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“Unwelcoming Host & mediocre meals” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The Inn at Vaucluse Spring

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The Inn at Vaucluse Spring
231 Vaucluse Spring Lane, Stephens City, VA 22655   |  
Hotel amenities
Alexandria, Virginia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Unwelcoming Host & mediocre meals”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 29, 2012

We recently stayed at the Inn at Vaucluse Spring for a last getaway before the birth of our first child looking for a relaxing, friendly experience. It started out that way. Neil, one of the owners was perfectly lovely. She was very welcoming, informative, and friendly. She made us feel at home. Our room was terrific--clean, cozy, and traditionally decorated without being stuffy. We had had three experiences that made the stay however end on a poor and perplexing note. The elegant, six course dinner Saturday night was run well but the food was mediocre as was the simple breakfast the following morning. They did not do a good job accommodating vegetarian or pregnant needs. The vegetarian replacements were poorly prepared and repetitive (and completely non-existent for the breakfast, the sausages were not replaced with anything) and the meat for the pregnant requirements was medium rare Saturday night despite us being told it had been cooked well. At the time these were minor concerns because the overall experience thus far was great. The other owner, Barry, was what really made the overall experience unpleasant. For reasons we are still unaware of (we never mentioned the food issues) he was initially friendly and then became publicly cold and unfriendly towards us from Saturday evening onwards including publicly bypassing us in the small room where they seated four other couples. Then, as we were checking out he was outright cold, snappish, and dismissive. We were also charged for an extra glass of wine we did not drink. No idea why we were singled out or treated this way. Wish we had said something at the time. His rude behavior coupled with the mediocre (and expensive) meals made our stay with Vaucluse far less than it could have been. Given the expense of this Inn, we would recommend not taking the chance and choosing a different B&B in the area.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VaucluseSpring, Owner at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, responded to this review, November 2, 2012
We are so sorry that these guests had such a disappointing end to their visit. A last getaway before the birth of a child is an important time for a couple and we very much want it to be a perfect experience.

It is difficult to respond to a perception of our food as “mediocre” without knowing the basis. We believe our Saturday dinner menu is anything but mediocre. For example, the risotto starts with Arborio rice toasted in hazelnut oil for a nice fall flavor and is prepared with a 3-year aged cheddar in two forms: creamy stirred in as well as a finish of cheddar crisps sprinkled on top for a crispy counterpoint. The risotto is served with cider-infused local apple and toasted pumpkin seeds. We consider a flawlessly prepared risotto with these inventive seasonal touches hardly mediocre. As we prepare the dish here, it is completely vegetarian, so there was no variation required to accommodate a vegetarian diet.

Similarly, the fish course of Faroe Island salmon smoked tableside is a lovely presentation designed to impart a subtle applewood smokiness without the harshness on the palate that can result from charring. The brightness of the carrot purée (from carrots cooked in carrot juice) cuts through the richness of the salmon. The crispy shiitakes are sliced paper thin, dusted with potato starch and flash fried to create a crispy and earthy element that is not overly dominant. The vegetarian substitution of tofu crisped in butter and presented smoked in the same manner as the salmon continued the same progression for the vegetarian diner, lending a texture similar to that of the fish.

The Tempeh, the vegetarian substitution for the duck, was chosen as the anchor for the meal based on its dense protein, fiber richness, and contrast in texture from the preceding course’s tofu, so hardly seems repetitive. The duck breast we fully believed to be well done in that it had been specially prepared, but we would certainly have been happy to cook it further and replate completely if we had known at the time that the diner considered it not to be cooked to her wishes.

Regarding the omission of meat from the vegetarian entrée on Sunday morning, we could have used a soy sausage, but have found these “fake-meat” products to be unacceptable substitutes, so are at a bit of a loss as to how to handle this to the guest’s satisfaction. We do take these comments seriously and have contacted the guests directly to initiate a dialog about how we could have better met their needs and expectations regarding dietary issues (as well as to refund the overcharge for the glass of wine).

Regarding the “cold and unfriendly” treatment by the innkeeper on Saturday night, we truly regret this situation. We walk a fine line between engaging our guests and yet giving them enough space to engage personally and privately with each other. A lack of response from a guest can generally indicate that they prefer to be left alone together. Our job as innkeepers is to be able to “read” these reactions and respond appropriately. In this instance we clearly failed, and for that we offer our sincerest apologies.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (85)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Flowood, Mississippi
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2012

My husband and I stayed for 3 nights in August 2012. We wanted a quiet place to unwind from our busy lives, and before a big family wedding in DC the following weekend. This was the perfect place for us to relax and "recharge". The inn is located in the city of Stephens City, which is an easy drive from DC. We were greeted in the main house by Neil, one of the owners. She is very friendly and accommodating. It felt like we were staying at a friend's house rather than an inn. We stayed in the Millhouse cottage, which is adorable and cozy. The furnishings are all truly "vintage" and reflect the character of the area. My husband and I got up early every morning to drink coffee and read by the pond. The rushing water from the mill provided the perfect background noise for sleeping and relaxing.

The highlight of our stay was our five course meal prepared by chef Adam. My husband and I have traveled to many diverse places in the world, and this is in our top 5 favorite meals ever! We made reservations for dinner, and got personal service by chef Adam himself. Each course was paired with a wine, and it was an amazing experience to have the chef himself explain the courses to us. He also prepared a three course breakfast for the guests everyday, which I was always very excited about.

The owners really think of everything to make your stay as smooth and comfortable as possible. We went swimming at the pool, which is connected to one of the other guesthouses. In the common area of that guesthouse, you can find towels and snacks. Also in the common kitchen, there are plates, utensils, and bottled water for guests to take. There is also an area that contains toiletries such as toothpaste, shaving cream, etc. I liked having all of these things readily available so that we didn't have to "bother" anyone to help us although they would have been more than happy to help.

The inn is located near several vineyards. The Valerie Hill Vineyard is just down the street and was recommended to us by Adam. Also, the area has many good unique restaurants (not surprising, given the number of food and wine enthusiasts). I would definitely recommend this inn to anyone looking to truly "get away."

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandria, Virginia
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2012

I've been to the inn almost a dozen times, but after a hiatus of two years and some major life changes, I wondered if I would still find it to be the magical experience I remembered. Indeed it was in every way! Barry and Neil are the best innkeepers anywhere. They and their very thoughtful staff still make each guest feel so welcome and special. I reveled in the beautiful, peaceful scenery around the inn and the delicious gourmet meals prepared by Neil and Chef Adam. My room was charming and very comfortable, with many thoughtful touches. This delightful, relaxing weekend in the country once again restored my spirits, and I look forward to returning soon for more of the inn's magic.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Morrison, colorado
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012

Our first visit to the state of Va could not have been more delightful thanks to our stay at the Inn at Vaucluse Spring.The Inn was everything we had hoped it would be and then some.It is a well
taken care of property with attention to detail that is most appreciated and not often found! We were able to just relax and enjoy the peaceful setting of the Inn. The breakfasts were very good and well thought out. Sometimes at other inns there seems to be too much food but the amounts we were served seemed to be just right with no waste. I appreciate that! Thanks to all who helped make out time there so enjoyable. Should we ever find ourselves back this way again we will definitely make sure to make a stop here!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012

I have run out of superlatives for this place. Just go (on a weekend, if possible) indulge in the wonderful meals, relax, visit some interesting places and enjoy. As you see from the overall rating just about everyone does.

Room Tip: The studio and and the cabin are are great.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
141 reviews 141 reviews
40 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
97 helpful votes 97 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 19, 2012

The Inn is a nice place, but our room was unfortunately stink-bug invested when we visited. They were all over the room, and we woke up at night, with stink-bugs all over our pillows. The Inn Keeper was very apologetic about it, but honestly, the worst could have been avoided if they had checked the room before our arrival. Stink bugs are slow and easy to catch.

The room was nice but this experience kind of spoiled it all. And honestly our room and the building we were in was a bit dated. Time to update!

The 3 course dinner was good but besides dessert not very filling. And breakfast was a bit pretentious. A lot of courses and yet we did not even get some juice and had to ask for a coffee refill.

The place seems to be popular, so I don't want to spoil it, but we were disappointed and left after one night. That was us though!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VaucluseSpring, Owner at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, responded to this review, October 23, 2012
These good folks visited us on one of those unseasonably warm sunny October days when the stink bugs seem to come out of nowhere. For anyone who does not know, the stink bugs at issue are an invasive species accidentally introduced from China into Pennsylvania. They do not bite, but they do give off an odor when squashed. For guests who are travelling from outside the “stinkbug belt”, which apparently includes New York City, their first encounter can be a bit unnerving. Regrettably, control is not as easy as just checking the rooms before guests arrive. Our housekeeping staff checks all rooms on the day of arrival to ensure that everything is ready, including removing stink bugs. But as anyone knows who lives in an area where they are a nuisance, when stink bugs are active, they can materialize quickly and relentlessly. Our apologies once again… we do still remember our own first encounter with these pests and certainly sympathize… but aside from diligently removing them one at a time, which we continue to do, there is not much else that can be done. The good news is that after these Indian Summer days are past, so will the worst of these pesky stink bugs.

We were dismayed to hear that the four-course dinner was not filling. We try to walk the fine line of portion size in a multi-course meal between too much and too little and sincerely regret our guests’ feeling we were on the “too little” side. We strive for “just right”, but human beings being what we are, our ideas of “just right” don’t always coincide.

The lapses in service at breakfast as far as failure to offer juice or a coffee refill were certainly an error on our part, and for that we do apologize. We have impressed on our servers the need to be more attentive and appreciate very much your letting us know.
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Fort Washington, Maryland
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2012

I began searching for a B&B for our 40th wedding anniversary a bit late and was dismayed to learn (or to remember!) that October is the new June and the majority of properties we considered were booked for weddings. We selected the Inn at Vaucluse Springs based almost exclusively on the fact that they had availability and boy - were we pleasantly surprised!! The property is absolutely stunning, Barry and Neil could not have been more welcoming and the food was incredible! Chef even made us a special little dessert for our anniversary! I am already planning when to return...when it's hot and we can go for a swim and then sit on the porch with a class of lemonade or when it's cold and we can come in from playing in the snow to sit in front of one of the 16 working fireplaces and read a good book?! I think we'll do both!

Room Tip: We stayed in Strother and thought it the best room in the manor house! If we take our whole family...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about The Inn at Vaucluse Spring

Address: 231 Vaucluse Spring Lane, Stephens City, VA 22655
Location: United States > Virginia > Stephens City
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Stephens City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A charming and secluded B&B in the Virginia countryside. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Inn At Vaucluse Spring Hotel Stephens City

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