Atlantic City Escapade – The Chelsea Hotel

Nestled on South Chelsea Avenue and steps away from the AC boardwalk, this jewel cordially beckons all guests without the maniacal sounds of slot machines or the frenetic flash of casino strobes. By no means is this a sleepy auberge but rather a hip and fun alternative to the behemoth hotel chains.

Perfect for a wedding, bachelor/bachelorette party or just a couple’s getaway, the Chelsea is retro-chic, offers great amenities, and is easy for everyone to get to from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Philadelphia, and just about everywhere in the Garden State and Northeast.

Upon entering the lobby, you’ll immediately catch the infectious welcome vibe from the entire staff. A monolithic, bone-white table and urns are contrasted against cocoa-colored walls and flanked by two lounge areas with funky chandeliers, colorful sofas and overstuffed chairs — inviting and interesting. There is a well-stocked library bookshelf near the lobby bar but the only thing I saw being “cracked open” was the champagne.

The ambiance only gets better after you check-in. There are two sections for occupancy: The Luxe and The Annex. I recommend booking a room in the prior; it’s oceanfront and upscale. Modern meets quirky, my room’s décor was comfortable as well as alluring and whimsical, with two parrot lamps on patina nightstands and a Moorish-style, full-length mirror. The design details pop with a teal table lamp, geometric headboard and a tall, brass floor lamp that reminded me of an over-sized pawn from a chess set. There was also a leopard-print chair and ottoman that you can relax in and watch the surf.

After a hot shower in the contemporary bath with a raindrop showerhead, wrap yourself up in their spa robe. Perhaps take a nap on the plush bed with crisp, white (high thread count) sheets.

The mini-bar is well stocked with every kind of snack and beverage imaginable. However, if you need anything, I recommend swinging by the concierge desk and meet Michael Tenuto. He can handle just about any request from transportation to tickets as well information about concerts, parties, shopping and restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, no visit to the Chelsea would be complete without dining at the Chelsea Prime. With awesome views of the Atlantic Ocean, this dining room evokes the swank and sophistication reminiscent of a 1940s supper club but with a modern twist. While the word “prime” conjures up a steak house, and it is considered so, Executive Chef Jason Hanin, devised a menu that will sate every palate. I’m a self-proclaimed foodie, Food Network watcher and I’ve been fortunate to dine in many restaurants from the James Beard and Michelin honored to a hot dog stand — for me it’s all about the food and experience. Chef Hanin blew my expectations out of the Atlantic water.

I asked him to surprise me; I have no restrictions or allergies. Oh boy!

The first dish to arrive was Beef Carpaccio: served with wild arugula, truffle aioli and shaved pecorino. Tender, flavorful and buttery, the word savory came to mind — a must-try for all carnivores.

Next up, Tuna Tartare. This dish has not been one of my favorites in the past but I think his creation has swayed my prejudice. Served with avocado, pineapple and yuzu-ginger dressing, it came on a bed of thinly sliced English cucumber and soy pearls. You’ll have to research the pearl process but let me just say that the medley of flavors and textures along with the cold, fresh tuna made my taste buds smile — a refreshing dish for the summer.

And then…a colorful octagonal dish with prosciutto Americano, buffalo mozzarella, baby basil and mission fig was set before me. The sweet and salty along with the aromatic greens made this a tasty triumph. It’s a traditional Italian staple — abbondonza!

As if that wasn’t enough, the main course was presented — Dry Aged NY Strip Steak (From Four Story Hill Farms, PA). Well, this was like finding nirvana for my hearty appetite. Yes, the four courses were indulgent but the finale set off the fireworks. Tender, mouthwatering and flavorful, the aged beef, grilled to perfection, completed the meal like winning a progressive jackpot. Chelsea Prime also offers a dry aged porterhouse steak for two as well as a seafood plateau for 2 or 4. You can see the complete dinner menu here.

While AC is not exactly Monaco, it is what you want it to be. Escape! If you aren’t already packing your bags, look who is coming to town in the coming weeks.

August: Kathy Griffin, Sheryl Crow, Donny and Marie Osmond, Gigantes Tour: Marc Anthony, Chayanne, Marco Antonio Salis.

September: Train, Madonna, Tony Bennett, American Idol Live!

Book your room online at the Chelsea or call 1-800-548-3030.

Read more about the Chelsea nightlife in the City Pulse section:

Your Cabana, Cocktail and Groove Await @ the Chelsea in AC

Photos: ©2009 Don Pearse Photographers, Inc.

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