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“Great Restaurant” 4 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
Seattle
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“Great Restaurant”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2011

I recently returned to Willows Inn for my third visit (spring 2009,and fall 2010 were my prior visits) and boy is it changing to be more upscale! This is due entirely to the arrival of wunderkind chef Blaine Wetzel last August, and to the many accolades he has received since then. It has obviously become a "destination restaurant" and deservedly so because Blaine is very talented/creative and the dinners are truly outstanding. The five-course prix-fixe dinner is preceded by 5 amuses, which Blaine calls "snacks."...and they are all a great prelude for what is to come, which is the highest quality cuisine with the very best of local ingredients, including many from Nettles Farm, which is a short walk up the hill.
However, all of this excellence comes at a price...literally, because room rates and dinner cost have both risen considerably. Dinner is now $85, and with a glass of wine, tax, tip that comes to about $120 per person. They now have a "sommelier" and he "encourages" the "wine pairing," which adds another $65 to the tab.

I think that Blaine's cooking justifies the cost, but The Willows is now a little too upscale for my tastes. I will return as long as Blaine is there, but not very often as it's now just too darn expensive.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
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133 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    80
    33
    14
    5
    1
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100
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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
montreal
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
39 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2011

This was the highlight of our tour of the West coast. Getting there is a bit of an adventure, especially when the ferry breaks down, but worth the effort. The Noma inspired tasting menu (btw Noma stands for Nordic Food in Danish) is a revelation in what you can achieve with seemingly unexciting ingredients such as potatoes, apples and a variety of green weeds.
The presentation was pleasing to the eye, the flavours original and nuanced, but what stands out to me is how we felt afterwards. We felt neither hungry nor full but instead brimming with energy and well being, a feeling that stayed with us for the next day.
We slept at the Low Tide condo on the nearby beach, which was spectacular but unfortunately marred by the smell of a propane leak - make sure it is fixed before you go.
All in all a one of a kind experience, well worth a detour.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Chilliwack
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2011

I chose The Willows Inn as a surprise birthday get-away for my husband. We had read an article in the national newspaper describing the chef who was transforming the dining experience at the inn using local ingredients and creative presentation. We were not disappointed. The meal began at 7:00 PM and didn't end till 10:00 PM. Think of the film "BABETTE's FEAST" and the slow food approach to eating. This dining experience was not about volume but was about opening all your senses to the experience of dining: shape, colour, design, scent, texture, taste were all present.
The inn is situated overlooking the San Juan Islands and the view is spectacular. We hiked along the beach and then visited the three land conservation sites where you can hike through some beautiful forests and find some great views over the water.
The one thing we missed was visiting the art galleries or studios of the many artists on the island. We plan to return for another great dining experience and visit to Lummi Island when the next special occasion arises.

Room Tip: Book in advance.
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2011 via mobile

I had read about Willow's and have wanted to try the menu in the restaurant. Being Monday, only the cafe was serving, but we sat on the deck and were treated to traditional spot prawns, pizza, asparagus salad, margaritas, great wine and lovely sunset!

  • Stayed June 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Lafayette, United States
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
62 hotel reviews
Reviews in 63 cities Reviews in 63 cities
90 helpful votes 90 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2011

Wonderful little inn on the Puget Sound with views of Orcas Island. Enjoyed the cozy feel of this place. The Chef there, Blaine Wetzel, is one of the best in the Northwest and the US. He trained at Noma in Copenhagen and uses local ingrediants from the inn's Nettles Farm up the road and the bounty of the local waters. The wine list does not match the caliber of the food. This is a destination food experience worth the flight or drive. I enjoyed the laid back feel of Lummi island, walking along the beach and visiting the garden and chickens at Nettles Farm. There are nice pastures of sheep down the road. All in all a great place to unwind, savor your morning coffee while looking out at the water, and experience a truly unique and wonderful meal. The Rose room is a little noisy being next to the kitchen. My fellow travelors were in the Sunset room which had a great view of the water.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Vancouver, Canada
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2011

My husband and I went to check this place out after reading the glowing reviews. Being foodies and working in the restaurant industry for 15 years we were excited to visit the Willows Inn. The drive was beautiful as well as the 5 min ferry ride. The Inn itself was quaint and service was outstanding. The placed oozed relaxation and class without being pretentious. The room we had was Honeysuckle which was a bit on the small side but had everything you would need and a charming feel....super comfy beds too!
As for the food it was amazing and innovative. We were delighted by the multiple amuse bouches, the non stop bread, and that the chefs served the dishes to the guests .All the staff was friendly and professional. We sat right by the kitchen so got a perfect view of the chefs at work.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
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
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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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