Escape. Relax. Refresh. Breathe.
These imperatives crowd our minds when day-to-day life starts to have too many bells and whistles, when our clocks seem to start running a little too fast.
In the two years since Lavender Heights Bed and Breakfast opened, on a scenic bluff above historic Falmouth that offers a 3-mile view across the river to Fredericksburg, many a big-city dweller has found refuge staying here and enjoying the surrounding region.
The therapeutic value of their stays is palpable in reading the journal entries left in each of the painstakingly appointed guest rooms owner Jenny Holbert maintains at the inn.
“Exactly the place we needed to get away and clear our heads of the D.C. hustle and bustle,” wrote one guest.
Others repeatedly use words like “comfort,” “refreshing” and “five stars” to describe their visits.
The remarkable thing about Lavender Heights is that it manages to feel like a secret retreat far-removed from everything while being only an 8-minute drive from downtown Fredericksburg (no big roads, and the route affords peeks of Falmouth and the Rappahannock River).
“Our goal for guests is to provide as much luxury and relaxation in a very comfortable, visually relaxing setting,” Holbert says. “They can just kind of check out for a while and relax.”
She encourages that with meticulously landscaped grounds dotted with intimate seating areas that encourage wandering with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, taking in the view, the fire pit, the koi pond or just the amazing quiet that can be found on this property that is still so close to many area attractions.
Holbert prides herself on her breakfast, a decadent, four-component meal that usually leaves guests with no need for lunch—and more time for wandering.
For that, she sends them into downtown Fredericksburg, where many get their bearings by hopping on a Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg tour, before narrowing their list of attractions to visit.
Browsing downtown’s many antique shops is a popular pastime, and she says many guests have returned asking if she can store a particular find for the duration of their stay.
When they’re finally hungry again, Holbert gladly sends them to downtown’s restaurants. She is particularly fond of Poppy Hill Tuscan Kitchen, for the hand-made pastas and other dishes, and the wine selection.
“They’ve done a very nice job of selecting wines,” Holbert said.
Riverside Dinner Theater is another recommendation. Now through November, Riverside is showing “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” a good reminder that a little silliness can go a long way toward easing life’s anxieties.
Holbert also recommends visiting the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Spotsylvania County. Food science was part of her studies in college, and the tour fascinates her.
“I think it’s amazing, the science, the craft, the art and how they explain how the spirits are made,” she said.
And she can’t overestimate the value of the trails throughout the region, including the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail in Fredericksburg and the Ferry Farm-Belmont Trail very close to Lavender Heights in Stafford County. Getting out for a stroll or a bike ride, taking in fresh air and views of the area adds to her guests’ sense of refreshment and escape.
When their wanderings bring them back to the inn, Holbert indulges her guests by making sure every detail of the four rooms in her establishment offers the right combination of luxury and relaxation.
The “Comphy” sheets on her beds are used at the finest spas and hotels, and are hard to beat for comfort. Guests in one of her rooms have repeatedly been known to thank Holbert for their first good night’s sleep after years of tossing and turning on other mattresses. Baths are appointed with high-quality towels and hand-made goats’-milk lavender and oat soaps crafted by an artisan in Middleburg, Va.
The living room and other common areas of the inn encourage sitting and reading, sipping or just reflecting and taking a break from constant busyness. Holbert has added vintage and personal touches with décor items like the luggage trunk her great grandmother travelled with in the 1800s when she emigrated from Germany, or the wooden tricycle that belonged to her mother.
Many of her guests come down from a larger city to take a break, or make Lavender Heights a relaxing pit stop during a long trip down Interstate 95. Some come for their wedding night (Lavender Heights also hosts weddings.), and other couples have come to begin their engagement.
Holbert and the staff who help her maintain Lavender Heights welcome them all, striving to make their stay, in the words of one guest, “a nice time of refreshment.”
Visit Lavender Heights online here.