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- The Renaissance Reno Downtown offers a quieter stay away from the casinos, but is still close to all the action.
- The hotel recently launched an Art Studio Package that turns suites into private art studios.
- I spent one night in a King Bed Suite for $220 to test out this package.
- My rate included an upgraded room, art supplies, and a complimentary bike rental.
- Read more: Is it safe to stay in a hotel right now? An infectious disease doctor, a cleaning expert, and hotel reps all share what you should know before you check-in.
Reno and its famed casinos may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of the arts, but walk around downtown and you'll find a city center filled with murals by local street artists like Erik Burke and Joe C. Rock, as well as many impressive sculptures that once made their debut at Burning Man. Plus, Reno is considered the gateway to the world-famous art festival that takes place every year in the Black Rock Desert 120 miles north of the city.
A new package from the Reno Renaissance Downtown is inviting guests to rethink the biggest little city in Northern Nevada and delve into its artistic side. While Reno's main strip attracts most of the city visitors' attention and cash with its flashy casinos, the Renaissance is set back a block from the noisy main strip, right on the Truckee River and within view of the desert mountains on the horizon.
The Renaissance Reno Downtown opened in 2017 as Reno's first non-gaming, non-smoking, and pet-friendly hotel. Every Renaissance hotel works to incorporate an element of the local identity into its design and in Reno, this hotel highlights the bright colors and raw creativity of the city's local artists. What started as a street-art themed bar on the basement floor expanded to a gallery in the lobby, murals by local artists on the exterior wall, and a new package that pairs the hotel's best views with a full set of art supplies.
I spent one night in a King Bed Suite as part of the Art Studio Inspired Package, which includes a blank canvas, art supplies like acrylic paints, pastels, and pencils, a complimentary bike rental, and spray paint to contribute to the hotel's guest-made outdoor mural, all of which cost $220 per night before taxes and fees. While entry-level rooms with no package start at $150, I found the upgraded room worth the extra cost alone and enjoyed getting in touch with my creative side during my stay.
In addition to the fun hotel package, I was also keen to explore the Reno and Tahoe area as an outdoor escape during the pandemic. I visited during fall when the temperatures were mild and the autumn colors were on full display. The Renaissance Reno Downtown proved to be an excellent home base for enjoying the area.
Additionally, the Renaissance had well thought out COVID-19 protocols in place, including supplying information about how the room was cleaned, providing hand sanitizer stations near the elevators and doors, and employees masked and protected behind plexiglass barriers.
I felt very secure throughout my stay and would happily return again, pandemic or not.
- First impression
- The room
- On-site amenities
- What's nearby
- What others say
- What you need to know
- COVID-19 policies
- The bottom line
- Book Renaissance Reno Downtown starting at $150 per night
Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by the Renaissance Reno Downtown.
Painted in matte black, the hotel stands out in the Reno skyline with its large clocktower. Upon entering, the elegant front lobby pops with local color and emphasizes the creative side of Reno right off the bat.
In the community room, a complimentary meeting space, the walls burst with paintings and some unique costumes and sculptures created by local artists are even on display. The modern lobby was teeming with color, from the display advertising wares from a local thrift shop to a wall decorated with dog tags left behind from past guests and their canine companions.
I arrived on a Monday morning and was pleased to find the lobby nearly empty and my room ready early. Plexiglass partitions created a barrier between me and the employees, who all wore masks. There were also a few posted signs to remind guests to socially distance. When it was necessary for me to sign something, I took a fresh pen from the clean pens cup and deposited it in the dirty pens cup when I was finished.
All checked in, I took the elevator up to my room.
My King Bed Suite, an upgraded room that was included in the cost of the package, was an extremely spacious corner room with multiple floor-to-ceiling windows.
With the bed in one corner of the room and a wall-mounted television that could be adjusted, the room was anything but cramped. Filling the extra space, a chaise lounge and armchair offered some seating in addition to the desk chair on a narrow table in the corner.
The design scheme was contemporary, but not particularly glamorous in any way apart from the size and view. The understated black and blue color scheme highlighted the simple oak furniture pieces, which created a vibe that felt professional without becoming too stuffy or corporate. Given the amount of art in the lobby, I was a little surprised to find bare walls without any paintings or other works of art.
The bathroom was also extremely roomy with a double vanity sink, separate rooms for the toilet and shower, and a makeup counter. Another large window let in plenty of natural light and a deep Jacuzzi tub was a particular highlight.
As the package promised, an art studio was set up in the corner of the room. In addition to the art supplies and canvas, I was also provided an apron and a white sheet had been spread out to protect the carpet. Spray paint was also provided, which I would use later to leave my mark on a blank wall tucked away downstairs.
The art kit was a Daler-Rowney Simply Art Essentials Set, which included acrylic paints, paintbrushes, colored pencils, and oil pastels, as well as a few pencil sharpeners. The quality is at the beginner's level, but perfectly suitable for amateur artists like myself. A bowl of fruit had also been set up nearby for inspiration and snacking.
The view from the room was especially inspiring thanks to the Truckee River fringed in yellow Aspen trees and the bare mountains on the horizon. I was also perfectly positioned to watch the moon rise on a night where it was nearly-full, which was a magical sight.
I found the bed very comfortable and slept extremely well. The back headboard of the bed was wide enough to also function as a big table and it was nice to charge my phone right above my head. The sheets felt soft, but also very clean, and the rest of the room was equally spotless.
Daily housekeeping had been suspended, but I could have requested it if needed. The hairdryer and bathrobes had also been removed from the room because of COVID-19, but I could have also requested these items if I needed them.
This hotel has a variety of rooms, including single and double guest rooms with King- or Queen-sized beds at the most basic level. However, there is a big difference between the standard guest rooms and the "larger guest rooms," like the one I was in. The larger guest rooms are all located on the top floor, and, as it turns out, the top floor was a completely new addition when the hotel was recently renovated. That means the ceilings are much higher and the rooms are significantly bigger. On lower floors, the rooms are based on the layout of the old hotel and not as spacious.
I was traveling with someone who did not book the artist's package so I did get to take a peek into their entry-level Queen Guest Room to compare it to my upgraded stay. The room had a similar contemporary design, but it was a little cramped, especially in the bathroom. Currently, larger rooms are only approximately $20 more than standard rooms, which is well worth the space and view upgrade. I would certainly spend the small amount extra on a return visit for an upgraded room even if I were not doing the artist package.
For those who really want to indulge, suites are also located on the top floor and the hotel offers both studio-sized and one-bedroom suites, which typically start around $300 per night.
When it comes to amenities, the rooftop pool, which is located on the fourth floor, is particularly stylish with colorful seating areas and murals painted by local artists. I didn't take a dip since I visited in November, but in the warmer months this would be a particular perk. While I didn't see any guests using the pool, I did notice that the lounge chairs were well spaced out for socially distancing.
The pool terrace lets guests enjoy the city panorama from two sides and the clocktower's terrace is a fantastic place to take photographs with some unique architecture and a nice view.
There is also a spa and a small, but well-equipped fitness room. I did not try out the Refuge Spa myself, but when I walked by I did see that the desk attendants were all wearing masks and that treatments were currently available. The fitness room felt thoroughly clean and I did not see any other guests in it during my stay.
On-site parking is complimentary for all guests and cruiser-style bikes are available to rent for $10.
Bundox Bocce is a 22,000 square-foot venue where you can try your hand at this classic Italian sport or enjoy the arcade and bar. Although it was closed at the time of my visit due to the pandemic, I was impressed by how many courts there were and also the remote-controlled scorekeeping system. If you are a very competitive bocce player, however, you should know only the outside courts are regulation-size. You can also look into the venue from the second floor of the hotel where the conference rooms and banquet hall are.
In the lobby, Darkshot Coffee offered options way beyond standard hotel lobby coffee with a full menu of coffee drinks, plus seasonal specials like maple cinnamon lattes and hot apple cider concoctions.
The Shore, the hotel's on-site restaurant, was a great spot with a sophisticated metallic aesthetic. I enjoyed a perfectly crispy chicken sandwich and fries, which I ordered from the masked waiters. Socially distanced window-side and outdoor seating also offered a chance to enjoy a unique view looking down over the rocky bank of the river.
The Renaissance Reno Downtown is a short five-minute walk from casinos like the El Dorado and Silver Legacy. The Cal Neva Casino is right across the street from the hotel, but according to locals, is one of the lowest-tier gambling venues on the strip. Also right across the street, the National Automobile Museum houses an impressive collection of antique cars and during my stay, I noticed coupons available at the cafe that offered 10 percent off tickets.
If you're looking for another restaurant to try, Cafe Whitney on the main strip offers a delicious menu based on seasonal ingredients. Or, if you don't mind a short 10-minute drive, you can go out for brunch at either Midtown Eats, which has an impressive liquor collection, or Two Chicks, which typically has a long wait, in the newly fashionable and hip part of the city, where you'll also find some cute shopping boutiques.
Reno's city hall sits catty-corner to the hotel and houses two notable pieces of the city's public art: Matt Schultz's Space Whale and Laura Kimpton's BELIEVE sculptures, both of which made their debut at Burning Man. If you follow the river upstream, you'll find more public art and a lovely path for walking or biking. And if you prefer to enjoy art indoors, the Nevada Museum of Art is a 10-minute walk away from the hotel and houses a collection of modern art that includes works by Andy Warhol and Kehinde Wiley, the artist behind Barack Obama's famously lush presidential portrait.
Most reviews commend the hotel for its cleanliness, comfortable beds, central location, and decor. Past guests have also noted their appreciation of the hotel's smoke-free status, which does make it stand out among Reno's other hotels.
However, others do comment that they felt unsafe walking around at night due to the number of people experiencing homelessness in the surrounding area. Some guests note that the bathrooms are cramped and others lament the pet fee, which is $75 per night. There is no amenity fee, but there is a small $2 city fee.
One reviewer notes that the hotel feels out of place in its location and is too expensive, writing on TripAdvisor "You can walk two blocks north, stay at the El Dorado for less than a third of what the Renaissance will cost you." At the same time, this is what other reviewers believe made the hotel worth the price, one person writing "I like that it's a non-smoking and casino free hotel. It makes it easy to conduct business and relax."
Who stays here: This hotel offers a gambling-free alternative for business and leisure travelers in Reno with family-friendly entertainment options like the bocce bar. The hotel is also popular with skiers who may fly into Reno first before heading to nearby resorts.
We like: The hotel's location on the river is really lovely and while some rooms boast views of downtown Reno and the surrounding mountains, all guests can enjoy similar views from the rooftop pool.
We love: The hotel maintains the elegant ambiance expected of a Renaissance property while shining a light on Reno's art scene and inviting local artists to paint murals on their facade.
We think you should know: The hotel is downtown, but not on the main strip, which is probably a good thing if you're not in Reno to gamble. The area can be rowdy at night, especially on weekends; although the riverside location is beautiful, you will see some people struggling with homelessness.
We'd do this differently next time: Booking the Art Studio Inspired Package meant I would have a suite with an inspiring view, but I'd advise any other guest booking a regular room at the hotel to try to get a room on the ninth floor where the rooms are newer and you'll have floor to ceiling windows. These are listed on booking sites as "Larger Guest Room."
In Nevada, hotels are responsible for providing hand washing or hand sanitizer stations and all employees and guests must wear masks in public spaces and maintain social distancing whenever possible. At the time of my stay, Washoe County had reported over 15,000 cases of COVID-19 in 2020.
As a Marriott Hotel, the Renaissance Reno Downtown adheres to the brands "Commitment to Clean Standards." This means increasing how frequently public spaces are disinfected, requiring hotel staff to wear masks, and using electrostatic disinfectant sprayers to further sanitize rooms and public spaces. In-room amenities like dryers and bathrobes were removed, but are available upon request. Valet service has been discontinued and mobile-check-in is available for those who prefer it.
- The hotel felt pretty quiet during my stay, so I did not notice anyone bucking social distancing norms or not wearing a mask.
- I had expected not to have housekeeping but wish I had been told at check-in that bathrobes and hair dryers needed to be requested.
- In addition to the plexiglass barriers separating staff from guests in the lobby and at the coffee shop, there were many hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the hotel, including inside each elevator.
- In my room, a card was on display that listed out every high touch surface that had been sanitized from the light switches to the luggage racks and the remote control.
- The card also noted that the hotel had "implemented elevated cleaning protocols and advanced cleaning technology throughout our public spaces" and that housekeeping would only be provided at request.
The hotel's cleanliness was thorough and included thoughtful touches like keeping a hand sanitizer dispenser inside the elevator, which I had not seen anybody do before. My room was pristine and I have no reason to believe that every surface had not been sanitized. Because the hotel was so empty during my Monday night stay in November, I always felt like I had plenty of room to distance myself from the few other guests I crossed paths with.
The Renaissance Downtown Reno caught my attention with their unique idea, but this was just the tip of the iceberg for my exploration of the hotel and Reno as a creative hotspot. Between the gallery in the lobby and the discoveries I made while exploring downtown on Art Spot Reno tour, it was an enlightening introduction to the local art scene. Even if you're not an art-lover, the Art Studio Inspired Package is a wonderful way to switch up your next hotel stay in Reno.
Beyond the fun package, the Renaissance Reno Downtown is a high-class hotel that offers guests an alternative to the traditional glitz of the city's casinos, without being snobby about it. I was also thoroughly impressed with how they are handling the pandemic and felt safe throughout my stay.
By committing to showing work by local artists, hosting a non-gambling entertainment venue, and encouraging guests to get out and about and explore the city by bike, the Renaissance is a great choice for those who are curious to discover another side to the city.