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When we told our friends that we were going to Buffalo to celebrate our anniversary, they responded with surprise: "Don't Canadians go to Buffalo to shop and get cheap flights?"

Sign in front of The Mansion hotel
Sign in front of The Mansion hotel
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"Well, yes," we answered, but the city has more than airport hotels, as we discovered when we stayed at The Mansion (address: 414 Delaware Avenue).

Free valet parking

What makes the 28-room boutique hotel so special for anniversaries, weddings and other special events? The butlers, for starters.

Butlers are available 24 hours/day for advice about things to see and do in Buffalo. Their complimentary services include pressing clothing, shining shoes, valet parking and driving you in a Range Rover within a three-mile (4.8-km) radius of the hotel for dining, shopping or sightseeing in downtown Buffalo.

The Fireside Salon contains a book of Buffalo restaurant menus. The butlers are happy to provide restaurant recommendations for dine-in or take-out.

A tablet computer at the reception desk features Pinterest photos with links to suggested restaurants to help you make your selection.

Take-out from Buffalo restaurants

If you prefer to cozy up in front of one of the hotel's 10 fireplaces and dine-in, the butlers can place your order at a variety of downtown Buffalo restaurants.

For a small service fee, they'll not only pick up your take-out meal, but also transfer it from the disposable containers to the hotel's china dishes and serve the meal on fine linens with glassware and flatware.

Although The Mansion has no restaurant, you can also order cheese and fruit trays and in-house made pizzas from the 24-hour room-service menu.

Happy hour wine

One of the most appreciated butler services is pouring complimentary fine wines for guests during happy hour in the Billiards Salon. During our visit, butler Rory Pusateri served a selection of three white wines, including an excellent Gavi, and three red wines, highlighted by a memorable Ona Aneka Chilean Pinot Noir.

The wines were selected by Lisa Vitello, The Mansion's event planner, who also selected the drinks for the honor bar.

Butler, Rory Pusateri, serves wine to guests in the Billiards Salon.
Butler, Rory Pusateri, serves wine to guests in the Billiards Salon.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

When we drove our car up to the hotel, it was raining. Rory Pusateri appeared with a large gold and blue umbrella to ensure that we remained dry until we entered the hotel's magnificently restored mahogany doors, nearly a century-and-a-half-years-old.

Butlers often go above and beyond the call of duty, as Rory once did when he was driving a guest to a book signing at Buffalo's Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site. When the guest realized that he had forgotten to wear a tie with his suit, Rory lent him his own tie, which fortunately matched perfectly.

Western NY art

The friendliness of the 15 butlers emanates from the owners, Diana and Geno Principe, who bought the vacant 1870-era mansion with their business partner, Dennis Murphy, in 1998. After a US$3 million renovation, which preserved the hotel's American Gothic Second Empire architecture, they reopened The Mansion on Delaware Ave. in April 2001.

Owners Geno and Diana Principe with paintings by Western NY artists
Owners Geno and Diana Principe with paintings by Western NY artists
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

A remarkable collection of original paintings enhances the hotel's 18-foot (5.5-meter)-high walls. "All of the art is by Western New York artists," says Diana Principe. And it's all for sale.

The butlers showed us a binder with descriptions of the artists and their paintings with prices. You can also find the art on The Mansion's Pinterest board, with links to more detailed information on The Mansion's Tumblr pages.

Art Curator, Sandra A. Clarke, periodically rearranges and adds new art to the walls. "We love it because the updated art makes the rooms look different and creates new experiences for return guests," notes Diana. She plans to add QR codes to each piece, so guests can view the Tumblr.com information from their smartphones, while admiring the art.

Celebrity guests

A Wall of Fame around the main floor elevator displays The Mansion's awards and plaques, which include the Zagat Top Service Award, Trip Advisor's Certificate of Excellence and numerous AAA Four Diamond Awards.

The Mansion on Delaware is the only AAA Four Diamond Hotel in Buffalo, NY. When we complimented Geno Principe, he credited the hotel's 50 "great staff."

Hillary Clinton is one of the celebrities who have visited Buffalo and stayed at The Mansion. Alec Baldwin, Joan Baez and Julie Andrews left autographed photos that join the plaques on the wall. VIP guests sometimes arrive by helicopter on the landing pad in the hotel parking lot across the road.

Buffet breakfast

You don't have to be a celebrity to enjoy VIP amenities at this Buffalo NY hotel. We found our names printed on stationery and "in-residence" business cards on the glass desk next to the free high-speed WiFi Internet access, available to all guests.

A Chaine des Rotisseurs Gold Plate Award on the Wall of Fame recognizes the creative flair of Jennifer Boye. As The Mansion's chef, she provides decadent menus for weddings and special events, as well as a delicious (and beautiful) daily breakfast buffet for guests.

Buffet breakfast in the Billiards Salon
Buffet breakfast in the Billiards Salon
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Instead of the traditional Continental breakfast that we expected, we arrived in the Billiards Salon to find the red pool table transformed with food, flowers and art. During our stay, the breakfast included fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, pink grapefruit, purple and green grapes, hot and cold cereals with dried apricots, almonds, macadamia nuts and yogurt, freshly baked croissants, dried fruit scones, olives, cheese-stuffed peppers, smoked salmon and a tasty broccoflower, bacon and cherry tomato salad.

Let's just say that we were grateful that The Mansion also has a fitness room on the lower level with a treadmill, exercise bikes and other cardio-equipment.

Some of the herbs, fruits, vegetables and edible flowers for the breakfasts, weddings and special events come from the hotel's garden. Cocktails on the Lawn, held once a month in June, July and August, draws the public to The Mansion's side patio for innovative drinks, appetizers and entertainment by a singer and five-piece jazz band.

Romantic getaway

Rather than pillow chocolates, room attendants leave guests a plate of Jen Boye's addictive chocolate chip cookies during turn-down service.

The Mansion hotel makes it easy to cocoon in your room for a romantic evening in front of the fireplace. It even provides tea light candles.

Bathrooms feature massage showers and whirlpool tubs (except for two barrier-free rooms, which have walk-in waterfall showers with heated floors). A fresh flower, luxury bath salts and Temple Spa shampoo, conditioner, lotions and bath gels line the granite sink counter.

Thick terry bathrobes hang in the closet. The large screen TV offers 170 Time-Warner stations, six premium HBO channels and 45 channels of digital music, ranging from light classical to smooth jazz.

Guests can ask the butlers to book in-room couples' massages, as well as manicures and pedicures, which are popular for girlfriends' getaways and bridal parties. You can also order strawberries covered with Belgian chocolate from the room-service menu.

All perfect for celebrating a special anniversary.


The Mansion on Delaware Avenue: www.mansionondelaware.com