Sophisticated Hotel with Old-World Charm
It's a scene that wouldn't seem out of place in a fairy tale: someone decked out in a tuxedo, a top hat, and staff rings a bell, and three swans follow the sound, waddling from a pond at Hilton Christiana and up a cobblestone path to a fenced paddock area to eat dinner. This ritual—known as the Royal Swan Feeding, and led by a Royal Swan Master—happens every evening at the hotel at 5:30 p.m.; the three birds—Lawrence, Ethel, and Baby Conrad—are the third generation of their family to live on the estate's pond. A quirky tradition, to be sure, but it exemplifies the Hilton's dedication to Old-World mystique, as well as the care it extends all inhabitants of its country estate.
Large, crystal chandeliers twinkle inside the red brick manor's lobby, which opens up to two upscale, onsite restaurants. At The Brasserie Grille, award-winning chef James Lauser crafts artisan meat and seafood plates, such as the pan-seared Chesapeake lump crab cakes ($29) or a cut of aged, certified-Angus beef ($28–$38) broiled at 1,600 degrees. Sporting events play on the big screen at the The Hunt Club, which has a refined, lounge-like atmosphere; patrons can kick back and build an extra room key out of cocktail straws or nosh on light cuisine such as the signature she-crab bisque ($5.95). The Hilton Christiana also accepts the dining credit with romantic room-service meals.
Standard rooms pay homage to the area's idyllic, country setting with blond maple furniture and a color palette of cream, green, rust, and gold. Exclusive Suite Dreams mattresses topped with down-filled comforters sit at the center of the carpeted accommodations, and oversize botanical artwork hangs on the cream-colored walls.
Newark, Delaware: Quaint City Near Historical Mansions and Art Museums
The small city of Newark is nestled halfway between Baltimore and Philadelphia in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, its scenery marked by rolling hills and meandering rivers. Historical mansions and sprawling estates dot the picturesque landscape, including the world-famous Longwood Gardens located 20 miles north of the hotel. Twenty outdoor gardens and a 130-foot water fountain are highlights of the more than 1,000 acres, which once served as the former private estate of Delaware tycoon Pierre S. du Pont. The site also serves as a base for seasonal events such as Holiday Fountain Shows, Christmas Choir concerts, and job fairs for reindeer.