Pack Your Bags: A Traveler's Look at the Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Will and I packed our bags and got away from the kids this month. 


Our destination was romantic Siena, Italy. 

We're not really in Italy, but it feels like it. 

Nah, not really, but it certainly seemed like we were in Siena, Italy.  We only traveled about 30 minutes from home and checked into the Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill for a night.  It has one of the best Italian restaurants in the state, and we had never dined there since becoming a couple.  It was the perfect destination for a one-night getaway.

As soon as you walk into this European boutique hotel, which has been in operation since 1987 in this university town, you think “Wow!”

It’s opulent, yet intimate.  How can that be?

As soon as you cross the entryway, you’re no longer in Chapel Hill.  You feel as if you are in Siena, Italy, staying in at a Tuscan villa.

And that is exactly how the original owners of this hotel intended for you to feel.  They fell in love with Italy while on holiday and decided to bring some of it back for guests in the Triangle to enjoy as well.

The marble floors were imported from Italy. 

The common areas are filled with Italian antiques.

And this chair would suit an Italian royal, don’t you think?

It’s the little things at this hotel that make it feel as if you are in someone’s personal home.  The lobby is not crammed with bellhops and valet parking attendants.  Other than the same doorman who has been there since the beginning greeting guests, hotel guests transport their own bags to their rooms.  There is a cozy bar in the lobby, and the concierge serves warm cookies on his desk in the early evening hours.  In fact, some guests feel as if this is their home because they are guests of the Siena every time there is a home UNC-Chapel Hill football or basketball game.

There are only 79 rooms and suites in the inn, each with a complimenting look, but still unique in style.  We had a corner suite. 

Oh, yeah! This is amore!

The hotel is currently undergoing a renovation of all the rooms and will be finished by spring.  

The new look is modern blended with Italian tradition.  I gave a full review of the Siena Hotel, which you can read on Skimbaco Lifestyle.

The Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill, NC

It was so wonderful to take the elevator downstairs to dine at Il Palio, a farm-to-table ristorante named after the famous horse race in Siena.  

This restaurant is phenomenal.  It’s probably the best formal Italian restaurant I’ve personally been to outside of Italy.  We dined at a cozy corner table, and since I was on assignment, the chef prepared some extra special courses for us. 

Il Palio at the Siena Hotel

It was a pleasure talking with him about how he prepares his dishes.  Some of you may have already read about our experience at Il Palio because I did name the ristorante as my Fabulous Friday Pick earlier in the month.  I look forward to dining at the restaurant again, especially for a special occasion or holiday.

After about five delicious courses in Il Palio, we retreated to our quiet room about 11 p.m.  Franklin Street is a busy road in Chapel Hill, but we heard no exterior noise upon entering our suite and discovered our bed had been littered with some delicious chocolates, along with the next day’s forecast.

How sweet it is to sleep in and have not one little one wake you before you want to get up.

When you stay at the Siena, your room rate does include a complimentary breakfast in Il Palio.  However, we kept our robes on a little longer and ordered room service instead.

The extra expense, about $33, was worth it not to have to get dressed and rush downstairs.  Sounds silly, and not very romantic, but we were actually excited to see “CBS Sunday Morning” on TV. Typically at our house, we hear “SpongeBob Squarepants” or “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”  A gourmet breakfast with intellectual programming was a nice change.

Later that afternoon, we picked up our two, who did not miss us at all, and we were ready to tackle the world of parenting again. My sister-in-law said she loved having the kids and would love to have them again.  She probably shouldn’t have told me that because you know as well as I do that just got my mind churning for other destinations.

The Siena does offer a bed-and-breakfast package that includes room service and a late checkout.  For that package in a larger suite like ours, rates are around $250 plus taxes.  The best deal, though, in my opinion, is the Date Night Package, which includes drinks for two, a small plate in Il Palio, and a $100 voucher for dinner.  Rates are $233 to $269 depending on room selection.  The $100 voucher probably would not cover your entire meal for two in Il Palio, but it would cover the majority. To plan your visit to Chapel Hill, visit

Want to Go:
1505  East Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, N.C.

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Disclosure: I was a media guest of the Siena Hotel. I chose to be lazy in my suite in the morning and forgo the complimentary breakfast, and ordered room service at my own expense.  All opinions, as always, are my own. My thanks to The Siena Hotel and Summit Hotels for their Southern Hospitality with an Italian flair. 

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