Cover Story

Romantic Retreats: Let's Get Away From It All

by Rosemary Dietrick, Contributing Writer


When a bed and breakfast in a hollow cozies up to a mountain in its backyard, you know your hosts have nailed that “room-with-a-view” thing. In 1995, the innkeepers told the architect that their planned getaway near Charlottesville should include “lots of windows.” The better to view the colorful changes of Painted Fence Mtn. or the stream that cascades past the front door toward the Moorman River.

So you and your loved one plan to escape the daily grind. In Virginia, hundreds of getaways await, eager to entice you with canopied beds, breakfast on porcelain, and tea and cake on arrival.

Where are these hideaways offering such luxurious respite? Look to the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge Mountains to lure with upscale cabins, historic inns, newly built bed and breakfasts, and some luxury resorts. An easy walk into the woods is a must, but so is the availability of amenities like gas fireplaces, Jacuzzis, spa massages, and flat-screen TVs.

Sports may be part of the getaway’s program, offering everything from a zip line to snowshoeing. Or you may be inclined to play tourist and visit nearby wineries, historic sites or hike a nature trail. Book a spa appointment.

Diversity of architecture amazes. We found all styles: from European-inspired timber-framed cabins to grand tree houses at an elegant resort.

Special offers and packages are available for holidays or other occasions with offers from chocolate-covered strawberries on Valentine’s Day to discounted rates. Be sure to request all information when making reservations. Our list is an eclectic mix with a getaway for everyone.

Iris Inn, Waynesboro

Do you have a yen to try a little Zen in your life? If so, there’s no better place to meditate or commune with nature than in the trendy, new cabins that perch mountainside among the trees at the Iris Inn. 

Walls of glass allow blockbuster sunsets to entertain guests in six cabins cantilevered above views of the Shenandoah Valley. Campers of days gone by wouldn’t recognize the rooms’ contemporary decor with amenities of gas fireplaces, rain-head showers, and flat-screen TVs. 

Still in the secluded mode, separate from the main inn, are three cottages with similar appointments. In accordance with the inn’s pet policy, two of the cottages are pet-friendly. Nine rooms are in the main inn. Guests gather for breakfast and end-of-the-day wine tastings in the two-story Great Room. 


Inn at Vaucluse Spring, Stephen’s City

Serenity defines the setting of The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, a historically appealing romantic refuge near the city of Winchester. 

When you arrive at this romantic getaway near Winchester, you feel as if you’ve stepped into a landscape painting by Constable, bucolic and serene. Gently rolling hills create a backdrop for a manor house and a cluster of historic stone and timber buildings. A limestone spring with its mill house completes the picture.

The manor’s Federal roots have been lovingly restored by the innkeepers. Colonial appointments blend with armoires and original carved mantels; in the Winter Kitchen, accommodations have exposed stone walls.

On the romantic meter, the ultimate choice among the guest houses would be the Mill House studio that overlooks Vaucluse Spring, so named in 1785 by the original owners, for the famous spring in France. The sound of water rushing through the millrace soothes the soul.

For the key to exploring the Shenandoah Valley, first visit the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester.  540-869-0200;

Shadow Mountain Escape, Luray

Situated at the edge of Shenandoah National Park, Shadow Mountain Escape’s oak-timber-framed cabins exude an old-world ambiance.

When the innkeepers created this unique hideaway in Luray on the edge of the Shenandoah National Park, they rightly dubbed it an “escape,” a romantic couples’ retreat in the woods. The authentic oak-timber-framed cabins exude an old-world ambiance with furnishings of antiques and collectibles, reminders of your hosts’ travels and years of living abroad.

Cabin names reflect eco-friendliness. Bear Dance Lodge is an activities hub for guests in Bumblebee, Dragon Fly, and Ladybug. Share a nature trail with a whitetail deer or visit nearby wineries. Climb the inn’s observation tower for panoramic views of the Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah Valley. Explore Luray. Go underground in the caverns. Return to your cabin for the warmth of a wood-stove fire.



Mountain Lake Lodge, Pembroke

Renown as the setting for the 1987 box-office-hit movie “Dirty Dancing,” Mountain Lake Lodge near Pembroke has newly renovated front-lawn cottages and rustic cabins dating to the early 1900s with modern amenities and views of the lake.

The Allegheny Mountains resort will forever be remembered for its role in the 1987 box-office hit, “Dirty Dancing,” when Jefferson National Forest doubled for the Catskill Mountains; Mountain Lake Lodge substituted for the New York set.

You can even book “Baby’s Cabin,” featured in the film. Newly renovated front-lawn cottages and rustic cabins, dating to the early 1900s, have modern amenities and views of the lake. Additional rooms and restaurant are in the main lodge. Snow fun includes sledding, tubing, and a guided snowshoe tour.

Looking ahead, mark “Dirty Dancing” events on your calendar. These special weekends in 2014 are May 30-June 1; June 20-22; and Sept. 19-21. Find out if you have the moves of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.


Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan

Primland Resort’s Golden Eagle is nearly 2,700 feet above the Dan River Gorge.

If you missed not having a tree house in your childhood, fulfill your dream by spending the night in the Golden Eagle. The leafy retreat soars from an elevation of nearly 2,700 feet above the Dan River Gorge. No worry about climbing up; a wooden bridge gives access to ultimate seclusion.

Although literally “in the woods,” you’ll not be camping. Luxurious Primland amenities include: flat-screen TV; complimentary high-speed Internet; and nightly turndown service. Guests cite stargazing as the best of the tree house experience.

Other accommodations at the Virginia Highlands resort are in mountain chalets, in cottages alongside the golf course, and in rooms in the resort’s lodge. Outdoors, choose mountain biking and hiking trails; indoors, the spa offers a comprehensive wellness menu. On the Blue Ridge Parkway, explore Mabry’s Mill where old-time skills are demonstrated.


The Inn at Sugar Hollow, near Crozet, offers stylish comfort.

The Inn at Sugar Hollow, Crozet

When a bed and breakfast in a hollow cozies up to a mountain in its backyard, you know your hosts have nailed that “room-with-a-view” thing. In 1995, the innkeepers told the architect that their planned getaway near Charlottesville should include “lots of windows.” The better to view the colorful changes of Painted Fence Mtn. or the stream that cascades past the front door toward the Moorman River.

Seven guest rooms offer stylish comfort in the main inn. Privacy is the hallmark of the Farmhouse with the choice of three rooms and the romantic Shenandoah Suite, a cottage-like addition with its own deck and entrance. Across the lawn from the inn, the hideaway is a favorite of honeymooners. A king-sized four-poster bed, gas fireplace, and TV and DVD player enhance the amenities.


For additional ideas about romantic Virginia travel destinations, visit and


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