The Hilton Wilmington Riverside is a welcoming hotel, commanding Wilmington's best riverfront view of the Cape Fear River. Doormen set the congenial tone from the moment you arrive. Our bellman launched the visit with special congeniality. Too often hotels do not realize that one staff member's cordiality or stiffness in those first few moments can set the tone for an entire visit. Management should bear this in mind whether senior staff or the desk personnel. Hilton Wilmington Riverside obviously does keep this in mind--and successfully. When we had problems with a reservation date mix-up, but managers corrected the date quickly and smoothly.

Although this property is quite large, the lobby is small, comfortable and bustling as guests stream in and out for their many on-site conferences. Somehow the front desk manages to keep it all together as they handle volume visitors with aplomb. This is not a typical Hyatt lobby that entertains or provides alcoves of personal space. It is all business.

Rooms at the hotel, including standard rooms, are well-designed and ready for the gadgeted traveler. Lots of electrical plugs where you need them. Easy-to-use free internet that actually works is a hallmark. Today's traveler is fed up with high-priced hotel internet that never delivers hi-speed. So the Hilton Wilmington Riverside's digital provision stands out. The in-room desk chair is ergonomic, almost massaging. Bedding is plush. However, the main feature of the room is an expansive window. City or river view is afforded. To make the best of this, be sure to request a high floor and a river-facing room. If your window on the world overlooks the Cape Fear River and the docked museum Battleship North Carolina, you have an experience every moment you are in the room. The city view is just another collection of rooftops. The hotel knows this and actually charges more for the riverview--which travelers should pay, it is worth it.

The poolside restaurant is staffed by a caring staff, its food is good, and its buffets are constantly changing along themes. Visitors may have a hard time finding the restaurant, since it accessed by a separate staircase and elevator. Make sure you get directions. It took us ten minutes to locate the serparate elevator and staircase. Diners have the option of sitting indoors or poolside. But it may be windy out there, so think before you sit.

The Hilton's location seats it within a short walk of all the river zone attractions, the boardwalk and the trendy, perhaps too-noisy main street district. The boardwalk leads to two seafood restaurants with abundant outdoor seating. The trendy district hosts a world class cuisine eatery with the ordinary name of Deluxe Restaurant. Do not miss it. As both a tourist and convention hotel, the Wilmington Hilton does its job with panache.

Spero columnist Edwin Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust and numerous other books. He travels extensively and often reviews hotels and restaurants along the way.




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Edwin Black is the New York Times bestselling investigative author of IBM and the Holocaust, The Transfer Agreement, Financing the Flames, and the Funding Hate series.

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