It's about as much fun as you can have in 24 hours, and it's all within a few miles of where you would usually lay your head. And the newly opened Arrive Hotel, by Palisociety, in downtown Wilmington feels like a chic, urban tropical getaway in your hometown.
By Colleen Thompson
There's an excitement about staying in a boutique hotel, even if you live just down the street. And, if you're working remotely, it feels way better when you're doing it in a plushy hotel robe and snacking on a basketful of retro treats. The first boutique hotel iteration in Wilmington, NC, Arrive Hotel, knows a thing or two about style and superlative stays that will make you want to move in for good and fall in love with downtown Wilmington all over again.
More Like a Friendly Neighborhood Apartment.
The concept of Arrive by Palisociety is designed to feel more like a chic, trendy neighborhood apartment block than a hotel. On the corner of 108 South & 2nd Street, once home to a livery, wagon repair shop, pharmacy, and convent, the newly opened hotel consists of a modern-minimalist collection of white-painted brick buildings and black trim. 34 individually decorated rooms are built around a central courtyard and communal gathering space. Don't be confused if you can't find the lobby because there isn't one. Instead, guests interact with the front desk or concierge service via a texting platform, which allows staff to quickly accommodate requests and relay arrival and check-in information. But, if you prefer the traditional route, check-in is at the Gazebo Bar or the front desk/office area. And it's worth stepping into the green awninged reception area, if only to peek at the eclectic and playful décor, with pops of turquoise and poppy pink - immediately screams: vacay!
Come for the Luxury Linens & Stay for the Swedish Fish Candy
Have you ever walked into a room and wanted to change your life's design aesthetic? The Arrive suite looks like it's been plucked out of an aspirational Instagram feed. The 400 sq/ft space blends vintage with industrial style eclectic, with dark hardwood floors, a pale pink vintage rug, leather seating, gold light fittings, and a sleek mini fridge. And for the techie element, there's a large Smart TV, Apple TV, and wireless Victrola speakers. The marble bathroom with retro black & white diamond floor tiles, pale pink wall tiles, industrial-style rose gold faucets, and an open-concept shower might be my favorite room in the suite. Any establishment that has Grown Alchemist bath products gets my vote. Wafting in a haze of rose & bergamot scent, it's easy to linger longer under the rain shower than necessary.
The little touches and attention to detail are unique. A large bottle of Antipodes sparkling mineral water is presented on a glam animal print drinks tray. The mini fridge is stocked with everything from nitro brews to Italian sodas and a basket of goodies from energy bars, popcorn, Twizzlers, and the pièce de resistance, retro Swedish Fish candy - perfect for late-night movie binging after dinner. The platform, king-size bed has crisp white Italian Bellino linens and Egyptian cotton robes hanging in the closet. And if you need anything else, like more Swedish Fish candy, the messaging platform is integrated, allowing them to track and act on guest preferences in real time, so you just need to text them.
Asian-Centric, Southern Inspired, Dram Yard
Start your evening with cocktails at the Bahama-style shuttered Gazebo Bar. Gather around the white marble slab bar or grab one of the black-and-white striped chairs around the fire pits on the patio, flanked by ointment pink blooming Azaleas and palm trees. Then, order the Beyond the Sea cocktail with Hendricks Gin, sake, strawberry, lemon & basil and sink into your happy place. It's a cozy, casual atmosphere that feels like your chill neighbors and their convivial dogs have popped in for a lowkey party. And, if you're feeling energetic, there's also bocce ball and croquet on the lawn.
Make reservations for dinner at Dram Yard. It's popular, and on a Sunday night, the restaurant was chock-a-block. There's a distinctive Southeast Asian feel about Dram Yard. It may have everything to do with the hanging greenery, pale blue flower motif floor tiles, palm leaf-painted ceiling, exposed brick walls & dark wood booths. It is, without question, a space that has been meticulously and beautifully designed. Executive Chef Joe Wolfson serves a distinctly seasonal menu that combines his Southern sensibility with a distinctive Asian influence. The menu is primarily a small plate selection divided into garden, sea, field, and pasture, and the best way to taste the food is to sample and share plates from each. Start with the garden and order the burrata salad served with kale, grapes, pickled mustard, maple vinaigrette, honeycomb, and almonds. An elegant spin on salad niçoise is the yellowfin tuna with almond romesco, cauliflower, leeks, and white anchovies. Next, try the chicken and dumplings from the field selections with mushrooms and lemon thyme brodo, and from the pasture, the duck nam tok with Thai shallots, lemongrass, and jasmine rice. End with the sublime vegan peach shortbread with Thai chili, lemongrass, basil, and coconut cream.
If the night is still young, order one of Dram Yard's crafted after-dinner drinks, like the Maserati, made with Campari, amaro Averna, and orange oil. Order it to your room and sit outside on the balcony in a rocking chair overlooking the comings and goings of the Port City. Even if you can only spend one night at Arrive Hotel, it will feel like an escape from the bustle of everyday life, an urban oasis that hits the sweet spot.