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Williamsburg Inn, Virginia — Review

Colonial Meets Contemporary

By Natalie Compagno

The exterior of the colonial-style Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, VA
The exterior of the colonial-style Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, VA

Colonial Williamsburg has long been known as a families-only vacation spot, where kids of all ages follow the fife and snare drum for a historical experience unlike any other. Here, the past comes to life with actors in authentic costumes, who discourse about the happenings of the 1770s, complete with General Lafayette on horseback and cries for revolution. Silversmith shops, a post office and lively taverns serving traditional fare line Main Street. But Colonial Williamsburg also has contemporary luxury to offer.

Along with history, culture and romance can be found in outdoor concerts, culinary classes, and ghost tours led by "ghosts" at the colonial-style Williamsburg Inn. Your arrival alone is awe-inspiring. Faint musket fire and hoof beats float through the air as guests approach the front door to be met by neoclassical architecture and friendly doormen dressed in period garb. Opened in 1937, the Williamsburg Inn was built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to cater to friends who came to visit Colonial Williamsburg. The family felt that the inn should be more of a luxurious country residence than a hotel, and so the standard was set.

A charming lobby greets guests of the Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, VA
A charming lobby greets guests of the Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, VA

A striking whitewashed façade, original glittering chandeliers and richly upholstered furniture makes a striking first impression. Guest rooms make even more of a dramatic impact with homemade furnishings of Honduran mahogany and select artwork. The rooms also feature silk window treatments handcrafted in a Colonial Williamsburg workshop, luxurious trim and delicate handmade tassels. Complementing the floor-to-ceiling curtains are beautiful easy chairs covered in silk damask.

As wonderful as it is to experience a simpler time, travelers have contemporary desires. To meet these needs, the inn underwent extensive renovation in 2001. Rooms were enlarged, bathrooms were upgraded with marble-enclosed soaking tubs and large writing tables were installed. In addition, a 24-hour concierge and room service were added. This was all done with the kind of attention to detail that would have made Rockefeller proud. Even the corridors have custom-made Wilton Weave carpet and Audubon prints adorning the walls. It's not uncommon for happy guests to give the inn gifts, such as the exquisite 19th-century clock near the lobby.

Guest rooms at Williamsburg Inn feature homemade furnishings and original artwork
Guest rooms at Williamsburg Inn feature homemade furnishings

Service is the top priority here. The staff takes pride in traditions while encouraging families to create new ones of their own with the unique experiences on offer. A few favorites include carriage rides around town and private tours of the in-house design and floral studios. In addition, guests have access to eight tennis courts, lawn bowling, croquet, biking, swimming pools and notable golf courses.

Colonial Williamsburg added its first golf course in 1963, and today, the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club boasts two 18-hole championship courses and a nine-hole executive course. The original green was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., who considers it his "finest design."

Hotel guests also enjoy complimentary use of the indoor and outdoor pools at The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg. Classic body and beauty treatments, massages, fitness classes and gentlemen's spa services are available. For a unique touch, Native American treatments are incorporated, and locally-grown tea aromatherapy accompanies massages.

The cozy, elegant Regency Room offers garden views
The cozy, elegant Regency Room offers garden views

The food at Williamsburg Inn is as impressive as the décor. Whether dining in the Terrace Room for lunch or the elegant Regency Room for dinner, guests are in the extraordinary hands of World Chef Challenge Champion Travis Brust. Virginia ham pâté with chutney, crab cakes with white bean fennel ragout, lobster bisque and American heritage Long Island duck breast are just a few of the notable dishes on the menu. The Regency Room's striking garden view provides a picture-perfect transition from day to evening, and the cozy venue — featuring Asian-inspired art, dark wood furniture and an impressive central chandelier — comes to life at night with live bands.

A fantastic addition to the inn's culinary scene is Taste Studio. Guests can take cooking classes with chef Rhys Lewis and learn firsthand to create farm-to-table dishes. On top of tasting and chocolate-making classes, a garden tour introduces guests to Colonial Williamsburg's gardens, bountiful with produce and flowers from colonial times, as well as new flavors for contemporary palates.

Williamsburg Inn
136 E. Francis St.
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Visit the Williamsburg Inn official website

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