I don’t know about you, but when snowflakes fly and temperatures dip below freezing, I love snuggling by a roaring fire with a good book and sipping hot chocolate or a hot toddy. It’s a festival for my senses -- crackling logs, dancing embers and the scent of burning wood as it drifts through the air. Don’t have a fireplace or just want someone else stoking it? No worries -- there are plenty of hotels and bed & breakfasts with beautiful fireplaces in the common spaces and even some with fireplaces in the rooms/suites. And they all offer a lot more to do than just snuggling by the fire in case you get tired of relaxing.
I can’t think of a better place to enjoy the warmth of a roaring fire than in an 1833 manor house turned B&B that was built as a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop. Expanded in the early 1920’s, it served as an aristocratic hunting lodge where members of the British royal family attended hunts and balls. You can even stay in the Windsor Suite named for the very famous and scandalous couple Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, the British king who abdicated his throne to marry her and stayed here over 80 years ago. The B&B brims with nostalgia settings -- a baronial oak hunt room with minstrel gallery, a stone wine cellar, and charming country kitchen. But I do digress. We are talking fireplaces. Well, I don’t know of many retreats that have a fire-lit entrance hall. That’s what I call a warm welcome. And there are six more fireplaces -- in the Hunt and Dining Rooms, the kitchen and in three of the newly converted West Wing suites--The Edward, The Wallis and The Albert. So you can sit by the fire in a common space, dine by it or book a fireplace suite. Owned by Dayn Smith, an internationally trained chef and his wife Nancy Moon, guests enjoy a complimentary homemade breakfast. Equally as delicious, guests can choose to dine in the Houndstooth restaurant. Topping off the experience, the B&B offers guests glorious views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, farms, and vineyards. Guests can even book a couples massage, or get out and about to explore the local vineywards, breweries and arty shops.
Completed in 1753, George Washington was one of the trustees of what is now known as L’Auberge Provençale. Though located in Virginia, this B&B recreates an authentic Provençale experience. Innkeepers Celeste and Alain Borel like to say, “Escape to Provence. No passport required.” Whether in a premier guest room or elegant suite, guests are transported to the South of France with the faux walls, Provençale fabrics, antiques and reproductions. At this B&B fireplaces (wood burning, gas, and electric) are everywhere. Six rooms the Monet, Chagall, Mistral, Renoir, Coco Chanel and Van Gogh Suite have wood burning fireplaces, two suites the Voltaire and Larousse have gas fireplaces, two more gas fireplaces are in the sitting room and the blue room (dining room located in the main house), and one electronic fireplace is in the Lafayette Suite. Mornings start off with their signature gourmet breakfast served in their Sun Room. Top off the evening at La Table Provençale Bar & Lounge for hand-crafted cocktails, herb-infused drink from the gardens, and local craft beers and ciders on tap. Dine in the restaurant part for fine dining where the menu changes with the seasons.
When you stay at Keswick Hall you’ll feel as though you’re visiting wealthy friends at their country estate. Here history and spectacular landscape join together at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charlottesville. The historic north wing of Keswick Hall was built in 1912 as an Italianate-style estate. At one time the property was a country club, then a Laura Ashley hotel and finally the luxury Keswick Hall. Settle into the Great Hall lobby and sink into a sofa in front of a wood-burning cozy fire. For lunch, a snack, or an intimate dinner, head to the charming Villa Crawford, in the original mansion where you can enjoy the glowing fire. For more, dine in the Club Grill also with a fireplace. And finally play pool or relax on the sofa while the crackling fire dances. On-site there’s a spa and beyond the hotel enjoy wineries, historic sites, and boutique shops.
For city lovers this is the place. Located in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, everything is within an easy walk, that’s if you ever want to leave the hotel. The Ivy experience is like staying in the magnificent private home this historic mansion once was. It’s elegant, opulent, and whimsical. Okay, you’ll have to give up the aroma of wood burning and just go with a gas fireplace, but each of the nine suites and nine rooms has a fireplace plus there are five in other areas. And the rooms and suites’ furnishing will entice you to linger. Imagine lying in an ultra-luxurious dressed bed surrounded by antiques, bold paintings and gorgeous throws, while watching the beauty in the fireplace. If that isn’t enough, The Ivy’s heated-floor bathrooms are over-the-top. The many charming public spaces include the tea room, the conservatory, and the library where fires may be going. Guests will marvel at the rich woods, magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows, huge plants and exquisite detailing everywhere. This highly inclusive hotel includes breakfast, cocktails/wine, and afternoon tea. On-site are the culinary delightful Magdalena restaurant and a spa for more relaxation.