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“Three Perfect Days” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Willows Inn

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Willows Inn
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2579 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island, WA 98262   |  
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Ranked #1 of 1 Lummi Island B&B and Inns
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Three Perfect Days”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2011

My husbands 50th birthday was approaching. He wanted a quiet getaway instead of a party and I wanted something authentically elegant, unpretentious and undiscovered. The Willows Inn fit the bill perfectly.

The kitchen is headed by a rising culinary star, Blaine Wetzel. The chef believes that the menu should should showcase the local, organic products from the islands farms or be foraged from the surrounding environment. The flavors are pure and fresh and served in the most imaginative ways. There are no gimmicks here just the best seasonal and delicious food presented with a very modern philosophy. His creations are the ultimate tribute to the locavore and head-to-tail movement.
There is a warm and comfortable atmosphere that I have never found at any other restaurant. The sign on the kitchen door says "please pass though but do remember to close the door behind you". The talent in the kitchen is immense. Wetzel has assembled his team brilliantly. The staff has cooked in the most respected restaurants all over the world and at The Willows the kitchen staff comes to the front of the house to serve the meal. They get to know the guests as you get to know the food. There is no impermeable boundary between the kitchen, dining room and guests. All in all it is a lovely and refreshing way to be served some of the most beautiful food on earth.

We rented the beach house for two nights. The gentle waves rolled ashore under the bedroom windows. A fire blazed in the fireplace and sea otters, sea lions swam past our windows. It was expensive but worth every penny. Our only regret was that we didn't rent the beach house for an entire week.
I was determined to make the trip short but spectacular so we arrived on a chartered Kenmore Air float plane from Lake Union in Seattle. Our pilot made a beach landing where Riley and Lisa were waiting for us. Everyone should travel by seaplane to a remote island at least once in their lives. OK twice. Out and back.

Lisa arranged a whale watching tour for us which turned out to be SPECTACULAR. Oh, and another beach landing! We saw a transient pod of Orcas make a kill and then play and jump in happiness after their meal. The huge male breached right next to our boat facing us and then turned sideways with a huge flipper slap to the water (was that an Orca High-Five?) before disappearing. On the trip back to Lummi, the sun came out and we saw Stellar sea Lions basking on the rocks, Bald Eagles tending their nest and and the most lovely untouched coastline with old lighthouses.

Without a doubt, we will return again and again to the most perfectly magical place we know -- The WIllows Inn and Lummi Island.

Room Tip: Book the Beach House. It's worth the money.
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  • Stayed May 2011, 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.
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131 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    79
    32
    14
    5
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (38)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bend, Oregon
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2011

Three words: go here now. This place is just on the "cusp" and will soon get too chi for me. The setting is glorious; the porch alone is worth the two hour trip from Seattle. Take a nap in the afternoon before you tuck into the (3 hour, upteen course) meticulously planned and presented meal brought to you by a choreographed stream of politely knowledgeable and reverent waitstaff. Walk it off the next day with a stroll to the unique farm and take in more varieties of lettuce, basil and tomatoes then you ever imagined. And you will be most pleasantly surprised by the price tag--with a few exceptions like the $5 coffee and $12 cocktails, both bed and board remain half of what might pay elsewhere (though I daresay not for long . . . ) However: don't expect a fancy room . . . as others have mentioned, you might need to concentrate on the view from your window to take your mind off the slightly musty odor and drifting noise. And the service in the hotel portion (as opposed to the restaurant) might be charitably described as cheerfully haphazard. Expect to make any requests at least twice and to check over your bill before you leave (and at least for the near future it might be good to re confirm your reservation before making the trek out here). But despite all that . . . this is an experience you will remember for a long long time--and after all isn't that why you travel in the first place?

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albion, California
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2011

We decided to take our honeymoon in the San Juan Islands and we don't think we could have had a better experience in the tropics! We were so relaxed by the end of our stay we were ready to return home for work! All the staff were warm and welcoming, because, as we discovered, they love living and working on the island. An ultimate experience for a locavore: local, sustainable and rare reef-net salmon fishing, onsite organic farm with seasonal fruit and veggies, chickens and pigs, wild-harvesting of beach plants and other herbs. We enjoyed 4 days filled with walking the various private beaches, (with no one else in sight!), riding our borrowed bikes around the 12 mile long island, gazing out at the San Juan's from our deck, some intense leisure reading, and lying in bed watching and listening to the slightest of waves lapping the beach in front of our room. If you are ready to sleep well and eat better, this place is for you! With so few distractions and so much time to focus on each other, we fell even more in love with each other! We'll definitely return to the Willows Inn! (^_^)

  • Stayed May 2011, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Seattle, Washington
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2011

if you like to eat well, you should go here and enjoy as many nights of eating as you can. between the mind-blowing meals, ride a bike around the island, take a beer to the top of the baker preserve peak and admire the san juan islands, and walk the nettles farm up the hill that supplies most of the ingredients for the meal. this is - or should be - to foodies what the bilbao guggenheim is to art people: the #1 place anywhere to go eat right now.

Room Tip: request the beach house if you have the scratch
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Port Hadlock, WA
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2011

Okay - I'll be completely honest. I had no idea what to do for my 40th birthday. So, since me friend Riley owns this fabulous Inn on Lummi Island - I thought, A group of us should go to the Willows. So, we did. 30 of us reserved the entire Inn and had the time of our lives. First, the accomodations are fabulous. The beach is dreamy. Especially on a sunny Spring day after a fairly dreary winter (FAIRLY!). Our friends even came over from Orcas Island and used the mooring buoy in front of the Inn. And, YES, we ate two wonderful dinners cooked by a great team led by Blaine Wetzel and Raquel in the dining room. These were the best meals of my life. So, yes, we lucked out making our reservations before the spotlight hit the Willows but do what you can to get in now!

Room Tip: We love the cottage!
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Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
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tucson, az
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2011

We celebrated my wife's birthday. The dinner was about the best we have ever had. Up there with the French Laundry for a fraction of the cost. If you are a foodie this should be on your top 3 list. Worth a trip.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2011

There were many things I loved about the Willows Inn: The view from the room was fantastic-- you could just look outside into the great ocean. The food was fantastic-- 8 courses, all very interesting and delicious.

However, what was really unsettling about the place was that they added on a large tip to the food service (which I had thought was included in the total price but was not) onto my bill. Had I not carefully reviewed the bill and seen an extra 45 dollars I would not have known what it was. My credit card had been signed by the wait staff "left dining room" (which I had because I was not expecting a paper bill, rather thinking everything had already been settled by the prixe fixe, and other people were just leaving the dining room). The point is that the money had been added to my bill and signed (although not rung up). When I brought this to the attention of the manager, they basically just yelled at me like I was some bumbling unsophisticated traveler who should know better. It was really awful. So be forewarned: wait for the bill to add your own tip, or expect them to add it on for you.

Things that were also not great: the room smelled a little moldy, the smell from the bathroom wafting into the room before we had even used it. Also, the walls were thin and we could hear the neighbors watching a movie. Also, if you stay away from the main lodge (hi and low tide rooms are half mile down the road), there is no place to change for the hot tub (or showers pre or post hot tub or massage).

All in all-- worth the food, just not the attitude. Rooms with great view.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Willows Inn

Address: 2579 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island, WA 98262
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Washington > San Juan Islands > Lummi Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Lummi Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Willows Inn on Lummi Island has become the Northwest's premiere destination for authentic farm to table dining. Come in and experience the culinary magic of our chef, Blaine Wetzel, and find out what eating from your landscape is all about. Savor wines from our extensive selection. Enjoy our elegantly comfortable accommodations. Drink in the views, watch whales, or relax with a cocktail by a blazing fire. Unplug, recharge and experience the Willows Inn--an authentic and affordable San Juan Islands adventure! Offering romantic beachside lodge rooms, cottage, and guest house accommodations and marine experiences. Organic food from Loganita Farm. A car ferry departs at least hourly for the five minute crossing to this scenic island retreat. Less than two hours from Seattle or Vancouver, BC. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Willows Hotel Lummi Island

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