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“Bring your appetite!” 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
Seattle
Top Contributor
104 reviews 104 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
“Bring your appetite!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 11, 2011

We stayed here for two nights in the Low Tide room, which was absolutely relaxing with the beach right in front of you and a shared deck with a grill. The room itself was cozy and waking up to the gentle sounds of the waves made our morning. There is no air conditioning, only heater, so the room did get warm, but it wasn't a problem, as we left the windows opened when we were out and left them a little bit open during the evening. There are screens, so no need to worry about bugs!

There is no bathtub for this room, just a shower. The water pressure is fantastic, and the amenities are from BeeKind. A hair dryer is provided, but there is no iron and ironing board. Coffee and tea were available in the room, but we couldn't figure out how we were supposed to consume them without hot water/a coffee maker.

The deck was so relaxing. There are two tables (one table seats four and another seats six, I believe), and two wooden recliners with a round side table. There's another chair and a round table. Why so many, you might wonder. The deck is shared with guests who are staying in the two other rooms--the Beach House and the High Tide. If those guests are out, you basically have the whole deck and beach to yourself, which happened to us, and loved it! It was also fun to interact with them when they were around. Anyway, there is a grill, so on our second night, we went to the island grocery store (The Islander) and bought some food to grill. Luckily, we also caught the Saturday Market, so we bought a few squashes for a dollar from the lady. Wine glasses are provided in the room and we brought our own wine that we had gotten from Napa Valley, so we enjoyed that over crackers and cheese, salami, and grilled salmon and vegetables. The guests that night were enjoying dinner at the Inn.

Now, the dinner at the Inn is amazing and that is what we went for. The dishes are all delicately and beautifully presented, and I believe that they satisfied all types of palates. For me, the oyster was my least favorite because oyster is not something I enjoy, but everything else went into my belly. Before the appetizer are little snacks, and one of them was the smoked salmon in a wooden box. Oooooohhh, the aroma when you open the box! This was the most memorable dish and we still talk about it :). This dinner can be paired with wine (USD65) or juice (USD45). Definitely do the wine pairing because each glass of wine goes perfectly with the dish presented. We were amazed at how they complimented each other. Usually, when we get wine pairing at other restaurants, we aren't impressed, but this time, we totally were.

The Taproot Cafe downstairs provides simple lunch and dinner and snacks. We were down there a few times and the staff is friendly and helpful. If you have any questions, they will be happy to answer them!

There's bocce to play, the Nettle Farm to visit, the beach to walk along, the island to explore.....it's the perfect get-away for those who are looking for some relaxation and excellent food.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 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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130 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    78
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    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
Seattle, Washington
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2011

We stayed at the Farm Cabin on Nettles Farm, which is part of the Inn but is a 5-10 minute walk up a hill. (There is also parking right by the cabin, so it is NOT a problem if you are unable to walk up the hill.) The Farm Cabin has its own little kitchen, dining/sitting area, bathroom, and loft bedroom. The loft bedroom was fine for us but note that you have to climb up a "ladder" to reach it. If you are afraid of heights or have mobility issues, another room might be a better choice. The Farm Cabin was SPOTLESS, comfortable, and quite spacious. It could have easily accommodated three people (two in the loft bedroom and one on the daybed in the main cabin area). As its name suggests, it is actually on Nettles Farm, a working farm from which the Inn gets its produce, eggs, etc. We were able to wander freely around the farm, looking at the plants and chickens. I thought the Farm Cabin at $165 per night was reasonable. As others have described well, the restaurant is absolutely amazing. Yes, it is expensive ($85 per person, not including wine, tax, or gratuity). However, I think you have to treat it more like an experience than just a meal, as it is something we will fondly remember and talk about for the rest of our lives. The leisurely-paced, three hour meal started with several "snacks" as the chef calls them, including a small piece of salmon wood-smoked in the little box it's served in, black cod with sauerkraut on a potato crisp, field greens/veggies with edible "dirt" (actually hazelnuts and browned butter) served in a cute basket with an herb dipping sauce, a Penn Cove oyster on the half-shell, an amazing cracker with butter and herbs (no description can do it justice, but it was so light and flavorful), and geoduck/butter clams with veggies. After these delicious starters, the first course was organic grains with morels and pine (great texture, color, and flavor). The next course was spot prawns which were silky smooth and served with delicately pickled kohlrabi. The following course was a hen's egg with vegetables including fiddlehead ferns and salmonberries, both of which grow wild all over Western Washington. The main course was a perfect filet of king salmon (caught the night before!) with veggies and a light mustard sauce. Dessert was wildflowers with lemon verbena ice cream (probably my least favorite course although it was visually stunning and a refreshing way to finish a superb meal). Oh, I almost forgot the crusty and flavorful bread and butter they serve throughout the meal. To the extent possible, they source ingredients locally, with many items from Nettles Farm, the island itself, and the surrounding waters. It's an elegant gourmet experience without being pretentious. The complimentary breakfast served the next morning was also very good (scrambled eggs, bacon, spiced potatoes, biscotti, juice, and coffee/tea). I had never been to Lummi Island before but found it easy to reach by the small ferry after a 2-hour drive north from Seattle. The island is lushly green, and the Inn itself has a lovely view of the water. Spend some time sitting out on the deck at the Inn, as the view is not to be missed. Bottom line -- do not hesitate to make your reservations if you are looking for a memorable and delicious Northwest experience.

Room Tip: Book early! Easy to book online and the staff is very responsive by email to special requests.
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2011

A wonderful Inn, nestled in the trees on the West shore of tiny Lummi island, with beautiful views of the Puget Sound.
The staff went out of their ways to make us feel welcome.
The food by Chef Wetzel was beyond great and we have tried many amazing restaurants across the world! so fresh, creative, beautiful, light, and so good! I am still raving, and waiting for his cookbook!
Breakfast (also very good) was highlighted by a pod of Orcas playing in the water right under the dining room windows.
Our night accomodations were in a cottage in a more remote area, walking distance from the lodge itself, spacious and very comfortable, with lots of privacy.
We had called almost at the last minute for this escape to the Willows Inn and are so happy they still had a room and table for us. We are already planning our next stay to sample Lummi Island and the Chef's menu on a Fall day.

Room Tip: The ferry to Lummi only takes 20 cars at a time, and runs only every hour on weekends :plan on being...
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
1 review
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2011

We were looking forward to our stay at the Willows Inn, if not the lovely surroundings then for the reputation of the chef from Noma in Denmark. The chef did not disappoint; the inn did. We selected a 'deluxe king room' from the website. There was absolutely nothing deluxe about the room. It was small, old, and tacky. It had no view. The walls were so thin you could hear people whispering next door. When we complained about it, we were told that the room we had was considered deluxe because it was associated with other deluxe rooms. The proprietor actually said that our room looked like one from motel 6. She reduced the rate on the spot. But if I hadn't complained I would have been stuck with the tariff for a deluxe room. I might go back for the food. Never for the accommodations: even If I need to bring a tent

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 19, 2011

I think all the superlatives have been used up by previous reviewers so I'll just add my "ditto" to what other's have said about the dining experience. All the courses were paced just perfectly allowing us to savor each one but not causing long pauses -- although even that would have been OK because relaxation is one of the reasons to go to a place like Lummi Island, isn't it? We struck up conversations with the diners on both sides of us and found that a pleasant experience too. Everyone was there to enjoy the food experience so we immediately had something in common.

Dinner was outstanding but the rooms are a little over-priced for what you get. I just considered that we were paying a premium on the room so we could have the dining experience. All said, we'll definitely return though. We stayed in the Heather room which has a huge bathroom with steam shower but the bedroom is small with no place to put a suitcase and only a bed, nightstand and small chair for furniture. After checking in we went immediately to the front deck to relax with reading material and enjoy the view over the water -- which was just fine since it was a stellar sunny day. The lobby is just beautiful too with comfortable seating areas where I could imagine curling up on a not-so-stellar day!

Enjoy! You won't be sorry you went.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
montreal
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
39 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
50 helpful votes 50 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
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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