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Nittany Lion Inn
200 West Park Avenue
State College, PA 16803
800-233-7505

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On Red, White, and Plucky, we spent a night in State College, Pennsylvania at the Nittany Lion Inn, located on the campus of Penn State. Built in 1933 and featured on the National Register of Historic Hotels of America, the place is immediately aesthetically pleasing, white Colonial with dormers and shutters big wide porches on the ground level. Itís rich in the kind of character and attention to detail modern hotels often lack.

Consider, for example, the lobby, a grand affair with more than a dozen comfy couches, a fireplace, and a bowl of fresh apples for the taking. The park-like grounds that surround the place (it is literally on the campus) makes sitting on those porches a desirable way to spend some time. And there are antiques scattered in halls and nooks and conversation areas in unexpected areas. This is the kind of hotel that remains in one's memory banks as something special.

The place turned out to be about a 100 times larger than we first thought - there are so many twisting, turning hallways that we half expected the creepy twins from "The Shining" to be lurking around a corner saying in their flat British monotone, "Come play us, Danny... forever... and ever..." Mary has gotten lost at least twice and may resort to leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to find her way back to her room.

The rooms themselves are attractive but a little more sterile when compared to the rest of the hotel. Itís vaguely French provincial, which is never exactly plush, but everything was well-kept and the amenities list was long so we got over it. They offer free high-speed Internet (the fastest we have ever experienced), irons and boards, in-room coffee makers, mini-fridges, and much more.

On site facilities and services include a fitness center, a putting green, free parking, a free shuttle to the airport and around the sprawling campus, and two restaurants. We had dinner in their bar/cafe Whiskers and it was not only cheap, but really, really good. Mary had a mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwich with a balsamic reduction while Rick had a cheese steak sandwich sliced from prime rib and a bowl of Parmesan cheese intensive French onion soup.

Service was impeccable. The front desk attendant was one of the best we've ever encountered, offering efficient assistance, helpful advice, and a friendly smile.

The location is terrific as well. With the free shuttle you can get anywhere on campus that is too far to walk easily and itís less than a mile to the main business district of State College so really, what more can you ask for?

As we understand it, this is understandably considered the nicest place in town and prices reflect that. That is not to say that they are necessarily expensive Ė figure about $150 per night and up Ė but compared to the chain motels and hotels scattered through the rest of town this one is probably going to top them in most instances.

We think itís totally worth it.

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