Does your valentine crave chocolate, and lots of it? Skip the heart-shaped box of candies, and take him or her to the town that Milton Hershey built. From a rubdown with whipped cocoa butter to a Martini glass painted with dark chocolate syrup, a stay at this historic hotel and spa can deliver steamy, sugar-fueled, sweet dreams for you and your sweetheart.
Built in 1933, The Hotel Hershey is one of that properties that just oozes classic charm. In the main building, 228 guest rooms and suites are adorned with authentic artwork, historic photos and period bedding, drapes and other decorating touches. Need to spread out a bit? Book the two-bedroom 2,100 square feet Milton Hershey suite or the 1,450 square feet Catherine Hershey Suite, or one of 400 square feet one-bedroom Nostalgia Suites. And, adjacent to the main building, the upscale decor, marble bathrooms and native stone of the Woodside Cottages lend a luxe vibe, and convenient shuttle or golf cart service makes showing up for dinner or your spa appointment easy no matter the weather or season. (You can book a room, and larger groups can rent out an entire cottage, which includes either four or six bedrooms and provides access to a great room with cathedral ceilings, fireplace, microwave, wet bar and refrigerator.) All accommodations feature amenities including complimentary in-room WiFi, turndown service, a refrigerator and coffee maker, flat screen television with DirecTV and bath products from The Spa at The Hotel Hershey. I've stayed in both the hotel and a room in one of the cottages, and I definitely prefer the latter's spacious layout and more modern design. No matter where you sojourn you'll see candy bowls set out all over the property overflowing with Hershey Kisses, and not just in February--a true chocoholic's dream come true.
The Spa at the Hotel Hershey is most certainly the property's main attraction. On any given day, you'll see groups of happy spa-goers--from women on a girls' weekend, to wedding parties, to couples--congregating in the relaxation rooms, lunching in their robes and looking happy and blissfully relaxed. One thing to keep in mind: there are a lot of treatment rooms here, and the spa is always busy (some groups book treatments up to a year in advance), so at times it can feel overcrowded and more like an attraction than a spot for tranquility. Still, staff does it best to make sure everyone receives a personal touch, and the layout is designed so that the spa's many daily guests aren't on top of each other. Each visit starts by checking in and prepaying for services (20% gratuity is automatically tacked on to all services, meals and drinks at the spa.) Men’s and women’s locker rooms contain showers, several changing rooms, two steam rooms and areas (and amenities) to do your hair and makeup at the end of the day. Leave the locker room and head to a lower level to read by the indoor heated pool or take a dip (or a soak in the large jacuzzi), which are located adjacent to the hotel's poolside-facing rooms. Before or after your treatments, read, rest or rejuvenate in one of three relaxation rooms. A sign on the door of one gently reminds guests that no talking is allowed, another permits quiet chatting, and the first floor room is more of a social spot for groups comparing notes in-between massages. The quiet-but-not-silent room is the largest, with a fireplace, snacks and hot beverages (including hot cocoa!)
Speaking of chocolate, the spa's Everything Chocolate menu tempts with indulgences like a Whipped Cocoa Bath, Chocolate Sugar Scrub and Cocoa Massage. Several pre-designed packages combine several sweet treat treatments in one. If you prefer floral tones, the Rose Garden menu has wraps, facials and pampering for hands and feet--pretty popular with and recommended for mothers-to-be. Not feeling like having your body smell like dessert or a bouquet of flowers? I found the options Cuban Escape to be a fun alternative, especially the Mojito Sugar Scrub's and the Mojito Body Wrap's lime-scented products, which were tropical, fresh and fun. (Most recently, I booked the Noche Azul Massage, which uses a jasmine-scented massage oil that I found to be barely discernible. Before we even started, though, my therapist actually gave me a choice of scents--including chocolate--in case I had changed my mind since I booked.)
Incredibly popular is the Sweet Bliss Illuminating Facial, which lasts 120 minutes and includes various cleansers, masks, an eye treatment and another for hands and feet. I did the 60 minute Chocolate Spa Prescription Facial and added on an eye refresh, where porcelain spoons are kept in ice and used on the face to target dark circles and wrinkles, followed by a cooling eye mask. My face looked and felt amazing afterwards.
Keep in mind that the prices for spa treatments vary depending on the day you visit, and cost a little more on weekends (Friday through Sunday). The menu is very extensive, and if you find it a little confusing or just can't decide which options are for you, the toll free number will put you in touch with a friendly and helpful appointment booker who will be able to help you fill that spa schedule. And if you lucky enough to be hanging out all day in the spa, know that you don't even have to get dressed to show up for lunch. The buffet at The Oasis is full of tables of guests in their robes partaking in soups, salads, sandwiches and sweets that change daily. (While it's a fine, quick choice, I found it to be a bit underwhelming; I prefer to get dressed and have lunch at Harvest--see below for more info on Hershey's other dining options.)
The Iberian Lounge is a cozy setting to stare into your beloved’s eyes and sip a Martini by the fireplace--during my most recent visit, though, it was closed for a few months for renovations. I’m more apt to sip a cocktail at the stunning Circular Bar in the Circular Dining Room anyway. If you didn't get enough chocolate at the spa, order the signature Chocolate Martini, with chocolate and vanilla vodkas and white creme de cacao; other versions include one with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Special Dark Chocolate. Fans of more serious (and less sweet cocktails) may prefer the Bitter Italian, with Amaro Nonino, Aperol and Strega. And the most Instagram-and-Boomerang-worthy drink is the Sphered Fashioned. For it, ice sphere are partly frozen before removing the unfrozen water from their centers. Bourbon, maraschino and orange bitters are injected into the sphere, which is then cracked in front of the guest; the drink is garnished with black pepper. Very cool. A solid by-the-glass wine lists and international and local brews (including some from Troegs right next door) appeal to the oenophile and beer fan.
The Hotel Hershey has several dining options for any mood or budget. Begin the day with a cup of coffee, the newspaper and (what else?) a chocolate croissant at the Cocoa Beanery. Have lunch at Harvest, which focuses on seasonal, approachable cuisine; start with a trio of soups (She Crab, Amish Chicken Noodle and Groff's Sausage, White Bean and Kale) before a chunk-full-of-shellfish Lobster Cobb Salad or The Pittsburgh Burger, topped with grilled red onion, fried egg, French fries, coleslaw and Maytag bleu cheese, served on a Kaiser roll. Or head to Trevi 5 for a modern take on Italian, like yellowfin tuna crudo with blood orange, avocado crema, sea beans and black sesame, and duck confit pizza with Gorgonzola dolce, honey roasted chestnuts and arugula. Be sure to save one evening for the classic service and atmosphere of the Circular Dining Room, where even savory dishes have a touch of Hershey's chocolate, in the form of plates like cocoa dusted scallops with butternut squash puree, Brussels sprouts and bacon.