Whenever traveling on an overnight trip through Virginia, you probably do a quick Google search and book a well-known hotel branch that is close to the road. But if you’re looking for an experience rather than just a room to get your eight hours of sleep, skip the boring standard hotel and plan your stay at one of these interesting accommodations around the Commonwealth.
Glamping Tipis at Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort—Rice
The unique glamping tipis at Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort may look fairly simplistic (albeit large) from the outside, but the interiors boast comfort and convience in every corner, with air conditioning keeping the tents cool during the summers and heated floors and central heat warming the tents in winter months. The tipis each have a different setup, holding up to six people in the largest glamping tipi, and range in price from $169 to $239 per night. Each tent has bedrooms separated by walls or cloth partitions, full bathrooms with showers, kitchens, and even living room areas complete with TVs and couches. While you’ll have a campfire area right outside your tipi, you’re definitely not “roughing it” when staying at these swanky structures.
The Tree House at White Lotus Eco Spa Retreat—Stanardsville
Price: From $100/night
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This rustic tree house branches out with 300 feet of catwalk to the lunar sauna, main house, and gazebo. The grounds surrounding White Lotus Eco Spa Retreat are secluded, with ponds, trails, and an organic vegetable farm that is open for tours by appointment. During your stay, take a canoe out on the water, go swimming in the pool, or just enjoy the scenery from the pond’s floating dock. This mountain getaway promotes eco-friendly lodging, with 100% LED lighting, all-natural flooring, and energy efficient windows. The produce harvested from the farm is available for purchase and organic coffees and teas are available to guests free of charge.
Price: $15/person for camping, $30/person for twin bed
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Open Arms is the first hostel in Luray, providing affordable shelter for outdoor enthusiasts, especially hikers through the Appalachian Trail and in the Shenandoah National Park. The owner remodeled her 1930’s Craftsman-style house to accommodate eight people in three separate bedrooms. Guests can use the kitchen area and the showers free of charge, and laundry facilities are available for a nominal fee. Another perk of staying at Open Arms? Well-behaved, clean dogs are permitted in the main building (as long as they play well with the resident cats!) and the hostel even has dog shampoo for pets that have had a little too much fun playing in the dirt along the trails.
Virginia Cliffe Inn—Glen Allen
Price: From $150/night
Only 12 miles north of Richmond, the Virginia Cliffe Inn leaves behind the modern city vibes in favor of authentic southern hospitality. Six acres encompass the charming bed and breakfast, with a tranquil pond and lovely gardens available for a leisurely stroll. Start your day early with a light breakfast, or sleep in and wake to a full home cooked spread. Conveniently located near Kings Dominion, Lewis Ginter Garden, and the Meadow Farm, the inn offers accessibility without sacrificing elegant style.
Tree Houses at Primland—Meadows of Dan
Price: From $618/night
The Tree Houses at Primland aren’t like the ones you crafted with dad; these log lodgings are the height of luxury. Each of the three tree houses overlook the famous Blue Ridge Mountains and the Dan River, providing a dreamlike retreat just inches from the sky. The breathtaking views are complemented by all of the comforts you would expect from world class accommodations. Leave the kids and pets at home when you book one of these tree houses, as they are not permitted and the occupancy is limited to two people.
Woods Hole Hostel—Giles
Price: From $28/person for shared and $90/room for private
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If you’re looking for a unique destination that is affordable, consider staying at the Woods Hole Hostel. They have free daily yoga classes for guests and offer massages for a fee. The hostel welcomes all guests, including hikers taking a break from the Appalachian Trail. Got any unwanted goods? The hostel has a Hiker Box where guests leave their “junk” (things like spare batteries, extra food, and outdoors gear) and hikers can find much-needed items. In addition to this trade system, there is a Broke Hiker Jar where you can donate money to hikers on a tight budget. Stay at the Woods Hole Hostel to get friendly, communal lodging at a reasonable price.
1926 C&O Caboose—Natural Bridge
If you’re a train enthusiast, consider booking the 1926 C&O Caboose in Natural Bridge. The owner took great care in restoring an old train caboose into a small charming rental that accommodates two guests (and potentially a small child). It even sits on gravel and railroad ties, lending to the authentic railway experience. Inside, you’ll find a double bed, a small daybed in the great room, a full bath, and kitchen in the galley area. This unique train car packs a lot of amenities into 200 square feet. Head outside to the patio, lit by old-fashioned lanterns, and cook dinner on the gas grill, or get the real train car experience with the “hobo” fire pit.
Holly Bluff Island Guest House –Holly Bluff Island
A stocked remodeled hunting lodge from the 1930’s, Holly Bluff Island Guest House is only accessible by boat or kayak (if you don’t own, consider renting from the folks at Burnham Guides). This retreat is a kayakers dream, located on the only privately owned island on the southern tip of the Eastern Shore of Virginia along the Atlantic Ocean. The area operates as a sanctuary for all types of wild animals, from migratory birds to wintering seals. Holly Bluff Island Guest House sleeps 12 and has two beautiful porches where you can take in the idyllic scenery from rocking chairs.
Bears Den Trail Center & Hiker Hostel—Bluemont
Price: From $17/person, camping from $9/person
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Tucked away off the Appalachian Trail is the Bears Den Hiker Hostel. The co-ed hostel has ten bunk beds, with a main lodge that fits up to 26 guests. What is so unique about this hostel? It looks like an enormous medieval castle, built with rustic grey stone. Don’t let the imposing exterior fool you, though. The Bears Den Hiker Hostel is very welcoming to hikers and guests looking for an out-of-the-way place to stay. For about $30, you get a bunk, shower, laundry, pizza, ice cream, and soda, making the hostel an affordable option for those looking to vacation on a budget.
Cair Paravel Farmstead Yurt—Stanardsville
The Cair Paravel Farmstead Yurt is perched 2,000 feet up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the 30-foot building houses a full kitchen, bedroom, and bath. Outside, you’ll find a hot tub and salt water pool where you can soak as you take in the surrounding 60 acres of beautiful woodland property. The grounds also feature a sustainable farm that yields organic produce, dairy, and poultry while maintaining a minimal footprint on the earth. While you can’t bring your pets along to stay at the yurt, you may be lucky enough to get a guided tour of the farm, where you can see the wide array of farm animals, including sheep, goats, and chickens. Another bonus of this mountain retreat? Farm-fresh eggs for breakfast!
Traveling to Europe is an expensive, lengthy trip that involves lots of planning. Fortunately, you can get an amazingly similar experience without ever leaving Virginia. Owners Will and Lilia Fenton built the Fenton Inn to look exactly like an authentic German village. In the mountains of Virginia, the inn was constructed using trees from the surrounding property, and while it is just one building, the clever exterior gives the impression that you are walking down the early streets of Munich. The façade is thorough, with a town square, clock tower, bakery, theater, and much more. Stroll the “Main Street” to discover the many display windows filled with goods that add to the Bavarian atmosphere.
Bedford Landings is a fairly straightforward option when it comes to B&Bs, with a timber frame home that has four individual theme rooms based on the location, including the fishing and forest rooms. What makes the lodging unique is not the home itself (although it is spacious and comfortable, with plenty of amenities), but the ability to reach the rental by car, plane, or even boat. Smith Mountain Lake abuts the property to the south, while the small regional airport borders the property to the north. And while not everyone has access to a small plane, you have the option to go on a sightseeing tour with the in-house pilot when you stay at Bedford Landings. If you decide to skip the friendly skies, there is still plenty to keep you entertained, with a game room, theater, hot tub, and access to Smith Mountain Lake right in the backyard.
The Tinder Guest House—Ashland
The Tinder Guest House in downtown Ashland is unique because the entire unit rents as one. The concept is for friends and family to share a space together where they can relax and enjoy each other’s company. The 2,000 square foot inn takes up the entire second floor above a commercial space that is currently unoccupied, although Center of the Universe Brewery plans to open their satellite location on July 1, 2016 in the space. The inn features three large bedrooms, each with a queen sized bed, two full bathrooms, a foosball table, and a kitchen space outfitted with an eating nook. The daily breakfast offerings frequently change, but typically include breakfast casserole or quiche, muffins, yogurt, fresh fruit, and plenty of beverage options. In addition to a delicious breakfast, freshly baked homemade chocolate chip cookies greet each guest upon arrival.
Rose River Farm Yurts—Syria
Rose River Farm is made up of three modern day interpretations of classic Mongolian Yurts, each with two bedrooms with two double beds, two full baths, and a full kitchen. And although they may remind you of buildings from the ancient past, these yurts are the epitome of luxury. The buildings have domed 17 foot ceilings, leather club furniture, and a jumbo flat screen TV with satellite and a DVD player, and you can purchase high speed satellite WIFI for just $4 a day. The window-paneled walls and wide porch capture the spectacular views of Old Rag Mountain and the Rose River Valley. Guests can fish in the stocked pond for bass, bluegill and trout (catch and release with single barbless hook only). Bring along some food and make your dinner on the charcoal grill, and finish the night huddled in the glow of the ground’s fire pit.
Skip the boring overnighters and stay at one of these distinctive lodging options to turn your next trip through Virginia into an adventure.