We stayed at Foster Harris House this weekend, largely on the basis of virtually unalloyed raves here on TripAdvisor. We were not disappointed. The location is quiet and central, and the house is maintained in pristine condition. We stayed in the "Suite" (the largest room, on the second floor), which was comfortable and capacious as a whole, although the sitting room is itself tiny, no bigger than a closet, rendering this space a suite in name only. But at $300 a night, including a gourmet breakfast, it's a very good value.
There is indeed much to like about Foster Harris, starting with the food. John MacPherson, the owner, is a gourmet chef and foodie. He does it all -- originality, presentation, thoughtfulness of combinations, etc. Our one breakfast was a treat, including a gruyere frittata that was out of this world. We got a nice lagniappe, too: some extra scones to take home.
The building is well-maintained, and the systems, for the most part, work perfectly. One disappointment was air conditioning, which seemed to drop offline during the wee hours each night, and I went into a swelter. The systems are not individually controllable from each room.
Decor is interesting but not the greatest. Our room was furnished with a single antique but mostly new, old-looking pieces. Artwork is appears to be generally consignment paintings from local artists -- with price tags attached. There was no consistency of themes or attempt to match framing with the decor. I don't care for the price tags.
Flexibility is not their long suit. Dinner is served at 7:00. If you are not finished with your cinq à sept by then, or need to get to the opera earlier, or are allergic to something on the menu, you are SOL. Likewise breakfast, which is served at 9:30, come hell or high water. I recognize the need for very small operations like this to have some "rules," but our request for a piece of toast or a banana at 6:00 a.m. so that we could get out cycling early fell on deaf ears. They do it their way, not your way.
Another reviewer termed John "prickly." We found him reserved. He wants to be amiable and but it's not a natural skill for him. I'm also not sure he's sensitive to the idea that first-class "hospitality" requires customizing the experience to meet the guests' needs. Or perhaps this is just a business decision, like Henry Ford's decision that all Model T's should be black. Diane, John's wife, is lovely and charming. They're a good pair.
This is a spectacular jumping-off point for cycling. John and Diane run a cycling business and do both supported and unsupported tours. He is a retired professional cyclist. They are good people to know for route information and cue sheets.
We would go back in a heartbeat.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Just steps from the world-renowned Inn at Little Washington in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Foster Harris House offers comfortable, refined country inn accommodations in an enchanting setting. Each queen bed guest room has exquisitely soft linens, spa robes, and a private bath with a rainfall shower. Included with your stay is a lavish, unhurried four-course breakfast. Dinner at the Foster Harris House unites the elements that inspire Chef John's culinary muse - fruits and vegetables from the rich soil of Rappahannock County, surprising flavors, bold splashes of color and family traditions - with each plate artfully composed to entice the eyes and the appetite. The intimate dining room of only 10 seats and just one seating per night allows for an unhurried and personal dining experience. ... more less