Living in the Washington, DC area means the best of both travel worlds: some of the east coast’s greatest cities – NYC, Philly – are easily accessible, & yet the countryside is just a short drive away. One of my favorite places for a quick countryside stay-cation getaway is Lansdowne Resort, just outside the Beltway in the Virginia town of Leesburg. The last time we stayed there, several years ago, the property was looking a little dated & we honestly didn’t have a great time. But after a big renovation & new, wine & culture-focused programming for guests, I knew it was worth another shot.
The first thing I noticed was how bright & airy our room was. Their Deluxe King guest rooms are anchored by a giant, extremely comfortable king bed, which is surrounded by soothing neutrals & accents paying homage to Virginia’s growing wine country. Little details, like the bar cart, an extensive programming guide & photography of local wineries, really make the room. Bathrooms were renovated with chunky slate tile floors. Most importantly: the hotel has strictly enforced quiet hours every night resulting in a restful night. Don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning? Fellow DINKs will love breakfast in bed for two. It includes mimosas, coffee, breakfast entrees, pastry & a copy of the Washington Post!
Guest-Friendly Resort Programming
The one thing I always felt like Lansdowne was missing was proper resort programming. It has always been an awesome place for golfing & the spa is dreamy… but that was largely the extent of it. Post-renovation, they’ve brought in complimentary guest-friendly programming that matches the season & covers a variety of interests.
We arrived early enough on Saturday to participate in the cooking demonstration, where Chef John taught us how to make crab cakes from scratch. Lansdowne’s cooking programming emphasizes local ingredients, which was especially fun to experience since we’re local.
Sunday morning was shrouded in mist & fog, but that didn’t stop our nature hike. The resort has a number of walking paths & nature trails, including ones that lead down to the banks of the Potomac River. The hike was guided by a local historical reenactor, who told us the story of Thomas Lee, who Leesburg is named after & whose family owned the land the resort now sits on (& is no relation to Robert E. Lee). Sometimes these history walks can be a bit cheesy, but this one struck the right balance of local history & the guide naturally breaking character to chat about current events. Next time, when the weather is better, we’ll tackle some of the local hiking trails.
Other programming the weekend we were there included a cart-in-movie (like a drive in movie with golf carts), a number of fitness classes & lots of kid-friendly activities. But we enjoyed lounging by the fire pit, checking out the pool & exploring the resort’s beautiful gardens.
As part of the renovation, Lansdowne completely revamped their on-property dining options. Gone is the stuffy high end restaurants & dated bar, & in their place are a local-farm-to-table option & a traditional golf clubhouse bar. We enjoyed sipping a local beer while watching college football & chatting with the friendly bartender at the bar of Pub 46.
Dinner at Coton & Rye
Dinner Saturday night was at the resort’s main restaurant, Coton & Rye. Things started off a bit spotty, with a long delay in service & a waiter who couldn’t describe any of the dishes or local wine offerings (they have a number of partnerships with Virginia vineyards). Finally, the food & beverage manager stepped in & took over our table (& several others). Things really looked up when the food started rolling out. Creamy deviled eggs topped with truffle oil & snacks of picked vegetables & homemade beef jerky tasted just like grandma’s farm. Their signature turkey pot pie fell flat (& isn’t very pretty to look at), but the surprise winner of dinner was the huge mustard-crust pork chop & perfectly crisp handheld apple pies for dessert. The atmosphere of Coton & Rye is a little confusing: it’s trying to be a nicer restaurant, but with TVs on the wall & no natural light, it actually feels more like a bar. While the food was excellent, it was on the higher end of the price point I’d expect to pay for the atmosphere.
Off-property, there is nothing within walking distance, but a short drive into Leesburg is worth it for the dining options there. Favorites include the soups & sandwiches at South Street Under & the imaginative wine flights at The Wine Kitchen (go early – no reservations & the place is tiny!).
Gateway to Virginia Wine Country
The best thing about Lansdowne’s location is their position at the gateway to Virginia’s growing wine country. Every Saturday, the resort runs a shuttle bus to nearby wineries & breweries. While my favorite Virginia wines are a little further south, there are still some good sips to be hard (& a few very good breweries nearby, including Lost Rhino).
Know if you go…
– The hotel charges a $32 per day resort fee, which is higher than most of the resorts I’ve stayed at. Regardless of your feelings on resort fees, it’s important to know about it in advance. Theirs includes parking, wifi, bottled water, use of the pools & large fitness center (many locals use it as their gym), use of the golf driving range & (during certain months) a free round of golf.
– The resort is dog-friendly & we saw many well-behaved four-legged friends during our stay.
Note: Our stay, amenities & meals were not provided compliments of the hotel.
The resort fee was waived the evening of our stay.