Keswick Hall, Virginia
This Orient-Express country house, vineyard, and golf course on a 600-acre estate (previously owned by Laura Ashley’s husband) is warmly welcoming and really really nice without a drop of pretension. It's in the heart of gorgeous Virginia wine country, minutes from Charlottesville and a really easy drive from D.C. and Richmond.
The style is that English Country-Virginia blend that’s traditional but updated and not at all stuffy. The rooms are cozy, plush, and totally comfortable and Poshbrood stayed in one with a queen size bed and sitting area right off the main hall. It had a veranda with dining table and chairs overlooking the golf course. There was a bathtub I didn’t want to get out off, and I actually would have been completely happy having all our meals brought to us on that veranda (we ended up only eating one breakfast out there and it was soooo pleasant).
The first thing we did after arriving was to take a quick bike ride around the place to check out the property. They’ve got a stack of bikes right by the front door so you can just grab one and go. The ride was really easy—we went by the golf course and up through this funny little neighborhood of privately owned houses that Keswick also has. It is actually the perfect way for bigger kids who can bike alone to go off and have a little freedom.
They’ve got two swimming areas—an affinity pool off the main house with comfy lounge chairs and a couple steps further away by the vineyard is a larger swimming area with kids pool. You’ll probably want to stay at infinity pool but if your kids are full of energy they might have more fun, and you might feel more comfortable, in the other pool that’s a little less loung-ey.
There’s an Arnold Palmer Signature 18-hole golf course and they offer beginning to advanced lessons; tennis courts and lessons; and they will arrange for off-site activities like clay shooting. They’ve also got a spa with a full menu of services.
And of course there is the wine. Keswick has a great wine program and vineyard. We had some of the best Virginia wines we’ve tasted here (there was a Viognier that was to die for). They have every kind of experience you want from full multi-course meals with wine pairings (get that babysitter) to a quickie $10 tasting. Whatever you do make sure you talk to Richard Hewitt, the sommelier and wine expert who taught us more in 5 minutes that anyone else could in hours (and if you are with munchkins you might only have 5).
If you don’t do a vineyard tour, you can still get the opportunity to taste from the amazing wine list at the restaurants. Fossett’s is the nicer restaurant (you can eat inside or out). You can take kids there, but I think I’d leave them with a sitter especially if they are little, or take the whole family to the casual and clubby Palmer Room Restaurant instead. There is also a laid back but nice lunch and afternoon tea at Villa Crawford.
Any of these activities you can do en famille, but if you want a little time alone, the staff will help arrange activities for the kids while you are on your own and they offer babysitting ($15-$17 an hour). In fact they are so family friendly that they have the Baby Butler Program that provides crib linens, bottle warming, and appropriate meals for tots, as well as the Kids Only Program which provides novelty passport for older kids to be stamped as they do things around the property, caramel popcorn and animal crackers in the room, and other amenities for those traveling with kids. (And yes you can bring the dog too!)
Keswick is super close to Monticello, other vineyards, Charlottesville, and UVA so it’s easy to get out and see everything.
It’s the sort of place that is great for a special occasion get away but also that’s so comfortable you can keep going back again and again (which you might do should one of your brood decide to go to UVA).
Rooms start at $255 and up per night. Look for online specials and 21 day advance purchase discounts.