Accomodations and Cuisine Rated Among the Top in the World within Two Hours of Midlothian
Visiting the Inn at Little Washington
The Inn at Little Washington is not easy to capture in words or photos. Its magic is more about how the place makes you feel.
For some, The Inn is a romantic fantasy world far removed from the harsh realities of modern-day life; for others, it’s a culinary oasis akin to visiting a Michelin-starred restaurant in the European countryside. Some are surprised—and relieved—that The Inn doesn’t take itself too seriously. Guests often remark that while the interiors could be called grand, they are also whimsical and wonderfully comfortable.
For history lovers, Washington, Virginia, is one of the few unspoiled villages left in America. They say it hasn’t changed much since George Washington first surveyed it and named the streets back in 1749. Whatever you’re seeking, rest assured that the staff will welcome the challenge of living up to all of your impossible expectations. They consider it their business to make dreams come true.
A Brief History of the Inn at Little Washington
Long, long ago, and far, far away in a tiny town nestled deep in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, 67 miles away from its big sister city on the Potomac, the 158 inhabitants of “Little” Washington watched with amusement and incredulity as two long-haired young men set about converting a former garage on the corner of Main and Middle streets into a restaurant.
The barn-like frame and stucco building was constructed around 1895 and had operated as a gas station with a dance hall above it. Wrecked cars still decorated the side yard. The structure had been a candidate for demolition, but it was deemed too expensive to tear down and too risky to burn, given its location.
Patrick O’Connell and Reinhardt Lynch had been operating a catering business out of an old unheated farmhouse nearby, using a wood-burning cookstove and an electric frying pan. After a few years, they had developed a small following of well-to-do clients in desperate need of a local eatery.
With a savings of $5,000 between them and a loan from a nearby bank, they were able to build a kitchen and begin transforming the old building into a charming country restaurant.
The Inn at Little Washington opened on January 28, 1978, during the worst blizzard of the decade with no liquor license, insufficient electrical power and a staff of three. Weeks afterward, a Washington, D.C. restaurant reviewer dined anonymously and wrote that it was the best restaurant in a radius of 150 miles of the nation’s capital. The lowest priced entree was $4.95.
By 1984, The Inn’s first guestrooms opened to glowing reviews from the travel press. In 1987, The Inn became a member of the Paris-based luxury hotel association Relais & Chateaux and made history when in 1989 it became the first inn ever to receive the Mobil Travel Guide’s five-star award.
A year later, Mobil announced that for the first time in its 34 years of rating hotels and restaurants, The Inn had received two 5-Star Awards—one for its restaurant as well as one for the accommodations. Celebrities, politicians and hospitality leaders flocked to “Little” Washington to see what the hype was about.
The Inn at Little Washington remains a life’s work in progress.
The Main Inn was originally constructed in 1905 by Edward Thornton and houses a total of 11 accommodations: seven guestrooms and five suites, all named after culinary pioneers, with the exception of the most newly renovated suite, Room 6. Inspired by the Ritz Hotel in Paris, the suite has two beautiful marble and mahogany bathrooms, a double set of bay windows and a separate sitting room which can be closed off from the bedroom with enormous pocket doors.
The Living Room in the Main Inn is a beautiful, cozy room for drinks before dinner or coffee and dessert afterward. The Dining Room and Monkey Lounge, both located in the Main Inn, provide guests an extraordinary and unique experience while staying at The Inn at Little Washington.
Dining at The Inn at Little Washington’s restaurant has been likened to an Oscar-winning performance with the guest always playing the starring role. The Inn’s dining rooms are pure fantasy, a wondrous cocoon of luxury. Rose-colored,= silk lampshades float above each table creating a private, romantic world below. The chef’s creations arrive at one of the 30 intimate tables as if served by invisible hands, course after course more dazzling than the last. With its award-winning 14,000-bottle wine cellar, which includes the finest offerings from Bordeaux, Burgundy, California and Virginia, the sommelier plays matchmaker for you, your dinner and the wine. Chef Patrick O’Connell’s approach to cooking reflects a belief in “the cuisine of today”—healthy, eclectic, imaginative, unrestricted by ethnic boundaries and always growing.
The restaurant offers two exclusive Kitchen Tables which can accommodate up to six guests each. Nestled on either side of a baronial fireplace, this is the perfect spot for a romantic and private dinner for two or a celebration for 12. Being a part of this inner sanctum allows guests to watch the kitchen action ringside.
About Chef Patrick O’Connell
Patrick O’Connell is a self-taught chef who pioneered a refined regional American cuisine in the Virginia countryside. His alliance with local farmers and artisanal producers was an adaptation born of necessity more than 30 years ago when nothing but milk was delivered to the tiny town of “Little” Washington. Patrick has been referred to as “the Pope of American Cuisine.” Selecting The Inn at Little Washington as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world, Patricia Wells of The International Herald Tribune hails Patrick as “a rare chef with a sense of near perfect taste; like a musician with perfect pitch.” He is the author of the best selling cookbook The Inn at Little Washington Cookbook: A Consuming Passion. He has cooked for Queen Elizabeth and appeared on dozens of television shows including Top Chef, The Today Show and Good Morning America, to name a few.
- AAA Five Diamond Award – Restaurant & Inn
- Washington DC Zagat Restuarant Survey: No. 1 Ranking in All Categories
- Five awards from James Beard Foundation including Outstanding American Chef and Restaurant of the Year
- Mobil Travel Guide Five Star Awards – Restaurant and Inn (first establishment in the Guide’s history to achieve this feat)
- Travel and Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards: No. 1 in North America and No. 2 in the world
- The International Herald Tribune: One of the 10 best restaurants in the world