Because Debbie and I are lucky enough to travel America on our Harleys, we get the chance to spend dozens of nights each year in carefully sought-out country inns and small specialty hotels. Over the course of the coming year, I am going to profile many of our favorites for you. Be sure to check back at richardcyoung.com for monthly additions.
I am most excited to give you our enthusiastic confirmation on what is regularly considered the #1 inn in America in both food and lodging. Before I continue, it is important to note that the Inn at Little Washington is certainly not the ideal destination for bargain hunters or tightwads.
OK then, onto the good stuff. In 1749, a young surveyor by the name of George Washington laid out the town of Washington in the same 5-block by 2-block grid that exists today. There are nearly 30 Washingtons in the U.S., but this is the “first Washington of them all.” Only 67 miles from Washington, D.C., the pristine village of Little Washington is nestled in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in charmingly rustic Rappahannock County, home to many wineries, orchards and commercial farms.
Owner and world-acclaimed Chef Patrick O’Connell apparently attends to the most minute details himself, and the Inn’s various properties display his diligent attention to detail. I have spoken to Inn staff members on the subject, and I hear nothing but enthusiasm. And the staff itself is head and shoulders above any you could hope to encounter. From the time you check in to the time you check out, you will enjoy a truly memorable experience, I promise. As for the Inn’s accommodations, it’s hard to imagine better. For example, many of the furnishings were purchased in England, numbered and shipped to Virginia for meticulous assembly and placement. We have visited twice and have had the opportunity to enjoy two of the Inn’s recently added, lovely cottages.
The Inn likens the dining room experience to a performance where “the guest is always the star.” Not only does the dining room rate as one of the top ten restaurants in the world, it also has been continuously rated number one in all categories of Zagat’s Washington D. C. restaurant survey for the past 14 years.
Do not leave the Inn without at least a tour of the kitchen, which has been referenced to as “the most beautiful kitchen in the world.” It’s an experience not to be missed. Two “Chef’s Tables” in the new, state-of-the-art kitchen allow up to 12 people to dine in the kitchen and observe the dramatic creation of their meals.
The Inn, a Relais & Chateaux member, was the first establishment in the Mobil Travel Guide’s history ever to receive 5 stars for its restaurant and 5 stars for its accommodations. The Inn and Chef Patrick O’Connell have received 5 James Beard Awards, including Best Service, Best Wine List, Restaurant of the Year, and Chef of the Year.
Have I left anything out? If you are considering a first-class experience for a special day for you or a member of your family, I suggest this unmatchable opportunity. And I’d start saving now.