Following the busy week between Christmas and New Years, I decided to spend an extra two days of relaxation at the Keswick Hall at Monticello resort to kick off 2013. Located outside Charlottesville, Virginia, the resort is a quick 2.5 hour drive from Washington, DC and one hour from Richmond. I had heard great things about the property from friends and wanted to check it out for myself.
Keswick Hall is a AAA Four Diamond and Preferred Hotels and Resorts property. The original section of the hotel was built as a private Italianate villa in 1912. It has since been expanded and transformed into the luxury boutique hotel with 48 rooms that it is today set amongst the rolling Virginia countryside with the Blue Ridge Mountain as a beautiful backdrop. The service at the hotel is excellent and the common areas around the hotel are immaculate. It’s easy to see why the resort is a popular location for weddings and other special events.
The resort features a spa, an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature golf course, and nature trails around the grounds. There are also three swimming pools, one indoor in the spa, one outdoor traditional pool, and an outdoor heated infinity pool open year-round, for which I braved 40 degree weather in a swimsuit to check out. The resort also includes the Keswick Club, which provides members access to the property’s golf course and other amenities.
Prices for rooms are not cheap and start around $200 per night depending on the time of year. Planning a stay during the winter season will be your least expensive bet. I booked a regular room and was pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to a junior suite at check-in, which was located on the third floor in the original house part of the hotel. The room was quite large and featured a separate sitting area. The décor was Victorian and slightly outdated, but the bed was very comfortable. The bathroom was spacious with Molton Brown products. As a nice touch, shortly after getting to my room, staff delivered a complimentary welcome bottle of locally produced petit verdot wine and chocolates from a local chocolatier.
Keswick has several dining options including the award-winning Fossett’s Restaurant located behind the main lobby. The restaurant has a jacket required dress code, which I didn’t pack, so I dined at Fossett’s Bar next door. There you can order from the bar menu or the menu at Fossett’s Restaurant in a more casual environment. I also tried Villa Crawford for lunch, which is a buffet style option set up daily in the foyer of the original 1912 mansion portion of the hotel.
After exploring the resort, dining in several of its restaurants, trying the outdoor infinity pool and spa, and hiking the nature trails, I ventured out to see the surrounding area. Downtown Charlottesville is 15 minutes away and has numerous shopping and dining options. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home is a short drive from the property and well worth a visit if you have never been before.
I recommend a visit to Barboursville Vineyards during your stay. Known as one of the best Virginia wineries, Barboursville is located 20 minutes from the resort. I enjoyed a Barboursville cabernet sauvignon at Fossett’s Bar during my first night and was excited to visit the vineyard itself.
The vineyard is quite expansive and covers the grounds that once belonged to Virginia’s 18th Governor James Barbour. The ruins of his mansion remain and are open to explore.
The staff at Barboursville were very friendly and allowed me to taste an extensive range of whites and reds. The 2008 Octagon, a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot, was my favorite.
In addition to being a working vineyard, Barboursville features the Palladio Restaurant, serving Northern Italian dishes in a fine dining setting. Also onsite is The 1804 Inn and Cottages next to the ruins of the Governor’s mansion. Rooms and cottages have fantastic views of the vineyard and rolling Virginia countryside. Rates start in the mid-$200s depending on the season.
Keswick Hall is an ideal destination if you’re seeking some peace and quiet in a small luxury resort setting. While slightly outdated, the rooms are high quality and what you would expect of a AAA Four Diamond property. The hotel features many onsite activities including an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature golf course, spa, workout facility, tennis courts, and three pools. There are several great dining options ranging from fine dining to casual. Menus are pricey in all of the resort’s restaurants. After exploring the property, be sure to check out downtown Charlottesville, visit Monticello, and enjoy some of Virginia’s finest wine at Barboursville.
The hotel was recently sold by Orient Express to a hotel group that owns a collection of other luxury AAA Five and Four Diamond properties, including the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island (SC), The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond (VA), The Hermitage Hotel (TN), and the Inn at Sea Pines (SC). It will be interesting to see if the new owner makes any changes to the resort. Updates to the rooms might not be a bad thing as long as they preserve the historic elements of the hotel and its past.
Keswick Hall is located outside of Charlottesville. The drive from Washington, DC is 2.5 hours and 1 hour from Richmond. For flight options, Charlottesville is served by Charlottesville Albermarle Airport. Non-stop service to hub airports with domestic and international connections includes: US Airways Express to Charlotte and Philadelphia; Delta Connection to New York City (LaGuardia) and Atlanta; Amercian Eagle to Chicago (O’Hare); and United Express to Washington, DC (Dulles).