I had been wanting to spend more time in Fredericksburg since last summer when my hubby and I passed through on our way back from a stay at the Inn at Stratford Hall on the Northern Neck.
So once I got it into my head that we had to see the Fredericksburg Battlefield, George Washington’s sister’s home — Kenmore, and his boyhood home at Ferry Farm, the next step was to find hotel or inn that would be perfect for our 6th wedding anniversary.
I did the typical online hunt and, since too many B & Bs quite frankly have poor websites, slacker blogs, and few recent updates, it’s hard to learn much about what any given inn is like. Some of it just ends up a gamble. Fortunately, one website was good enough that I really did have to pause.
And, I can spot gorgeous architecture when I see it. That’s what first got me hooked on Braehead Manor.
Being a huge fan of Federal and Georgian style early American buildings, I immediately warmed to the idea of spending three days and two nights at Braehead on its 26 acres set just beside the greater Fredericksburg Battlefield National Park.
Even though on their website they call the house Greek Revival, we couldn’t quite square with that, seeing it as largely Georgian.
But why quibble over definitions when the real issue is its stately beauty, history, and loving restoration by the current owners?
My personal sanctuary
An additional hook for me was seeing that the bedrooms were well-appointed with modern style bedding, simple wall colors, thoughtful drapery, elegant decorative touches like candles ensconced in juniper wreaths, and fabulous tiling and fittings in the bathrooms.
Though I remain open to other inns for a future visit to Fredericksburg, Braehead Manor will, for me, always stand a head above.
Part of that is how charmed I was by its private setting, the perfect antidote to city life, even if you’re only coming from a small city like I live in, Staunton. Still, I live downtown-adjacent and it is noisy, and almost always busy.
What I needed most was respite.
At the same time, I had every intention of spending plenty of time in Fredericksburg’s equally bustling downtown, having reservations at two eateries, and eyeing shopping, breweries, the distillery, a battlefield, a house tour, and more on my itinerary for the weekend.
So with Braehead less than three miles from all the hub bub we could have the best of both worlds — privacy and relaxation at the inn, Panerai replica quick access to attractions as soon as we wanted to hit the city.
It was perfect— and more than well-priced at $195 a night for a couple including a truly gourmet breakfast.
The little touches
Hospitality counts in innkeeping, and that’s where Braehead also really stood out. The innkeepers, Karen and Warren Bane, were genial and inviting without being obtrusive in the least. We ended up having some wide-ranging and thought-provoking conversations with them on things like business and marketing, local figures, good food in town, and even a bit of society and culture. It was wonderful!
And can Karen cook? Whew, we had the most delightful breakfasts both mornings of frittata with berries and a side of meat, some juice and expertly brewed coffee. Plus, since we don’t eat a lot of bread, she was happy to accommodate our needs, forgoing pastries in favor of more substance.
She also sources what she can from the nearby (but unrelated) Braehead Farm, getting eggs, produce, berries etc., as each is available and in season.
All of this was served most beautifully on real china, with lovely cutlery, and a cloth napkin — a big bonus to this aesthetically-minded and environmentally conscious reviewer.
There really is a sense of peace, a sense of “stepping back in time,” at Braehead that is not contrived or overdone at all — there’s a perfect melding of the quiet and graciousness of an older style of living blended seamlessly with modern amenities and lifestyles.
Venue options and proposed changes
I learned that Braehead also does weddings and corporate retreats, family reunions, and other events where whole-facility rental is needed. I certainly would have been delighted to have had my wedding there, with it’s central location, large pad for an outdoor tent, ample parking, and kitchen access for their recommended caterers.
At the same time, while I loved the charm of the period-decorated living room, if it was my inn I’d go ahead and integrate some more modern seating and maybe eliminate the piano (unless it is useable?) Somehow today’s traveler feels less comfortable kicking back on a prissy couch from a bygone era. It’s not that I’d go all corporate hotel and homogenized looking or anything, just maybe find a way to make that seating a more inviting lounge for spillover activity when not in one’s bedroom.
But the period dining room and entry hall work wonderfully well, and there I wouldn’t change a thing.
Sad to leave
I honestly had a very hard time saying goodbye to Braehead. Not only did I want more time to explore Fredericksburg, which, though small, really is a dynamic Virginia city, but I just wanted more time to let time unfold at the inn, away from work and home and traffic noise and city streets.
But all things must come to an end and so away we did — but I’m already wondering how soon until I can come back. I bet it’s gorgeous over the holidays!
— Lindsay Curren, Girl Goes Virginia