complimentary use of beach chair and beach towels.

On a shady, tree-lined street, Elaine's is conveniently located in the Historic District near the Washington Street Mall and three blocks from the beach. A converted Victorian house, this 3-star bed and breakfast 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 charming 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 a full breakfast, afternoon refreshments, and complimentary use of beach chairs.

Where to Stay for Families

Families at the beach | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

The Hotel Macomber is a small boutique hotel on Beach Avenue. Listed as a Historical Monument, 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.)

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 and well-designed for families. The hotel has a coffee shop, as well as a fine-dining restaurant, which serves classic American cuisine. Accommodations include free parking.

Well-designed for summertime beach vacations, the Beach Shack has everything to keep the whole family happy: an outdoor swimming pool, kids' activities, and a restaurant with live musical entertainment. This 3-star oceanfront hotel features whimsical Hawaiian-inspired decor.

For convenience, most guest rooms have kitchenettes with microwaves and refrigerators. The spacious one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom suites sleep four to 10 people, ideal for extended families or groups of friends. Accommodations include free parking.

The oceanfront La Mer Beachfront Inn has a wide variety of accommodations: regular hotel rooms, efficiency units with kitchenettes, one-bedroom and two-bedroom condominiums, and a 10-bedroom beach house rental. Many of the rooms have spectacular ocean views.

This large resort hotel has laundry facilities, a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, 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 on a Budget

West Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge

The 2-star Buckingham Motel is an affordable oceanfront hotel near a wonderful stretch of 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, the Seashore Campsites and 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 camping sites and cottage rentals allow families and groups of friends to save on vacation costs by choosing accommodations that can fit six to 12 overnight guests. Accommodations include 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 kitchens. The motel's amenities include laundry facilities, an outdoor swimming pool, and free parking.

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