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“An Island Gem in a Shining Sea” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Willows Inn

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Willows Inn
2579 West Shore Drive, Lummi Island, WA 98262   |  
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Dinner on Mondays!
Ranked #1 of 1 Lummi Island B&B and Inns
Southworth, Wa
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“An Island Gem in a Shining Sea”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2012

Our visit to the Willows Inn on Lummi Island was definitely the highlight of our summer. We were fortunate to arrive on a sunny day in early September. Mount Baker was out in all its glory, the sea was offering up its bounty and chef Blaine Wetzel was making magic in the kitchen. We stayed not at the inn itself but at the Sinclair View Suite, in a gorgeous home available to book through the inn. It was across the road from a lovely beach, with views of nearby Orcas Island and picturesque fishing boats moored in the bay.
Dinner was long and lovely, with 16 different items, not really courses, but many small bites served separately. You may think you know and love Northwest cuisine, but have you ever had crispy halibut skin with razor clams? How about geoduck with frozen horseradish or a rolled crispy crepe with sockeye roe? All were beautifully presented, often on stones or pieces of slate. I had the juice pairing, which included an emerald sorrel juice, spicy apple and delicate elderflower. My husband got the wine pairing, featuring Northwest wines like Madeleine Angevine from Mount Baker Vineyards.
If you go be sure to hang out in the kitchen at the end of the meal. Blaine and his staff will be happy to show you around. And don't miss the tour of Nettles Farm after breakfast in the morning. The farm, just a few blocks from the inn, supplies eggs, vegetables, berries and more.
I don't even want to say how much all this costs (a minimum of $300 for two people just for the dinner), but think of it as a revelation of just how special our part of the world really is.

Room Tip: I have seen some complaints about the rooms at the inn itself. Be aware that you can book other room...
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  • Stayed September 2012, 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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125 people have reviewed this hotel

Traveler rating
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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 (37)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Seattle
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2012

Like most people, we came to the Willows Inn for Blaine Wetzel's amazing food, which did not disappoint. Having read the reviews here, I had lowered my expectations for the inn itself. If you're expecting a fancy five star hotel to go along with your five star meal, then you might find the Willows Inn lacking. But we found it delightful. The staff were friendly and the inn was quiet, peaceful and well-appointed. It fits perfectly with the relaxed and informal nature of the island itself. We stayed in the farmhouse suite, which was rustic in decor, but perfectly comfortable and absolutely charming. If you embrace the ethos of "farmed, foraged, fished" that the restaurant is going for, then staying on the actual farm feels appropriate. If you are looking to stay for more than a night, the farmhouse suite would be ideal as there is a great kitchen with a giant pizza oven, a large dining table, and a comfortable living room. If not for the slightly exorbitant price per night, it would make a great writer's retreat. I definitely recommend staying at the inn, and second the recommendation of others to stay in one of the "satellite" rooms rather than the main building.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 22, 2012

WHAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR
Relaxing, no-agenda mini break. Time to catch up on reading, movies and sleep.

WHAT WE GOT
Thumbs up:
-- Great room with full view of the ocean (stayed at High Tide). Fell asleep & woke up to the sound of waves.
-- Breath-taking sunset. Best ever!
-- Private beach. During our entire 4 day stay, we were on the beach or deck most hours and saw no one except for a small family who picnicked one afternoon.
-- Incredible dinner (under separate review).
-- Attentive staff. I was worried we wouldn't get prompt service, being that we were off the main property, but they proved me wrong.
-- High quality wifi. On the beach, I went a decent distance from the house and was able to download a new ebook on my tablet.
-- Do not miss cocktail hour! Delicious drinks poured with a heavy hand.
-- Friendly locals.

Good To Know (Thumbs Sideways):
-- Bathroom is small.
-- Breakfast needs variety. Main stay of scone, yogurt, eggs and potatoes changed flavors daily and were quite tasty but by the 3rd morning, I was hoping for a small piece of ham or a different pastry.
-- Food options are limited on the island. If you're staying for more than a night, pack snacks, cold pasta or other refrigerator-to-table eats to expand what Taproot and the Beach Store Café have to offer.

Room Tip: Beach House would be awesome for a large party. Low Tide, which is on the bottom floor right by the...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington, United States
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2012

The amazing food is the real attraction here. The Chefs (Blaine and crew) are simply the best at simple, local, foraged fare. We've been back multiple times and each time we remark how lucky we are to have an experience like this so close to us in Seattle. The Inn is nice, we've tried the Inn rooms as well as the Beach house. Obviously the beach house with the views is better (for the price) but the Inn rooms are cozy as well. There are lots of things to do around the Island, mostly nature related. But at the end of the day its all about the food. And that's a good thing.

Room Tip: Rooms right above the kitchen tend to be louder but not that big of a deal.
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  • Stayed April 2012, 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Top Contributor
104 reviews 104 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2012

This was our second visit to the Willows Inn mainly because we couldn't forget the amazing dinner we had last summer. Last time, we stayed at Low Tide but this time, we stayed at High Tide. It's in the same area away from the central inn. High Tide definitely has more privacy than Low Tide but the bathroom is located downstairs. You don't have to leave your room but you do need to go downstairs for the bathroom/shower. It was a bit chilly so we turned on the fireplace and heater. If you stay along the beach, I don't think you'll need air conditioning because of the nice breeze from the beach.

I do wish that the staff was a bit more friendlier. There was one lady who checked us in who was nice and the Taproot staff was super friendly. However, the rest of the staff didn't strike me as enthusiastic or friendly like last time. Perhaps I set my expectations a bit too high. Nonetheless, dinner was super tasty and we went back happy. If you don't like oysters, make sure you let the staff know when checking-in because this time, we had two oyster dishes and we aren't big fans no matter how they are prepared. It's a good thing that our favorite salmon came out twice. And the bread and butter. My husband did the wine pairing but he was disappointed. It was basically all white wine and he felt like it didn't pair with the food; it just cleaned his palate. We did the wine pairing last summer and it was absolutely perfect. Each glass of wine really complimented the food. My husband was hoping for the same kind of experience but unfortunately, not this time.

Do note that dinner is not served on certain days of the week, so when picking a date, make sure you are staying at least one night when you can experience this fine dining.

There are some trails nearby so if you plan on hiking, bring your gears! There are super easy ones that can be done in sandals. Also, the inn has bicycles but the ones that are available were too tall for me (I'm 5'2.) The electric bikes were a bit shorter but the inn charges a fee for them for four hours and we didn't have that much time until dinner. There's also kayaks where the Beach House, Low Tide, and High Tide rooms are. I'm not sure if they are only available for guests staying in those rooms, but if you're interested in that, you can ask when making the reservation.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
Shoreline, Washington
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2012

We just made our second visit for dinner and an overnight at the Willow Inn. Looking at the other reviews their are some consistent themes, which we would agree with. They are a unique and excellent dining experience, expensive but worth it if you value a great dining experience and the accommodations leave a bit to be desired.
Food is unique and fabulous. Great presentations and the wait staff is practiced and committed to excellence. I do agree with another reviewer who said the hard seats could really use some kind of fusion.
Expensive for sure. To be more specific dinner, wine pairing, Washington State Tax and tip makes it a $250 per person experience. But it is special and it all comes down to how an individual values that experience.
The lodging on our first visit was good. It was reasonably sized, had a nice shower, no closet and the gas fireplace was perfect in March. Our second visit was on a warm and sunny day in July. The first room we were offered had a small double bed, no closet, a hand held European style shower in a tub, was receiving full sunlight and had no air conditioning, screens or a fan. There was another room available. It was shaded and had a shower so that was an improvement. I understand no air conditioning at this type of place, but no screens or fan to me was unacceptable.

So we had a great dinner, a poor night's sleep and some mosquito bites.

When we go again, and we will, we will do it in the winter, and be sure the room we reserve has a king size bed, a shower and a fireplace. Also be sure you pick a night that they are doing the fixed price menu, assuming that is the main reason to go to begin with.

Room Tip: Be sure it has a conventional, not handheld shower. Warm days are a problem.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Seattle, Washington
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

I do not think anything I could possibly say in this review could do this place justice! The only thing I would advise is, the experience we had from accommodations to Chef Blaine Wetzel's tasting dinner blew our socks off and is 10000% worth it if you are considering it. I would also say that we did this adventure as a group which was perfect but a romantic getaway for two might be another special reason to come here. The island of Lummi is quaint, delightful, small and just what you would expect from a charming San Juan island.

Let me give a few highlights...

Accommodations: With our group of 7, we booked the Beach House through Willows Inn. Um, yeah.. totally gorgeous. It was the perfect beach-side house overlooking the water, fit with spacious rooms, a cozy living room, a large dining area and kitchen and even a BBQ outside. I could have stayed here all summer! Regret: why the heck did we only book one night here? This would have made the perfect 2 night accommodation with some in beach house cooking our second night. Lesson learned.

Willows Inn Dinner: After friends informed us about Chef Blaine Wetzel, one of Food & Wine's Best New Chef's for 2012, we were very curious in trying the tasting dinner here. With 1 pescatarian (no dairy), 2 vegetarians and the rest who will eat anything exotic or not, Willows Inn kindly agreed to accommodate our dietary restrictions and so dinner was highly anticipated since booking. Now, without the menu in hand I really can't tell you what we actually ate between the 20 snacks and 5 mains but what I will say is that it was culinary creativity at its finest. Our food was adorned at times with edible flowers, each thing we ate well explained where your mouth was watering by the end of the lengthy descriptions, which always included the focus of harvesting all ingredients just that day.

Over the course of 5 hours we were served wonderful items in a private room and everyone (excluding myself) also opted for the selected wine pairings as well. It was the most amazing meal I had ever had. As great as it was, however, the only small complaint I had was at times the vegetarians were a little bit shafted. We had to laugh as during one serving, others had salmon, we had one piece of broccoli. It was damn good single piece of broccoli but maybe a few more pieces would have made us feel even a little bit better. Advice: Pace yourself with the wine, too. Due to the wonderful length of this entire experience you'll need your stamina to stick with it through the night.

Complimentary Breakfast: We got up early (for us) to indulge in the Willows Inn breakfast, a pre-selected plate full of yumminess. It was delicious alright - a herb and pepper frittata, cream potato square, delicious cranberry scone and yogurt topped with berries. It hit the spot from the food hangover (and for others, other hangover) we had from the night before.

So in a nutshell this was our amazing experience. Truly Amazing and such a wonderful little getaway!

This experience was by no means cheap by any stretch of the imagination, however, we were all extremely happy we did this. It was so well worth it and my expectations were very much exceeded! Definitely a culinary and beach adventure like I've never experienced and am so glad we got to do it!

I highly recommend!

Room Tip: The Beach House is on the beach! Go for it!
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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
    • 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.

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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): $$$
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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