Far from the District's daily scrum of traffic jams and election scams lays a genteel oasis of civility in the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountain hunt country of Albemarle County.
A scant two hour drive from Foggy Bottom, Virginia's piedmont is calling at Keswick Hall & Golf Club, just outside of Charlottesville. At Keswick, time slows, manicured gardens delight, and country life at this English-style manor leaves you feeling like contemporaries of Lord Grantham and the Dowager Countess.
Keswick's origins extend back to 1912 when the property, today more than 600 acres, was initially established as a single family Italianate manse crowned "Villa Crawford" after the moneyed Rhode Islander owners, Mr. & Mrs. Robert B. Crawford. Converted to a country club in 1948, the property was re-imagined as a boutique hotel in the '90s and today enjoys recognition and accolades such as Forbes Five Star Resort rating, Conde Nast Traveler's Gold status, and Travel and Leisure's 500 Worlds Best Hotels.
Grand in stature yet intimate in feel, Keswick houses only 48 rooms with stylish elegance awaiting their guests. Small touches such as live orchids in the rooms, satiny high-thread count linens, heated towel racks, and nightly home-baked treats lead to grand comfort and an aura of pampering.
Guilty pleasures are easily enjoyed at every turn in Keswick's opulent public space.
Curl up on the overstuffed couches in the library with a trashy romance, or enjoy billiards and cocktails in the snooker room. Many of the family portraits adorning the walls here once hung in the private London home of Sir Bernard Ashley, the celebrated British business tycoon, widower of fashion and interior designer Laura Ashley, and former property owner and developer. Catch some rays on the sundeck overlooking the brilliant saltwater infinity pool where the vistas of the Blue Ridge seem equally without end.
For those desirous of sporting amenities, Keswick doesn't disappoint.
Taking center stage is the property's crowning jewel golf course, Full Cry, designed by World Golf Hall of Fame legend Pete Dye. Barely two years completed, Dye's latest masterpiece is topping golf's prestigious rating lists with good reason. Challenges abound for pin-seeking scratch golfers, yet multiple tee boxes, alternative routings, and true-rolling greens keep the course playable for high handicappers as well. The course is a visual stunner, tempting all comers with a traditional set up allowing for both aerial and ground-based advances in securing par.
"There is no question the Hunt Country of Virginia is the perfect terrain for an exceptional golf course and that's exactly what we have with Full Cry," says Dye. "The layout is as good as any I've ever done."
Runners and hikers can take advantage of the property's extensive trails, all steps from Keswick main entry. Bocce, archery, tennis, and croquet enthusiasts will find their thing here and Keswick's concierge will gladly help route cyclists through the area's winding backcountry roads for some scenic touring.
Fishing, ballooning, birding and hikes with the famed hunting hounds can also be easily arranged.
Keswick Club's full menu of spa services from reflexology and hot poultice massage to facials and hydrowraps leave you pampered and rejuvenated.
Dining at Keswick is a gracious culinary experience reflective of the region's bounty.
Fossett's leans heavily on their on-property chef's garden for the freshest produce complimenting local proteins. Don't miss the opportunity to experience some of Virginia's award winning wines with your meal. Barboursville's Reserve Nebbiolo perfectly complements the homemade Arugula Pappardelle with Pecorino and Black Truffle.
Thomas Jefferson famously referred to this region of Virginia as the "Eden of the eastern U.S." With Keswick Hall only a stone's throw from Jefferson's Monticello, visitors here will find nothing to dispute that proclamation.