Harrisburg is a charming small city in south central Pennsylvania. It’s also the capital of Pennsylvania, so it’s not a town where nothing happens. There’s obviously lots of big city political action here. There’s also theater and movies and fine dining. Yet the pace is slow, comfortable and peaceful. It is listed as among the top 10 cities in America to raise a family.
I was thoroughly surprised to find a hotel of the first caliber here. The Harrisburg Hilton is elegant and polished. “It’s a tertiary city with a hotel which could belong in a primary city,” says Barry Dively, the public relations manager of the Harrisburg Hilton.
Although the hotel has been in its current location for 25 years Hilton decided to refurbish it. There are 341 rooms, 11 guest suites and 4 executive suites. The hotel chain spent 7.1 million dollars upgrading and modernizing everything from the guest rooms to the lobby and included 2 restaurants. A happier result would be hard to imagine.
I had dinner at the Hilton’s 1700 Steakhouse and it was one of the best meals I have eaten. I had 4 colossal shrimp in cocktail sauce. Then, for my main course, I had a filet mignon, bone cut and for dessert I had a tiramisu. The whole experience was enough to cheer me after a long and defeating day. The service was attentive without being overbearing. My waitress, H.T., was exactly the kind of supportive person I needed to cheer me and lead me through the menu. The decor is upscale, in neutral tones, brown leather and quiet textures.
The atmosphere was simply elegant, a good place for intimate conversation, to close a business deal or to propose to that special one. I was so impressed that I asked to speak to the chef. Anthony Bianco is a young man to be an executive chef. “I got into this line of work by becoming a dishwasher and working my way up, I love it” He runs a very tight shop. Efficient and comfortable, this is no snob operation, nobody spoke French that I saw.
The new lobby has marble floors, a long central desk to check in and out, comfortable couches and overstuffed chairs. All the rooms were renovated as well and are wonderfully comfortable. The room where I stayed had a big queen bed, a desk and a chair for reading. I don’t know about you but I can always arrive at an opinion about a hotel by how the bathrooms are kept. Mine was immaculate. “The hotel is filled every day,” says Barry Dively.
Harrisburg is a city nestled in the middle of some interesting things. There’s a university, a symphony orchestra, several restaurants offering international cuisines. All of this is not to mention the state of Pennsylvania’s capital, the major employer in the city. There’s also a medical school
There’s the Hershey School which takes children from disadvantaged backgrounds and gives them free educations, paying for food, clothing, schooling and shelter. Hershey’s idea was to give poor children a chance to get a high school education and to learn a trade. This still goes on, only now, many years after the death of Hershey, the program has morphed into something in which many of the children while still learning a trade, go to college.
There is also a major industrial warehouse center across the Susquehanna River where, among many others, businesses like PepsiCo, Amazon and Lindt Chocolates store their products. This is because within 400 miles in all directions, 75% of the US population lives and works and these people consume.