The hospitality of Virginia’s Northern Neck


If you haven’t had the chance, you should meet Dudley and Peggy. They are perhaps the most hospitable people on earth and the friendliest of purveyors behind The Hope & Glory Inn in Irvington, Va.

The Inn is located near the Southern tip of Virginia’s Northern Neck, a marshy peninsula carved out by the Rappahannock River to the south and the Potomac River to the north. It was the birthplace of George Washington and, as our drive south down its length on Friday afternoon proved, is now home to little more than hundreds of acres of corn and soybeans. Don’t get me started. (But you can read my latest on the ag census and how these trends aren’t really changing, despite the strides of “local food,” here, or my project about chefs and farmers who are creatively challenging this norm here.)

Ahem, back to our restful weekend getaway (can you tell I’ve been working too much?). We scheduled this trip to celebrate our FIVE-year wedding anniversary on Friday. Five years! It also served as a sort of “babymoon,” with just four weeks to go until — as my husband keeps repeating (with his eyes just a little bit glazed over in disbelief) — “our lives change forever.”

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Our enchanted woodlands-themed nursery is coming along, thanks to a visit from Grandma! My grandfather made the cradle.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the babymoon term, coined by the travel industry to convince us that what a pregnant woman really needs in the midst of lower-back pain and the encroaching reality of a first child is “one last trip for the two of us.” I fell for it — complete with a massage from a magician named Patricio, which did wonders for that lower-back pain — and the experience certainly didn’t hurt (anything other than our baby budget).

My husband and I have stayed at quite a few bed & breakfasts over these five years. When he was deploying frequently out of Whidbey Island, Wash., I could easily justify frequent weekends or evenings away at the B&Bs that dotted the nearby San Juan Islands. For our two-year anniversary, we drove down to the Oregon Coast and spent the weekend marveling at the eccentricities of the British woman who ran our B&B and had a thing for Chinese religions and Buddha figurines. We spent one all-too abbreviated night in a cozy, Scottish-themed room with TWO tubs in the snowscapes of Leavenworth, until my husband was abruptly called back to duty during breakfast. And we particularly enjoyed jetting over on a ferry for quick off-season stays on one of the San Juan Islands. We even hit tiny Lummi Island once, which boasts little more than the B&B at which we stayed, which happens to have one of the “10 restaurants worth a plane ride.” I could go on…

So that’s the context to consider when I say that this weekend at the Hope & Glory was one of the best we’ve ever had. If you don’t like hugs or getting to know the other guests, this place isn’t for you. But if you want to park your car for the weekend, see much of Lancaster County — including an impressive little farmers market — by foot or bike and receive just the right amount of pampering, consider this place highly recommended (and not just by me).

My photographer at the Bay Journal first recommended the Hope & Glory, which he had photographed for Travel & Leisure magazine. I was stumped about where to schedule a weekend away, since we had stayed at wineries near Charlottesville the past two years and, suddenly, drinking gobs of wine and being quite hot in the middle of a valley no longer appealed to me. I wanted to be near the water, no more than a three-hours’ drive from DC and with access to more breeze than booze. After skimming over bonafide babymoon packages in places like St. Michaels that cost as much as our entire baby registry, I steered my search toward more undiscovered locales and, eventually, to the Northern Neck.
The Hope & Glory isn’t quite as “undiscovered” as it feels. Dozens of local and national magazines have written up the little Inn, its immaculate garden and cottages. Guests can peruse the display of framed articles on the dining room walls. Dudley and Peggy have been wooing people with their hospitality for years, and their dinners, open to public reservations, are known as the finest on the ‘Neck. They also made us reservations at the other great restaurant in town, Nate’s Trick Dog Cafe, for Friday night. It was excellent — especially the seafood chowder — though, being used to DC portions and prices, we ordered far more food than we could consume. And they let you draw on the table.
There aren’t many other options for dinner in town besides these two, but you don’t really need them. They were both excellent and in the mid-range of prices for a nice dinner out. There are also other options for staying in Irvington — OK, one other option as far as I can tell. The Tides Inn is a bigger resort-type location on the water with a 9-hole golf course. Folks we talked to said it was a great fit for families looking for a few more activities, but it’s facilities are also open to guests from other stays in town (my husband did a boat ride of the coast that took off from there while I had my massage).
Did I mention that the Hope & Glory gives you the code to a private pool not far from the Dog & Oyster Winery, which Dudley and Peggy also own? (They used to own the Trick Dog, too.) After talking to nearly ever purveyor at the farmers market (my husband is a real sport!), we took the bikes provided by the Inn for a little adventuring around town. We visited the Historic Christ Church about two miles out of town that is actually quite impressive. It’s one of the most architecturally important churches in our country and, after a great little video and tour, I now know why! We also grabbed our swimsuits and hit the winery (long enough to feed the dogs) and the pool. We had the whole pool to ourselves and, though it wasn’t quite hot enough to justify a swim (which was totally fine with me), there’s nothing better than floating when you’re 8 months pregnant!

I can’t say enough nice things about the people we met this weekend — from the locals who happily let us chat their ears off to the other guests. We especially enjoyed talking to two other young couples over dinner who had little girls back home; one of them got married on the same day as us! So, DC and Virginia friends, consider this my hearty endorsement for your next weekend away! Lord knows we might not get another for quite some time… 🙂


2 Responses to “The hospitality of Virginia’s Northern Neck”
  1. CFM says:

    Great blog! We stayed here a few weeks ago and loved it!

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