Everyone goes to their local beaches and oceanside towns when summer rolls around, but I’ve noticed that going “down the shore” is a special term that stays reserved for people from New Jersey specifically. I was raised in Northern NJ and lived there well into my 20s until recently when I moved to NYC, so Jersey always holds a special place in my heart, and going down the shore is something I’ve been doing for years. My go-to spot for the past few years has been Pier Village in Long Branch, but when I had a chance to go to the town of Asbury Park for a quick mid-week getaway with friends, I was all for the adventure.
Real quick, for those who may not know, here’s a very brief history on Asbury Park, NJ! Asbury Park was a major tourist attraction from the late 1890s well into the 1940s, with beautiful casinos, theatres, and a famed shoreside boardwalk. However, due to several different issues at the time, its appeal dwindled down in the 1960s and onward. It had a terrible reputation in the 1980s and ’90s, and was known for its empty streets, boarded up buildings, and drug-addicted loiterers with nowhere else to go. Pretty unfortunate and not at all boujie.
Over the past 8-9 years though, the town has had a major revival, with new shops and hotels opening each year, and various musical acts and artists holding concerts/events there, at the famous Stone Pony outdoor venue, among others. Asbury Park was also one of the few beaches to open successfully on Memorial Day Weekend 2013, when much of the Jersey Shore had been affected by Hurricane Sandy, which drew more appeal to people eager to get back to their beloved shoreside traditions after the storm.
I stayed at a brand new hotel that opened this Memorial Day, fittingly called The Asbury. The property was converted from a 7-story Salvation Army building to a trendy boutique hotel, and is the first hotel to open in the town in over 50 years!! That’s a pretty big achievement if you ask me.
The hotel is super modern and has a boho-chic vibe, classy but still playful at the same time. As soon as you walk in, you’ll see a pool table on your right, with a bleacher-style seating area and couches/cushions around it. The lobby is bright and fun, with a pretty bar to your right and another cafeteria-style seating area with wooden benches and tables to your left, right across from the check-in counter. There’s also a huge movie theater-type marquee board which lists all the events taking place in the hotel for the night. Very pretty and aesthetically pleasing – you instantly feel like you’re somewhere new and fun.
Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived at noon, so we walked outside to the outdoor pool which looked great…everything was clean, the blue pool looked amazing, and I couldn’t wait to jump in. Only problem was that it was only 12p on a Thursday and all the chairs were already taken! We asked the front desk if they could accommodate us by getting more chairs and the young staff members didn’t really know what to do. They were quick to say “sorry we have no more chairs” and leave the problem to us, which was discouraging for us as guests who just showed up and were eager to relax. We ended up resolving the issue, got the chairs we needed, and finally laid out. The towels were fluffy and felt nice and there wasn’t an issue about how many you could take, which I personally always appreciate. A girl needs multiple towels!
The room we had was pretty simple – king bed and not too big, but it was suitable for us. The bathroom was soo spacious which was nice but more counter space would’ve been great. All the bath products are Malin + Goetz, so anyone who has stayed at The Shore Club in South Beach knows all about that. The room, bathroom, and overall décor was also all white everything, so it definitely tries to make you feel like you are staying in a true tropical beachside resort. Miami nostalgia for real!
We went upstairs to the mini-rooftop called The Baronet, where they have games by day and movie viewings by night – fluffy couches and cushions on the floor and a small makeshift bar for anyone who wants to order drinks. The movie they were showing that night was going to be “American Beauty” the 1999 creepy suburban classic with Kevin Spacey, Mena Suvari, Annette Bening…etc. It’s one of my favorite movies but not really what I would want to watch with 50 other strangers on a rooftop while it’s still light out and kids are around. Maybe they were going to wait until it was dark out and you can’t see people’s reactions to some of the more awkward/intense scenes in the film? Lol who knows.
We didn’t stay for the movie and went downstairs to walk into a separate entrance for the main rooftop, Salvation (guess where the name came from?) on the 8th floor. Since it’s open to the public, you have to go from that entrance, even as a hotel guest, and get IDs checked and all that fun business. So we did and went up…the sunset was so beautiful and the layout of the rooftop was très chic. Dim lighting, candles, dark furniture – this is a great place for a classy kickoff to your night, a romantic nightcap with a date, or anything in between. My friends and I didn’t stay for cocktails there because we were starving and needed to sit down for dinner ASAP (there is no main restaurant in the hotel as of now), but when I go back I definitely plan on having a drink up there.
We hung out by the pool some more the next day, and got coffee and breakfast parfaits near the check-in counter where they have a small café. They have a variety of breakfast bagels and pastries, parfaits, and a good selection of coffee that the baristas are happy to make for you. I will warn you though, it’s not cheap. I got an average size fruit parfait with granola and yogurt, I would say a little smaller than what they sell at Starbucks, aka not a big deal, and it was $5.95…ain’t cheap!
There is no direct beach access since the hotel is 2 blocks away from the boardwalk, but the pool was cute and there is a full bar, hot dog & fries food truck, and a small beer garden all in that area which makes for a fun ambiance. One bartender was super on top of it and doing a great job with her service, but the others were kinda apathetic/slow. In a nutshell regarding the overall service, the staff is young and could definitely use some more training, I can’t lie about that – especially when you’re paying good money to be there. But I guess it’s expected that a new hotel is still ironing out the kinks and learning best practices.
So in my opinion, The Asbury has a lot of potential with its cute and clean décor, plenty of fun activities for adults and kids, and convenient location. I think it’s going to become a popular spot as each summer season rolls around, because it is one-of-a-kind in that area right now, and who doesn’t love being part of something new? I would definitely go back and stay there again, and if you’re in the vicinity, I encourage that you check it out too…even if it’s just to go to the rooftop for a drink. See below for the hotel’s website link if you’re interested in learning more. If you do stay there, let me know what you think! I always enjoy hearing the opinions/experiences of others.
Cheers from this forever Jersey Girl!