Things to Do  |  Travel

3 International-Inspired Getaways a Short Drive From DC

Journey to Bavaria, Japan, and France—no passport necessary.

The riverfront chalets at Bavarian Inn are inspired by European architecture. Photograph courtesy of Bavarian Inn.

Alpine Accommodations

Bavarian Inn

location_on Shepherdstown, West Virginia

language Website

Traditional German fare is on the menu at Bavarian Inn. Photograph courtesy of Bavarian Inn.

Five Bavarian-style chalets sit by the Potomac River at this West Virginia inn. Renovations on all the rooms will be completed in March, bringing new carpets, furniture, and modern features to the Old World setting. An infinity pool with river views reopens in May.

Founded by the parents of current owners Christian and David Asam, the inn started as a restaurant to spotlight the cuisine of father Erwin’s hometown of Munich. Traditional German fare remains a fixture—think housemade spaetzle, crispy Wiener schnitzel, and sausages topped with sauerkraut.

The main stone manor has multiple dining areas, including the Rathskeller, a casual cafeteria with live music, modeled after Munich’s beer halls. The inn is also home to Bavarian Brothers Brewing, which features German-style beers as well as German and Austrian wines. Guests can tour the brewery to learn about Bavarian beers from the brewmaster before trying a flight.


Serene Japanese Baths

Pembroke Springs Retreat

location_on Star Tannery, Virginia

language Website

Pembroke Springs Retreat features Japanese design. Photograph by Julie van Jaarsveld.

This bed-and-breakfast, 90 minutes northwest of DC, has been operating as a vacation rental since September 2020, but it began accepting single-room reservations at the start of the year.

Owner Taeko Floyd is from Japan, and many of the items decorating the home are from her family’s collection, including stamped fabrics Floyd’s mother made in the bingata technique native to Okinawa. Five rooms are appointed with tatami mats and a private bathroom, plus some have a sunken horigotatsu table or a Jacuzzi. Guests also get a yukata (a lightweight robe) and a cotton tenugui towel.

In the morning, a colorful breakfast might feature tamagoyaki omelets, pickled daikon, miso soup, mustard greens with sesame dressing, and grilled fish. More than three miles of hiking trails wind through the 175-acre property.

For an onsen experience, wash off in the bathhouse’s shower before slipping into one of two ofuros, traditional cedar tubs heated to 104 degrees. The B&B recommends entering the tubs for 15-minute spurts to avoid overheating in the mineral spring water.


French Country Escape

L’Auberge Provençale

location_on White Post, Virginia

language Website

Enjoy French food and wine at L’Auberge Provençale. Photograph by Jumping Rocks Photography.

A piece of bucolic Provence can be found at this Shenandoah Valley inn, where co-owners Celeste and Alain Borel find inspiration in the charming auberges of Alain’s native Avignon. Eleven rooms in the main house are named after French artists and philosophers; many are outfitted with fireplaces and aromatherapy steam showers and painted in cheery colors. (For a private experience, the Borels also operate a nearby villa with three rooms and a swimming pool.)

Food and beverage are a key part of the stay, with an effort to cull ingredients from the gardens, greenhouse, or nearby farms. March brings the first of fragrant mint and French breakfast radishes, both likely to show up on your plate. Once the weather warms, guests can embark on excursions with the inn’s forager, scavenging for local ingredients to be prepared in a cooking demonstration, with items to take home such as juniper sugar.

Headed for a hike? The kitchen can stock a backpack with sandwiches, salads, cheese, and charcuterie for a gourmet picnic. Breakfast in the sunroom includes homemade breads and flaky croissants paired with savory items such as eggs Benedict and sweet crepes. In the evening, choose a chef’s tasting menu or dine à la carte on classic bistro dishes paired with French wines.

This article appears in the March 2024 issue of Washingtonian.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.