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“Pilgrimage worthy!” 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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Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Lummi Island B&B and Inns
Vancouver, Canada
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Pilgrimage worthy!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2012

The New York Times was right - get on a plane and get here! Definitely one of the best, most memorable meals ever...a must-do if you're a foodie in any way! And Lummi Island is just gorgeous and so peaceful and relaxing - we really felt rejuvenated. We loved it so much, we have already booked a return visit in August with friends =)

We stayed in "High Tide" and were pleasantly surprised by the room - airy, high ceilings, very Malibu-beach house inspired with the white painted wood walls and ceiling. Yes, the room was a bit on the small side and the bathroom was tiny and dated, but the bed was comfortable and the view was breathtaking!

Of course, dinner is the main attraction and it was no less than phenomenal. They say it's a five-course prix fixe but really, it's more like 20-odd different plates and snacks...each one of them is beautiful and innovative and intriguing...and so delicious that you just have to close your eyes and savour each bite to the fullest. It's almost like you are discovering your taste buds for the first time! Each dish is brought to you by a different person, including Blaine the chef, so you get to interact with all the staff. And they are all super friendly and passionate and knowledgeable about the ingredients and preparation. We each had the wine pairings, which were excellent, but next time we'll order just one wine pairing and share it because they are such generous pours. This is also the first restaurant where they actually encourage you to come into the kitchen to watch them in action =) I particularly loved how everything in the restaurant was local: the dishes are from a local potter, the artwork on the walls from resident artists...right down to the salt on the tables!

Breakfast the next morning was just lovely, and the free Nettles Farm tour at 10 am was well worth it, so plan on staying and taking a later ferry. We are city people, so It was so interesting to see a real working farm and see all the different vegetables they were growing. The chickens and their blue eggs were a sight to behold!

We've told all our friends about this experience and are eagerly anticipating our meal in August...can't wait to see what Blaine has dreamt up!

  • Stayed April 2012, 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
    • 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
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    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
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2012

This is the most reliable way to get a table at the Willows Inn restaurant (see those reviews). We've stayed at the Inn twice now, this time much better. Cleaning was done earlier and room staff more attentive. We also rented the beach house with another couple which is recommended if only for the amenities and added space. We rented "Low Tide" last year and felt it was not worth the price.

The beach house dining area is right over the water and has a spectacular view. The kitchen is well equipped and well sized. That said, you're eating breakfast and dinner at the Inn so really, how much do you need a kitchen? The master bed is great the second bed is squeezed in under the eaves on the top floor. We couldn't get the DVD player to work properly and the outside stereo speakers disturbed our neighbours - controls were confusing. The deck joins with two other rooms so privacy is a bit of an issue, especially on a nice day.

All in all, the Inn is average, the dining experience unmatched and the views breathtaking - even on a cloudy day.

Room Tip: Travel with another couple and rent the beach house, if only for the space. Flip for the master or...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
Vancouver, Canada
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2012

We stayed at the Farmhouse suite minutes away from the main inn. Cookies awaited us upon our arrival (yum!). This country style suite has over-height ceilings and there was a full gourmet kitchen complete with espresso maker and a working pizza oven. I don't know how many vacationers know how to operate a pizza oven but I was tempted to try! The bedroom had a very comfortable bed with none of the sagging in the middle that I hate. The bedroom and the bathroom both connected to a wrap-around porch. Breakfast was delicious and included in the price of our stay. The Farmhouse suite prices are seasonal and available on the website.

Now the restaurant - fantastic! The best I've had in a long while. Just to be thorough and to give you an idea of the culinary delights that await you I am now going to list every course and snack that we had at this three hour feast:

Snacks
baked sunflower roots
crispy crepe with steelhead roe
potato chip with black cod
radish with flax
pickled oyster with sorrel
king salmon sashimi
knotting onion
fanny bay scallop with arugula
kale toast with black truffle and rye
smoked sockeye salmon
salt baked spot prawns
venison tartare
bread with chicken pan drippings
halibut skin with clams
grilled oyster with tequila and sage
spotted owl candy
flax caramel bites

Main courses
asparagus with fresh cheese and spruce
local squid with kohlrabi and seaweed
king salmon with mustard greens and seeds
wild mushrooms with woodruff and salmonberries
lummi island wildflowers with lemon verbena

Sorry if I'm exhausting you with this description but it was a very detailed meal and I can't do it justice just by saying it was amazing. My favourite was the halibut skin which we found out was scraped, dried, and then deep fried. Even better, we had a mini-tour of the kitchen after the meal and also a tour of the farm the day after. The chef knows the origin of every food item on the plate. If you have allergies the restaurant will accommodate them - they even mentioned that they don't repeat snacks/courses for people that dine with them two nights in row.

The only way it could have been improved was if the chairs in the dining room were padded - we are skinny people and three hours is a long time to sit in a hard chair. :P

Finally price - I know you're hoping that this sort of thing would be affordable but it's not an every day meal, and it doesn't have an every day price. I paid about $150 for one meal (without wine pairings) + $15 for a glass of rose and $5 for a tea after the meal. It was worth it for the quality of ingredients, presentation and the care with which the staff invests in the food.

Thanks for the Willows Inn for the experience!

Room Tip: The farmhouse suite is about 15 mins (uphill) walk from the main inn. It probably is better for peop...
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  • Stayed June 2012, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2012

We didn't have the much recommended dinner, but we loved the place anyway, We were staying in the Farm House and had a very interesting tour of the nearby Nettles Farm - a must-do activity. It was quiet and very comfortable - a perfect rest from city nonsense. Breakfast at the Inn is stunning - and the chef can accommodate the gluten free diet; soup from the Tap Root cafe lives up to the rave reviews. But - if you go - triple check the ferry time for your departure, and don't count on anything being open when you expect it to be. Meals, accommodation - all very lovely - but what really matters is preserving the lands and heritage of Lummi Island. You'll get a sense of this from the Nettle's Farm - if it is still there when you go.

Room Tip: The Farm House was interesting and comfortable. Every room will have some unique quality.
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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
22 reviews 22 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2012

The dinner as many others have said is really quite amazing and on par with many of the well known (and excellent) New York fine dining establishments in a much more casual and relaxed atmosphere. Our dinner was really just incredible, all the flavors and textures worked well together and some of the courses were totally unexpected (Venison Heart Ceviche) were delicious and surprising. The wine pairing was a nice match and reasonably priced.

Our room was spartan but nice and I thought priced about right considering the quality of the breakfast you get the next morning.

Already planning a return visit this summer and can't wait to see how the menu has evolved now that more produce and seasonal fish/meat options are available.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 5 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.
Seattle
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2012

We have been to a number of "foodie" restaurants and lodges over the past 2 years (Herb Farm/Barking Frong, Inn @ Langley) etc and the Willows Inn so far is our favorite.

We stayed there 2 nights and in one of the cottages that the inn owns off property. There are a small number of rooms at the Inn itself, but the also own a few properties within a few miles of the island.

There is really nothing going on at the island at all except this Inn. As you disembark the Ferry there is another location on the island to eat (Beach Store Cafe), but it was closed for renovation when we were there (apparently the Willows Inn purchased or is managing the Beach Store Cafe). So that meant for our 2 night stay we dined at the Inn twice.

We stayed in the Eagle's Flyaway which is in the Marina at Legoe bay. this house right on the water has 3 other rooms. 2 upstairs and 1 downstairs with a shared kitchen and living room. We were there alone for 1 night and had downstairs guests the other. When we were alone it was spectacular and quiet. Just the Puget sound and the San Juan islands to look at along with bald eagles. I could see how when this place was full with guests it could be loud so I would recommend one of the 2 top floor rooms.

Dinner was the highlight of the trip. I would encourage you to read all the other reviews of dinner. We rank this up there with places like The French Laundry. When I typically dine at prix fix meals like this I am looking for a few things. One of the is appropriate length for a meal. This dinner was just perfect. Also attentive staff and servers. Again, this was perfect. Great wine list.... their Wine list is mostly PNW wines, but their prices were very reasonable. Dinner will set you back $135 pp and the Wine Pairing is a bit pricey so we opted to order a bottle of Buty.

We also took the Nettles farm tour which was a lot of fun and I recommend that.

Breakfast was just perfect and I recommend taking advantage of that.

All in all, something you should do if you love food and unique dining experiences as well as some nice quiet with spectacular views.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 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.
Seattle, Washington
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2012

Willows Inn has smiling, friendly staff and well-maintained grounds. Stayed in the small "sunset" room above the lobby and stared out at the beautiful view of the Puget Sound. Pictures here: http://www.drawn2style.com/willows-inn/ Enjoyed an unforgettable meal at the restaurant, reviewed separately.

Room Tip: If you don't mind small rooms, "Sunset" was quiet and has a great view.
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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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