by Lissa Poirot
If your family is looking for elegance and a little pampering in Cape May, consider Congress Hall. The stately resort, located directly across from private Congress Beach is a great choice for those looking to spend some quality beach time — they offer free umbrellas, towels and beach chairs and have private cabanas available for a fee. The historic hotel began operating as a boarding house in 1816 for summer visitors. Kids will love the terrific pool, and mom and dad will appreciate the excellent service. It also offers a children’s program for kids, ages 4 to 12, in July and August — a rarity in Cape May. The resort’s acclaimed Blue Pig restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and room service is available.
Our Editor Loves
- Great hotel for quality beach time
- Onsite family dining
- Children's program for kids ages 4 to 12
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Families will prefer the two-bed room options, when selecting from the 108 room choices. Ocean view, town view and annex view rooms are all available with king, queen, or two double beds, along with chairs and small desks.
All rooms feature DVD players, and offer free Wi-Fi.
It has been about five years since we made our annual summer stay at Congress Hall. We have been staying in the Diamond Beach section of Wildwood for these last years. But, the (adult) kids wanted to make a return stay at CH. The thing that kept us away from CH was primarily the cost. And since it is the parents that are paying we (now) feel that it can be our decision on where to stay?? We really are pretty wimpy. There is almost nothing negative to say about CH. The grounds are fabulous. The pool was great and there is an adult only pool as well. There is no kiddie pool, though. When you walk into the pool area you are immediately greeted by a pool hostess and your chairs are set up for you. We ordered lunch poolside one day and everyone enjoyed their meal. It was a little on the slow side getting to us, but it was lunchtime. The rooms were very nice sized this time. I don't know if the rooms grew in these few years or we were all just in a different area of the hotel, but the rooms were of a nice size. The rooms are clean and neat and the bathrooms in our rooms were very large. Turndown service is a lovely thing as well. Btw, we are two families and my husband and I had three rooms, one for us, one for our daughter and boyfriend and one for son, DIL and two young children. Our bed was so so comfortable. We had the rise and shine deal, so breakfast was included (or at least much of it at a $30.00 allowance per room. And many ordering morning cocktails, etc) Breakfast was at the Blue Pig and they accommodated our party of twelve, which included a SIL's family, very nicely each morning and we made reservations for breakfast. The only issue we had with breakfast was how very slow service was each morning. Not only that, but the server the second morning was quite snippy. Some slack was given since he just seemed so harried. On the flip side, the first night we decided months before that we would have dinner in the Boiler Room downstairs because everyone was coming to CM at different hours and it is a very casual spot and pizza sounded great for the first night. The Boiler Room doesn't take reservations, but I wanted to alert them that we are a party of 12 and we wanted to eat at about six-ish . They didn't answer, so I called the front desk and this wonderful man, William told me to hang on while he ran down to the restaurant to let them know. He came back on the phone and told me he alerted them of our large party. I really appreciated his above and beyond the call of duty action. A massage at the spa given by Holly was one of the best I have ever had.
Stayed for a long weekend (4 nights) with my family consisting of my wife and two boys who are 3 and 6. We had a great time. The unique feeling about this property is that it gives you the all-inclusive vibe, for the all-inclusive price but without any of the food or drinks being included. 95% of the staff is warm and friendly and the food is generally pretty good but it is worth it to venture around the local eateries for great tasting food. Do yourself a favor and have a meal at The Rusty Nail and Beach Plum Farm. Beach Plum Farm is especially fun if you have kids because there are chickens roaming the property that is beautifully maintained and the farm to table food is delicious. We stayed on the 4th floor at Congress Hall and had a great view of the ocean. The room was well maintained and modern and the bed was clean and comfortable.
My single bad experience was with a young woman who works at the pool area. They are supposed to greet you and set up your towels and umbrellas for you at the chairs of your choice. This is a great feature for those families who are juggling toddlers. We asked her politely and informed her of what chairs we would like set up while we grabbed a quick breakfast. When we returned about 35 minutes later, we noticed that she had just thrown towels on each chair and sat on her phone for most of the day. Other patrons asked her for various things throughout the day that she delegated to the younger staff as she continued to remain on her phone while occasionally looking for management as she clearly knew she was doing something wrong. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but it was frustrating. Also the price of the hotel is a little steep for what you get. No drinks or food is included. Typically spent $100 per meal at least for a family of four.
Children 4 to 12 will enjoy the seasonal Blue's Clubhouse, which is available for both guests and non-guests of the hotel during summer evenings, 5:30 to 9 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The program provides kids with dinner and dessert from the Blue Pig Tavern, as well as themed activities and games, all under supervision of Congress Hall staff. The clubhouse is a per child cost.
Carnival and a Movie
On Monday nights during the summer, the hotel's grand lawn is converted into a carnival, complete with games for all ages, face painting, balloon animals, tasty treats and carnival booths. After the carnival ends, grab a seat on the lawn for a free family-friendly movie.
Another fun summer activity for families is it's twice-weekly Family Karaoke nights. Blue, the pig, makes an appearance and joins the kids in the dance fun while kids belt out tunes in the underground nightclub. Parents can join the kids on Sunday nights, and on Thursdays can enjoy adult karaoke after the kids retire to their rooms.
During the summer, kids can meet on the great lawn for a rousing game of soccer.
Beach and Pool
Whether you choose to lounge by the pool or on the sand while the kids splash, the hotel provides cabanas, umbrellas, loungers and towels to guests.
Beach cruisers, surrey's and tandem cruisers are all available for rental at concierge.
The Blue Pig Tavern
Visit local favorite The Blue Pig for breakfast, lunch or dinner in its cozy tavern environment with patio dining. Ingredients are grown nearby at Beach Plum Farm. Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. and the restaurant serves dinner until 10 p.m.
Nicknamed Cape May's living room, the Brown Room and Veranda Bar feature a fireplace, oversized seating and a mahogany and marble setting. Open from noon to 1 a.m., the Brown Room offers appetizers and live music, as well as cocktails for mom and dad.
Tommy's Folly General Store & Coffee Shop
This is your place for grab-n-go sandwiches, salads, soups and pastries to enjoy on the veranda or the great lawn. Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Beach & Cabana Service
While on the beach, attendants will deliver food to your chair at Congress Street between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Congress Hall features self and valet parking.
The Art of Smart Timing
Cape May is a summer destination on the Jersey Shore. As such, the best time to visit the hotel is during the summer months, when the kids' and family programs are available. It is also when the hotel is at its peak, so rates may be higher and dates may be harder to book. You can still enjoy the beach during the early fall, when prices drop and accommodation availability increases, but you'll have to do without the family programming. However, there is enough to do in Cape May before the winter season closes many of the attractions down so a fall trip is still worth it.
Cape May is located at the very southern tip of the Jersey Shore. It is an island accessible via two toll bridges from the north, or via ferry from the south. By car, the toll road into the area can be congested on summer weekends, with weekenders from Philadelphia and New York driving in. Cape May is less than a two-hour drive from Philadelphia.
For Mom and Dad
The Boiler Room
While the kids are at the kids' club, be sure to head down to The Boiler Room, a very hip nightclub in the heart of Congress Hall.
Mom and dad can also enjoy massage therapies in cabana-style treatment rooms, seven days a week.