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Life slows down in the small towns of central northern Virginia, at luxury bed-and-breakfasts and inns, in their cozy rooms and gardens amid pastures and fenced fields. Couples and history buffs can enjoy a weekend escape, with days filled with outdoor activities and sightseeing or spent simply in a hammock under a towering oak or on a porch swing with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The guest rooms at the stone Red Fox Inn (2 East Washington St., Middleburg, Va., 540/687-6301, www.redfoxinn.com, $175-245) have canopy or four-poster beds, luxury linens, and country furnishings; some guest rooms have fireplaces. Rates include a hearty Hunt Country breakfast and evening turn-down service.
If you’ve yearned to own a country “hunt box” but don’t have the cash for another mortgage, the Goodstone Inn (36205 Snake Hill Rd., Middleburg, Va., 877/219-4663, www.goodstone.com, $385-630), a 265-acre working estate next door to former socialite Pamela Harrington’s farm, fits the bill, with a carriage house and outbuildings turned into luxury accommodations. Guests can bring their own horses or borrow bikes to tour the area; hiking and wineries are not far. Unique accommodations include the Bull Barn, a cottage with a library, a king bed, a jetted tub, and a private fenced garden; and the French Farm Cottage, a home to complete the country-house fantasy with stone exteriors and plaster walls, a great room, floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, and hammocks.
In tiny Paris, the Ashby Inn and Restaurant (692 Federal St., Paris, Va., 540/592-3200 or 866/336-0099, www.ashbyinn.com, $165-295) coddles guests in a 19th-century colonial home and schoolhouse, with 10 guest rooms furnished in country-antique reproductions. A full-service, award-winning restaurant serves new American cuisine crafted from seasonal ingredients.
John and Jackie Kennedy helped put Middleburg on the map by spending weekends in the cozy hamlet; Ronald Reagan enjoyed retreating to the cattle farm belonging to J. W. Marriott, now home to the Inn at Fairfield Farm (5305 Marriott Lane, Hume, Va., 877/324-7344, www.marriottranch.com, $139-219), otherwise known as the 4,200-acre Marriott Ranch. Guests can stay at the historic main home, built in 1814 by James Marshall, brother of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, with its bed-and-breakfast feel; the carriage house rooms, more akin to Marriott corporate style; or the Baroness’s cottage, decorated in a Western theme, a nod to J. W. Marriott’s roots in Utah. Although Marriott’s budget hotel chain, Fairfield Inn, is named for the property, the experience here is anything but bargain-basement: wine and cheese in the afternoon, hearty breakfasts, in the morning and the chance to ride horses and hunt.
© Patricia Nevins Kime from Moon Washington DC, 1st Edition