Have you ever thought of being in Normandy, in a beautiful "villa on a hill"? Well, here is an opportunity to do so and it doesn't require a passport. The place--Hillbrook Inn near Charlestown, West Virginia.
Hillbrook Inn was built as a private home by Brigadier General Frank E. Bamford, at the height of the roaring 20’s on land George Washington once owned and farmed. Timbers and stone from the Locke Farm, which occupied the site in the 1800’s, were used in the construction (you can still see a bit of this in the small dining area at the back of the house.). The general modeled Hillbrook after an inn he loved in Normandy, where he stayed after the First World War. So it especially fitting that Hillbrook should now be a country inn in the European tradition, graciously refurbished by the Carroll’s, who acquired the property in 1984. The Zanella family carries on that style and tradition since their purchase of Hillbrook in 2004.
I don't think General Bamford would have imagined that his beautiful home built along the crest of a hill would become an inn such as the one he admired in Normandy. But today, Hillbrook holds forth, inviting all to come and stay and relax in this pastoral place.
My wife and I have been here many times in the past but there was something about this visit that seemed to be very special. We stayed for three nights and enjoyed some of the finest meals we have ever had. The inn has two young chefs, Justin and David but don't be fooled by their youth-they are excellent chefs, graduates of fine schools and with a wealth of experience under their belt. I have a chronic illness, which demands certain dietary restrictions . Thus I notified the inn of my dietary requirements in advance of our arrival and all went out of their way to find ways to provide me with very delicious meals. I won't bore you with that any further; instead I want you to see the meals we were served.
11/30-This was the Five Course Dinner. We had the wine pairing with this dinner.
Beet salad with burnt honey vinaigrette
Butternut squash soup
Grilled swordfish with shaved fennel, roasted tomatoes and bak choy
Roasted filet mignon, pea puree, fondant potatoes
12/1-This meal and the subsequent one were the Three-Course Dinners.
Curried carrot soup with jasmine rice
Sea scallops, leek fondue, roasted cauliflower and broccoli
Carrot cake with cream cheese icing
Celery silk soup
New York strip, saffron rice, roasted Brussels sprouts, beef jus
Chocolate Banana and Toasted Pecan pate, vanilla bean ice cream
All of these meals were exquisite. The roasted filet mignon was as tender as it could be—you could almost cut it with a fork. The soups were creamy with a perfect blend of spices—my favorite was the Curried Carrot Sop with Jasmine Rice. And desserts…well, I have a weakness for Carrot Cake—moist, just enough spice and a delicious cream cheese icing.
The breakfasts are two courses in addition to a variety of juices and coffee or tea. They consist of such things as a Greek yogurt and granola parfait or fresh fruits followed eggs and sausage or bacon, pancakes with sausage or bacon and, of course, good strong coffee.
We stayed in the Bamford Suite, which was the original owner’s master bedroom. It is large with a nice sitting area and an old-fashioned tall four-poster bed with an excellent mattress and crisp bed linens. There is a wood-burning fireplace and split wood is conveniently stacked just a few steps outside the back door. There also is a single serve Keurig coffee maker and coffee or tea. An i-Pad is provided for each room.
With Tina’s hearty and warm welcome with a glass of cold Proseco , Bobbie’s constant attention to detail and Marcy’s warm farewell when we left, I must say this was a grand stay. Everybody went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable.
I must mention that there are other accommodations outside the manor house that include The Cottages Quadplex, a short walk from the manor house, the Gate House, The Hawthorne House and The Farm House, a little short of two miles from the manor house. They also offer a variety of spa services and concierge services to make your stay all you would want it to be. Charles Town is a short drive if you wish to gamble and shop. Harper’s Ferry, the site of John Brown’s failed resurrection, is also a short drive away
I will confess that Hillbrook can be a bit expensive but a Saturday night stay with the Five Course Dinner is well worth the fare.
Will we be back? You can bet on it!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Discover an unforgettable West Virginia Inn and Restaurant in lovely Charles Town. Our fantastic Select Registry property is an historic country estate with beautiful gardens on 17 wooded acres. Relax in a romantic suite with comfy beds, whirlpool tubs & fireplaces. Experience the gracious service and award winning dining at our secluded inn that makes us stand apart from any property in Harper's Ferry. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hillbrook Hotel Charles Town