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Archive for the ‘Virginia’ Category

Headed northbound for Philadelphia, I landed in Staunton, Virginia (pronounced “Stanton”, which locals will readily correct), where I fell into a zone I would call Right Inn, Wrong Room.

The Belle Grae Inn is a circa 1873 restored Victorian Italianate mansion, which sits on a large block with two other buildings from the same time period. All offer lodging with varied amenities.

In my usual spontaneous travel fashion, I called at the last minute. The sun was setting quickly and I reached the innkeeper without any problem. As typical for midweek, there were plenty of vacancies and they offered a corporate rate. Their own restaurant was closed that night, but dining options were available nearby.

The main inn is situated in the middle of a large block, surrounded by gardens. Downstairs is an elegant restaurant. Rooms are up a beautiful flight of stairs. One of the separate buildings, Jefferson House, is to the side and back of the property. The other, The Townhouse, is in the front corner of the lot. It was in this building that I was given a room.

I have no complaints about this inn, other than ending up in the particular room that I did. And I blame myself for that, having arrived just before the office closed. I usually make a point of staying in main buildings. But I had requested a phone (not one of the amenities of the rooms in the main inn), the corporate rate was very reasonable and I felt a little guilty for dropping in with only a thirty minute warning, so I just went with The Townhouse.

With twenty-twenty hindsight, I would realize this building was very close to the street and I’d been given the front room. The only other guests – out to dinner at the time I checked in – were housed, it turned out, in the room directly above me. By the time they returned from dinner and began shuffling around, the office was long closed and I was already settled in.

I don’t blame this on the inn. After all, I had asked about a phone line. And because I checked in at the last minute, I didn’t do what I would usually do – ask to see other rooms and grab a quiet back corner. I survived, in spite of street traffic, creaky floors from the 1800’s and a very heavy-footed guest above – midnight, 1:30, 3:30, etc. – you get the idea.

I have to say the room itself was wonderful – spacious, immaculate, beautifully decorated with antiques, huge bathroom, great amenities and luxurious linens. A gas fireplace and sitting area made it even more appealing.

I was able to see many of the rooms in the main inn building the following morning, all wonderful and very quiet. Knowing this, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this place to others. Just make a point of requesting the main building, or at least an upstairs room if you require a phone and need accommodations in one of the more business-oriented buildings.

Another plus here for breakfast-lovers was the mouth-watering ham and cheese souffle, home fries, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, miniature carrot muffins and poppy-seed bread (dusted with powdered sugar) served for breakfast, fireside, in the dining room. The table was elegantly set and a newspaper waited beside the place setting. I can only imagine what dinner here would be like, based on the breakfast. Heavenly.

I left puzzled over how I would write this up. I only have myself to blame for not making sure I followed my own rules – no downstairs rooms, no street noise. This inn has all the ingredients for a perfect B&B experience. I just got the wrong room. The immaculate accommodations, beautiful decor and excellent food still won me over.

One of the two innkeepers had recommended The Depot Grille for dinner, since the restaurant at The Belle Grae Inn wasn’t open that night. Not surprisingly, this was a restored railroad station, with train cars in front. Casual dining and close to the inn. I had an excellent cream of mushroom soup and a tossed green salad. Pecan pie a la mode tempted me, but I held back, having scarfed up most of a basket of bread.

I did a little exploring in Staunton itself, before leaving. The downtown area offers many historic buildings, including a magnificent clock tower, and many quaint shops.

After an hour or so of browsing, I found my way back to I-81. I made one fascinating stop at Paper Treasures in New Market, Virginia (10,000 square feet of books, magazines, rare volumes, etc.) and then continued north.

Photo Gallery: View Here

If You Go:

Belle Grae Inn
515 West Frederick St.
Staunton, Virginia 24401
(888) 541-5151

Paper Treasures
9595 Congress St.
New Market, Virginia 22844
(540) 740-3135

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