The tiny Virginia village of Washington — population 130 — that predates its giant namesake 70 miles away has been home to one of America’s most treasured rural retreats, and a centre of gastronomic pilgrimage for four decades. Not so much a restaurant with rooms, as a restaurant with half a hamlet attached. Chef Patrick O’Connell, president of Relais &Chateaux North America and an acknowledged pioneer of contemporary American cuisine, holds sway over a bucolic backwoods empire whose uncertain beginnings took a chance with a lease on an old gas station in 1978, and never looked back. As the man grandly christened ‘the Pope of American cuisine’ approaches a fi fth decade in his pictureperfect redoubt on the edge of the Blue Ridge mountains, the gas station has become a restaurant with a mile-long list of accolades including two Michelin stars. Together with surrounding properties, there are now 24 rooms and suites, all meticulously and somewhat theatrically restored and named after the personalities associated with America’s gastronomic evolution over the last half a century. Alan Greenspan, one of an apparently unending list of celebrities to visit the Inn, commandeered the entire place for his wedding in 1997. With a street named after O’Connell, a farmer in residence to tend the market garden, and the old post offi ce earmarked for a bakery, though the casual observer wouldn’t know it, the stamp of his success is all over town. There’s plenty to do if you can tear yourself away from the Inn, too: Thomas Jefferson’s prized home Monticello is nearby, as are the Luray Caverns.
+00 1 540 675 3800
The Inn at Little Washington