The fabled Hope & Glory Inn occupies a former schoolhouse built in 1890 in the quaint village of Irvington in Virginia’s Northern Neck of the Chesapeake Bay. A neat white picket fence encloses a botanical gardener’s dream, bursting with fuchsia peonies, where you will be met with many a whimsical word that remind you to relax and just breathe – breathe in the scent of a thousand blooms. Delightful owners Dudley and Peggy Patteson have designed a living dream, an inimitable romantic escape with seven beautifully appointed rooms, six charming cottages, and seven unique vineyard tents alongside the vines of their Dog & Oyster Winery.
Well look, it’s already time for recess at the Recess Spa, just one flight up, with massage therapist Lori. There’s even a lovely pool with cascading waterfalls just down the garden path if you’re up for an energizing swim, or sail on the Inn’s ‘Faded Glory’ oyster boat at a nearby marina—like summer camp!
A sumptuous candle-lit, white-tablecloth dinner awaits in the Dining Hall, as Executive Chef Meseret Crockett regales you with a garlicky pesto bruschetta, locally sourced seafood, or medium-rare filet mignon with a perfectly hot center, tender asparagus shoots, savory potatoes au gratin, and candied carrots, all nicely paired with a Côtes du Rhône.
Be on your best behavior or you may just get sent to Detention, the darling little bar in the back where guests fess up to their misdeeds of the day. Perusing the composition books of confessions can be most entertaining. Chef Meseret, fluent in English, Amharic from her native Ethiopia, French, and Italian, sang us the “Coquelicot” song in French, and we all joined in for “Le Pont d’Avignon.” This Detention is most enjoyable – with wines by the glass and other spirits. I was sent there twice.
You’ll know when it’s time to slip into your robe and tiptoe over to the secluded garden bath surrounded by a high wooden fence. Dip into your bath in the clawfoot tub in the moonlight among the braided hibiscus and twinkling lights.
Upon awakening from opulent slumber the next morning, sip tea on the terrace—or perhaps chilled water infused with fresh mint. During my al fresco shower in the garden bath, I was serenaded at once by songbirds, the soothing sound of the water from the rainforest showerhead, the ping of tennis balls just across the way, and the soft peal of church bells. These are a few of my favorite sounds. Just close your eyes and listen. You might just think you’re in heaven.
No nuance is overlooked, down to the marine-inspired Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy detoxifying sea kelp shampoo, moisturizing sea moss conditioner, relaxing sea fennel body lotion, and exfoliating sea salt soap.
Indulge in Bananas Foster with strawberries and blueberries by the breakfast fountain. Or perhaps scrambled eggs, crisp cherry-smoked bacon, and grits with fresh herbs—with a little butter and cream for extra decadence. Remember, you’re on vacation. Mary, the breakfast lady, will send you off on your day with a sincere smile and wish you a “good and blessed day.”
Nancy and Mike Lincoln from the Tidewater area were in for a 60th birthday celebration and enjoyed a leisurely bike ride to the Dog & Oyster Winery, where happy little rescue dogs run about the fields. They rescue them from the deer! Sip wines that harken back to the beginning of American viticulture as Dudley will recount, and slurp at Stuart Tyson’s Slurp Oyster Stand right at the vineyard—a most tranquil place to linger as the sun sets.
Nancy noted, “Everyone is very welcoming. I love it. It’s just fabulous!” she gushed, already plotting their next visit. A group from the UK, in for a corporate retreat, chimed a similar refrain. “Oh, it’s a beautiful place, great weather, can’t beat it.” After all, they crossed the pond for it—not just the bridge like we did!
Mary said it best. “I love to see the guests come, but I hate to see ’em leave.” Well fret not, dear Mary, just like the migratory coastal birds that fly back to the Bay each spring, everyone is certain to return to the Hope & Glory. If not, they may well be given Detention. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?
The Hope and Glory Inn
65 Tavern Rd
Irvington, VA 22480
Historical Treasure, Linguistic Phenomenon
For a voyage back in time, on summer weekends, hop aboard the Chesapeake Breeze at Buzzard’s Point Marina in Reedville for the hour-and-forty-minute cruise to Tangier Island, discovered by John Smith in 1608. The friendly captain invites you to explore the pilot house. The island remarkably retains speech patterns reminiscent of the Elizabethans who first settled the island, which we were fortunate enough to behold at the Tangier Museum, which documents the history of the watermen who have plied these ancient waters for crab, fish, and oyster for centuries, making it the softshell crab capital of the world. Island transport consists primarily of golf carts, bicycles, or scooters – and children run freely under the sun. They have a mayor, but no need for a jail. People wave at you as you pass by.
Bayside Picnic at Belle Isle
Back on the mainland, stop in at the World-Famous Corner Bar & Grill, simply known to the locals as ‘The Corner,’ in Lively, Virginia. Say hello to Connor, self-described glorified busboy, barkeep, bouncer, and long-suffering Redskins fan. A country store since 1977, The Corner now has a pool table and pinball. Grab yourself some buttermilk biscuits with Padow’s country ham and head over to scenic Belle Isle State Park, with its pine stands along the Rappahannock River, which offers camping, hiking/biking trails, kayaking and canoeing. Bathe in the beautiful tranquility of the gentle bay breezes. And if you time it just right, it might just be you and the ospreys reveling in the magnificent estuary of the Chesapeake.