My Birthday celebration week continues! Steve (DOS) and I departed my home town of Roanoke, Virginia around noon for a 3 day getaway to Charlottesville (link via Wikipedia.) Charlottesville, Virginia, is a couple hour’s drive from Roanoke, and has a long and rich history of education, culture, and home of our third US President, Thomas Jefferson, shown below in statue form a bit taller than my 5’11” frame.
Thomas Jefferson’s mountain-top estate is nearby at Monticello, on which I’ll write a separate post, highlighting his inventions, writings, and travels. Thomas Jefferson’s legacy also including the founding of the University of Virginia, (UVA) located in Charlottesville in1819. (Official links to the respective sites are provided for more detailed information).
As we drove to Charlottesville, we made a couple stops along the way to take photos of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, such as this stop along Interstate 64. Although we both live in Florida now (which is so flat!) just viewing the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains makes me feel like I’m back home. While this is still summer, we hope to come back in the Fall when the leaves are at their colorful peak.
In addition to Monticello and UVA, the Charlottesville area itself is a charming city to visit with a large number of restaurants and pubs in the downtown area, and Bed and Breakfast’s and hotels providing tourists such as us a central vantage point for our stay.
Also, nearby the city of Charlottesville are a number of Virginia wineries. On our second day we toured , 3 wineries via a private Tesla tour, which I will also detail in another post.
The small progressive town of Charlottesville was fairly quiet the week we were there, but will be much more lively towards the end of August when the UVA students return to school.
During our stay in Charlottesville, we stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast named “400 West High“, which corresponds to its physical address.
This bed and breakfast has five rooms available for rent, and the three days we were there was a slow week so we had the whole place to ourself two of the three nights! We were met upon check-in by the owner Carolyn who warmly welcomed us and showed us to our room, the McIntire Room on the second floor. (The McIntire Room is the name of a nearby street, which among other things; i.e. parks, UVA buildings etc, was presumably named after a generous UVA donor of the same name, who lived in the mid 19th to 20th centuries.)
The large room has a king-sized bed, nice bath with rain-head shower, and private outdoor terrace, with circular staircase outdoors leading to the ground and the unit directly above us (which also has a private terrace.)
Four Hundred West High is quite spacious and luxurious, and has all the amenities you would expect at a fine hotel; i.e. large bedroom with fireplace, nice bath room, high speed internet, satellite TV, luxurious towels and soaps etc. The location is outstanding, and is only a couple blocks from the downtown outdoor mall plaza with dozens of restaurants, shops, and pubs. While we didn’t need the fireplace in the hot Virginia summer, it would be quite welcome and romantic in the cooler winter months.
The B & B has a very comfortable first floor common seating area called the Gathering Room. The large Gathering Room serves dual purpose with a living room like setting with fireplace, outdoor sitting area, and also a comfortable dining area where hot breakfasts are served in the mornings.
The living room setting was a nice retreat to in the evenings for a nightcap glass of wine we had purchased on our wine tours.
There was a large window seat (actually a padded bench in size) which was comfy to relax on with my iPad and a glass of vino at the end of the day. There is also one of two beautiful stained glass windows in the room, which provides not only light, offers a cherry and elegant, home-like atmosphere.
The other stained glass window is in the top floor apartment unit. While renovating the house, Carolyn discovered this huge stained glass window in the attic and had it painstakingly restored to its original elegance. As the top floor unit was unoccupied during our stay, we toured the apartment, taking this photo of the elegant stained glass window gracing the in-suite bathroom, as well as the kitchen/dining area, and bedroom. The apartment would be perfect for a longer stay, although it does involve going up another staircase.
Back downstairs, there is a nice outdoor seating area just outside the ground level living room, perfect for enjoying your morning coffee, or evening vino or cocktail.
Breakfast was served each day from 8am – 9:30 by Diane; an instant friend once you meet her! Each day Diane customized the breakfast to our wishes (I don’t like eggs or omelettes, but DOS does), so we each got to have what we liked. The full breakfast was especially important before going wine touring! I loved the crisp bacon, blueberry pancakes, yogurt parfait with several fruits, and the nice breakfast blend coffee.
There is also a self service area with coffee, microwave, and full size fridge just up the steps from the living and kitchen areas. The fridge was stocked with complimentary waters, sodas, and juice drinks, and available at all hours.
The attention to detail at 400 High Street was evident everywhere from the breakfast silverware, fridge stocked with waters and soft drinks, books on the shelves, cookies in the kitchen, high quality bath fixtures, and lots of outlets for electronic devices; something that is often missing in guest houses. Carolyn even used the beautiful attic stained glass window (shown earlier in this post), as an inspiration for many of the decorations in the B & B; notably with a bird theme as seen throughout the home, and even the outside entry-way birdhouse!
Throughout the house we were constantly noticing new things among the varied furnishings, and we really like the various quotes that were everywhere throughout the house – painted on wall, plaques, blocks, pillows etc – excellent words of wisdom!
On our first day at 400 West High, we settled in fairly quickly and DOS soon took a walk into town before having dinner, which we would do each night of our stay. After walking around a bit, we stumbled upon a self-service brew pub that was awesome! The Draft Taproom has some 60 beers on tap that are all self service, and are charged per the ounce.
While we’ve seen self-serve wine bars (where you enter your credit card and are served an ounce, 3 ounces or more etc), we had never seen this concept with beer. The 60 taps in the pub, were all clearly marked with the name, style, alcohol percentage, calories etc, as well as the price per ounce.
There were also many different shapes and sizes of glasses available to use, ranging from a small sampler shot-like glass to rounded glasses, traditional pint mugs etc. After providing a credit card as a deposit, a friendly staff member demonstrated how it worked. They provide you a house draft card which is inserted each time you want a pour. Basically, you then just pick out your favorite size glass, and pull the tab lever to dispense. We tried several different brewskis in all different size glasses – quite fun!
The computerized system calculates how much you poured, an ounce to several ounces, pint etc, and the system keeps a running balance on the house card, which you settle up when you’re done. It was quite a cool concept, and actually quite inexpensive as we were just trying a few different samples, although others were drinking a full glass. They actually recommend just starting out with a small 3 ounce glass instead of a full glass to see what you like. They also have a food menu, and we had an appetizer before heading out to dinner.
After our pub outing, we walked down the street to the Downtown Grille, where we had a 7pm dinner reservation. Although they had outdoor cafe-street seating, it was still a bit hot and muggy so we wisely ate indoors in air-conditioning comfort.
We had a nice and leisurely meal with appetizers, salad, steak and dessert, with a nice bottle of Trefethen Cabernet. DOS and I like to have a couple appetizers, and as what usually happens end up sharing a steak as it’s too much to eat with everything else. Our server presented us with a relaxing evening meal at our pace, which was wonderful.
So anyway, on our first night in Charlottesville, I must say we are both very impressed, relaxed, and excited to be there. As we walked back to our B & B at 400 West High, we made a quick night-cap stop at the nearby Omni Hotel. I had a brewski, and DOS had a water, and it was then off to bed at our B & B, located diagonally across the street, exiting thru the large and open-air atrium at the Omni Hotel.
Tomorrow we have a private tour arranged to tour several of the area wineries, and the day after that we are planning to go to Monticello.
Welcome to Charlottesville!