If you want pure decadence and opulence with personalized customer service, go to the Inn - point blank - period.
Since the Inn opened in 1978, the year Greg and I got married, this has been the tenth time that we have visited and to our amazement, Chef O'Connell and his staff have continued to surpass our expectations. It took us 15 years after it opened to afford our first visit and we felt that it was worth every penny because we were treated as if we had dined and resided in one of the most opulent restaurants and Inns in Europe which we visited (with our parents money) when we were in a work study program in college. So, the Inn became our anniversary excursion. When the recession hit and I was diagnosed with an incurable illness, we used the recipes in the cookbooks which we owned and tried to relive our previous experiences at the Inn by trying to recreate the recipes but failed miserably because something was missing. So, last year, when I became stronger, we returned for our anniversary, we wined and dined like a pair of hungry bears waking up after hibernation craving nothing but the finest that life had to offer and boy did they fill our quest for decadence bar none. And yesterday, as we celebrated my birthday, Chef O'Connell just continued to excel, exceed our expectations, excite us, and left us looking at the calendar planning when we would attend again.
After my husband and I made room and dinner reservations for my birthday, we then happened to find out that he received a promotion on the date that we left. Although we started the trip chipper and excited about the treats awaiting us, after sitting in what seemed like miles and miles of traffic, and arriving feeling war weary ready to crawl into our beds and go to sleep, we were greeted as if we were honored guests, coddled and taken to the bar area where the attendant poured us an exquisite cocktail, and were escorted to a quaint, warmly lit room which had a nook that seemed like it was fine tuned for our weary bones. The personalized attendance of the staff, the ambiance of the room and the cocktail soon warmed us up!!
They then escorted us to the Thomas Keller suite - who I believe is the first American to be awarded three Michelin stars - and coincidently is 58, the age that I was celebrating. This two level suite well paid him homage. Upon entering, we were escorted into a sitting room which contained a nook nestled between two opulently decorated curtains outfitted with a comfortably cushioned beige brocade sofa. The two chairs on the other side of the sofa were covered in a rose brocade fabric that my husband and I could not believe was the same color and brocade material of our rose sofa at home. In addition, there were touches of gold, deep blues, and greens which were so artfully ornate and decadently arranged that we felt like we were in a palace suite nestled away from the rest of the world. The bedroom in the loft above was richly decorated in burgundy and gold and the chaise lounge accompanying the king size bed made us wish that the entire suite was our own home. Several of Chef Keller's books were in the room as well as the Chef O'Connell's cookbooks and upon looking at an ornate mirror on one of the walls, we soon discovered that the mirror opened to uncover a 60 inch flat screen TV.
More amenities followed: a wet bar with a refrigerator filled with beverages, a marble bathroom with heated floors and a shower built for ten, a beautifully decorated deep claw tub, two balconies, and a view of the festive white lights and koi pond. All of this - along with the champagne that my husband and I consumed - reawakened us and had us giddy for the next experience.
Shortly after we settled in, the staff delivered afternoon tea by our favorite attendant, Mike. As for the tea service, the ham biscuits, cucumber "sandwich", scones, and other treats including fresh fruit, coconut macaroons, and their signature swans gave us just enough to awaken our palates. The first of many "sins" had begun to sate our quest for decadent food.
Then we walked down to dinner. What can we say!! We were greeted by staff who remembered our names and were served our second decadent sin - three individual "amuse bouches" or one bite treats: a spoonful of pork belly and warm applesauce - the combination of both savory and sweet which blended very artfully together; "chips and dips" served on a stone, a simple sounding dish which contained several different herbs and spices which individually worked together to tickle our palate with just one simple bite. (If my son, Mike, were there, he would say "just remember not to bite the stone). To end it, we had fried potato wrapped in a chip topped with caviar. Simply sublime as the Inn serves nothing but quality caviar!!!!
We were then served our third decadent sin - a red bell pepper soup with Sambuca cream which we recognized before it hit the table. We had this on our first trip at the Inn and as stated above, although we own the cookbook, unfortunately, since the Chef's essence is imbibed in the soup, something that the cookbook can not contain or capture since it can never be recreated similar to each of our fingerprints, as much as my husband tried to recreate Chef's recipe, it was sublime to receive the original red bell pepper soup.
For my fourth decadent sin, I ordered a "tin of sin" with caviar and peekytoe crab and slivers of cucumber. Last time, I shared this dish with my husband but this time, I asked him to order his own - which he gracefully did. (Although it is nice to taste the various dishes on the menu, this is one item that each person at the table needs to order for themselves.)
For my fifth decadent sin, I ordered foie gras served two ways (warm and cold). The Chef is generous with his portions and each variation had its own unique nuance.
For my six decadent sin and the "piece of resistance" - the PEPPER CRUSTED AHI TUNA WITH FOIE GRAS AND PINOT NOIR BURGUNDY BUTTER SAUCE PRETENDING TO BE A FILET MIGNON!!!! Remember this dish!!!! This was my favorite dish from years back and when I saw it sitting in front of me for the first time in years and bit into the first piece - I literally levitated from my chair without using my oxygen device which has now become a part of my life - and groaned with pure delight. Thanks above that we had a private table!!! Interestingly enough, my husband had originally ordered another entree but after tasting my plate of tuna, foie gras, and burgundy butter sauce in one mouthful, he hurried up and asked if he, too, could have the tuna instead. During the early days, this was the most popular dish at the Inn. It has been reworked and the dish is still delicious, but I love the decadence of the original.
Due to my illnesss, I ended the evening early - yet Chef O'Connell - once again, stopped what he was doing to personally thank us for attending his Inn when I in fact felt humbled that such a Legend would take the time out to personally thank us for coming - with that handsome, embracing smile on his face. Here again, his staff, and notably Landry, gave us such a personalized experience, we felt as if he were our own personal valet and the fact that the rest of the kitchen staff also took the time to personally greet us and thank us was so unexpected and humbling.
Shortly after we arrived back at our room, our regular attendants then arrived to bring us the rest of our dessert and coffee and in fact, one young man - whose father also works at the restaurant - came to tell us goodbye because he would not be there to greet us in the morning. The last time we were there, we felt like we were royalty. Forget royalty. I am proud to state that I felt as if my husband were the President and his Mrs - who also had a birthday yesterday.
What can I say about the customer service. The next morning, we had breakfast in the room and the staff once again outdid itself to ensure that we had all we needed. I experienced my seventh decadent sin: the Eggs Benedict contained the best hollandaise sauce, as once again, the Chef was able to imbibe one of the five basic mother sauces with his unique individual essence.
Since I have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, my husband and I have agreed that we would spend our time and our money only on people or experiences which elevate us and bring us joy. The Inn meets both of those criteria - people who give us joy and an experience that elevates us. Since I can no longer fly, to have a world class Inn and restaurant so close to us is such a blessing. Again, we commend the Inn for maintaining its standard of excellence and continuing to embrace and amaze us. We will be returning soon and often.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the small town of Washington, Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington is the only Double Forbes Five Star, Double AAA Five Diamond property in the Washington metro area. The Inn's eighteen bedrooms and suites are sumptuous hideaways created by Joyce Evans, a London stage and set designer, for whom The Inn has become a life's work. Many of the furnishings were purchased in England, numbered and shipped to Virginia to be assembled on site like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The Inn offers a range of accommodations from well-appointed rooms to luxurious, two story suites many with balconies and garden views. The Inn's dining rooms are pure fantasy - a wondrous cocoon of luxury. Rose-colored, silk lampshades float above each table creating a private, romantic world below. Chef/Proprietor Patrick O'Connell's creations arrive as if served by invisible hands, course after course more dazzling than the last. From the award-winning 14,000 bottle wine cellar, which includes the finest offerings from Bordeaux, Burgundy, California and Virginia, the Sommelier plays matchmaker between you, your dinner and the wine. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Inn At Little Washington Hotel Washington