Hotel Review: 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel – Relaxing Waterfront Escape

We recently took a weekend getaway at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, and found a perfect escape for relaxing on the water.  My wife’s birthday was the perfect chance to check out the up-scale AAA 4-Diamond Hotel overlooking the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY.  The 1000 Islands was THE vacation destination for New York City’s and Philadelphia’s upper-crust in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, where the well-to-do would purchase their own island for their leisure purposes.  The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel sits adjacent to the site of the former Clayton Railway Station – terminus for the New York and Philadelphia lines that brought high society to the area, and allows you to see why the area was such a popular vacation destination.  Continue reading for more photos and details from our birthday escape to the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel – a place to relax along the waters of the 1000 Islands.

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Lobby

The lobby and front desk area for the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel is modest, welcoming guests with a stone fireplace and comfortable furniture.  Instead of opulent decor, the hotel allows its friendly staff to speak for itself.  To the left is the front desk, and to the right is a well-informed concierge.  The staff could not have been any more accommodating and quickly checked us in and directed us to our room.

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Instead of taking up a large portion of the hotel’s footprint for a grand lobby, they saved that space for the Riverside Patio area in the back.  Here is an immense, sweeping space with plenty of seating, firepits, and space for relaxing by the river.

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This is a smart design as not only do guests want to gaze out at the water, but the expansive grounds and landscaping of the Riverside Patio are on display to the boat traffic on the river – inviting passer-bys to stop-in for a visit.

Accomodations

The hotel has 105 large, spacious guest rooms, our double-queen room on the 4th floor overlooked the river and featured comfortable beds, cushy armchair with ottoman, and padded seating nook in the window.

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There was also a desk, HD flat screen TV and mini-fridge located in the dresser beneath the television.

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The family loved the wood paneling and colors of the room.  It reminded us of a Cape Cod bungalow overlooking the sea.  The bathroom was equally large with divided areas for the toilet, sink, and oversized shower with rainforest head.  Of note, in the entry hall was a convenient dressing area (across from the bathroom door) with vanity table and a closet with iron and ironing board.

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Conveniently, in the morning, each floor has its own coffee service stand (with tea and hot chocolate) set up near the elevator.  So no need to trek down the lobby in the morning for the complimentary coffee service or to fumble sleepily with the in-room coffee maker.

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In addition to the standard double queen and king rooms, there are a variety of different room types and suites from an expansive bridal suite with separate bedroom, living area, whirlpool jacuzzi tub, and multiple balconies to enjoy sunsets over the river, to…

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A one-bedroom efficiency with a kitchenette and also separate bedroom, living area, and balcony.

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Turndown service each evening left chocolates on the pillows and turned the television music to soft jazz.  Our room was extremely comfortable, cozy, and perfect for decompressing over the birthday weekend.

Pool and Fitness Center

On the first floor behind the lobby is an indoor, heated pool and jacuzzi.

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There is also a state-of-the-art fitness center on the second floor above the pool.  Both recreation areas contain large windows making it particularly nice to see the outdoors during your exercise.

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Dining and Restaurants

The Seaway Grille is an upscale restaurant with steaks, seafood, duck, and salads.  Entrees range from $20-$35, and the food was exquisite.  The Seaway Grille is also open for breakfast and lunch.  Breakfast indulgences include strawberry stuffed French toast (filled with cream cheese and topped with chocolate ganache), Italian sausage skillet, eggs benedict, and more.  The Seaway Grille has an expansive patio space for al fresco dining, and we took advantage of eating our breakfast outdoors.

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If you’re looking for lighter fare, head to the 1000 Islands Bar for traditional pub food of wings and burgers, but also for charcuterie, scallops, and crab cake sliders.

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Yes, the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel knows how to do food, and we were very pleased with our birthday jubilation during our stay.

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Recreation and Activities

Throughout the year the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel has a number of special events including music and jazz, farm to table dinners, wild game dinners, sunset & s’mores, and holiday celebrations.  In addition, to these special activities at the resort, there are plenty of recreational activites in the region.  Many of these activites embrace the surrounding water, and invite you to enjoy the outdoors.

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Clayton, NY has a rich boating history, and during the prohibition-era, bootleggers would ship elicit spirits via high-speed wooden boats from Canada into New York.  Many of these boats are on display at the Antique Boat Museum a short distance from the hotel, and the Harbor Hotel shares a $2 off adult admission coupon upon check-in.

Take a cruise!  I was surprised to wake up to a cruise ship outside our hotel room window, but the Pearl Mist cruise ship docks at Clayton, NY during their two week Canadian Maritime & St. Lawrence Seaway itinerary.  These cruises are rare, but there are plenty of opportunities to cruise the waterway via Clayton Island Tours or the Uncle Sam Boat Tour in nearby Alexandria Bay, NY.

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We had previously taken an Uncle Sam cruise to Boldt Castle, therefore we opted to take a Clayton Island tour to the Rock Island Lighthouse – one of the few lighthouses where you can go inside, and climb the steps into the lamp room.

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There are many lighthouses along the St. Lawrence, and we drove the Seaway Trail to the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse in Cape Vincent, NY as well.

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Clayton, NY made for a great weekend getaway for our Rochester family, and the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel was an ideal location for my wife’s birthday celebration.  She loves sitting and watching the water, and you couldn’t ask for a better spot to do just that.

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DISCLOSURE: Dave Parfitt was hosted by 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel and received dinner and accommodations.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on Twitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.