Hope & Glory
Hope & Glory
Address: 65 Tavern Road
Web Address: http://www.hopeandglory.com
Every now and then we encounter the “perfect storm” for our business, that time when location, accommodations, people and food come together to create a magical experience. Such was the case when we visited the idyllic town of Irvington, Virginia (673 residents) on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and stayed at the marvelous Hope & Glory Inn. Fast becoming a retreat for the well-to-do from Washington and Richmond, the town has just enough going to keep your interest but not enough to disrupt the serenity of your weekend getaway.
While technically a B&B, that designation just doesn’t do it justice as the mix of accommodations, the occasional Chef’s Table Wine Dinners, the Friday Crab Cruises and the Detention wine bar and now their own vineyard, The Dog and Oyster, all conspire to push the property beyond the boundaries of any B&B you’ve ever seen.
The Inn is a passion for owners Peggy and Dudley who came to this from other occupations in other places, but are clearly ensconced in the community here. They love what they do and have lots of fun at it. Dudley is a wonderful raconteur with more stories than you'll have time for during your weekend and Peggy exudes Southern charm and grace. They have made this a special place where you feel as if you are a guest in their home rather than a commercial inn.
Originally an 1890’s schoolhouse, the main building and cottages are set amidst lush English gardens with meandering brick pathways, whimsical sculptures and a cascading waterfall. The air is filled with heavenly fragrances and there’s even a moon garden which is in peak bloom and fragrance in the evening. Best of all, however, is a magnificent outdoor shower enclosed by an 8 foot fence that includes antique mirrors, a claw foot tub, and a rainforest shower. Grab a bottle of Champagne, light some candles, add some bubble bath and listen to the music of the garden…..you’ll never be the same.
The main building is home to guestrooms, a dining room where a delicious breakfast is served, the living and sitting rooms and the Detention wine bar…where the chalkboard admonishes the guest to write 100 times, “I will not drink bad wine and drive” The décor is a kind of elegant shabby chic with a decided touch of whimsy. You can almost envision the decorator smiling to herself as she selected these eclectic pieces of furniture and melded them with luxury fabrics and accessories. The effect is at once elegant and comfortable.
The main inn has 7 guestrooms and behind it 6 cottages scattered among the gardens. All are decorated in different color schemes in a style that evokes thoughts of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Some have fireplaces, some private patios, all have luxury linens and bedding, wonderful toiletries and fragrant towels. Our cottage, #6 had a charming sitting area downstairs that opened onto a private patio. Upstairs, a plump King bed looked out French doors to the beautiful gardens below. Getting out of that bed in the morning was a chore….
Over in the Vineyard are the “Tents”, beautifully decorated three bedroom, three bath cottages with an open floor plan, fireplaces, flat screen TV’s, outdoor showers and wonderful screened in porches with views out over Carter’s Creek. These are ideal for families or couples traveling together.
Apart from an amazing breakfast (stuffed French Toast with berries and Applewood smoked bacon) and the occasional Chef’s Table dinner or Friday Crab Cruise, evening meals are taken at one of a number of local restaurants. Just a few blocks away, is Nate’s Trick Dog Café, a place not to be missed for one or more dinners while you are in town. The décor and the food are as sophisticated as you will find in any city, but the welcome and the feel is small town America at its best.
Oversized lamps with huge shades frame the lively bar (where did all these people come from?) and the walls are lined with cozy red leather booths. Start with one of their creative martinis and then settle in for a delicious meal. The special conch chowder was excellent as was the Ahi tuna on a soba noodle salad with a wonton crisp as appetizers. I could eat the sage brined chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto and served with goat cheese and tomato au gratin potatoes three times a week. But it was Nate’s crab cakes that stole the show. My wife is somewhat of a crab cake aficionado and these were the best she ever had. No filler, all crab and spices…..just amazing. A moulten chocolate cake and a raspberry crème brulee ending a wonderfully satisfying meal. The wine list is well thought out with some interesting choices, all moderately priced.
The grounds are immaculately maintained, the accommodations in pristine condition and the public rooms comfortable and inviting. Peggy and Dudley are always around and available to help, yet respect everyone’s privacy and seem to know when to initiate conversation and when to leave people to themselves. The kitchen staff is friendly and accommodating and seem to really enjoy turning out those terrific breakfasts. This is the best kind of service, there when you need it but never suffocating or overbearing.
$175-$305 mid-week, $195-$345 weekends for rooms and cottages. Tents are $310-$610 mid-week and $395-$695 weekends depending on the number of bedrooms (1-3).
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
Fodor's Travel Guide - names the Hope and Glory Inn a Fodor's Choice for 2009. "These places are the best of the best".
Select Registry - designates the Hope and Glory as one its "distinguished inns of North America".
Conde Nast Johansens - 2009 Edition - "Recommending only the finest hotels in the world"
Travel + Leisure has named it as one of their “30 Great Inns in the US”
American Historic Inns has ranked it one of America’s” Top Ten Most Romantic Inns” to which The New York Times has responded: “The description hardly does it justice”
WHILE YOU ARE THERE
Plenty to do from leisurely bike rides (bikes provided by the Inn) to tennis on two hard surface tennis courts across the street to golf on a par 3 golf course just down the street or on 3 championship golf courses just two minutes away. The newest course, The King Carter, was named by Golf Digest “Number One Public Course in America with a Greens Fee Under $75”. There is a pool in the Vineyard Grove, beaches as close as 10 minutes away and places to launch your own or rented kayaks. The town and surrounding areas have quaint boutiques and cafes, a vineyard, a steamboat museum and a National Historic Church built in 1735.
The entrance to the vineyard, White Fences, is flanked by two 40 foot corkscrews and few know that the area is very much like Bordeaux: sandy soil with rocks, a nearby estuary (Chesapeake Bay) and a water table which requires an underground tilling system for drainage are just a few of the similarities. Calendar of events is available at www.whitefencesvineyard.com. Don’t miss the annual harvest celebration featuring Lucille Ball-type grape stomping. www.irvingtonstomp.com.
Plan to go when you can enjoy the occasional Friday Crab Cruise on the 42 foot Faded Glory, a dead rise workboat. Nothing like the crack-'em-on-the-boat local crabs, buttery corn on the cob and thirst-quenching beverages.
New York: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Philadelphia: 5 hours
Washington, DC: 2 hours, 47 minutes
Richmond: 1 hour, 27 minutes