Each year, we go somewhere the day after tax season ends to celebrate SVV’s newfound freedom. This year, it just so happened I needed to go to Charlottesville for work, our Semester at Sea friends were all going to be in town that weekend (a rarity) and—most importantly—there’s no prettier time of the year to visit Virginia.
The last time we were in northern Virginia happened to be the same weekend three years prior. On that occasion, we drove. This time, we didn’t want to waste a single moment at Keswick Hall so we hopped a flight and were thrilled to find how easy it was to fly from Nashville to Charlottesville, despite a (very quick) layover in Dulles. CHO Airport couldn’t be quicker to get in and out of, and three hours after taking off from Nashville—and within 10 minutes of landing at CHO—we were in our rental car and cruising toward Keswick.
I didn’t really know what to expect, seeing as we stayed with friends last visit and that this particular five-star resort in Charlottesville is such a prestigious hub for golfers. But I was pleased to see that while the 600-acre estate was pure luxury around every turn, there was no snobbery whatsoever.
With a history spanning more than a century, Keswick opened as a private estate in 1912. In 1990, it was purchased by Laura Ashley’s widower—yes, that Laura Ashley—Sir Bernard Ashley and became a luxury resort a few years later. Now, there are 48 rooms in the main building, all of which underwent a massive renovation that was completed last year and included an upgrade in all the room interiors with Frette linens, Molton Brown bath amenities and much more.
We’d barely had time to unpack when I set out on a tour of the expansive gardens with their keeper while SVV snoozed off his tax season fatigue.
With more than four dozen numbered beds, maintaining the gardens at Keswick are a full-time job. On top of the color-themed beds, the flowering trees, the native plants and the landscaping flanking the two pools, there’s also a huge produce and herb garden from which the chef sources many ingredients for the restaurant and bars.
Next up, it was time to hop on a cart and see Full Cry, the Pete Dye-designed golf course, in its entirety. Now, I’m no golfer but this 18-hole, Audubon-certified course had me wanted to suit up and tee off. We spotted deer and woodchucks in the forest surrounding the course and were told you can see a bevy of other animals like fox depending on the time of day.
We didn’t wind up hitting the links as golfers—just as tourists with our wine in hand—but we did take full advantage of the golf club facilities, like the spa (couples massage anyone?). We also tried every restaurant on property…you know, in the name of research. On our first night there, we had dinner with my friend Janet in the estate’s Villa Crawford Bar, which overlooks the course.
OK, fine, you know the truth: We had drinks first and decided rather than relocating to Fossett’s next door, that we’d just order off of the restaurant menu from the bar. Can we just talk about how jalapeno margaritas are my new favorite drink of choice?
I can’t describe how perfect a drink this was: a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy. And of course, I had to try another cocktail (or three), as well…for comparison’s sake…this time a strawberry basil mojito, which also didn’t disappoint.
For dinner, we started with a charcuterie plate while we made our decisions. For me, that was the lamb, though I probably ate about half of Janet’s cavatelli, it was so delicious.
Obviously, we also had dessert before the night ended. You know me better than that to even ask such a silly question.
Breakfast each morning was in the sun-drenched Fossett’s restaurant, and while the menu had some of my favorite brunch offerings on it like eggs Benny, I ordered the yogurt parfait each time.
Don’t tell me you could resist this thing of beauty either.
On Friday, we went to tour Thomas Jefferson’s residence, Monticello, in the morning as it’s less than 10 minutes from the estate, then returned to Keswick Hall for a lunch al fresco.
That afternoon was unseasonably warm, topping out in the mid-80s, so we made our base with this as our background. Infinity pool with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond? Don’t mind if we do.
I didn’t want to leave, and had a particularly powerful April shower not reared its ugly head, I might have sat there until sundown. There was also a wedding happening the following night that began with cocktail hour at this very pool, and the whole set-up was just gorgeous. Future brides, you’d be wise to choose Kewsick Hall as your wedding venue, and when you do say “I do,” invite me along, will ya? (Consider it my finder’s fee.)
This was one of the few trips where we had a full three days to enjoy the property, and not much on the agenda other than friend time. It was the perfect weekend away after a particularly hectic spring, and I think I speak for us both when I say we wouldn’t turn down a return trip to Keswick in the future!
Visitor’s Tip: You may hear hounds baying in the distance; that’s not your imagination, but rather the hunt club across the street from Keswick Hall boasts 60 hounds who can be seen out for their morning stroll six days a week at 9am (they have Sundays off). Consider that your wake-up call, and go tag along with them. It’s quite the sight to behold.