Hotels  |  News & Politics  |  Travel

8 Getaways Near DC Where You’ll Be Treated Like a VIP

Private car service. Yacht cruises. Butlers. Go ahead, indulge.

Escape artists: The Ivy is one of Baltimore’s most exclusive boutique hotels. Photograph courtesy of the Ivy Hotel.

The Ivy Hotel / Baltimore

The goods: One of Charm City’s most exclusive boutique hotels—a Relais & Châteaux property—is a gorgeously updated Gilded Age brownstone. Each of the 18 rooms includes a gas fireplace and Frette linens as well as heated French limestone floors in the bathrooms. Some have deep soaking tubs.
Best room: Suite Eighteen, a private two-story retreat with its own entrance.
Celeb sightings: The hotel won’t say, although writerly types such as Laura Lippman and Alafair Burke have been spotted at events.
Luxe touches: No nickel-and-diming here. For those who can stomach the nightly rate, almost everything is included, from made-to-order breakfast and private car service to on-demand movies.
Decadent dish: Three-course British-style Sunday supper—think whole roasted Angus beef tenderloin and Yorkshire pudding—at on-property Magdalena, one of the city’s top restaurants.
Spa? Yes. Opt for the In-Suite Tranquility service—aromatherapy massage followed by detoxifying bath—and you never have to leave your room.
Driving distance from DC: One hour.
Starting rate: $595.

Sailing at the Inn at Perry Cabin. Photograph of sailboat courtesy of the Inn at Perry Cabin.

Inn at Perry Cabin / St. Michaels, Maryland

The goods: One of the Eastern Shore’s premier lodgings, this 78-room waterfront resort—the former home of a 19th-century naval officer—offers understated style in muted grays and whites with mahogany accents. There are black-and-white prints of sailboats on the wall and the real thing at your disposal, along with certified sailing instructors. Guests can also hit the Pete Dye links, book a tennis lesson, or tour the extensive gardens with a horticulturist.
Best room: Ask for a luxury suite with a full-on water view.
Celeb sightings: The cast of Wedding Crashers, which was filmed here, including Bradley Cooper, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Walken.
Luxe touches: A Hinckley Talaria 55 yacht picks up guests from Annapolis for a 60-to-90-minute butler-service voyage to the inn.
Decadent dish: Locally sourced oysters, all from within a 12-mile radius.
Spa? Yes. Try a plant-based treatment using herbs grown in the inn’s garden.
Driving distance from DC: One and a half hours.
Starting rate: $399.

The four-bedroom Cottage at Grouse Glen at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Photograph of Cottage at Grouse Glen by Jordan Millington/Nemacolin Woodland.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort / Farmington, Pennsylvania

The goods: Downton Abbey in western Pennsylvania. At this grande-dame resort on 2,000 acres of highlands, the name of the game is outdoor adventure, from off-roading to trail rides to sporting clays to 36 holes of championship golf.
Best room: The 2,200-square-foot Chateau Presidential Suite, which cost a cool $1 million alone to upgrade—and starts at an almost-as-cool $1,999 a night. It features fresh flowers, original paintings from the resort’s art collection, smart tech everywhere including TVs built into the bathroom mirrors, plus two balconies and the mountains of the Laurel Highlands beyond. Plus a butler to unpack your bags, make reservations, or arrange for you to drive one of the house cars, such as a 2019 BMW 750i.
Celeb sightings: Christina Aguilera, Bette Midler, Tony Bennett.
Luxe touches: A multimillion-dollar art collection with works by Fernando Botero and Frank Stella; a private airfield; and a wildlife sanctuary with lions and tigers and bears, mostly rescued from closed zoos.
Decadent dish: The “Leap of Faith” menu at Lautrec, in which James Beard Award semifinalist chef Kristin Butterworth prepares a “surprise” out of your favorite ingredients.
Spa? Yes. The choices include acupuncture, metabolism testing, and infrared sauna therapy.
Driving distance from DC: Three hours.
Starting rate: $209.

Sweet Spot: Enjoy chocolate martinis and cocoa-dusted scallops at the Hotel Hershey. Photograph courtesy of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.

The Hotel Hershey / Hershey, Pennsylvania

The goods: This historic 276-room hilltop hotel, built by philanthropist/chocolatier Milton Hershey, is for lovers of luxury, sweets, and theme parks. Guests can play chocolate bingo, roast s’mores, and enjoy perks such as early entry into Hersheypark.
Best room: The 2,100-square-foot Milton Hershey Suite has a patio with views overlooking the town that chocolate built.
Celeb sightings: Former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush.
Luxe touches: The sport of kings: falconry. The hotel has a school that offers free-flight demonstrations, a simulated hunt, and Instagram ops—such as a falcon landing on your leather-gloved arm.
Decadent dish: A chocolate martini, cocoa-dusted scallops, or chocolate cream pie.
Spa? Yes, with cocoa-based treatments such as a chocolate-fondue wrap.
Driving distance from DC: Two and a half hours.
Starting rate: $259.

The Inn at Little Washington / Washington, Virginia

The goods: This ultra-posh inn is attached to the world-famous restaurant helmed by chef Patrick O’Connell. The 23 bedrooms, suites, and cottages—the handiwork of London set designer Joyce Evans—are an ideal backdrop to the altar of gastronomy, with opulent colors and quirky motifs. Some suites, such as Room 6 and Carter House, have recently undergone makeovers.
Best room: Carter House, a three-bedroom “cottage” from 1835 named after the original owner and builder, was recently refitted with a cypress-shingled roof like the one at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. A gated rose arbor, a miniature garden, and a front porch with wicker chairs invite lingering. Inside, guests can relax in a sunroom with painted tile floors or in a soaking tub with Bulgari bath amenities, as well as enjoy daily breakfast. (Request O’Connell’s famous homemade granola—a 40-plus-year-old recipe beloved by the chef’s late mother.)
Celeb sightings: The queen of England; culinary legends Thomas Keller, Alice Waters, and Julia Child; and actors Chris Pine and Lynda Carter.
Luxe touches: The one- or two-day kitchen apprenticeships for nonprofessionals.
Decadent dish: Perhaps the pepper-crusted Long Island duck breast with brandy-roasted Virginia peaches and pain perdu? Or, really, absolutely anything at the only three-Michelin-star restaurant south of New York.
Spa? No, but the unaffiliated Little Washington Spa is steps away.
Driving distance from DC: One and a half hours.
Starting rate: $395.

The spa at Primland, Photograph of pool courtesy of Primland Resort.

Primland / Meadows of Dan, Virginia

The goods: This intimate highland retreat with only 26 rooms offers refined rusticity on 12,000 acres in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where nature is tamed by down duvets and anti-aging facials. As tempting as it is to remain inside, the outdoors calls with flyfishing, archery, biking, and golf.
Best room: Cooper’s Hawk, a tree house—with Frette sheets and an en suite bathroom.
Celeb sighting: The hotel staff won’t say, except to note, “We’ve had sports figures, NASCAR drivers, and politicians.”
Luxe touch: Don’t just wish upon a star—wish upon 130 million of them at what may be the only resort in the US with an observatory dome.
Decadent dish: The popular “pig candy,” a candied-style bacon appetizer served in the 19th Pub.
Spa? Yes—try the golfer’s foot renewal after a day on the links.
Driving distance from DC: Five hours.
Starting rate: $430.

The 1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards / Barboursville, Virginia

The goods: This sophisticated 19th-century plantation home is on one of Virginia’s oldest and most prominent vineyard estates in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many rooms feature expansive balconies and views of the vines.
Best room: The Octagon Suite overlooks the historic ruins of a fire-destroyed mansion, a National Historic Landmark.
Celeb sighting: Thomas Jefferson. Although no one is sure the third President stayed there, he designed the mansion belonging to his friend James Barbour, who served as a governor of Virginia and Secretary of War.
Luxe touches: Free nightly bottle of wine plus tastings and tours. You’re in a winery, after all.
Decadent dish: Roast lamb paired with Octagon wine.
Spa? No.
Driving distance from DC: Two hours.
Starting rate: $300.

The Watergate Hotel / DC

The goods: The hotel whose name became synonymous with scandal has been redone in nostalgic midcentury-mod luxe, steps from the Potomac River and the Kennedy Center. Staffers—in uniforms by Mad Men designer Janie Bryant—can pack a gourmet picnic for a bike ride around the monuments.
Best room: Scandal Room, the original Room 214 used in the 1972 Watergate break-in, complete with “cover up” robes.
Celeb sighting: The Queer Eye cast and rapper Common.
Luxe touches: Killer views of Washington from the rooftop bar. An urban glamping package lets you sleep under the stars in a transparent globe—moonlight cocktails and constellation map included.
Decadent dish: Kingbird’s Nougat de Canard—a duck-leg confit prepared with Cognac VSOP, foie gras, and truffle vinaigrette—or a flight of vintage whiskies at the Next Whisky Bar.
Spa? Yes. Try the Soul Journey massage, aimed to release all stress.
Driving distance from DC: Zero hours.
Starting rate: $299.

This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Norie Quintos

Alexandria resident Norie Quintos travels the world as an editor at large for National Geographic Traveler. She is also a content strategist, advising destinations and travel companies on how to tell their stories. On Twitter and Instagram, she’s @noriecicerone.