We stayed in Rm 32, one of the Jr Suites, and really enjoyed the roominess and the comfortableness of both the sofa and the bed. Their was also a backless settee type piece at the foot of the bed and a small round table with two chairs, so I’d say this is a good room for entertaining if you’re there with a group. The primary drawback to getting a good night’s sleep in this room is the light shining on the Chelsea sign on Elizabeth St at night which slips through the opening between the blinds and the door. If the drapes were a couple of inches wider it would provide more of the blackout effect they seemed to be striving for, since they have both a translucent layer that allows light but still provides privacy, plus a top heavy material which worked very well except for being too narrow.
We found the noise level of both the two ceilings fans and the a/c to be less than many hotels we’ve stayed at. We really loved our semi-private (railed on the porch and fenced at the street) front porch on Elizabeth Street across from a couple of other inns and partially hidden behind lovely lush foliage. The pool was clean and a great temperature, but I do wish it were open later than 10 p.m IF it were used quietly (I’m thinking that’s the problem–no guarantee those going in it a 2 a.m. wouldn’t be drunk and noisy.)
The continental breakfast was minimalist and never varied from the bagels and muffins with a tiny selection of fruit, yogurt and jelly (nothing but apple and grape jelly the entire time we were there), plus already peeled hard-boiled eggs. The juice was pretty awful, so we bought our own o.j. The coffee was better than expected though, and they did have real butter and cream cheese. I really dislike that fake stuff.
They did provide coffee and a double-cup maker in the room and the fridge was full size. Full oven and electric range that we never used. A basic small selection of plates, silverware and pans were there but you wouldn’t be able to do MUCH cooking! Definitely not set up as a full kitchenette. They did have dish soap, thank goodness. Conditioning shampoo and lotion were the only toiletries in the bathroom except for soap (we thankfully took our own conditioner even though I was informed that both shampoo AND conditioner were provided).
As far as complaints about the room itself, we hated the fact that to get into the tiny safe, you had to get down on your hands and knees in the back of the closet!!! Ridiculous that it’s not up on a stand… From our vantage point we couldn’t even read the numbers on the screen; worthless. Speaking of stands, they should also provide a stand to place a suitcase on. We unpacked ours and put our things into the 6 drawers in the low dresser below the flat-screen TV and then put our suitcases in the closet, since we had decided the safe was unusable, so that worked out okay.
We loved the lush tropical trees and foliage all around the grounds. So many newer hotels are so concerned about putting money-making rooms, bars, and restaurants on every square foot of space that they lose sight of the importance of the ambience that nature provides. Not so here…. Just sitting on our porch or being in the pool was a visual pleasure.
The location was not too far off Duval but several blocks from the west side where more of the Fantasy Fest partying seemed to be. We walked all the way to both ends of Duval and then rented bicycles quite close by which came in very handy. It’s also very close to CVS Pharmacy and Better Than Sex dessert restaurant, which unfortunately we never found the time to try. I do want to mention that we felt very safe the entire time we were there, which counts for a lot. Even though Truman is Highway 1, we were not overly bothered by street noise.
Although the parking lot was small, we were able to find a parking place not only at check-in but also when returning the two times in a week that we used the car. They do have two parking lots; however, we would have to say it was a little cramped for parking. We really enjoyed the historic old Key West feel of the place as opposed to newer high-rise hotels closer to the water. Our room had been updated just enough to provide modern comforts. We went with a couple that stayed at Key Lime Inn who liked their room ‘fine’ but said they would stay at their other hotel (that they had stayed at previously) if going back, but we might just want our exact same room again.
With the exception of one young woman at the Chelsea check-in, everyone we encountered both at Chelsea House and Key Lime Inn were very friendly and helpful. We said “maybe she’s just having a bad day” but when I had occasion to speak with her a couple of days later, I then just felt like she possibly should not be in the hospitality industry. Not a people-person, I’d say…or stuck in a place/job she didn’t enjoy.
As far as dining out goes, we enjoyed the Panini place; the burgers and french toast at Panache were good (but seriously four french fries?); the snapper at Mo’s was excellent and the Caribbean chicken was good (kind of spicy no matter what they say) but not one of our party of four would take more than one bite of the rib-eye steak. The menu at Blue Heaven was too exotic for two of our party but we had the BEST key lime pie on the island in their bar area, which we actually went to twice we enjoyed it so much (live music both times with a sand dance area in front of the band stand surrounded by brick–open-air with trees above). At Santiago’s we spent $100 before tip for four people with no alcohol ordered for a total of 7 tapas plus sourdough bread, but those scallops and tenderloin were perfection! I thought the chicken skewer was just a bit dry but if you want a mild-flavored (I’d call it bland) dish, that is one of the better options. The French onion soup was excellent, as was the short ribs, but the gal in our group who chose the ribs didn’t like the fat. The wines were expensive in our opinion but for a splurge we two agreed we would go there again–AND have wine! There were other places for drinks and food, but I’ve given the highlights. Don’t miss sunset at the wharf; afterwards we found a shop where we bought an Egyptian cotton shirt and sleeveless ladies shirt along with several sun dresses and t-shirts with Key West screen prints put on right there.
We arrived the day before Fantasy Fest officially began and enjoyed the Goombay but missed much of the craziness that it seems doesn’t really start showing itself until the 2nd week of FF….too bad… ; ) Maybe next time… I’d love to win the 3-night stay and couple that with my $50 discount on a 3-night stay to make for another 6 night stay at the Chelsea! For us, the main drawback was no water view.
We did run in to a couple that were in the economy Rm 13, apparently the smallest in the place with no dresser, let alone a sofa and king bed; I would have been an unhappy camper in that room; so glad we sprang for the largest type they have!By: Paula Celeste Rich on October 29, 2014
Hotel Reviewed: Chelsea House Hotel
4 / 5