Who doesn’t love a weekend getaway? I am a Type A, routine-oriented, organization-obsessed worker bee on a daily basis, but there is nothing better (even for me) than letting loose and detaching from a daily routine. Instead of mundane high-rise hotels in a big city, my idea of a luxurious trip means a small town escape to a unique boutique hotel. I love the hospitality and character that you can find at such gems. You know you’ve found a winner when you’re welcomed as if an old friend and discover people, furnishings, and attractions that make you ache at the thought of leaving.
Today I am featuring two boutique hotels that fit this description. In their own special ways, they each offer the ideal getaway for those who also seek out R&R away from bright lights and traffic jams of the big city. Staying true to my Bridge & Bay juxtaposition-heavy format, I give you two distinct beauties: a beach escape in Cabarita Beach, Australia and a cozy retreat in Lexington, Virginia. While geographically thousands of miles apart, they are undoubtedly soul sisters, embracing the following core values and characteristics that I deem so important:
- an awareness and appreciation for their surrounding heritage and vernacular architecture (both are newly renovated historic properties)
- an emphasis on comfortable, beautiful interiors appropriate for their location and clientele
- hospitality, hospitality, hospitality
Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach, Australia:
History: The Cabarita Beach area began as a sugar cane farming town but transformed into a tourist attraction in the 1950s due to its proximity to the ocean.What is now Halcyon House was formerly the “Hideaway,” a popular motel for the surfing-obsessed. In 2011, two sisters from Brisbane bought the property and, while first planning to make it a beachside refuge for their families, decided to turn it into the boutique hotel it is today.
Why it Works: The architecture remains true to its past and surroundings, while appearing fresh and glamorous today. Its simplicity laid the perfect groundwork for color queen Anna Spiro. She has a knack for pulling together one-of-a-kind treasures, an array of patterned textiles, and plush furnishings that look as if they’ve belonged together for a lifetime. Antique farm tables and vintage art combine with sleek lighting and hip wallpaper. The result is a carefree yet sophisticated masterpiece.
Attractions: Besides the obvious draw of beach bathing and surfing, the hotel offers complimentary bikes so that you can explore the town. Or, you can brush up on your lawn sports skills with a game of bocce or croquet. For those who really need a breather, just put your feet up at the pool before grabbing a bite at Paper Daisy.
Packing Essentials: Bathing suit (the Aussies call it “cossie,” short for bathing costume), flip flops (“pluggers”) and sunglasses (“sunnies”).
The Georges, Lexington, VA, USA:
History: The rooms of the Georges Inn are located in two historic buildings across the street from one another. The Washington building dates back to 1789, built for one of the area’s earliest settlers, William Alexander. It was next inhabited by the Withrow family who lived there from 1875 to 1969. The Marshall building dates back to 1809 and has been used as a jewelry store, doctor’s office, telegraph and post office, and, of course, a hotel.
Why it Works: The architectural integrity of these buildings remains intact, with the interiors true to their southern conservative roots. The colorful artwork, beautifully modern renovated bathrooms, and fresh wallpaper adds a youthful feel. The result is an attraction equally appreciated by the young and old, the Lexington locals and visitors from afar. The interiors were truly a collaborative effort by the design team and their friends and family. Once the key furniture was in place and paint on the walls (they used Bridge Beari Colors, Fine Paints of Europe, and Farrow and Ball) the group traveled to Atlanta, Charleston, High Point, and Charlottesville collecting lighting, antique rugs, accessories, mirrors, and books. The goal was to make the inn feel like a familiar, luxurious, welcoming home. The result is nothing less.
Attractions: Nestled in the center of historic downtown Lexington, there are a myriad of prominent landmarks to view. A hike in the Shenandoah mountains is also a popular pasttime. Or, stay put and take a bubble bath or read by the fire (most rooms have fireplaces!). For the foodies, Haywood’s is a chic, cozy restaurant in the Washington Building and Taps a fun restaurant-bar in the Marshall building.
Packing Essentials: A Barbour jacket and a good book.
Whether you are off to the sink your toes into the sand or hike off into the Shenandoah mountains, I hope these exceptional havens give you the inspiration to book your next weekend getaway. May you choose to be comforted by the offerings of a boutique hotel and enjoy the simple things in life for a day or two.