Downsizing from a house in Maryland to an apartment in the District with half the space had caused enough stress in my life for two months and counting to make me want to escape somewhere, anywhere, that didn’t remind me of my never-ending to-do list.
So when I was idly searching the Web for a weekend getaway within a two-hour radius of D.C., the White Moose Inn in Washington, Virginia, captured my attention. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m not a fan of fussy, and I adore all-white and/or neutral rooms, having been introduced to the look more than 30 years ago by interior designer Frank Randolph.
In the photos, the inn looked like an oasis of calm. Furthermore, and just as important, the six-room bed and breakfast (five in the main building, one free-standing cottage) had availability. “It’s kind of a slow time,” said manager Sara Loveland, who in the first sign that I was going to like this place, called me the morning of the day of our arrival to let me know check-in time was 3 p.m. and happy hour was 5 to 6 p.m.
Getting to Washington, Virginia, on a Friday summer afternoon is not half the fun. Traffic can be brutal. Word to the wise: Leave before 3, maybe even by 2 if possible.
When we arrived that early August afternoon, my first impression of the town was there wasn’t much there there. The Inn at Little Washington is the focus on Main Street, the main drag whose claim to fame is that it has no stoplight or stop sign.
As we entered the door of the White Moose, I worried, What were we going to do for two days? The inn’s rustic decor lifted my spirits.
White painted floors, a plastic white moose presiding over a fireplace, taupe and white sofas, a fur-covered ottoman, cheeky photographs (two cowboys staring at a Prada sign across the highway) and a superb collection of fashion and interior design books welcomed us. A Saarinen tulip table surrounded by white Eames chairs was set up in the breakfast/cocktail hour area. Lounge chairs and small tables offered outside seating and views of the Blue Ridge; Adirondack chairs on the grass under umbrellas provided more sun protection, though.
We weren’t able to get a reservation at the Inn at Little Washington for dinner, but our appetites were well sated at Tula’s off Main with jambalaya and grilled salmon with pearl couscous.
A last-minute getaway decision, we didn’t come equipped with running or hiking gear, like our fellow inn mates. But the following day we were just as happy to taste wine at a nearby vineyard, Gadino Cellars, poke around for antiques in Sperryville and browse for art — Haley Fine Art was a favorite. On one side of the inn, the Little Washington Wellness and Spa offered an excellent massage; on the other, R.H. Ballard, an elegant design shop to peruse John Derian plates, La Rochere glassware, exotic soaps and lotions, jacquard kitchen linens, unusual lamps.
My husband was enamored with the blue tooth showerhead and insists we need one at home. Hmm. For me, breakfast was the key to my heart and stomach. The first-rate French-press coffee, blueberry and banana bread came courtesy of Red Truck Bakery, now in Warrenton but soon to open in (little) Washington. The tangy yogurt was served with fresh-picked blueberries. If that wasn’t enough to satisfy, out from the oven came a fresh-baked squash quiche.
My well-traveled pal and colleague who is intimately familiar with the Rappahannock area opines that she doesn’t think White Moose would be too cozy in cold weather. I’m not in the least deterred.
— Janet Kelly