Virginia – Washington: Inn at Little Washington
Image by wallyg
The Inn at Little Washington, America’s most celebrated country inn, is located at Middle and Main Streets in the unassuming town Washington, Virginia. The oldest of the 28 cities by the name of Washington in the United States, the town was surveyed by George Washington himself in July of 1749. With a population of just 183 as of the 2000 census, it is nicknamed Little Washington because of its proximity to Washington, D.C., which lies only 70 miles east.
The Inn at Little Washington was created by former business and romantic partners Patrick O’Connell Reinhardt Lynch in 1978. A deterioration in their relationship in 2006 precipitated a business split, and O’Connell took out a loan of .5 million to facilitate a buyout and become the sole owner in 2007.
Its eighteen bedrooms and suites were created by Joyce Evans, a London stage and set designer, who conceptualized the interiors without ever setting foot in America. Chef Patrick O’Connell presents his New American dishes in the Victorian-styled 30-table dining room. The inn presents a 40-page long wine list, from which the Sommelier can summon one of the 14,000 bottles from the award winning cellar. The Inn’s new kitchen was added in 1998. Inspired by the dairy room at Windsor Castle, the kitchen features an enormous Vulcan range. Built to order in France, it is topped with a copper and brass hood that looks like King Arthur’s tent. Two kitchen tables allow guests to watch the action ringside.
The Inn was the first establishment in the Mobil Travel Guide’s history ever to receive 5 stars for its restaurant and 5 stars for its accommodation, and is the first Inn ever to receive AAA’s highest accolade, the 5 Diamond Award, for both food and accommodation. The Inn at Little Washington has received 5 James Beard Awards including: Best Service, Best Wine List, Restaurant of the Year, Best Chef in the Mid–Atlantic and Chef of the Year. It has been rated one of the Top 10 Best Restaurants in the World by The International Herald Tribune. It was also rated number 1 in America by the Zagat U.S. Hotel Survey and has been rated number one in all categories (food, dècor and service) of Zagat’s Washington DC restaurant survey for the past 14 years. The Inn’s dining room has been rated #1 in North America, and #2 in the World, by Travel + Leisure Magazine’s ‘World’s Best Awards’, and has been awarded Wine Spectator magazine’s “Grand Award” for its wine list every year since 1995.