The River House: Your Summer Escape

Opening this summer, the River House in New Hope, Pennsylvania takes its place on the banks of the Delaware River, nestled on lush acreage and standing where the once famous Chez Odette’s entertained society’s upper crust. The intent of the newly developed luxury hotel is to retain that same reputation as a sought-after venue that combines glamour and comfort and is rewarded with a loyal following. 

Reflecting the historical ties of this property, it was named the River House, the same name given to the original inn and tavern built in the mid-1700’s. Inside the new River House is Odette’s restaurant, a name that pays homage to the second proprietress of the property Odette Myrtil, who turned the inn into a French inspired cabaret and piano bar that became a favorite of Hollywood elites. The establishment remained a restaurant, hosting parties and providing wild nights into the early 2000’s.  

While the original building was moved 1000 feet up the road, its history has been retained through architectural features and artifacts, conveyed in a modern and elegant property that is designed to bring both coziness and awe to today’s visitors.   

Walking through the entrance to the River House, guests will feel as if they have entered a sophisticated Manhattan hotel, or a chic Paris inn. This vision for River House grew from the mind and experience of Ron Gorodesky, CEO of Refined Hospitality, a luxury-lifestyle hospitality management brand. Gorodesky sees this property as his crown jewel. “It’s easy for me talk about how beautiful it is but if you see pictures and then visit it’s just outstanding, It’s a very special place.” 

The new exterior structure with wooden framing, strategically placed stone walls and iron stairs give an almost industrial feel to the property. However, that image is eclipsed when you enter the doors. 

The facility features 38 guest rooms, appointed in bold and highly curated furnishings, from single rooms to penthouse suites. Giving a nod to original Chez Odette’s establishment, a restaurant, piano lounge and rooftop bar will provide food and entertainment in easy yet sophisticated surroundings. 

Today’s Odette’s is an indoor/outdoor restaurant with seating for about 200. It will have a broad traditional menu to please the palates of the local clientele as well as visitors. If full dining is not in the plans, guests can go to the Piano Lounge to settle into a leather couch and enjoy lighter fare and signature cocktails, served while piano players provide entertainment.  

A rooftop restaurant, simply called “The Roof” is an exclusive dining experience for hotel guests and members only. The Roof will have its own chef serving bold food choices with a focus on presentation and freshness. The space overlooks the water with cozy inside seating featuring two fireplaces, and outdoor seating with umbrellas to block sun and heaters to ward off evening chills. Gorodesky said membership for the restaurant are $1000 annually and they sold out within two weeks. He now has a waiting list of more than 200. “To stand on the deck at The Roof is just breathtaking,” he said. 

For Gorodesky, a big part of the formula for developing luxury resorts is to focus on the event and wedding space and build from that. “From experience, our number is 120 people, so we targeted indoor/outdoor space that could hold that number,” he said. The ballroom is pure glamour with high ceilings and a wall of glass providing sweeping views of the river. But to keep the space warm and inviting, romance is not forgotten as the custom wallpaper features musical notes and love letters gathered from Chez Odette’s past. 

Outside, Gorodesky wanted to identify a special place for ceremonies and succeeded in locating a lush waterfront parcel that sits where the two canals meet. “It was perfect. Two canals meet like two people’s lives join when they get married,” Gorodesky commented. It is that thought and detail that helped bring this project together into an elegant and vibrant destination. 

Gorodesky is no newcomer to fine establishments with a career spanning more than 30 years. He started working in restaurants as a dishwasher at the age of 12. Since that time, he has opened more than 100 restaurants, many iconic and well-known, and conceptualized even more for other people. “It was natural for me to extend hospitality in food and beverage to a guest room experience.” Gorodesky is CEO at the Restaurant Advisory Services and opened Refined Hospitality as a subsidiary. The team he has built brings more than 100 years of collective experience in developing and managing hospitality destinations.

Gorodesky knew the Odette’s property and jumped at the chance to develop it with his view that New Hope is “ground zero” with its proximity to Manhattan and Philadelphia, waterfront location and culturally infused neighborhood. “I got involved in the project when it was just an idea, so a lot of that property came out of my brain. I brought on the design team and culinary team and all the people that will manage the property,” Gorodesky said.

The project was not without its challenges. The first step was to move the historic building that housed Odette’s. Getting permits and meeting requirements to build on historic property that has flooded multiple times also presented roadblocks. It was a long and expensive process that began in December 2018 and will wrap up this summer.  

Gorodesky’s enthusiasm for this project is evident when asked what he believes his guests will take away from an experience at the River House. “We focus on essentially the experience of how you feel about yourself when you are at the property. If you walk in the door and feel really good about yourself, you feel good because you feel safe, the air feels good, the space just feels right. We have created that feeling—it’s an art—and it makes people want to come back. We deliver on the promise of what they felt when they walked in the door.”