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The Richardson Hotel Review: Spending the Night in a Historic Asylum in Buffalo

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Throughout New York, there are many unique and historic hotels. However, few have the history and quality of The Richardson Hotel in Buffalo. (Check current prices here)

This property, which opened as a hotel in early 2023 after the Hotel Henry (which opened in 2017) closed, has a long history that adds to the mystique of the property.

The building that would become The Richardson Hotel was part of the Richardson Olmsted Campus and opened in 1880 as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. The building was designed by famed architect Henry Hobson Richardson and the grounds were designed by noted landscape architect William Law Olmstead, making this one of the most important structures in western New York.

Back entrance to Hotel Henry in Buffalo NY at night
The back entrance to The Richardson Hotel.

While the name would change over the years, the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane occupied this complex until the 1970s. In 1986, the building was declared a National Historic Landmark.

Today, parts of the complex still sit abandoned, including portions abutting the hotel, but about a third of the building has been transformed into one of the nicest hotels in the Greater Niagara region.

Of course, given its history as an abandoned asylum, there are many that think that the hotel might be haunted, and there is no shortage of spooky stories if you search on the internet. That being said, the property is so nicely done that it’s easy to forget this history and simply enjoy your stay in this great hotel.

Main entrance to the Hotel Henry Urban Resort in Buffalo NY
The front entrance of The Richardson Hotel.

From the exterior, the castle-like appearance of the Richardson Hotel is quite imposing and beautiful to look at. In fact, my young son instantly started calling us all “princes” and “princesses” when he saw it.

I should note here that, from here on out, the review before was from my stay at the Hotel Henry, which was the iteration before The Richardson Hotel. From photos, I believe that the interiors are very similar, which is why I’ve left the review up until I have a chance to stay there again, but note that some things may have changed since the hotel reopened under new management.

The interior spaces of the Hotel Henry are incredibly well done and are quite stylish, but with a nod to the fact that you are located inside of a historic 150-year-old building. Unlike the Amsterdam Castle that I stayed at in eastern New York, the Hotel Henry doesn’t lean into its castle-like appearance but still does an excellent job combining historic elements and modern touches.

Hallway inside the Hotel Henry in Buffalo New York
The hallways inside the hotel are incredibly beautiful.

After checking in, guests are provided with a map of the property. The Hotel Henry features winding corridors on multiple levels, and finding your way around can be a bit of a challenge, so the map is well appreciated (once you actually manage to find the check-in desk, which was squirreled away on the building’s second floor, that is).

During my stay, I was hosted inside one of the Hotel Henry’s standard double-bed rooms. Despite being a standard room, I was incredibly impressed with the design of the room and the quality of the furnishings. The beds here were also quite comfortable.

A double room in the Hotel Henry.
A double room at the Hotel Henry.

Outside of the room, I had a ton of fun just walking the hallways of the Hotel Henry. It was really neat to see the designs here and the many great artistic touches that were added to the walls of the property.

My favorite spots were the wide hallways that had an almost majestic ballroom feel to them even though they simply led to the many rooms in the property.

Art inside the Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center in western New York
The hotel’s hallways feature great works of art.

The hotel provides visitors with a self-guided tour map for those looking to not only explore the grounds but also to learn more about it. Members of the public are also welcome to walk around the hotel, so you can check out the interior of the Hotel Henry in Buffalo even if you aren’t staying at the property.

Outside, the hotel is just as stunning with an incredible landscape designed by Olmstead that is still reflected in the property.

The road approaching the Hotel Henry, part of the old Richardson Olmsted Campus in Buffalo NY
The road approaching The Richardson Hotel

One of my favorite aspects of the property was walking around the outside of the unrestored section of the property and getting a chance to peer inside this abandoned asylum. There are tours offered of this part of the complex, and I’d love to get a chance to explore it someday.

Ultimately, I can’t say enough good things about my stay at the Hotel Henry, and I’m sure it’s just as great as The Richardson Hotel in Buffalo, New York (Check current prices here). Whether you are a history buff looking to stay in one of the most historic buildings in the city or simply are looking for an incredibly nice hotel to stay at when visiting Buffalo, you definitely can’t go wrong with a stay at this beautiful property.

Looking for more things to do in Buffalo? Check out the home of the Buffalo wing, the Buffalo Zoo, and the Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck.

You can also spend the night in several unique treehouses in New York!

More nearby places worth exploring

Find more things to do in Greater Niagara

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