Weekend Getaways

Twelve places to get away, get together, and get romantic.

by Sarah Markel, Jennifer Pullinger and Renee Sklarew



404 Cabell St., Lynchburg

www.thecarriagehouseinnbandb.com; 800-937-3582; 

Prices range from $179-$269/night (weekend rates do apply)

The whole property just oozes with character,” is how Michael Bedsworth describes the Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg, which he operates along with his wife Kathy. “Once you arrive at the front door, you’re almost swept away to another era.”

Lynchburg may not be top of mind when it comes to romantic destinations, but the historic setting of the city is a major draw for many couples. And the Carriage House Inn offers just that, transporting guests back to another time and place in its restored Victorian-Era, Italianate mansion. The personalized guest packages the Inn provides elevate it to a must-visit for lovers.

Carriage House Inn

Courtesy of the Carriage House Inn

“We can provide champagne, we can provide flowers, we can provide chocolate-covered strawberries—the whole nine yards,” says Bedsworth. “Kathy is a massage therapist, and somebody might just want to come down here and be pampered all weekend. We can provide that,” he adds.

While the Innkeepers stand ready to make each couple’s stay a custom experience, they also want guests to notice how lovingly the Inn has been returned to its former glory. In 2003, the Bedsworths began restoring the late 19th-century home-turned-B&B to how it originally appeared. “Four bathtubs in the house are the original bathtubs from the 1800’s. A couple of the sinks are original. Most of the light fixtures in the house are the original light fixtures,” says Bedsworth.

The sweltering Lynchburg summers did necessitate the addition of modern air conditioning; although for couples wanting to chill out in a rocking chair like they did in the olden days, a wrap-around porch captures available cool breezes.

Inside each room, couples can also spend romantic time alone in the restored bath.

“One of our rooms has what’s called the ‘lovers’ tub’ in it,” says Kathy Bedsworth. “It’s the original claw-foot bathtub that is longer than normal and deeper than normal. Most significantly, the faucet is in the middle of the tub so that two people can sit in it at the same time and nobody’s getting stabbed in the back with the faucet,” she says.

Some may be surprised to know that the house, originally owned by Civil War veteran Richard Thomas Watts, comes with a few ghosts. “We’ve had a company come out here, and they’ve done their recordings and taken their pictures. We’ve actually got a recording that they gave us of some little girl [and] from the sounds of her voice, my guess she is 3- to 5-years old,” says Bedsworth. “You can hear her very distinctly telling somebody, ‘Come here,’ and then about eight, 10 seconds later you hear her say ‘I’m dead,’” he adds.

Naturally, the Bedsworths capitalize on this spirit-filled history by offering a “Ghosts Package,” which they recommend combining with the annual Old City Cemetery Candlelight Tour or historic district Ghost Walk in town. Each couple leaves with a copy of the ghostly voice recordings, culminating in the perfect October getaway that will surely send you running into your lover’s arms.


Gourmet four-course breakfast, Parlor and wraparound front porch, airport/train pick up/drop off, Concierge, Non-Allergenic bedding, Monogrammed robes and slippers, evening turn-down service with chocolates and fresh water.




70 Park Ave., New York, NY

877-707-2752; www.70ParkAve.com

Prices range from $350-$450/night

The 70 Park Avenue Hotel is nestled in the chic Murray Hill neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan, just four blocks from Grand Central Station. This newly renovated Kimpton boutique property caters to the young at heart. Decorated in grape, chocolate, cream and pink, the guest rooms at 70 Park conjure the feeling of a Manhattan pied-a-terre. The suites and rooms—some with inspirational messages above the beds—are all sharp corners and modern art pieces. Several rooms have balconies or floor-to-ceiling windows displaying a stunning view of the Empire State Building.

Courtesy of 70 Park Avenue/David Phelps

Courtesy of 70 Park Avenue/David Phelps

Inside 70 Park’s contemporary lobby you’ll find guests on cozy couches sipping complimentary cucumber water, or heading to the hotel’s bar, Silver Leaf Tavern, for a martini.

Outside, New York City’s famous Park Avenue is a residential area, lined with trees—a short walk from upscale boutiques.

This stylish hideaway caters to couples seeking romance. 70 Park offers a buffet every day from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. In the evenings, Silver Leaf Tavern welcomes guests with a pool table and small bites for $2-$7, including Caesar salads, peanuts and popcorn. Each evening, hotel guests are invited to a free “wine hour” in the lobby.

Famous folks are fans—band members from U2, Mick Jagger, Naomi Campbell, Woody Harrelson, Joan Baez and the President of Ukraine all stay here. Part of the attraction is that 70 Park feels like a home away from home—it was originally upscale apartments. Today, the penthouse has a hot tub, and the 17th-floor balcony rooms have jaw-dropping views of Lower Manhattan. 70 Park’s staff is eager to help; the front desk manager encourages room requests and welcomes calls before arrival to remind the staff of any special desires.

70 Park concierge Topher Totten gained the nickname “Romance Sommelier” for his enviable connections to the best tables and hottest shows. Also, for the cache of ways he customizes special occasions. Totten says Champagne, violin serenades and custom-designed flowers are not uncommon at 70 Park. He’s left rose petals on beds and in bubble baths. He frequently orders chocolate-covered strawberries and makes reservations at restaurants with “great atmosphere” like the River Café in Brooklyn Bridge Park or Chef Eric Ripert’s Le Bernadin. Totten designs romantic adventures that fit his client’s mood: “Romantic ideas come from the heart. Call me, we’ll talk it out. I’ve emailed with guests sometimes 30 times or more.”


In-room spa services, Complimentary yoga channel and accessories, Etro bath amenities and plush robes, Limousine service, Pet-friendly.




35 E. 76th St., New York, NY

212-744-1600; www.thecarlyle.com

Prices range from $400-$700/night

Slip past The Carlyle doorman, and a new world awaits. The Carlyle was nicknamed “palace of secrets,” because behind these art deco walls, history remains private. You can create history here, too, in one of New York’s most celebrated hotels.

Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts

Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts

The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, epitomizes Manhattan exclusivity and privilege. For more than 70 years, this grand dame has played host to many a memorable rendezvous.  According to legend, Jack Kennedy conducted his “affairs” here, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana called The Carlyle home when visiting New York. John Kennedy Junior ate his last breakfast in The Carlyle. Today, guests and Upper East Side neighbors stop in The Carlyle’s Bemelman’s Bar—to hear Woody Allen jam Monday evenings with his Dixie Land Jazz Band. “Bemelman’s” is named for Ludwig Bemelman, an author renowned for his “Madeline” books, who painted whimsical murals on the dimly lit walls of the bar.

Almost every American president since Harry Truman has called The Carlyle their home-away-from-home when in New York. Top residential designers like Dorothy Draper directed the interiors of the hotel, including designing the sumptuous guest rooms with views that are unparalleled in Manhattan. Each direction offers a panoramic New York skyline—scenes greatly enhanced by floor-to-ceiling windows. Looking west, there’s an expansive view of Central Park just steps from The Carlyle’s door; to the east, boats moving along the East River; and at night, the city’s glittering lights.

You’ll ride escorted by an elevator operator—only two hotels remain in New York that employ such subtle security. Among the 56 suites, each is individually furnished with fine antiques, and some even boast grand pianos. The marble bathrooms offer Kiehl’s amenities; many have whirlpool tubs. The Carlyle’s beds are covered with the finest linens, and frequent guests are treated to a pillow, slippers and bathrobe all monogrammed with their initials.

Although couples relish the glamour and seclusion of The Carlyle Restaurant and The Gallery lounge, Concierge Jeff Thoennes recommends One if By Land/Two if By Sea—formerly Aaron Burr’s carriage house—for its romantic atmosphere.

Thoennes says The Carlyle is the antithesis of hotels where people wish to see and be seen: “There’s a unique feeling when you walk in—The Carlyle is a hotel with a soul.”


Full-service spa and salon, Twice-daily maid service, 24-hour in-room dining, In-house designer boutiques, Pet-friendly.




1296 Clifton Inn Drive, Charlottesville

434-971-1800; www.cliftoninn.net

Prices Range from $170-$795/night

Some men express their romantic feelings with diamonds. Others, a box of chocolates and a dozen long-stem roses. Still others know the only way to set a romantic mood is to take their special someone to the Clifton Inn, a member of the exclusive international club of luxurious Relais & Châteaux hotels.

Clifton Inn

Courtesy of the Clifton Inn

The Clifton Inn is set on 100 acres of rolling Piedmont Hills in the midst of Jefferson country. Established in 1983 in structures that date to 1799, the Clifton Inn’s historic backdrop and modern accommodations offer a sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere for romantics. Choose from 18 rooms and suites located throughout the wooded property, from the main house and secluded farmhouse, to several dependencies that were, in their day, used as the carriage house or stables.

What sets the Clifton Inn apart is its “unparalleled world-class service,” says Inn public relations representative Melissa Harris. “Beginning with a concierge call prior to ever arriving at Clifton, the staff will assist guests in planning their visit—from dining, horseback riding expeditions, hot air balloon adventures, a limo wine tour of nearby vineyards [to] a historical tour of Charlottesville’s impressive array of attractions,” adds Harris.

Proposals and weddings are not uncommon at the inn. “Clifton is happy to honor nearly any request to assist in proposals; and for those who choose to get married at Clifton, the service is taken to a completely new level in that each bride is assigned not only a wedding coordinator but also a personal assistant to assist in the big day,” says Harris.

Clifton’s most distinctive romantic feature is its well-known, world-class dining experience, which offers couples the “ideal setting for a romantic evening spent lingering over course after course of small plates while enjoying fine local Virginia wines—especially on the deck as the sun is setting,” says Harris. This can also be seen in the standout epicurean touches that Clifton brings, such as the complimentary decanter of Madeira—Jefferson’s favorite wine—poolside libations like lavender lemonade, as well as daily afternoon tea, pastries and wine tasting. No doubt the Clifton is an award-winner: It’s a AAA Four-Diamond-rated property, and recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and the Forbes (formerly Mobil) Four-Star Award.

For newlyweds, Clifton offers a special “Honeymooners” add-on package where just-marrieds can learn culinary secrets under the private tutelage of Chef Tucker Yoder, who will show couples how to create a custom menu for their first week of matrimony.

Beyond the many on-site amenities—and if you can tear yourself away—lovers can find other romantic meanderings nearby, like touring a local winery, admiring the architecture at the University of Virginia, shopping Charlottesville’s brick-paved downtown mall, or driving along the absolutely breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains.


24-hour guest assistance, Evening turndown, Complimentary continental breakfast and afternoon tea, American Antique Furnishings, Complimentary in-room madeira mascioni linens and robes, Acclaimed dining, Fitness and recreation, Lakeside trails, Infinity pool, Croquet lawn, The area’s only clay tennis court.




65 Tavern Road, Irvington

800-497-8228; www.hopeandglory.com

Prices range from $175-$695/night

On the western edge of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia’s Northern Neck, in a town called Irvington, sits a buttercream-colored former schoolhouse built in 1890, now a boutique hotel called the Hope and Glory Inn. The quaint small town atmosphere and simple local pleasures are the allures for couples in which the Inn seems to specialize.

Hope and Glory Hotel

Courtesy of Robert Luk

From the shabby chic décor to the numerous amenities, owners Dudley and Peggy Patteson try to be as unique and one-of-a-kind in what they offer guests as possible. “We have been described as a place for romance with our décor being whimsical, magical and guaranteed to make you smile,” says Patteson.

A white picket fence, lush English-style gardens, and the moist, breezy bay air add to the romanticism of the property.

Although when Patteson says “guaranteed to make you smile,” he is probably referring to the inn’s private outdoor bath, featuring an antique claw-footed tub and huge shower head, located in an enclosed area of the gardens. “All of our guests want to go and experience locking themselves in and having an outdoor bath,” says Patteson.

The Hope and Glory offers seven rooms, six cottages and seven Carpenter Gothic vineyard “tents” in which to stay. After an afternoon soaking in the garden bath, couples can head to the inn’s wine bar, aptly named “Detention.” For more pampering, enjoy “Recess,” the Inn’s spa area, where couples have access to Patricio, an “incredible” massage therapist who provides several different spa treatments, from Swedish massage and shiatsu to reflexology and stone massage.

The Pattesons recently added the romance of a just-purchased vineyard to their amenity offerings, which comes with a tasting room and wedding space.

A romantic stay isn’t complete without a ride on the inn’s classic deadrise oyster workboat, which is Coast Guard-certified for up to 30 people.

“We do cocktail cruises five days a week. The boat is conducive for being as close to the water as possible because it’s low to the water’s edge, and it’s very open and great for drinking beer and wine,” says Patteson.

On the odd Friday, couples can take the crab cruise where they “crack crab, peel shrimp and eat corn on the cob,” he adds.

The Hope and Glory also has a chef who prepares prix fixe, four-course dinners Thursday through Monday, and a menu that changes every day to coincide with what’s in season.

American Historic Inns ranked the Hope and Glory one of America’s “Top Ten Most Romantic Inns,” Southern Living named it one of its top four
“Favorite Romantic Getaways,” and AskMen.com listed it among its “Top 10 Bed & Breakfasts in the U.S.” Says Patteson: “What we say is if the men are saying we’re romantic, my God, we’ve got to be.”


Concierge, Bath robes, Wireless internet, Courtesy bicycles, Fine-quality lines, Bath towels Gilcrist + Soames Soaps, Spa and massage service, Outdoor garden bath, Hip pool, On-site bar and dining hall.




7696 Sam Snead Highway, Hot Springs

540-839-1766; www.thehomestead.com

Prices start at $269/night

For fun-loving couples who would not dream of roughing it, The Homestead offers the ideal getaway.

The Homestead

Courtesy of The Homestead

Nestled high in the Allegheny Mountains, this full-service luxury resort provides a wide range of seasonal outdoor activities, including skiing, trail rides, hiking, golf, fly fishing and skeet shooting. There is even an archery program in which couples can compete for bragging rights.

Many of the activities are geared for the beginner. If you’ve always wanted to try falconry or paintball, this is your chance. The golf courses are the exception. The Cascades Course is particularly challenging. There is, however, a Couples Golf School, which will be offered in September and October.

After a day out in cool mountain air, guests return to the actual hotel, a lavishly refurbished relic of the days when a direct train carried socialites from New York’s Penn Station to Warm Springs, Va., to take to the waters. The Vanderbilts honeymooned here. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor came to play golf and relax in the spa. Twenty-seven presidents have stayed at The Homestead. Some came for a rest cure. Others attended international conferences, especially during WWII. Today, the Warm Springs station is gone, but the staff, many of whom have worked at this hotel their entire lives, still treat visitors like royalty.

Afternoon tea is served in the grand hall promptly at 3:00. Afterward, many guests choose to relax on the verandas or head to the spa for a little pampering before dinner in one of the hotel’s five restaurants.

The soaring main dining room features a live band and dancing with dinner. At the more intimate The 1776 Grille, meals are prepared tableside and there is only one nightly seating. Because of this, dinner reservations can be tough to come by during busy weekends. Book early for romantic dining.

The action continues even after dinner with carriage rides and s’mores roasted at the fire pit. There is also a movie theater and a bowling alley in the hotel. Surprisingly, bowling is one of the most popular activities on the resort. Most of the activities at The Homestead are included in the Unlimited Activities Package, which starts at $345 per couple and includes accommodations in one of the resort’s sumptuous bedrooms.

The Homestead lies about a four-hour drive southwest of Northern Virginia. The trip down Skyline Drive, along rolling pastures and into the Alleghenies is breathtaking. Wineries and a wetlands trail along the way offer places to stretch and breathe in the country air. By the time the brick tower of The Homestead comes into view, most people have already shed the stresses of suburban life and are ready for more than a touch of romance and fun at this legendary American jewel.


Golf, Trail rides, Fly fishing, Hiking, Skiing and skating, Skeet shooting, Paintball, Dancing, Fine dining, Spa.




2300 Swag Road, Waynesville, NC

800-789-7672; www.theswag.com

Prices range from $490-$785/night (includes meals)

When you stay at The Swag, where the backyard is the Great Smoky Mountains, the sky is almost literally the limit. Sweeping, wide-open panoramas of miles and miles of remote forest can be found just steps away from the highest lodge in the eastern U.S. Naturally, romantic strolls and hikes along the nature trails provide the perfect opportunity for alone time.

The Swag

Jumping Rocks Photography

“You could hike all day just the two of you,” says Swag owner Deener Matthews. “Take your backpack picnic lunch and you could very probably not run into any other couple. That kind of privacy is very hard to find these days,” she says.

It’s that relative remoteness and scenic seclusion that provides an ideal setting for couples. “You are in another world as soon as you get here,” says Matthews. The two-and-a-half-mile drive to the entrance—through the woods, crossing two mountain streams to this luxury country inn in Waynesville, N.C.—prepares guests for what they are about to experience.

The property’s most romantic location is Gooseberry Knob, where lovers can sit in the rustic gazebo or Adirondack loveseat benches and marvel at the view.

Beyond the memorable mountain setting, each room is designed for romance. “All but two rooms have their own private outdoor balconies looking out over the mountains. We have plenty of space where you can sit and have a fire in the fireplace in your room,” says Matthews. “In a number of the bedrooms, we have copper soaking tubs, and every room but one has a steam shower for two people with a bench. You can get in and enjoy it together,” she adds. If preferable, guests can also take advantage of the lodge’s outdoor hot tub and soak in unencumbered 50-mile views.

“The world just slows down at The Swag and you find out you have time for yourself and for the person with whom you’ve come,” says Matthews. In the dining area, Matthews can accommodate a couple for more alone time at their own table, or match them up with other guests if they are in the mood to be social.

The dining room, which doubles as the living room, features a huge stone fireplace, cathedral ceiling and hand-hewn beams. Meals include a breakfast buffet, lunches packed in your choice of brown bag, backpack or picnic hamper, while the evening brings a four-course dinner by candlelight.

The Swag has been named by Conde Nast Traveler as a top romantic hideaway, and Andrew Harper, the “crème de la crème” of property evaluators, named it “Hideaway of the Year” in 1993.


Personalized hiking sticks you can take home, Book and video library, Sauna, Outdoor hot tub, Croquet, Horse shoes and badminton, Regulation indoor racquetball and wallyball court, Special event classes and workshops, Robes, Herbal Lotions, Soaps and Shampoos, Wireless internet, XM satellite radio.




120 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, PA 

215-569-8300; www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-2741-sofitel-philadelphia/index.shtml

Prices range from $210-$300/night

The French are known to be well-versed on romance; so, begin your romantic getaway in Hotel Sofitel Philadelphia. Vincent Vienne is Sofitel’s general manager, who’s managed this Sofitel for two years. He believes his hotel is the cornerstone of “the best corner in Philadelphia”—the new French Quarter—with creperies, boutiques and bistros flanking it. Located in the heart of Center City, just steps from Rittenhouse Square, it’s a perfect choice for the couple who enjoys walking Philly’s elegant, historic streets.

Hotel Sofitel

Courtesy of Sofitel Philadelphia

Hotel Sofitel’s décor blends French chic with Pennsylvania Shaker. It has more than 60 suites, each with a separate living room and surround-sound system. French doors lead to marble bathrooms equipped with L’Occitane and Hermes amenities, separate tubs and showers big enough for two. Much has been written about Sofitel’s beds—pillowy, with high-thread-count linens—ooh la la. Vienne says guests seeking romance might choose to stay in their room, select a movie, and order a multi-course dinner from room service. Or, Vienne says, “Hibernate in your suite, order wine, and remain undisturbed.”  One of Sofitel’s romance packages, “Magnifique,” includes fresh flowers, champagne, and chocolate croissants delivered for breakfast.

Sofitel’s lead concierge, Brian Brazina, explains how he works closely with his clients to “customize an experience that fits the couple’s personality.” Brazina sends couples to romantic sights—like Philadelphia’s Japanese Tea Garden. He’s also arranged limo rides to the University of Pennsylvania’s Arboretum and had live music performed in a guest’s room.

Vienne says guests need not go far for romance—inside the hotel restaurant, Liberte, is a crackling stone fireplace, where the hotel’s master mixologist, Marc Yanga, enjoys creating custom cocktails. Sofitel’s chef puts a spin on classical French fare and uses ingredients from the abundant farms nearby. Although guests’ identities are protected by the hotel, news outlets report that patrons of the Philadelphia Sofitel include Carmen Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Danny Glover, director Davis Guggenheim and the members of the New York Philharmonic.

Philly is experiencing a renaissance; you’ll find a mix of architecture, parks and museums. Soon, Sofitel will be walking distance from the new Barnes Foundation’s legendary art collection. Two of the city’s most revered chefs have outposts in nearby Rittenhouse Square—Jose Garces’ Tinto Wine Bar, and Stephen Starr’s Buddakan—Vienne recommends both. Brazina suggests dining at Vetri Restaurant with only 20 intimate tables.

Philadelphia offers an ideal escape filled with blissful, leisure diversions. Bien sur, when “Love” is part of your nickname.


Large fitness center, Chocolates, Late checkout available, Telephone in bathroom, Butler service, Dry cleaning and porter.




1000 Glendorn Drive, Bradford, PA

800-843-8568;  www.glendorn.com

Prices range from $600-$800/night (includes meals and activities)

Couples feel they’ve stepped back in time when they arrive at The Lodge at Glendorn. This former estate of country squire Clayton Glenville Dorn was built in 1929 and is surrounded by 1,280 pastoral acres in the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania. Buffalo is the closest airport—90 minutes away—so guests arrive via helicopter or limousine. Guests check in at Glendorn’s Great Hall built from giant redwoods then settle into one of 12 rustic cabins, all with wood-burning fireplaces.

This Relais and Chateaux resort caters to couples seeking to re-connect and re-kindle romance; the sprawling grounds allow for privacy and seclusion. Known for solicitous service, the staff presents Champagne upon arrival and supplies a picnic lunch for hikes or horseback rides. Spa services take place in your cabin.

Breakfast and lunch are included in the room price, but dinner is left to personal choice. Couples may prefer to dine in their cabin or in the intimate Glendorn wine cellar. Some take a limousine ride into the quaint town of Ellicotville. Most opt for dinner in the Great Room of the Big House where Glendorn Executive Chef Joseph Schafer serves regional cuisine. Featured in “85 Inspirational Chefs of North America,” Schafer treats guests to a four-course seasonal prix fixe menu or a multi-course tasting menu.

Couples can participate in a variety of seasonal activities. With an elevation of 2,100 feet, Glendorn summers are cool, and its winters are snowy. Many come for the fall foliage. Brady explains Glendorn is a destination for people seeking privacy, and although U.S. presidents like George H.R. Bush have stayed here, the staff protects their guests’ confidentiality. Brady does mention that Denzel Washington and Rosario Dawson filmed “Unstoppable” here.

“We host destination weddings. Throughout the year we play movies on the lawn, have s’mores by the lake, poolside barbecues, bonfires, lakeside dinners, hideout dinners. Please ask us when making your reservation,” says Gina Brady, marketing manager at Glendorn for five years. She adds, “Glendorn earned the Four Diamond Wine Spectator Award of Excellence six years in a row. Our Relais and Chateaux designation requires we fulfill the five ‘C’s’—charm, character, cuisine, calm and courtesy.”

With all that and the seclusion of your cabin, Glendorn is sure to ignite some flames.


Fly and ice fishing, Photography seminars, Turkey hunt, Cross country skiing or snowshoeing, Golf, Tennis and biking, Curling and ice skating, Heated pool.




23130 Briar Patch Lane, Middleburg

703-327-5911; www.briarpatchbandb.com

Prices start at $95/night

Not too far from the suburbs, along historic Mosby Highway (US Route 50), lies a 19th-century farmhouse set back from the road along a gravel lane. The colonnaded porches of this house have seen some history. It was a hospital during the Civil War. The walls still bear scars from the Battle of Aldie. Later it was a dairy. Now it is an oasis of calm for couples who want to unwind without having to travel far.

The Briar Patch

Courtesy of the Briar Patch

The Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast sits on 47 acres of rolling pastures. Inside the house, the rooms are simple and spacious. Handmade quilts adorn brass and four-poster beds. The house oozes colonial character; floors slope, stairs groan and the glass in the windows is rippled with time. There are modern amenities, of course—bathrooms and coffee makers, a gourmet breakfast and WiFi throughout the house—but being in this space is like stepping back into a simpler era.

Lovers with a passion for food will want to sign up for the monthly Virginia Cooking classes held November through March. Local chefs start the program with a wine tasting on Friday night. The actual cooking takes place on Saturday. In between, there is plenty of time to explore all that Loudoun County has to offer.

Middleburg is home to several world-renowned equestrian facilities including Glenwood Park. There are more than two-dozen wineries within a short drive of the Briar Patch. On chilly days, guests can check out the antique shops and restaurants that line the charming streets of Middleburg and Leesburg. They can also hike nearby, or visit the countless historic sites along Mosby Highway.

After a day of playing tourist, guests are always eager to return to the comforts of the Briar Patch for a dip in the Jacuzzi, a glass of wine on the porch or a swim in the pool.

The Briar Patch specializes in weddings. The banquet facility, called the Foxes Den, can accommodate 200 people. There is also a bridal suite with a hot tub. During wedding season, the entire house is usually booked for wedding parties. Couples looking for a little less long-term commitment, or those who already are committed, might find getting a room then difficult.  The Innkeepers make up for this, though, by offering weeknight deals.

On winter weekends, when the inn is quieter, the Briar Patch makes an ideal destination for cozy fireside chats. It is a charming place to return to after a romantic dinner at one the area’s award-winning restaurants. Situated just 19 miles past Dulles, the Briar Patch is close enough to turn plain ol’ date night into something that lasts until morning.


Pet-friendly, Internet access, Cooking classes, Jacuzzi, Massage (by appointment), Pool, Gourmet breakfast.




4490 Summit Point Road, Charles Town, WV

800-304-4223; www.hillbrookinn.com

Prices start at $149/night

For a European Country House experience without having to cross the pond, make a reservation at the Hillbrook Inn near Charles Town, W. Va. Set in a fairy tale landscape of woodland and landscaped gardens, a visit to Hillbrook is like walking onto the set of a historical romance. Although, here, the plot revolves around you.


Courtesy of Hillbrook Inn

The half-timbered mansion, modeled after an estate in Normandy, was built in the 1920’s on land once owned by George Washington. Wind along a country lane, cross a bridge over Bullskin Run, and Hillbrook appears on a limestone ridge, its roof dotted with moss. Inside, the Bullskin Run Tavern looks and feels like an authentic English country pub.

Elsewhere in the house, homemade goodies await hungry travelers in sitting rooms decorated with antiques and plush furniture. Despite the old wood and polished brass, the feel of the house is light and airy, thanks to some 2,000 panes of glass.

The bedrooms and cottages offer a dreamy sort of romance. Fires are laid in the grates. Custom quilts cover goose down comforters on four-poster beds. Plush sitting areas look out over the grounds. Each guest room in the main house is on a separate level, ensuring privacy and a feeling of spaciousness despite narrow passages and winding staircases. Plenty of brides have come down these staircases over the years.

The service at Hillbrook is thoughtful and discreet. Award-winning Chef Christine Hale records guests’ dining preferences and dietary restrictions, and plans menus around this information.

Meals are a formal affair at Hillbrook. Breakfast includes two gourmet courses. Dinner, served on Royal Doulton china, comes in either three or five
elegant courses. Hale uses as many local, in-season ingredients as she can find. Her desserts are legendary.

One modern twist: Each room at Hillbrook comes with an iPad. Guests can borrow this for day trips around the region. It also doubles as the in-room entertainment system.

There is plenty to do around Charles Town especially for history buffs. Hillbrook makes a great base for the Washington Heritage Trail, which
meanders through three counties and includes 40 historical sites. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking, whitewater rafting and nearby bike trails. After a tiring day playing tourist, what could be better than to return to a lavish estate that feels like home?


Wood fires, Ipad in rooms, Pet-friendly, Custom linens by request, Two-course breakfast, Fine dining.



(September 2011)



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