Although the River House at Odette’s just opened last fall, the luxury boutique hotel that overlooks the Delaware River is endowed with the substance of a rich history. The original building was first erected in 1794 as a place for boatmen on the Delaware River to drink and gamble before a night’s rest. It continued to thrive 50 years later as the Delaware Canal opened and the River House served as a stopover for barges hauling coal to New York City. But the transportation of coal shifted from river to railroad, and the establishment eventually shuttered its doors.
In the early 1900s the riverside town of New Hope became a popular retreat for artists and actors escaping big city life (Philadelphia is just an hour away, New York City less than two). Soon a community of creatives was established and that began to draw tourists. The site of the River House became the town’s first hotel, which was eventually purchased by the former silver screen star Odette Myrtil Logan who renamed it Chez Odette, and transformed it into a French bistro with a cabaret and piano bar.
Now a new iteration of the River House has appeared on the banks of the Delaware. The historic building that served as Odette’s restaurant is still standing, but developers paid to move the landmark 1000 feet down the street in order to increase the footprint of the luxury hotel featuring 36 rooms and 12 suites, many with balconies that boast incredible views of both the river and surrounding mountains.
But, while the hotel displaced the previous structure, the essence of Chez Odette has seeped throughout the new building. The cabaret's influence is seen not only in the stunning original chandelier that now hangs inside, but also in the hotel’s architecture, luxurious interior design, opulent color choices, and French-inspired menu. The lobby piano lounge, with a stunning vaulted ceiling, pays homage to Odette’s cabaret with plush velvet textiles and rich leather sofas. A painting of Odette hangs above the fireplace.
While the lobby (above) reflects Parisian-style cabaret, ROOF, the rooftop lounge channels exclusive, members-only 1970s-era nightclub with celebrated guests and a long wait list. ROOF may be available to overnight guests depending on availability, but there's a long-line of would-be-members just waiting for openings.
Art remains a central part of New Hope's character and is embraced in the town's art galleries, antique shops, and an active playhouse that has the notable history of being a workshopping site for shows to be tested and fine-tuned before they opened on Broadway.
River House at Odette’s provides free bikes to guests, and for the most part, that is all you need to get around New Hope. Biking along the Delaware Canal Towpath trail in particular, is a fun and memorable experience. The only places where you need a car is to tour nearby wineries, but ride shares are plentiful and getting an Uber, means you can just focus on enjoying the wine, and not worry about the potential impact on your ability to drive.
New Hope is one of those towns where you feel immediately at home and relaxed. Beyond friendly, ever business in the quaint town is LGBTQ-welcoming. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to stop by during your stay, if you need help narrowing the choices down, Matthew Hoffer, concierge at the River House is happy to lend a hand. He recommended Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn, located just across the river in Lambertville, NJ, where the award-winning menu is served in a converted 19th century train station. You'll also enjoyed the Salt House, a colonial tavern that was repurposed into a gastropub and has an impressive cocktail selection to fit your taste, whether you prefer old-fashioned classics or modern inventions.
New Hope celebrates PrideFest each May and businesses join in on the fun. River House, for example, hosted a best LGBTQ cocktail contest. But River House at Odette’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community is deeper than Pride month. Last March they partnered with Equal Dignity Pop Up Nuptials and offered free wedding ceremonies to same-sex couples who wished to tie the knot. Vendors were on hand offering free bouquets while the River House also offered complimentary champagne toasts for the newlyweds.
New Hope is an amazing town to visit, and with all of its hospitality, comfort, charm, and luxury, The River House at Odette’s is the place to stay while exploring the region. Close enough to Philly and NYC to be a weekend retreat, it is the perfect setting to relax and recharge. After soaking up the ambiance and stunning views you'll understand why the River House has drawn travelers since 1794.