Last weekend the Hawthorne Hotel was kind enough to welcome me into their hotel for a stay. I had a lovely visit and wanted to take time today on the blog to chat about visiting Salem in the winter as well as about the hotel.
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Visiting Salem in the winter is something that pops up here and there in my Facebook group as well as my inbox. It can be a wonderful time of year to visit the witch city despite the weather being hit or miss, which actually brings me to my first point.
What should you pack? New England weather is notorious for being all over the place. I’d suggest coming prepared with many layers and options for yourself including gloves and hats. It’s always much better to have more than you need and a little less room in your suitcase than to be cold. If you do find yourself in Salem without appropriate items, there are a few shops you can pick them up. I’d suggest starting with the Army Barracks for boots, gloves, hats and heavy coats. If you need a few lighter layer items like hoodies, I’d suggest Coon’s Cards and Gifts or the Trolley Depot.
Travelling in the winter can pose challenges like weather related delays and closures, however it is such a calm and peaceful time to come into Salem. Especially following the chaos of October, the quiet months are a welcomed break. Flights can be cheaper during colder months (as long as you avoid the time frames immediately around Christmas), hotels are less expensive than in October and the whole city slows down a little bit.
Be aware that some attractions in Salem do keep seasonal hours or shorter hours and may not be open. If there is a certain place or attraction that you have your heart set on seeing, please call ahead to check their hours of operation!
There are tons of winter themed events going on or it’s also a perfectly lovely time to just rest and recharge which is exactly what I did. If you are looking for some family friendly ideas, I’d suggest checking out some of the following…
The Hawthorne Hotel hosts many winter events in Salem including a brunch with Santa, a Christmas eve dinner and a Christmas day grand buffet. If you want tickets to any of them I’d suggest keeping an eye as we approach December 2020 and jumping on that as soon as you can.
Each year business owners decorate their store front windows for the holiday which adds so much festive cheer to the city. Take a stroll with the kids and pick out your favorites!
You can also enjoy holiday classic sung at the Old Town Hall, wander from one end of Salem to the other to see the trees in the Common as well as at Lapin Park, catch a showing of the Very Grinchy Holiday Special or get tickets to the Christmas Carol tour happening on the Trolley.
Finally, Salem wouldn’t be Salem without a few twists on seasonal content, right? If you want to make things a little creepier, be sure to keep an eye out for Krampus! Many businesses host events where you can get your picture taken, exchange gifts and interact with Krampus himself! I happened along this Krampus outside of the Coven’s Cottage last weekend, complete with branches, gifts and all.
If you are looking for walking tours, I can’t suggest the Christmas in Salem house tour enough. It is organized by Historic Salem, Inc. and brings you around some of Salem’s historic homes, all decorated to the max for the season. This is another event I would grab tickets to as soon as you can so you can be sure to join in.
The last event I want to touch on that happens in the colder months is the Salem’s So Sweet festival. It is hands down, my favorite. In February, the city and its businesses sponsor and bring in dozens of intricate ice sculptures which are placed around Salem. They are lit up at night with LED lights in all different colors which makes it feel even more special. The Salem’s So Sweet festival also includes a chocolate and wine event at Rockafellas, discounts around Salem, a golden ticket event and more. For details of Salem’s So Sweet in 2020, click here.
Next, I want to chat about some wintery treats around Salem. It’s honestly hard to go that wrong with food around here, but there are definitely a few places that stand out in my opinion. If you want something to warm the soul I’d start with wonton soup from Koto or the New England claim chowder from Brodie’s Seaport. Hot chocolate is another great option and there are many spots where you can grab a cup. I really like the hot chocolate from Jaho as well as their harvest moon latte which I have mentioned here on my blog before. I would also suggest checking out Kakawa here in Salem. They have all different types of hot chocolate ranging from classic all of the way to fancy sipping chocolates.
Now, on to my stay at the Hawthorne Hotel. Let’s be real for a moment here…the reason why I worked with the Hawthorne on this post is because they are directly across the street from Goodnight Fatty’s carriage house location and I wanted to eat cookies every night for dinner.
Okay, I’m kidding. However, they are in a prime location right in downtown Salem (across from cookies) which makes pretty much everything super walkable right from where you are staying. Salem is walkable in general but positioning yourself at the Hawthorne means you’re in a great starting place for exploring. The Common is right beside the hotel, lit up beautifully at night and my room had a killer view of the Salem Witch Museum which was lovely to see from my window.
The room was a great size, the bed was very comfy and the shower was a nice size as well. I had a full bathroom with a shower and tub, a closet, a little sitting area and desk. It’s also worth mentioning for those who are into beauty and make up as well, the bathroom had a great little magnification mirror with awesome light and also had a hair dryer above the sink in case you didn’t want to travel with yours.
I started both mornings at the hotel with room service because I wanted to check it out. I had an omelette with veggies and coffee both times and it was absolutely great. They even had an option where you could hang a room service card/tag on your door to place the order the previous night so it would be ready for you in the time frame you indicated! Super convenient. This option might be good for those staying at the hotel with families or with kids where it might not be as easy to get them rounded up in the morning and into a restaurant.
In addition to room service for breakfast I also wandered downstairs into Nathaniel’s one afternoon and got myself a hot chocolate and Saturday I had dinner there. I ordered the black bean burger and sat at the bar to dine which was a quick way to grab a meal. The burger was delicious, seasoned well and came with a nice portion of avocado on top, I would 100% order it again. I opted for the cucumber salad on the side instead of fries which was tangy and enjoyable as well.
Now for a little history of the Hawthorne Hotel, per the Hotel’s website…
“Established in 1925, the historic Hawthorne Hotel is situated in the heart of Salem, and a proud member of the Historic Hotels of America. To date, over 1 million guests stayed at the hotel and many generations held their weddings, anniversaries or prom parties in the Grand Ballroom.”
“Frank Poor, founder of Hygrade/ Sylvania Lighting Company was the one who first envisioned a “modern hotel for the business traveler” in Salem. Sixteen teams competed for the highest sales honor, with more than half a million dollars worth of stock in the proposed “modern hotel for Salem” being sold in a single week in 1923. Construction of the Hawthorne began with an expected completion date of August 1925.”
“July 23rd 1925 the hotel opens up amidst much fanfare. Led by the Salem Chamber and Salem Rotary Club, a flag-raising ceremony declared the hotel open, followed by a city wide parade.
In the 1950’s, to meet the demand of the growing number of automobiles, the Hawthorne changed its name to the Hawthorne Motor Hotel. At the same time, it covered the Palladian windows in the ballroom to appear more “modern.”
“In 1985 the hotel celebrated its 60th anniversary. At that time, the hotel was known as the Hawthorne Inn. It would be another four years before it was once again known as the Hawthorne Hotel.
In 2015 the Hawthorne Hotel received the prestigious “2015 Best City Center Historic Hotel Award” from Historic Hotels of America, showcasing the hotel’s continued commitment to excellence.”
Finally, the question on many people’s minds as they book a hotel in Salem. Is it haunted? I personally did not feel any sort of vibes or energy in my room on the 4th floor of the hotel. I felt comfortable and relaxed with no indications of anything paranormal. This isn’t to invalidate those who have had experiences at the Hawthorne, I am just giving my two cents. I didn’t feel like it was haunted.
I hope this blog post provides you with some inspiration for your winter or December visit into Salem! Have you been to the witch city in the colder months? Have you ever stayed at the Hawthorne Hotel? Feel free to comment below. Enjoy!! <3
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