We spent a very pleasant weekend wine tasting in Virginia and stayed at the Black Horse inn. It is a charming historic inn with well appointed, authentic furnishings and lovely grounds complete with grazing horses and rolling pastures. Our attic room, touted to be recently renovated, was simple and clean. Howevert I think the renovation should have included new carpet, replacement cabinets for the peeling laminate bathroom ones and a new countertop which was cracked.Replacing the old fashioned TV with a small flat screen as we saw in the other rooms should be done as well. We didn’t have robes as some of the other rooms did, and replacing the used toiletries and bath salts daily would have been a nice touch too. If you are tall, it is a tad hard to dry your hair or put on makeup, as the sloped attic walls make using the bathroom mirror without stooping down very difficult. Having two extra pillows in the closet instead of one, and more than one bath towel per guest are also small touches that make big differences. We would have liked both of those things. I’m sure the staff would have easily accommodated these items, but it’s nice to have them when you need them late at night and an easy thing to have them in the closet and bathroom. Also beware that the stairwell entrance is narrow and steep and the railings on the bedroom level are very shaky and not to be used for any support.
Breakfast is served each morning in the dining room or sun porch. The large crystal glasses filled with orange juice at each place setting make a lovely presentation, but I couldn’t help notice how many go untouched and are wasted. I would prefer a choice of juices, poured to order in smaller glasses. Trays of average store bought mini muffins, and little pastries are scattered about on the tables. Looks pretty, but homemade breads and muffins would be much nicer, and more along the lines of the authentic bed and breakfast experience. There was cereal out on the sideboard, but no milk. A keurig is available for those early morning risers who need a cup of coffee before breakfast is served. Being that several of the guests we met came to hike, and many people are early risers, some flexibility with the breakfast start time ( 9 AM) should be easy to handle and provide guests with some flexibility. Putting out a toaster and a tray of bagels and breads on the sideboard or sunroom would be nice touch as well and great for those who need a little something but don’t want to wait for the sit down breakfast or need to get on the road early.
We were told that guests are asked each night if they have any dietary preferences for breakfast. We were never asked either night and you only have the option that is served. It is a small inn, with only 10 rooms, and I would think it would be easy to serve a more customized breakfast with a choice of two items for that amount of guests. I never saw more than 6 or 8 guests eating at a time.
Our first morning breakfast started with baked apples stuffed with cinnamon and nuts. The presentation was pretty, but the apples were undercooked and served in a bowl. Not easy to eat or cut. An egg strata came next. It looked wonderful, and the inn has the presentation part of the dish down pat. I would have enjoyed it more had it been served at the proper hot temperature. It was just shy of warm, and more towards the cold side. The mandoline sliced potatoes that were layered with the eggs were not cooked and hard. It made the dish watery. The next morning was French toast. Again it came out beautifully presented and appearing as thick slices, dusted with sugar and accompanied by some fruit and sausage. It was actually not thick sliced bread, but sandwich style bread. Two slices were dipped together in the egg and then cooked . However when this is done, the bread although appearing as one thick slice will come apart as you eat it, revealing the shortcut of using the pre-sliced bread . The two inside surfaces were uncooked and mushy. Having been to bed and breakfasts that serve homemade granola, homemade breads and muffin, and expertly prepared gourmet breakfasts, I felt more attention to the details of the ingredients and their preparation should have been given. I felt the same way about the tray of cookies put out in the sunroom daily. I would rather one or two homemade treats as opposed to a tray of arranged store bought mini cupcakes and cookies that I can buy in my local supermarket at home. During happy hour some wedges of really good cheese artfully presented with some fresh fruit and crackers would have been nicer than the dried up cut cheese slices and port wine cheese ball that was put out. Something this simple could be made so much better without much effort or extra cost. Putting some bottled water, sodas and juices in the sunroom fridge is another suggestion and I have seen this done in the B&B's that I have visited in the past.
Overall our experience was pleasant and the inn is warm and comforting. I am a detail oriented person and for the price of the rooms, I think those little things could be addressed to take the experience up a notch, and more along the lines of the "upscale inn with gourmet food" image that is suggested .
- Also Known As:
- Black Horse Hotel Warrenton
- Black Horse Hotel
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Black Horse Inn, Warrenton, Virginia is the ideal escape for business meetings, brainstorming sessions or revitalizing retreats. The natural solitude of this historic, hunt-country estate encourages effective meetings and creative thought. Just 45 minutes from Washington, D.C., this spectacular setting will lead to creative ideas and a clear mind to tackle even the most difficult tasks and problem-solving sessions. Ten rooms with private baths, corporate center for 200. Lunches and dinners upon request. Team-building activities, WiFi & televisions. ... more less
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