Families and couples looking for an oceanfront resort on a wide and beautiful stretch of sand that’s not a cookie-cutter throwback will enjoy Blockade Runner. With a 50-year history, the hotel does show some signs of wear and tear, though that’s primarily in the public spaces, not the guest rooms. There’s easy beach access with amenities like kayaks and a fishing pier and a small outdoor pool for lounging. The rooms are comfortable with varying decor -- from standard tile floors and white bedding all the way to electric-blue wallpaper and zebra rugs. The bathrooms, while modern and stocked with toiletries, are small. Many rooms have true balconies, but those are the more expensive spaces; others have balconets that serve little purpose aside from charm. One of the upper-mid-range property’s best perks -- aside from free parking and Wi-Fi -- is the free daily buffet breakfast. But some guests think rates are on the high side, especially in the off-season, when the beach isn’t always an option.
A boring exterior gives way to an eye-catching, colorful lobby
Though the Blockade Runner’s exterior is average at best, the lobby is eye-catching. The ceiling is reminiscent of the waves of the ocean outside and the bright patterns -- think sea-blue tiled walls adorned with a school of silver fish, purple chairs, and a zebra rug -- are definitely conversation starters, if not to every travelers' taste. The grounds are quite pretty, featuring a large lawn and a lovely, picturesque white walkway to the wide, sandy beach with nautical flags.
Oceanfront location and easy beach access, all within a short walk to town
An oceanfront location in the heart of Wrightsville Beach is Blockade Runner’s best selling point. Along with the relaxing sound of waves, ocean views are everywhere, and the hotel’s waterfront locale means lots of opportunities for fishing and water-related sports. The commercial center of Wrightsville Beach, with restaurants and shopping, is a short walk away. Wilmington International Airport is only 20- to 25-minutes northwest by car. Parking at the hotel is free.
Roomy, with the exception of the bathrooms, with eclectic decor
Room decor varies wildly with minor commonalities, though amenities are standard across each category. There are four room categories, with most units facing the ocean. While a King Room is largely neutral in decor -- mostly brown and white and a striped throw pillow -- an Oceanfront Suite has electric blue wallpaper, a striped accent wall, and a zebra rug. Other rooms fall somewhere in between these extremes. Small but attractive bathrooms with hairdryers are the norm, and units are equipped with comfortable beds, refrigerators, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Beware of the rooms with balconets -- while they’re pretty to look out, they don’t have enough room to step out on.
Easy beach access, a small pool, and oceanfront dining
The beach is the main attraction at Blockade Runner, with a runner-up being the outdoor pool. The hotel offers activities like kayaking, surfing, and sailing on-site. For children, there’s a seasonal kids’ club with activities like scavenger hunts and sandcastle competitions. There’s also a fishing pier for casting (rod rental available) and a fitness center, complete with hot tub and sauna. There’s no on-site spa, but there’s a shuttle to nearby Sage Salon & Spa and the option of in-room massages. An on-site restaurant -- East Oceanfront Dining -- is well-regarded and has a canopied deck for alfresco dining. Another welcome perk is the free daily breakfast buffet, with free parking and Wi-Fi available as well.