Remember when you were little and breakfast was on the table, homemade cookies were in a cutesy jar, and the fridge was stocked with your favorite drinks? Well, you may not be a kid anymore, but you can still get that attention at a Bed and Breakfast. Yes, many B&Bs look like grandma’s house -- cluttered with old stuff -- but not these four. They are luxury all the way and within easy driving distance of the city!
A Crown Jewel in Charm City: The Ivy Hotel
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been invited to spend the night at a friend’s mansion. (Truth, I don’t have any friends with a mansion.) So when I heard about The Ivy Hotel, a 19th-century mansion in the heart of Baltimore, I jumped at the chance to stay there. The original owner wanted a house that showed wealth, power and taste. So grandeur it has in spades -- inlaid floors, turreted slate roof, 23 fireplaces, green marble, carved wood wainscoting and a magnificent central staircase that climbs past stained glass toward a skylight at the top. The mansion was restored to perfection and its bathrooms with heated limestone floors are a testament to 21st- century luxury. The colorful rooms have four-poster beds, a gas fireplace, and ultra-luxe bedding. As a guest, the property was mine to enjoy, from the antique-filled common rooms to the ivy-walled courtyard. Included at no cost are the full-service Mansion Bar, a complete breakfast, high tea, and a well-stocked mini bar.
A Walden Utopia: Walden Hall
This is not your typical B & B. To begin with, the house, situated on 10-acres of rolling farmlands, is contemporary. The interior reveals gorgeous light wood plank floors with dovetail banisters and a kitchen straight out of a high-end home magazine. Interspersed are exquisite antiques and furniture made by the finest Virginian artisans. The five unique suites feature such luxurious amenities as a stone fireplace, in-room fireside jetted tub, a fully stocked small kitchen, screened porch, hot tub, and more. What further sets this B&B apart from others is its movie theater, a mini-arcade game room, a fitness center and home-brewed beer and wine on tap. Outdoors, lounge by the saltwater pool, grill if you wish, fish in the stocked pond, bike, hike and see the Icelandic chickens that provide eggs for your breakfast. For off-property activities, the friendly and knowledgeable innkeepers will happily tell you about the area’s numerous wineries and Culpeper restaurants.
A Middleburg Gem: Goodstone Inn
The Goodstone Inn & Restaurant sits on 265 acres in Middleburg. An intimate courtyard superbly accented with a gurgling water feature welcomed us and set the mood: a romantic and peaceful night in the country. The Carriage House is the heartbeat of the Inn. Built 100 years ago, it’s framed by two stable wings. Meticulously restored, it has a Great Room with a dramatic floor-to-ceiling fieldstone fireplace, comfy sofas, an enormous dark wood bar, and a white table cloth restaurant. Throughout, light streams through the abundant paladin doors. On property are six historic guesthouses with 18 luxurious guest rooms and suites that feature elegant English and French Country décor. We arrived at 3:30, just in time for afternoon tea and freshly baked cookies. The inn has a lovely pool, three-and-a-half miles of hiking trails, mountain biking, and a spa, or you can go off-site and visit the area's many wineries. The restaurant is the epitome of farm-to-table, using ingredients from its own small vegetable garden and local purveyors. Breakfast was an omelet with apple bacon and yes, eggs from the farm.
A Funky Night’s Stay: Inn at Willow Grove
The first thing that came into view as we drove up to the Inn at Willow Grove was the historic 18th-century, columned plantation house that’s on the National Historic Registry. Inside it’s hard to miss the art at every turn. Owner Charlene Scibal, who had run an art gallery describes the inn as “a unique blend of chic and elegant--urban meets plantations style.” To me, it was a museum/art gallery/antique shop. It’s funky, whimsical, and fun – a large old street map of Paris, Jeeves a life-sized stuffed butler decked out in a tux, and quirky paintings. I fell in love with the Anichini linens and lavish bathroom featuring a large bubbler tub, magnificent glass-enclosed shower, and the pièce de résistance, a tumbled travertine natural stone heated floor. And we had a real butler who delivered hot tea and a sweet treat in the evening, and French press coffee and homemade beignets in the morning. Relax in the beautiful gardens, have a massage, visit Montpelier or do the Monticello Wine trail or visit one of the local craft brews.