In 2016, Congress Hall celebrated its Bicentennial, marking two hundred years as America's First Seaside Resort. Located in the heart of Victorian Cape May, it's the perfect place to spend your New Jersey beach vacation. Now in its third century, Congress Hall features the simple pleasures of the past with the modern luxuries we enjoy today. Whatever the season, you will be delighted by the array of choices that make it easy to fill your days and nights. Relax in a private beach tent, lounge by the pool, or sit on a rocking chair overlooking the Grand Lawn.
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A RESORT AS GRAND AS ITS HERITAGE
For more than two centuries this New Jersey hotel has offered hospitality to locals and visitors alike. It began life in 1816 as a simple boarding house for summer visitors to one of America's earliest seaside resorts. Its owner, Thomas H. Hughes, called his new boarding house “The Big House.” The local people had other ideas, though. Convinced the building was far too large to ever be a success they nicknamed it “Tommy’s Folly.”
In this first incarnation it was a quite different affair. Downstairs was a single room that served as the dining room for all the guests, who stayed in simply partitioned quarters on the two upper floors. The walls and woodwork were bare and supplies of provisions were at times unreliable.
Guests were undeterred by the Spartan conditions and summer after summer the new hotel was packed to bursting. In 1828 Hughes had been elected to Congress and in honor of his new status his hotel was renamed Congress Hall.
As Congress Hall’s reputation grew, so did Cape May's. By the middle of the 19th Century Cape May had become a booming holiday destination, rivaling Saratoga and Newport for popularity. Congress Hall had doubled in size and was welcoming guests from around the region, but in 1878 the building was destroyed when a huge fire swept through 38 acres of Cape May’s seafront.
Within a year, the owners rebuilt the hotel, this time in brick rather than wood, and business blossomed once again. The hotel and Cape May proved so popular that they gained renown as a summer retreat for the nation's presidents. Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan all chose to vacation here. President Benjamin Harrison made Congress Hall his "summer White House" and conducted the affairs of state from the hotel.
The famous 19th Century composer John Philip Sousa also loved Congress Hall. After conducting concerts on Congress Hall's lawn with his Marine Corps band throughout the season in 1882 he composed a march in honor of the hotel, the "Congress Hall March."
The hotel fell into disrepair and remained closed for more than a dozen years, sometime between 1905 and the early 20s, after a long and bitter dispute between owner Annie Knight and the city council. Finally, an agreement to repave the roads around Congress Hall was reached and the hotel reopened in the early 20s, with a stunning renovation. Congress Hall went on to open Cape May's first post-Prohibition cocktail bar (where the Brown Room sits now) in 1934.
From 1968 until 1995 Congress Hall operated as part of the Cape May Bible Conference led by the Reverend Carl McIntire of Collingswood, New Jersey. By providing an alternate use for the building Dr. McIntire in effect helped preserve it during a time when many of Cape May's landmarks were being demolished to make way for modern motels. The present owners purchased the building in 1995 with the goal of undertaking a complete renovation to return Congress Hall to its former glory.
The hotel underwent an extensive renovation in 2001, during which a stash of original china, creamers and sugar bowls were unearthed. Both the Buffalo Pottery Company and D.W. Haber and Sons, which produced the items, are still in business and were able to reproduce them for the hotel’s 2002 re-opening.
at Congress Hall
Each guest room offers state-of-the-art amenities in an environment of timeless calm. Congress Hall’s L-shaped design, a tradition among Cape May hotels, affords many guest rooms uninterrupted views of the beach. A vibrant, uplifting atmosphere, calm colors, and tasteful, seashore inspired artwork are the hallmarks of our guest rooms, all of which have been lovingly renovated.view rooms
at Congress Hall
Enjoy beautiful views overlooking the Great Lawn and the ocean, or a picturesque look at Cape May's Historic District. Our rooms and suites evoke all the charm of a classical seaside hotel with the modern-day comforts you want to ensure a completely comfortable stay.view suites
at Congress Hall
Each Guest Room of Congress Hall has been expertly appointed with everything you'll need for a luxurious vacation by the sea. Enjoy 100% Belgian Cotton sheets, cotton terry robes, daily newspaper service, custom Beach Plum Farm bath products and more.view all room amenities
Resort Fee Inclusions
As our guest, you will have an array of Cape Resorts amenities and services close at hand. From dining options to recreation, special events & programming to guided tours, we’re here to help create memories you’ll treasure forever.view all resort fee inclusions
While You're Here
A stay at Congress Hall is designed around the simple pleasures of a classic American seaside vacation. Here, we believe that hospitality means than just a room for the night. It means complimentary chairs, towels and umbrellas waiting for you down on the beach; delicious on-property dining for you to treat yourself to; health and wellness classes like yoga every morning; and family activities from sunup to sundown—all to create new memories and traditions with the ones you love.
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in the heart of
Historic Cape May
As our guest, you'll be right in the middle of Cape May's historic downtown. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, the Cape May Historic District comprises one of the country's largest collections of free-standing 19th century architecture. The 600 buildings that form the District feature stunning examples of Late Victorian, Eclectic, Queen Anne, Italianate, Gothic Revival, Colonial and French Second Empire style.
Cape May celebrates its living history through the preservation— and the clever adaptive reuse—of these grand old buildings. Today, you'll find cutting-edge restaurants in the parlors and terraces of former summer homes, as well as trendy boutiques and shops lining the wooden storefronts of Washington Street.
Come get to know our beautiful town by the sea. Plan your trip with our online guides of restaurant recommendations and local points of interest. Once you're here, our Concierge is a great resource on all things Cape May.
Congress HallLearn More
Our Housekeeping Team will refresh your room twice a day if you'd like, replacing linens and using enhanced cleaning protocols to ensure your space is spotless.
Twice-Daily Housekeeping is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest.
Stay connected with complimentary high-speed WiFi, available in your guest room or anywhere on our beautiful grounds.
Complimentary WiFi is included in your stay as a Cape Resorts guest.
As our guest, you'll have access to Congress Hall's Fitness Room that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Fitness Room access is included in your stay as a Cape Resorts guest. The Fitness Room is reserved for one guest at a time and is sanitized between sessions. Sessions are first-come, first-serve. Please visit the Congress Hall Front Desk for access.
Daily Newspaper Service
We'll deliver a complimentary newspaper to your guest room each morning if you'd like. Choose from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times.
Daily Newspaper Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest.
There's nothing quite like the simple pleasure of room service during your vacation. Order breakfast, lunch and dinner off a delicious menu from the Blue Pig Tavern and have your meal delivered right to your guest room.
Enjoy a varied selection of cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner—all without having to leave the grounds of our hotel.
View All Congress Hall Dining
The Sea Spa
The Sea Spa at Congress Hall is a full-service spa that offers unique ocean-inspired treatments in a bright, uplifting atmosphere.
Sandpiper Fitness Center
As our guest, you'll have access to the fully-equipped Fitness Center and Sauna at the nearby Sandpiper Beach Club.
Fitness Center access is included in your stay as a Cape Resorts guest. Fitness Center reservations can be made for 45 minutes at a time by calling the Sandpiper Front Desk at (609) 884-6620. Amenities are subject to change based on state and local guidelines.
Our seasonal Activities & Events will keep the whole family smiling all vacation long. View Activities Calendar
Amenities are subject to change based on state and local guidelines.
The Congress Hall Bike Shop offers singles, doubles, children’s bikes, surreys and helmets.
View Bike Shop Hours
Amenities are subject to change based on state and local guidelines.
Enjoy complimentary chairs and towels at Congress Hall's Pool, as well as food and drink service from our Pool Bar and Grill. Learn More
Pool Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest.
We'll set you up with complimentary chairs, towels and umbrellas on the beach in front of Congress Hall. Enjoy food and drink service from our Beach Menu. Learn More
Beach Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest.
Let's be social
follow us on instagram: @congresshall
Since 2012, Congress Hall has been honored by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the top US hotels in the Northeast and was recently awarded the #13 spot on Condé Nast Traveler's 2018 Reader’s Choice Awards Top 20 Hotels in the Mid-Atlantic and New York. Congress Hall is also awarded with Tripadvisor's Certificate of Excellence.
Voted New Jersey's Best Hotel by Travel + Leisure and its readers.
200 CONGRESS PLACE
CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY 08204
it’s easy to find us
Cape May is easily accessible from the Garden State Parkway and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. The hotel is located in the heart of the Historic District, right across the street from the beach and the Washington Street Mall.
Valet Parking is provided. Please pull up in front of the hotel and an attendant will assist you with your luggage and car.
From Google Maps:View Google Map & Enter Your Starting Point
From Specific PointsFrom The Garden State Parkway | From The Cape May Lewes Ferry | From New York | From Washington/Baltimore | From Philadelphia