The #NInja recently reviewed the Norwegian Air flight from Belfast to Providence in Rhode Island (USA) – but was so impressed by Providence itself thought it would be a good idea to give you all a little more detail on why you #NInjas should really consider it for your next CityBreak destination! #NInjatastic
Providence is on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America. It is part of the Rhode Island State which makes up one of the States that are covered by the “New England” title. New England is a northeastern region of the USA comprising Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and of course Rhode Island. The region is famed for its Colonial past, Atlantic coastline, and its autumnal foliage.
Providence is the capital city of Rhode Island, and is one of the oldest cities in the USA.
As discussed in the previous post, Rhode Island and New England itself has opened up to all the #NInjas with the introduction of the Norwegian Air flight from Belfast International Airport. The service runs twice a week departing BIA on a Tuesday or Saturday afternoon and returning on Monday or Friday evening (getting in early the next morning). The flight is approximately 7 hours across the pond, and a little less on the way back. Norwegian is the world’s leading low cost airline and has return fares from as little as £220pp!! (*the average cost per person inc. luggage would only be approximately £300pp). Check out the fares yourself at www.norwegian.com or call into your local travel agent who will be able to assist you.
Providence has a fairly similar weather pattern to most of the cities on that Eastern side of the USA. During the peak summer months (June-August) temperatures can reach 30 degrees as sunshine and hot weather beams down on the city. The winter months can (and usually will!) bring freezing temperatures with (deep!) snow. Those inbetween months like Sept-Oct (the Fall) and March-April will be a mixture of fluctuating temperatures – it’s hard to know what type of clothes to bring in those awkward months!! Keep an eye on the weather forecasts before you go – they are a helluva lot more accurate than a Norn Iron forecast!!
There are 100s of different accommodation options throughout Providence including the likes of rentals that have become very popular over the last 2-3 years with the success of websites like AirBnB.
However, the value of the hotels is at a much better level than you would pay for something similar in a Boston or New York. As Americans would say, “you get a lot more bang for your buck”.
On this particular visit, the #NInja stayed at the Marriott Providence Downtown, and could not recommend it enough.
The #NInja had hired a car on this trip, so the hotel’s complimentary parking was a bonus (no other hotel in the area offers this service). Upon entering the reception area, the staff could not have been friendlier or more helpful.
The hotel goes above and beyond, and provides everything you need whether you’re there for business or pleasure.
A great gym and indoor/outdoor swimming pool is on site, which the #NInja took full advantage of. Swimming from the indoor pool through the open doorway to the outdoor pool, and the New England Fall temperatures that came with it, shocked the body nicely before retiring to the hot tub. Whilst there, why not also take advantage of the full service G Salon & Spa.
The #NInja’s room was on the ground floor with a patio area that opened out to AQUA, Providence’s only outdoor poolside lounge. The room itself was clean, spacious, and comfortable, featuring all mod-cons.
As with Providence, the hotel prides itself on its restaurant, the Bluefin Grille. Offering award winning cuisine from Chef Franco Paterno, from locally inspired dishes and responsibly caught seafood. Everything about the Bluefin Grille oozes quality. From the breakfast buffet, which is the best the #NInja has ever experienced (a breakfast menu is also available), to the casual lunch and dinner menus, and fully stocked bar where you can sit and watch the game.
The #NInja had the opportunity to enjoy “The Chef’s Table” in the restaurant, an incredible experience that he would recommend to any ‘foodie’ out there. As Chef Franco explained, the hotel has its own vegetable garden, so the ingredients literally could not be any fresher. During the private dining 5 course tasting menu, we had plenty of interaction with Chef Franco as he talked us through each course, providing insight as to what ingredients compliment each other. The hotel’s beverage expert was also on hand to provide wine fitting to each course. From the oyster, to acorn squash bisque, duck prosciutto autumn salad, through to the tautog main followed by the honey fig cake dessert, it really was a thoroughly enjoyable and unique signature event. No tasting menu at the hotel’s Chef’s Table has ever been the same.
Another great advantage to staying in the Marriott Providence Downtown is, as the name suggests, that it is in a great location. The Rhode Island State House, with its huge dome and spectacular architecture, is only a few minutes’ walk away, as is most of the cities attractions.
Another way to see the city however is through the hotel’s bike hire service. The #NInja had the pleasure of taking a bike tour, and it really was a highlight of his stay.
Taking in everything Providence has to offer, from Federal Hill (and its Italian restaurants and bakeries), to the downtown architecture or a trip long the riverside, the bike tour is a great way to get around and experience the city.
The hotel staff will sit down with you and provide maps and guidance depending on what you want to see. They are also on hand to provide practical advice with regards to steep hills, and where to avoid them!
If cycling isn’t your thing, the hotel also provides a free shuttle service seven days a week by reservation at reception.
All in all, the Marriott Providence Downtown experience was a truly fantastic one, certainly warranting full #NInjatastic status!
Things To Do
As you should already be aware, the #NInja recently reviewed the Norwegian Air flight from Belfast to Providence. It touched on the fact that Providence has plenty to offer if you decide to make it the destination for your next CityBreak destination.
The Rhode Island State House sits proudly overlooking downtown, and isn’t hard to spot due to its large marble dome. It is well worth a visit, and why not go inside and see the chambers of the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives. Standing in the rotunda and looking up is pretty impressive in itself, certainly one for any art lovers out there.
The whole downtown area is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, with a variety of building styles sitting side by side providing a great contrast for any architecture fans out there. The city is also seeing a rise in street art and murals, with examples popping up all over the place.
Taking a walk or cycle along the Providence River, which offers great views of the city skyline, gives you the opportunity to take some time out and see things from a different angle.
Federal Hill is the Italian area of the city and home to countless restaurants, cafes and bakeries. The #NInja would certainly recommend that you eat at least one meal in this area. Whether you take yourself on a bike tour, or walk your way through downtown, you’re burning calories which will allow you to sample some Federal Hill cannoli without feeling guilty!
The city is also home to the Ivy League Brown University, and taking a walk towards its University Hall along Benefit Street is also enjoyable, although be warned, you will encounter a few steep hills along the way.
The Providence River is prominent as it winds its way through the city. During the summer months, WaterFire’s 80 sparkling bonfire sculptures on the water are set alight at night and provides residents and visitors with a stunning show. There is great pride shown towards WaterFire, as it has transformed downtown and revitalized the city.
Providence is also in handy location if you are wanting to go exploring. The town of Newport, Rhode Island, and of course Boston, Massachusetts, are within an hour’s drive away. During peak season, a ferry service runs from the Providence harbour and takes you into Newport for a very competitive price.
Food & Drink
One of the most positive things about the city is its food culture. Providence produces world class chefs from its Johnson & Wales culinary school, many of whom remain in the city and open their own restaurants. As a result of this, there is a huge selection of independently run restaurants to choose from, with very few franchised or chain restaurants in the downtown area. One thing is for sure, between these independent restaurants and the bakeries in Federal Hill, you will most certainly eat well when in Providence.
If it is a chain restaurant you’re after, then get along to Providence Place, the large shopping mall in the city, which has a Cheesecake Factory, Uno and PF Changs (amongst others) on site.
Tips & Tricks
As advised, the #NInja hired a car on this visit. The hotel provided complimentary parking, and it meant being able get around the city, as well as to visit Boston and Newport, at your own leisure.
Going in the “Fall” allows you to experience the famous colours of the New England foliage, a sensational spectacle.
Alternatively, going in the summer would enable you to visit nearby Newport during its peak season. If in Providence over 4th July weekend, you can also enjoy the fireworks, food and music at India Point Park.
By now you may be noticing that the #NInja has a sweet tooth, but any trip to Providence would not be complete without visiting the bakeries on Federal Hill. You’ll spend half the morning trying to decide which pastry or dessert to buy!
Whether you’re in a couple and looking for a quick getaway, a family searching for somewhere a bit different, or a group of friends just hoping to enjoy some good food and wine, then a 3-4 day CityBreak in Providence ticks all the boxes. There is something for everyone, and you won’t be disappointed.
The #NInja has been to a LOT of US cities and areas – yet there is something about the charm, warmth and friendliness of Providence that really impressed the #NInja. The location is such a HUGE selling point being so close to the likes of a major US city like Boston, as well as a seaside resort like Newport, meaning that access point is straightforward.
But Providence has so much to offer in its own right. Put it this way, next time you are considering a city break, especially in the USA, just break down the costs of flights and accommodation and you will see that you get a much better deal for 3-4 day stay in a beautiful little city like Providence than you would in a Boston or NYC. AND, most importantly, the flights are from your doorstep at BIA!
This is an area of the world that the #NInja can’t wait to get back to, and has already started planning a return jaunt! Be like a #NInja and go check it out peeps!!
Links & References
For further information on Providence, RI – please visit goprovidence.com
For hotel information – please visit marriottprovidence.com