Instead of thinking of this wonderful hideaway as a B&B, call it a "boutique mountain lodge--without pretensions." How good is it? The main, expansive "cabin" has five rooms, plus there's a small cabin two-hundred feet off in the woods. During our stay, three of the couples present were return guests--and two of those were back for their third visit. What's so great? Start with one of the most beautiful views in the world (no exaggeration, since I've visited seventy countries and stayed in many a lovely spot). Perched just in the lee of one of Virginia's highest mountains, the main building is sited with a flawless panoramic view of a succession of mountain ridges stretching deep into West Virginia, and as the sun moves across the sky, the nuances of the landscape shift (sort of a leafy Grand Canyon). The deciduous trees are largely maples, so the color is spectacular. But there's more than just that world-class view: The hosts, Jim and Lorraine, are incredibly welcoming, patient and eager to please. The main "cabin" is a masterpiece of recreating a true pioneer cabin feel (but with a lot more space, good plumbing, and a splendid kitchen, where terrific country breakfasts are prepared). Even the house dog, Jody, was terrific, herding us along on our long hike from the cabin into the State Game Management area above four-thousand feet in elevation. More praise? My standard complaint about B&Bs is the wimpy coffee, but, here, even the coffee was bold and perfect for a chilly autumn morning. This is a place that just makes you happy to be there and to be alive. And you'll learn some unexpected things: Highlands Country, big and beautiful, has only about 2,300 inhabitants--astonishingly wild for the East Coast--yet has a great deal of history, including fascinating Civil War battlefields. Of course, in so rural an area, dining options are limited and the Laurel Point Retreat only serves breakfast (included in the rates), but two miles down the mountain, in Monterey, you can get an acceptable dinner in the old Highlands Inn Hotel (have reasonable expectations, and order the local trout or red meat--keep it simple) or in High's Cafe across the street, a family-style rural diner where you get big portions of rural-diner food. This isn't a foodie destination, but you'll do okay, if you're not a total snob. And the important thing is the transcendent beauty of the surrounding nature. Get out in it. You won't be able to avoid glorious exuberance. This realized-dream of Jim's and Lorraine's gets my highest possible recommendation.
Cabin in the woods in private and lovely, but most guests will prefer the main building, where most...
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