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“Rustic Accomodation with an Exceptional 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
Vancouver, Canada
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“Rustic Accomodation with an Exceptional Restaurant”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2013

In honour of my husband's 70th birthday, we stayed at The Willows Inn, accompanied by another couple; our best friends. I reserved the Sunrise and Sunset Rooms upstairs in the Main House. The property has a rustic feel to it, wrap around porch and all and provided a lovely serene atmosphere for our special holiday. The service was warm and welcoming. The Sunrise Room, painted Wedgewood Blue, is the larger of the two rooms upstairs and quite comfortable. The Keurig Coffee/Tea Maker was a nice touch; (although we were dismayed to find a used capsule inside the machine), a mini-fridge would have been a welcome addition to store the still water provided. The Sunset Room has a smaller bed, which our friends pronounced uncomfortable and resulted in a lack of sleep. Also, since the walls are paper thin, we could hear the sudden blast of music downstairs that came on at 7:20 a.m. You might want to bring an eye mask, since there are no drapes; only thin sheers covering the window.
We had read about Chef Blaine Wetzel and were thrilled to be able to partake in his tasting menu feast. What an incredible gastronomic experience that was; well worth the journey from Vancouver, B.C. Canada. and exceeding all our expectations. The amuse bouche dishes kept coming and each one was a delightful surprize. Chef Wetzel's fresh creative approach was lovely and every dish was amazing and so artfully presented. He kindly tailored the menu for me to suit my vegetarian/pescatarian needs and that was much appreciated. I must make special mention of the in house bread. It was beyond phenomenal; up there with the best breads I have tasted in Europe. We loved the small portions and unhurried, intimate atmosphere of the restaurant. It was wonderful to be able to meet Chef Wetzel after the meal and personally give him the kudos he deserves. What a fine chef he is.
After such an incredible dining experience, it was a huge step down to have to take breakfast off the property at the Beach Store Cafe, where the food was O.K. but the service mediocre. Our server held the water glasses by the rim where you sip, which is totally unfoodsafe. We do understand the need of The Willows Inn to concentrate on spending the entire day preparing for the evening meal, so I guess there are not a lot of options, unless they did a simple continental breakfast at the cafe on site. A lovely bonus was the free tour the hotel offered of the organic vegetable garden at a farm that was 15 minutes walking distance from the hotel. Fascinating! All in all, we would highly recommend The Willows Inn and Restaurant.

Room Tip: Be aware that this is not luxury accomodation, although comfortable enough.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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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134 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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    5
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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
Vancouver
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2013

We stayed in the Sinclair room and did not sleep because of the constant noise. Unfortunately, we had a group of loud drinkers above us and it went all night and there was nowhere to call for help. Dinner is a joke at $150 per person PLUS wine. It's a fabulous ploy to hook in those who are vulnerable to pretention and this place is Pretentious. If you are a cynic or have a sense of humor, you can see the joke while you are handing over your credit card for $1,000 for lodging and food. Spend it elsewhere. You can drown in they hype here and you don't get much for your money. It's for the fools of the world - o.k, I was bitten once but it won't happen again.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
48 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2013

There are definitely two different ratings for the food and room experience. The food is five star amazing or any other superlatives you can think of. The courses are not only delicious but also surprise both in ingredients and taste. We'll definitely be back.

The Watermark on the other hand was more of a disappointment. We stayed in the Sinclair room – the downstairs bedroom of the 3 in the house. On the positive side, there is a great water view from many parts of the house, it is well appointed, has an oversized and comfortable common area and an enormous outdoor entertaining area; the bedroom was quite large as well. On the negative side, you could hear a lot of footsteps when someone was in the room above you, the bathroom was very small and dark, and the water in the shower took a while to heat up. The death knell was that housekeeping was atrocious. They called to see if we wanted the room serviced and we said yes. Unfortunately the service was effectively non-existent – with the bed half-made and pillows on the floor, the used coffee cups left and not replaced, nor the coffee pods replaced.

The property is about a mile from Willows Inn, so was an easy return after dinner at the Inn. The last time we went to the Willows for dinner we stayed in Haven Room right on the property. All up, I’d probably give that room the edge (it’s closer and the bathroom is larger, although the view is not as good). But if you had 3 couples it could be fun to rent out the entire Watermark for 2 nights, go to Willows one night and cook in the kitchen and enjoy the outdoor entertainment area the other night.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
Melbourne, Australia
Top Contributor
184 reviews 184 reviews
92 hotel reviews
Reviews in 117 cities Reviews in 117 cities
482 helpful votes 482 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2013 via mobile

We stayed at the Willow Inn in order to try the restaurant. When we booked in June few rooms left, went for Clark as least expensive at $250.

The room was nice with the jacuzzi tub and the balcony looking over the sea. The bed was very comfortable. The coffee machine was a nice touch but proper milk or cream rather than sachets would have been better. Plus there were only 2 coffee capsules- the rest was decaf or tea. So they could have been more generous on that. Also not as nice as Stumptown you have at breakfast.

Shared area was nice- but does depend who you are sharing it with! We were lucky that we had it to ourselves. Wine glasses and plates but no knives or bowls! Also dishwasher not working which was inconvenient. Terrace out the back really nice too.

It was raining a lot and room does not have any umbrellas. This would be helpful if like us you are not super organised. We were planning on walking to the restaurant but without an umbrella this was not possible. Driving to the lodge to pick one up seemed a waste of time. Also it was very dark, no footpath so we had to drive. It's supposed to only be a mile and a half- I suspect it's further- but after wine we decided it might not be a good idea. So unfortunately we had to both stick to water as we don't agree with drink driving. This was a shame as we wanted to to the wine flights but with no public transport this is not possible.if you both want to drink you need to stay in the lodge.

Anyway the meal was nice. We had tuna as a first course, squash as 2nd, the. Cod, duck and the. Blueberries. In between you have10 or so snacks- like a smoked oyster, a small piece of smoked salmon, kale with black truffle ( one of my favourites). Most worked although the snack before the first course with black berries would have worked better as a predessert.

There were some things I did not like. We were offered still or sparkling water.The sparkling was $7 - it's in a willow inn bottle so it's produced locally- but it wasn't marked on the menu so we thought it was included. It's only $7 plus tax and service but it was misleading plus if I had known I would have had tap water. I figured when they kept overfilling the glasses that it must have been chargeable to increase tips!

Also service was not very friendly OR that competent. We were missing cutlery for some courses, cutlery when given was put in random places, dishes were removed just after last forkful was still being chewed, no queries about whether you were enjoying a dish, napkins on our table not refolded when left table, glasses with paid water overfilled.

We had also asked to look round kitchen in advance which was agreed but we were never given opportunity to. Head chef Blaine was fairly aloof and spoke to a couple of tables ignoring everyone else! We have eaten at Noma, Mugaritz, Per Se, Oud Sluis and many other top global restaurants and we have been able to talk to the chefs, look around the kitchen & everyone has been more knowledgable and welcoming.

Also we were celebrating my husband's birthday and in other countries there is normally something done- be it a candle in dessert, a card, a mini cake even just an acknowledgement but nothing. And it had been noted as she mentioned it was a birthday celebration at check in. I am not sure if it is because we did not pay more money and therefore there is no additional tip to be gained but it was disappointing.

Breakfast in morning was good- good hollandaise sauce on eggs benedict. Great coffee and juice. Unfortunately black hair in middle of eggs benedict...... Service poor, slow and inattentive. Only refilled bottomless cup so she could tell us breakfast was worth $30 so we could work out her tip. Unfortunately where we come from hair in food, plates not cleared, coffee not topped up, not checking if everything was fine equals poor service equals not tip.

Overall we liked the food but the service let it down. It was not as original as many European restaurants and seemed to copy a lot of the ideas such as the rolls with roe or the halibut crisps. Whilst the concept of locally sourced is good, wine falls outside this as instead of just local wines, France is included for example!i am glad we tried it whilst on vacation but am so glad that we have better options nearer to home (both food&service)

  • Stayed August 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Essex
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2013

If you are staying here, you have to eat at the restaurant once,it is a fix price menu at $150 p.p.,so the meal is as much as the stay. However the genius of this young chef who is now co owner is the imaginative use of everything that can be grown and caught locally. If you are a 200ib football player,then this place may not be for you. The 15 courses menu will introduce you to food that you may never have eaten before,but the portions are very small, if you expect a chunky steak,then one should visit the Beach Cafe instead. Our favourites are Halibut skin, Kale leaf ( a single leaf with truffle) , steelhead salmon roe.
They also make their own juices as well which is offered with the meal,cucumber, sorrel, carrot
Elderflower.
We would rate this 5 star if the restaurant can be more flexible with the seating arrangment, tables are set up for 2 or 4 , we are a party of 5 and they will be move the tables for us. So our friends have to eat at a adjacent table.
Otherwise for a romantic weekend getaway, you can not lose, sunset is beautiful, nice beach walk just outside before dinner will set the scene.

Room Tip: We choose the Sunset room just over the lobby,it is the smallest and cheapest at $200, however it is...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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
    • 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.
vancouver b.c.
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2013

If you are patient enough to sit through approximately 3 hours of dining with someone whose company you enjoy, the dinner experience at Willows Inn will surely be one of the most memorable feasts for the eyes and discerning palates.

The front room and restaurant itself is decorated in a casual but elegant fashion (somewhat like a cross between Restoration Hardware and Tommy Bahamas), the wait staff were friendly and professional (loved the long leather aprons they were wearing) and the use of natural woods and stones for food presentation left you with a lasting impression that you were indeed enjoying the bounties of the Pacific Northwest.

At first glance of the set menu, it seemed that I would need a midnight snack afterwards. However, much to my surprise, there were about a dozen or so intricately prepared “snacks” which were offered between the main courses. These bites completely tantalized and teased our taste buds and left us longing for more please!

Besides the meal itself, the amazing sunset is worth the visit alone. If a picture could describe a thousand words, I leave you with some of these images....

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Seattle
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2013

Lummi Island is the most northeasterly of the San Juan Islands, close to the mainland and a six minute ferry ride away.

We stayed at one of the off-site properties owned by the Willows Inn. The Reefnetter is a house with two suites located about a mile and a half from the inn overlooking Lego Bay. If you're lucky you might see a pod of orcas swimming by. At the rear of the house is marshland with pools where kingfishers dive and ospreys and herons fly overhead.

We stayed in the Clark suite which had a very comfortable bed and lovely amenties, a large bathroom with a jetted tub overlooking the estuary and a great espresso maker. The kitchen was well stocked with pans and dishes and there was a very large TV. The only drawback was lack of internet but that was of little concern to us.

  • Stayed July 2013, 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
    • 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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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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