Keswick Hall and Golf Club is a historic hunt country estate that caters to tastefully upscale families seeking civilized rural getaways and scenic drives. Picture combining a century-old, Tuscan-style villa with the land Thomas Jefferson called the “Eden of the United States” and what do you get? A classy, clubby retreat in Charlottesville, Virginia that’s a wonderful place to catch your breath, with or without the kids.
Included over the years on numerous best-of lists and a recipient of the 2015 Forbes Five-Star Award, Keswick’s charm lies in its accessible luxury and surprisingly large number of diversions for its small size (48 rooms). The antithesis of the cookie cutter concept, each uniquely decorated room looks out over Virginia hunt country, and combines the best of modern amenities with the feel of gentler times. The property’s 600 acres and facilities easily accommodate more guests, so member and guest cottages have been built within the grounds.
After a line of owners with esteemed pedigrees: first the Laura Ashley Company, which created the resort the early 1990s, followed by a decade under Orient-Express Hotels, Keswick Hall and Golf Club now belongs to The Riverstone Group, which owns and operates four other luxury hotels and resorts – The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond; Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, South Carolina; The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee; and The Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina. We loved her at our first visit and we are confident she is still being well cared for.
There is a lovely infinity pool surrounded by lavender and butterfly bushes, a club house with a spa and fitness center, meeting rooms, indoor/outdoor pool, as well as bars and restaurants. Most significantly, the 18 hole golf course renovated by Arnold Palmer and totally redone this year by architect Pete Dye, now known as Full Cry, has debuted at No. 47 in Golfweek’s “Best Resort Courses” list for 2016.
Catering to Refined or Childish Palates at Keswick
Dining option are wide-ranging at Keswick, beginning with the upscale Fossett’s dining room. While not too chi-chi for children, parents may find their children behaving a bit more… well… civilized in the face of afternoon tea, four poster beds and chocolate truffles and shortbread at turn down.
Fossett’s serves a lovely, upscale buffet breakfast that also caters to children’s needs, varying from eggs benedict and premium cheeses to breakfast cereal and fruit and yogurt. The restaurant really shines in the evening, with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the rolling hills of the Arnold Palmer golf course.
The Palmer Room in the clubhouse has a more casual hunt country feel and menu and is open for snacks, lunch and dinner. This room also features bar where guests can relax before dinner or snack on bar appetizers.
Drinks and snacks also are available during the day at the pavilion pool (Memorial Day to Labor Day) that was designed with families in mind, including a baby pool and volleyball.
Keswick Hall Recreation & Pampering: Babies to Elders
For those with teeny tikes, Keswick Hall’s “Baby Butler” service provides a welcome package and assists by warming bottles, serving baby food specially prepared by the executive chef and providing knapsacks, strollers, rocking chairs, toys, miniature bathrobes and personalized cribs in the guests’ room. Board games, books, coloring books, and movies are at hand (simply ask before you arrive), as well as babysitters. They offer a Kid’s Only Program, where your little ones will receive an interactive, stamped passport, and in-room snacks including caramel popcorn, animal crackers, and fruit flavored sodas.
Keswick Hall has a nice outdoor tennis center with five lit courts (three clay courts, two Hard courts), and guests can fish (fly and cast) at the property’s Broadmoor Lake. Nearby is horseback riding, skeet shooting, hiking and mountain biking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and white water rafting on the James River, as well as President Thomas Jefferson’s estate at Monticello, the town of Montpelier, downtown Charlottesville and local vineyards. For the snowy months, the Wintergreen Ski Resort is only 55 minutes down the road.
We actually planned to take advantage of some of these nearby amenities, such as the hip little restaurants in Charlottesville. Instead, we found ourselves simply lounging around the property for the most part, swimming in the lovely pools, basking under the sun in the outdoor whirlpool, working out in the fitness center, walking the grounds and gardens, playing tennis (or trying to – it rained), taking tea in the parlor and tasting wines and tapas in the cute little bar.
Our 12-year-old daughter Maddy got the vibe, too, and simply chilled out in the lap of luxury. Smart kid.
Trip Planning Details for your Keswick Hall Vacation
Keswick Hall is located at 701 Club Drive in Keswick, Virginia 22947 in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re driving southwest from Washington DC, as we did, you can take Interstate 66 west to the Gainesville exit, then the more scenic Route 29 south to Culpeper. From here, take Route 15 to Gordonsville, then Route 231 till it meets Route 22 west at Cismont. Pass the Keswick town post office and approach the estate on Route 744.
Rates start at $400/N. Most rooms have either one king or one queen bed, although a few have two twins. Be sure to request connecting rooms in advance, if required, as these are very limited. For more information and reservations, contact your travel agent or the inn directly at Keswick Hall and Golf Club).
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