Where Dreams Really Do Come True
As you meander down a little gravel road just off 211 near Washington, Virginia, you will chance upon an enchanting little grey cottage hidden among the trees, nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enter to tones of early spring green and muted pinks—a fresh, floral fantasy. Every delicate petal is in place.
“This is my passion and my love,” says Sally-Anne Andrew of LeFay Cottage, her exquisitely charming creation. This devotion is expressed in every thoughtful touch throughout, from English (Sally-Ann hails from London) and French antiques—even a chandelier with hints of pink.
English garden scents of lavender and lilac fragrance the hand soap. Luxurious towels, Egyptian cotton sheets, and Molton Brown orange and bergamot bath and shower gel pamper every guest. And the beds are so heavenly they may have been approved by the protagonist of the Princess & the Pea herself.
Idyllic and alluring, LeFay Cottage even drew the nation’s top romance authors for “Romancing Rappahannock” earlier this spring.
Indeed LeFay Cottage is ideal for an unforgettable getaway to the spectacular Shenandoah National Park, countless wineries, the very finest in dining, and the quaint village of Little Washington—which you may be reminded got its name before ‘big’ Washington. Community synergy abounds in this region.
This darling 3-bedroom cottage set on five acres has a fully equipped kitchen—complete with fancy china—and an outdoor grill on the deck. A true life-size doll house, it couldn’t be more perfect for a romantic escape, memorable girls’ weekend, mother-daughter getaway, or dream wedding.
Sip Earl Grey imported from England celebrating the recent royal wedding, or a blend commemorating the Diamond Jubilee, as you recline on the elegant divan in the sunroom with its floor-to-ceiling window views of the countryside and mountains beyond. Horses graze just down the lane. The rose-hibiscus diffuser keeps you company. A whimsical sign points to the fairy garden and reminds us to please step carefully.
Impressions of Monet and Renoir adorn the walls, blurring the distinctions of reality of this much-welcome escape. And best of all, it’s all yours. Move over Bed & Breakfast—Country Cottage & Kitchen is the way to go. How often do you get to say you have your own cottage in the countryside? Actually, anytime you wish.
Intimate Weddings & Elopements (Honeymoon Included)
Packages starting at $2,700 cover cottage rental, a one-hour ceremony with wedding officiant, professional photographer with images delivered via online gallery, bridal bouquet, and boutonnière. Romance & Adventure Packages are also available.
Just minutes away, Skyline Drive, accessible via the 211 Thornton Gap entrance, winds its way through the majestic Blue Ridge. Now that’s quite the backdrop. Really no need to fly anywhere for the big day when you already live in Virginia.
A rugged adventure with hiking, rock climbing or rafting provides an unforgettable bonding experience for men and women alike. Perhaps you prefer fly fishing, horseback riding or cycling. And upon your return to the cottage, draw yourself a nice bath. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Blue Door Kitchen & Inn
The menu at the newly opened Blue Door Kitchen & Inn in nearby Flint Hill features wild-caught fish and seafood and locally sourced beef, according to congenial owner Reem Arbid. Chef-owner Andrea Pace reflects his roots with a charcuterie board from Smoking Goose with speck Tyrolese, bresaola, finocchiona (fennel salami,) uncommon choices such as elk and boar salami, and ‘nduja. The Lentil Soup with Crispy Local Bio Egg & Speck was velvety and sumptuous. Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi with Wild Boar Sausage, fennel, and Castelmagno proved to be rich and hearty fare. Arancini, or Fried Rice Balls, were satisfyingly crunchy, juxtaposed with a tangy San Marzano reduction. And to finish it all off, the Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse with Banana Ice Cream was a lesson in decadence served up in this former schoolhouse. Consider yourself schooled in the art of flavor. You can even stay the night in the comfort of this stylishly appointed inn.
A magnificent culinary experience awaits just two miles from LeFay Cottage at the deservedly much-acclaimed Three Blacksmiths in the Sperryville Historic District, a quiet village in Rappahannock County listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Upon your initial approach, you will find yourself irrevocably drawn to this enticing locale, lit up in inviting contrast to the surrounding darkness of the night. Even at first glance, Three Blacksmiths exudes elegance, sophistication, and taste. Once inside, theatrical lighting sets the stage for the well-rehearsed and riveting production to follow. The intricacy of the introductory amuse-bouche trio reached instant technical and gustatory perfection. It was truly almost too beautiful to eat, as they say—almost being the operative word—yet impossible not to. No one has that kind of willpower.
Ensuing courses revealed a continual cascade of sensory delight, a veritable visual spectacle unraveling before your very eyes at an efficient—yet relaxed—pace. Optional wine pairings were synchronized with the utmost attention to detail.
Most ingredients are sourced from local purveyors, such as Whippoorwill Farm to Table and Thornton River Orchard, as in the case of the namesake Thornton River Apple & Sweet Potato Soup with Sweet Potato Chips and Jalapeño Froth, which was intriguingly savory.
The sublime red beet butter schmeared on thinly sliced house-baked rye served up on spa-like hot rocks personally culled from Thornton River by the chef himself is sublime—borderline addictive. And the Lamb Loin Persillade in a Rosemary Port Wine Sauce was just succulent.
Unmatched artistry, flawless execution, unrivalled flavor profiles—the not-so-secret recipe to convert first-time clientele into oft-returning diners.
This quick ascent into the stratosphere of the highest culinary circles on the planet could be head-spinning for many, yet the cool-headed experience and long-honed expertise of the skilled husband-wife team of former innkeepers John and Diane MacPherson prevail. This meteoric rise is fueled by a well-oiled rocketship.
But plan ahead. The word is getting out on this shooting star. With just one 7 pm seating per night Thursdays through Saturdays, this diminutive 16-seat space is booked a full six months out as we speak, firmly fixing this Sperryville supernova (a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness) in the culinary constellation of our solar system—or perhaps even the galaxy.
Quièvremont Winery tends its ten acres of estate-grown grapes just two miles away from LeFay Cottage at the foothills of the Blue Ridge, alongside Reality Farm’s pastures of cattle and goat herds. The knowledgeable Karl Selzer will expertly guide your tasting of these primarily Bordeaux-style wines. Sip out on the spacious patio overlooking the pond. Best discovery? Their eminently drinkable Chardonnay was particularly remarkable.
Hinson Ford Cider & Mead
Hinson Ford Cider & Mead is new on the scene. Enjoy hand-crafted cider and mead, both dry and sparkling, backing to sweeping views of the mountains from the cozy Public Room. Hard ciders include the oaked Brehon and the crisp Ciderhouse and Hopyard. Meads include Elderberry, Goldenrod, and Strawberry. The rich and integrated Dark Skies Bochet is semi-sweet pleasure. The first place these fine meadmakers tasted mead was Bunratty Castle in Ireland — also coincidentally the only place I had ever tasted mead—until now. Ireland is an incomparable place, of course, but Amissville is a little closer. So, sláinte!
Magnolia Vineyards distinguishes itself with nuanced cheese and chocolate pairings, the likes of Raspberry Parmesan and Sea Salt Caramel Milk Chocolate. Affable owner and winemaker Glenn Marchione considers the 2016 Vidal Blanc a “backyard buddy.” Magnolia’s flagship Bordeaux, Hawkins Run Red, features the two original winery dogs on the label, which they rescued from RAWL, Rappahannock Animal Welfare League, a local no-kill shelter to whom they generously donate $1 per bottle, now totaling over $5,000.
Narmada Winery, celebrating 10 years, is a truly unique discovery, offering unexpected wine pairings with Indian cuisine—think Papri Chaat with its tamarind, yogurt and mint—in a stunning setting adorned with peacock feathers and fanciful, colorful artisan designs. Winemaker Sudha Patil’s focus is to create “graceful wines that are a true reflection of the fruit.” Her Indian heritage clearly heightens her keen appreciation of the subtlety of spices.
Photo at top by Chuck Fazio Photography