The Griswold Inn opened for business in 1776 and they are still welcoming guests to this day making them one of the oldest continuously operating inns in the country.
I have a deep love for old historic hotels. I am wooed by the quirky shaped rooms, the wallpaper and the wide floor boards. I don’t want a credit card door entry. Hand me a big old brass key and I am blushing.
The walls were adorned with framed pictures of old ships. All of the beautiful neutrals blending seamlessly into each other. Ah, I am fanning myself just thinking about it.
My son and I booked a standard twin room that looked over the main street. Our antique spindle beds were so high that there were wooden step stools to get into them. It took me back to childhood days at my Great Grandmother’s house where we had to run and jump to get into the beds.
As we were sitting in our room, we heard drums and fifes outside. Wait, did we actually just go back in time? We ran outside to find the fife and drum corps marching down Main Street in full regalia, stopping right in front of the inn for an impromptu performance. The Sailing Masters of 1812 carry on the history of the War of 1812. We felt so lucky to have happened upon it.
One of the best things about the Griswold Inn, or “the Gris” as locals refer to it, is the central location. We could walk to all of the main attractions in Essex right from the inn. There is a quaint little coffee shop right across the street as well as Sweet P’s delicious ice cream. My son was over the moon that he could walk to a toy store.
We visited on the weekend of the CT Spring Boat Show, so it was quite busy. In fact, all of the indoor and outdoor seating at the tavern had been fully booked. We had an amazing hostess find a table and squeezed us in.
Eating at the tavern was an experience in itself. It was a dimly lit room with oil lanterns on the tables. Revolutionary War time rifles hung in decoration on the walls as well as framed scrolls with fancy script on the pages. There were huge fireplaces around every corner since that used to be their main source of heat.
You could just picture soldiers clinking their pewter mugs of ale together and sloshing it on the floor, shouting about a revolution. George Washington was actually rumored to have been one of those people.
After our meal, we wandered down to the waterfront. A mute swan crossed the Connecticut River as the sun set in the sky. It was all pretty idyllic.
There were no televisions in the rooms, which just added to the atmosphere. One thing I will say is that the floors were not well insulated back then so rooms over the dining room can be a bit noisy. It was a trade off though, because we loved being able to look out and watch all of the happenings over the main street.
In the morning, we were given coffee and a continental breakfast. Due to covid, it is boxed up and handed to you to enjoy in your room.
The Griswold Inn has an amazing family cottage which is located across the street. This two-story stand alone building has two queen-sized beds, a pull-out love seat, two bathrooms and a fire place. It is such a great option for larger families.
Related: The best things to do in Essex, CT
I will be honest, I came out to Essex for the inn. But I quickly fell in live with this dreamy little sea side town. The Griswold Inn is worth the trip in and of itself. We had such a great time and did not want to leave. Andrew and I had our special mommy-son trip here, but I can’t wait to return with the rest of the family.