Just steps from the Stone Pony, the storied beachside rock club that helped launch the career of Bruce Springsteen, is The Asbury, the town’s first new hotel in decades. This modern, 110-room property trades heavily on the town’s rock ‘n’ roll pedigree, and is also decorated with old-fashioned carnival images that harken to the town’s 1920s heyday as a beach resort. The hotel officially opened the July 4th weekend one year ago, and, in many ways, is a symbol of Asbury Park’s regeneration. A 1973 Springsteen song — “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” — about the seaside town had it populated by “switchblade lovers” and “greasers” who slept on the beach. Now, during summer, the beach and boardwalk are crammed with families and day-trippers intent on a thoroughly wholesome time.
A block from the north end of Asbury Park’s boardwalk, near the 1930s Convention Hall, the eight-story hotel occupies a repurposed Salvation Army boardinghouse. Boutiques and restaurants line the revitalized boardwalk, alongside stalwarts such as the fortune teller’s booth, Madam Marie’s Temple of Knowledge.
Our adjoining rooms, one for my wife and I and the other for our daughter, were clean, bright and contemporary, their small size a reminder of the building’s past as a boardinghouse. The white walls with light gray accents were adorned with framed photos of beachgoers dancing and frolicking. Our view of the Atlantic was only slightly spoiled by a construction site, on which The Asbury’s developer, iStar, is building a second property.
Both were surprisingly spacious, lined with white tile. Malin + Goetz bath products were provided. The shampoo and conditioner dispensers were both empty — our sole disappointment with the hotel and a potential grooming catastrophe after a day spent swimming.
In The Asbury’s well-appointed lobby, there’s a tastefully —/– designed bar, stacks of rock stars’ biographies, a pool table, a vintage pinball machine and shelves lined with hundreds of LP records — from Lawrence Welk to Aretha Franklin. The rooftop bar, Salvation, has a D.J.; and on the sixth floor, an outdoor terrace is the scene of film screenings and yoga classes. On one summer Sunday last year, the hotel’s small pool was filled with children with inflatable toys and adults with colorful cocktails. The next-door Asbury Lanes, an iconic bowling alley and concert hall, is scheduled to reopen later this year.
The Asbury doesn’t have a restaurant, but we didn’t need one. A popular food truck is parked in the hotel’s beer garden specializing in hot dogs such as the fine “Jersey” variety, onto which was crammed fried potatoes, green peppers and onions. The truck was next to a chartreuse Volkswagen Microbus converted into a bar, with seven taps delivering micro-brewed beer. The Counter cafe in the lobby serves sandwiches, including the superlative “Classic NJ Pork Roll,” consisting of fried egg, cheese and Taylor ham — the less said about its nutritional value, the better. Healthier items, such as salads and cold-pressed juices, are available, as are cookies from the local Confections of a Rock Star Bakery and the unbeatable coffee of Jack’s Stir Brew, a New York-based chain. There is no room service, but guests can order takeout from the cafe by text.