Visiting Kinston, NC should include a stay at the O’Neil Hotel. This hotel is a perfect example of the revitalization of this area and it is beautiful, romantic, and quirky all at the same time!
A luxury boutique hotel located in Kinston, North Carolina, the O’Neil Hotel is worth the visit. Owned by Stephen Hill, who also owns Mother Earth Brewing and the building in which the Boiler Room Oyster Bar is located, is historic in many ways. Completed in 1924 as the local Farmers & Merchants’ Bank, the building has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The first registered elevator in the North Carolia shuttles guests to their rooms. The teller windows and marbled counters are now lush sitting areas in the lobby. The bank closed its doors in the 1980s. Stephen Hill repurposed this building in 2015 as part of his efforts to revitalize downtown Kinston.
Walking into a two-story open lobby, guests are immediately greeted by the remaining 16-ton vault. The plaster ceiling has been maintained and adds to the historical details. Entering the main door, the check in area is to the left, and is a nondescript small room. Someone is there until 9pm, at which point the hotel’s front door is closed and access is limited to guests with a security combination lock.
On a mezzanine that is open to the lobby, guests can sit and enjoy a Mother Earth beer while conversing with other guests. Plus you get to soak in the nostalgic feeling of the decor!
Featuring only seven guest rooms, this hotel re-defines the concept of personal touch. Decorated in its own way, each room shows a different personality. Instead of using keys or key cards, guests access rooms using a unique code that opens both their room and the side door.
Hurray for the Keurig machine – making us coffee lovers so happy! The hotel has worked hard at offering the comforts we’ve come to enjoy in modern society, while blending them with elements that maintain a historical feel.
We stayed in Room 2B, King 1, known for its classic elegance. I enjoyed the understated elegance of the wooden floors, with the light tan walls and the black and white print of the curtains and bed skirt. Because the bedding has been kept white, the safari inspired touches did not seem too wild or garish. And yes, it was super romantic!
The bathroom included a fan (one of my pet peeves when hotels are refurbished is that they don’t take the effort to install those!). All the fixtures had been recently upgraded but still fit within the decor of the historical building. In addition to the shampoo and conditioner bottles we’ve come to expect, the hotel provided a few cotton balls and q-tips. As in other hotels we’ve visited recently, a black make up removal towel was provided. (I need to get one of those for home!)
Rooms at the O’Neil Hotel
King 2 is similar but has a corner view onto the main street. Room 2A, a Queen Room with Bunk Beds would be perfect for a family. I only got to peek in but the red walls, dark carpet and bedding were a bit overwhelming to me. The bunk beds are located inside an old vault, which is pretty neat. A Queen Suite and Mezzanine Room are also available. Hotel room rates start at $189 per night.
Special Features of the O’Neil Hotel
You may wonder about the purpose of the huge vault in the lobby. The vault houses complimentary refreshments for hotel guests. Stocked with water bottles and a selection of Mother Earth Brewing beers, these are stored in an old time refrigerator. This only makes sense since the hotel’s owner also owns Mother Earth Brewing! A Keurig machine produces fresh coffee for guests.
Nearby Places Worth a Visit
Most guests staying at the O’Neil Hotel were here to visit the nearby Chef & The Farmer. We took advantage of The Chef & The Farmer, went to the Boiler Room Oyster Bar, experienced Mother Earth Brewing, and listened to a live band at The Red Room. The great thing about all of these places is that they’re all within a block or so, so easy walking distance from the O’Neil Hotel.
Others interested in history might enjoy a visit to the CSS Neuse Museum. If you’ve got children, visit the Lion Water Adventure park in the summer or the small but free Planetarium, Health and Sciense Museum which is open although the Neuseway Nature Park, other than the playground, has been closed since hurricane Matthew came in 2016.
So if like the rest of us you are a fan of Vivian Howard and want to visit the Kinston area, you should put The O’Neil Hotel on your list of places to see and stay.
Annick, The Common Traveler