The giant pink glass bunny that greets guests at the entrance of Glass Light Hotel and Gallery is the first clue that Norfolk’s newest boutique hotel aims to delight. Designed to house an ever-expanding collection of unique and ornate glass held by the proprietors, the Perry family, the hotel is brimming with one-of-a-kind pieces from artists like Dale Chihuly, Peter Bremers, and Stephen Powell. The effect is striking, especially set within the circa-1910 building.
Glass-blowing themes stretch throughout the hotel. The bunnies (a second one lounges at the entrance of the bar), a display of pieces lining the event meeting space, and blown-glass carrots in every room stage whimsical touches throughout. Behind the front desk, wooden staves mimic a kiln, and art in the rooms hint at the colored glass rods used in the art form. Opening this fall, a gallery adjacent to the hotel will showcase more than seventy pieces from the family’s collection. Modern with a few Art Deco touches, the hotel serves as an elegant jumping off point for exploring this coastal city’s charm.
Crowning downtown’s Grandy Street, Glass Light sits at the heart of the city’s business district. To continue the glass-as-art theme, take a fifteen-minute walk to the Chrysler Museum. There, visit the Perry Glass Studio along with contemporary and historic art. Or, explore the city’s military roots with a visit to the maritime museum, Nauticus, and the Battleship Wisconsin.
Elevated Dining at the Glass Light Hotel
After nine years cooking in New York for chefs like Daniel Boulud, chef Zack Close returned to his hometown. At the Glass Light, he marries his fine-dining training with Southern sensibilities.
The new American menu at the hotel restaurant shines with French technique and presentation, all delivered in a smart-looking lobby restaurant where the art on the plate matches what’s in the room. Look for his slow-braised octopus charred crispy and served over a bed of fingerlings, or the Joyce Farms duck breast alongside haricot vert, apricot puree, and baby carrots. For breakfast, go for the rolled omelet with potato hash. To drink, the American-heavy wine list includes a decent selection of large-format bottles while cocktails, like the rye-based, cinnamon-tinged Number Zero lean into the seasons.
With some of the best views in town, the spacious guest rooms at the Glass Light hotel feel like floating artist studios. The stark white bed linens, walls, and painted brick allow details like the artwork, royal blue chairs, and globe lighting to pop. Request a room with a stand-alone tub with views overlooking the city.
- by Erin Byers Murray