by Lissa Poirot
Drive over the Wright Memorial Bridge to the Outer Banks, and enter Kitty Hawk. To the right is the Visitor Center, home to a full-scale reproduction of the Wright Brothers’ plane and a 2003 monument celebrating the First Flight Centennial. You’ll be hard pressed not to stop and sightsee immediately, but just ahead is the beach and pier with the towering (for the relatively flat area) Hilton Garden Inn, a five-story, twin towers hotel — one of the few hotels that sits right on the beach in the Outer Banks. Separated from the ocean by dunes, 180 rooms face the Atlantic. Guests can wake up to a sunrise before heading to the beach, or the hotel’s large seasonal outdoor pool, another special treat for guests foregoing the many vacation rentals and electing to stay at a hotel.
Our Editor Loves
- Located right on the Outer Banks beach
- Refrigerators and microwaves in all rooms
- Private fishing pier
- Free Wi-Fi
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Of the hotel's 180 rooms, families can choose from standard guest rooms with one king or two king beds, or suites with one king bed, a separate living area and a sofa bed -- both of which feature private balconies and views of the ocean. I prefer the suite with a sitting area, desk and extra chairs, but the standard rooms are roomy and do their job, especially when most of the vacation is spent on the beach. All rooms are equipped with a mini-fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, high-speed Internet access, and a 27-inch, flat-screen TV.
The hotel was just fine, nothing fantastic about our 20th Anniversary getaway. The room wasn’t the cleanest, the hot tub was broken, and
the service at breakfast was less than attentive. The rate of $321 a night was pricey for what we got or didn’t get, certainly not what I experienced of Hilton in the past and not what one
would expect from a Hilton.
This was a good overnight stopping place after spending a couple days in Norfolk and prior to boarding the ferries to the south. Luckily our visit was a few weeks before Hurricane Dorian tore up Highway 12 on Ocracoke Island. The hotel is convenient to the Wright Brothers National Monument and is located right on the beach with a private boardwalk to the Atlantic sands. Personnel at the front desk were very pleasant and the dining room was a good dinner choice on a stormy night when we didn't want to go out. Breakfast was standard HGI fare which is a nice perk for Honors members with high enough status. Our room was clean and quiet and the balcony was a great place to watch the storm after it moved out to sea after dark.
The main feature of the Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks/Kitty Hawk is its beach access, but if surf and sand aren't your thing, the outdoor pool overlooking the beach is an excellent alternative. The pool is open seasonally, but in the winter, guests can also enjoy the year-round indoor pool, which is heated and open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The hotel also provides an outlet for kids to play in its arcade, which is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Children under 16 are not allowed in without adult supervision, so it may be a good idea to keep the kids from knowing the arcade opens so early!
The Great American Grill at the Hilton Garden Inn provides cooked-to-order breakfasts and dinner daily, as well as seasonal lunch. At night, the grill provides in-room dining options. Lunch is served April 1 through Oct. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily. Dinner is available year-round from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Pavilion Lounge, located in the hotel lobby, provides ready-to-cook meals and snacks, perfect for storing and cooking in guestroom refrigerators and microwaves. The lounge is open 24 hours a day.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The hotel is connected to the year-round Kitty Hawk Fishing Pier and guests of the hotel have free access.
The hotel provides coin-operated laundry facilities, perfect for longer stays or toddler messes.
The Art of Smart Timing
The Outer Banks is a seasonal beach destination. While there are less crowds in the winter, there are less options for dining and attractions, as so many shut down between late fall and spring. To enjoy all the Outer Banks has to offer -- sans crowds -- visit in the fall, when an Indian summer will keep the ocean warm and inviting. The Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks/Kitty Hawk, however, is open year-round with a year-round pool and restaurant, so it does make for a nice getaway in the winter months if you're seeking a quiet destination.
The hotel and Outer Banks are 90 miles south of Norfolk, Va., and its international airport.