The Peacock Inn is certified as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which means it’s a small independent hotel offering luxurous accommodations, fine dining, and outstanding service. I’ve eaten at the restaurant several times, but finally went on a tour of the facility to see for myself how spectacular it is.
What’s interesting about Princeton is it’s a contrast of old and new, especially if you look at the architecture. A building with Dutch gables, and an English Tudor are near the Michael Graves modern style Arts Council building, and the Hillier Architecture designed public library. The Peacock Inn fully embraces this concept, with its Victorian exterior, and posh, boutique hotel interior.
But wait… why hasn’t anyone thought of this obvious choice before? It’s genius, and they pulled it off brilliantly! Certainly a product to be proud of, and Princeton is so much more well-rounded because of it.
The format has evolved from offering New American cuisine for dinner à la carte, to a three-course menu, to a four-course or six-course meal. Dinner can be enjoyed with individual drink orders, or each course can be paired with a wine or grand wine. Executive Chef Manuel Perez has been at the helm since the re-opening in 2010, and he’s received raved reviews from New Jersey Magazine and the Star Ledger. The multi-course structure is to make dining an experience, not just a meal you rush through. Every dinner there becomes a special occasion. The Sunday brunch is also memorable.
There are three dining rooms on the main level. Dining Room Three seats 50, and has soft lighting and a burgundy ceiling filled with tiny LED lights making it ideal for a romantic meal “under the stars”. The plush velvet burgundy seats add extra opulence to the room. It can be closed off for a private space, and is very elegant. This room is also appropriate for business dinners, corporate and private events like weddings. Children can be brought to dine there, but I’ve only seen a table with kids once in Dining Room Three.
Dining Room One seats 24 and can also be a private room. The dimmer allows variations in lighting for any event on a smaller scale. Dining Room Two is semi-private and seats about 16. You can find wonderful art and murals throughout, including murals of Princetonians from the 1930s on slabs of cement walls brought up from the basement in dining rooms one and three.
The lower level is home to Peacock Alley, a private room with seating for up to 24 people. It’s an intimate space with hand painted murals of sites in Princeton, which gives the room a feeling of spaciousness. It also has its on music system with an iPhone dock to listen to your own playlist.
The bar is sexy. The beautiful lighting, sleek design, seating at the bar, and peripheral tables are very upscale, and give you a feeling of being in the city. That’s not where the urbane atmosphere ends. I only saw premium labels, and behind the bar is Josean Rosado, a 20+ year veteran mixologist who has worked all over the world, including Brazil, Puerto Rico, and at the Craft New York restaurant with Top Chef‘s Tom Colicchio.
Veggies, herbs, and fruit help him achieve his signature drinks, which are uniquely his creations. Rosado also compresses ice, which aids in a slower melting process and is perfect with drinks that you do not want to dilute. There are also craft beers and fine wines served there as well as cocktails.
It’s a separate room giving it the privacy it deserves. Your evening can start and end there, or you can stay and dine there. Small plates can be ordered à la carte and eaten at a table in this lounge. If you prefer a more cosmopolitan environment over a romantic one in the restaurant, you can also order the three- or four-course menu. Did I mention that Rosado worked at Craft? He picked up some other skills there, and can serve the meal describing the plate as well as a server.
This lounge is great for guys having a scotch tasting, ladies trying out his Spicy Cucumber Martini, a romantic date, or business over drinks.
The Peacock Inn is also a chic boutique hotel, which boasts 16 individually designed walk up guest rooms. The first impression is positive. You enter a narrow, but inviting foyer where the hotel’s front desk staff awaits. The desk is in the front since it also doubles as the restaurant’s hostess stand, and the staff at this station is trained for both responsibilities. After you climb the stairs, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful hallway showcasing wooden doors and wrought iron railing. When you open the guest room door, you won’t be disappointed.
They say good things come in small packages, and this place is no exception. The rooms are small, but they include the finer things in life, and all have a luxurious en-suite marble bathroom with a heated floor and rain-head shower. The color palate ranges from neutral to warm. Guest rooms are filled with top quality amenities. Top drawers are lined in velvet, there are non-working fireplaces, and exposed brick walls. Their custom Frette robes with a Peacock Inn logo compliment the Frette towels and complimentary Frette slippers. Internet radios with iPhone docks are playing music upon entry, the mattresses are Hollandia, and they have Sferra blankets.
You can tell a lot about a hotel is by the bath products they provide since this is one of the smaller aspects that some neglect. The inn offers its guest luxury, all natural, sustainable Molton Brown products from London. Unfortunately, the amenities are too long to list all. However, I will tell you that you’ll enjoy the attention to details if you stay overnight, and every guest will receive a complimentary continental breakfast.
Without saying, this is a fine choice for out-of-town guests, but Princetonians, can you say staycation? Babymoon? Romantic getaway? This is how you get a five-star vacation “on the cheap”, meaning no airfare, transfers or rental car. It could be an overnight or extended weekend.
Keep in mind, there is no elevator, and while they don’t have a concierge, the staff can recommend things to do in town and will try their best to fulfill any request.
If you’re visiting Princeton, and would like some tips, check out some of these previous posts: Visit Princeton, NJ: A College Town Abundant in U.S. History and Culture, An Ideal Sunday in Princeton, NJ, Nightlife in Princeton, An Ideal Saturday in Princeton, NJ, or Princeton on the Cheap for things to do while in Princeton.