A rough-around-the-edges Navy town a decade ago, the "new Norfolk" oozes hipness, with martini bars, opera, and art.
Within a short walk of it all, the Freemason Inn, restored and opened in 2003, stands unabashedly Victorian.
Sunlight through floor-to-ceiling windows bathes a dining table set with fine china and antique linens. The chef serves a gourmet three-course breakfast. Upstairs, the four suites have high-poster beds piled with down pillows and 360-thread-count linens, and three have a jetted tub and gas fireplace.
A left out the front door leads into Ghent, a neighborhood of restored brownstones. Catch an art film at the Naro after window shopping. Another path wends its way into an Asian-inspired pagoda park bordered by the Elizabeth River. The renowned Chrysler Museum of Art is nearby.
Voila, an elegant French restaurant, is a stone's throw from the inn, as are a dozen other restaurants along Granby Street.
Bottom line: Sleep pampered in gentility, while the action of one of the South's up-and-coming cities is just outside your door.
Freemason Inn, 757-963-7000; freemasoninn.com. Rooms range from $145 to $245 a night.