Whether you’re visiting Colgate University or family, friends or businesses in the Hamilton, NY area, you’ll be happy to know that you’ll find friendly service just about anywhere you go.
For overnight stays in Hamilton, NY I have tried three hotels and taken advantage of Colgate University’s informal B&B.
I first stayed at the very convenient, friendly, elegant Colgate Inn on Hamilton’s Village Green. The lodging rooms are on the small side, and I recommend NOT taking a room at the top of the stair landing. While the staircase is lovely, the old walls will not buffer you from the sound of late arrivals tromping up the stairs and early rising children who think it is great fun to run up and down. I stayed in a very cosy room with two twin beds and a tiny bathroom a second time, and it was much quieter. Two tasty dining options at the Colgate Inn are described below.
I have also stayed at the relatively new Wendt University Inn on Utica Street (Route 12B). It is a clean, convenient, basic hotel with thin walls but reasonable prices and a complimentary but forgettable continental breakfast (nothing fresh except the fruit).
Recently, we found last minute accommodations at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Norwich (25 minute drive to campus). I was worried when I walked in and immediately hit a wall of stale cigarette smoke which lingered in the hallways. However, I was delighted to find that our room was fresh-smelling. The bed linens and pillows were okay, but the bed itself was surprisingly comfy (really!). And, there were mirrors in both the bedroom and the bathroom, which makes it easier for two people to get dressed at the same time. The walls of the shower were spotty with mold. The Howard Johnsons Norwich front desk staff was friendly and chipper both at 11 p.m. and at 9 a.m. the next morning.
During special events, many Colgate University neighbors in Hamilton, NY rent out their homes. We took advantage of this once and shared a house with friends. The arrangement worked well since the house was conveniently located, the price was reasonable, and we had all the amenities we could possibly need. You can find a list of available homes to rent here.
The town of Hamilton, NY offers a variety of good dining options. The students seem to like Nichols and Beals across from the Colgate Book Store, but after eating there 5-6 times, I have yet to find a dish that I have actually enjoyed. The Nichols and Beals staff is VERY friendly, though!
VJ’s Diner (169 Utica Street/ Route 12B) moves people in and out quickly, so don’t be discouraged by the line out front. VJ's Diner serves up typical, generous diner fare, and the price of breakfast is extremely reasonable.
The Colgate Inn offers both the Tap Room where you can get soups, sandwiches, salads, and hot dishes, and the slightly more formal Dining Room. We were recently seated right next to a roaring fire in the Dining Room, and we did not feel underdressed in our jeans and winter sweaters. The Colgate Inn's Sunday brunches offer lots of attractively displayed, yummy food.
I love the Barge Canal Coffee Company on Lebanon Street, a non-alcoholic social meeting space that Colgate University created more than a decade ago. If you get there early enough, they may have REAL bagels, which don’t even remotely compare the Collegetown Bagels in Ithaca, but with a cup of the Barge Canal coffee (special Colgate University blend), the bagels are good enough! They also serve cookies, pies and other baked goods. There are often free performances taking place in the evenings at “The Barge” by local musicians like Colgate’s own Collin McLoughlin.
The Parkside Café on Broad Street has been a favorite for quite some time (they deliver hot breakfast to the dorm rooms!), but the students say that the food quality has gone down hill due to a change in management. Parkside Cafe offers a diverse menu of sandwich and grill options and in recent years added a huge adjacent seating area to the once teeny, tiny original space. I like the food, but the last two times I was there the place was deserted and the counter staffers looked miserable. We're hoping things will be looking up soon.
Rusch’s Bar & Grill on Lebanon Street offers an extensive menu that includes fried bar food as well as lots of yummy healthy options. It’s a sports bar, so if being surrounded by large screen TVs on all sides bothers you, you might opt to go elsewhere. Rusch’s Bar & Grill is a good place to take a noisy family and especially any hungry undergrads who are dying for a change in diet from dining hall offerings.
For a special dinner, I suggest the Brewster Inn in nearby Cazenovia (25 minutes by car). The setting on Cazenovia Lake is lovely, the food is divine, the staff is friendly, and oh yeah, the prices are astronomical. But, for a really special occasion, The Brewster Inn might be worth it!
If you want fresh, local ingredients to make your own meals in Hamilton (or to stock your Colgate kid's kitchen), check out the Hamilton Farmers Market. This is not a new "green" addition to town -- the Hamilton Farmers Market has been doing business on the village green for decades. Swing by on a Saturday morning (May-October) for fresh produce and flowers, plus home baked delicacies, listen to live music and soak up the local charm.