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Jun 30, 2009 02:39 PM

Inn at Little Washington - Concern

They still have 5 mobil and 5 Triple AAA ratings. They are still a Relais & Chateaux property.
This SHOULD make the restaurant great. And it should make the Inn itself and its guestrooms great.

But in the last year - say since Jan 2008 - I seem to be reading more and more comments on tripadvisor, etc. that say The Inn at Little Washington is overpriced, no longer deserves the accolades, the food just isn't the equal of that at Citronelle or City Zen or even Fortis, etc. , and now they are coasting mainly on past hype.

It's also been said that -- except for the dining room -- the property is in need of renovations in the bedrooms and bathrooms themselves.

We wanted to stay there for the weekend - and have dinner both nights.

We don't mind paying the price - IF it is worth it, not just for the food, BUT if the accommodations themselves are truly luxurious and meticulously maintained.

Please help with this. I know it isn't totally food related - yet, we would prefer not to make the drive if it is just a good meal but we end up being disappointed with The Inn itself.
Sometimes a place can be great initially - and end up being run-down and in need of new carpets, new curtains, new bathrooms, etc, yet you don't find out until you get there.

It'll be a honeymoon and we really want everything to be special. Or we will pick another place to honeymoon, like Blackberry Farm in Knoxsville, TN. or The Point in NY -

Please help ! Chowhound readers are usually sophisticated, high-end travelers.

If you have actually stayed at Inn at Little Washington (as well as had dinner) since Jan 2008 or later - and are willing to provide detailed feedback on your actual stay there (which room, etc - and what you liked and did not ) , I'd hugely appreciate it :)

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  1. true — here is a link to my post on a trip two weeks ago.

    we did NOT stay the night at the inn; however, i think that is pretty characteristic of most diners. there are numerous B&Bs in that area that according to other chatters on this board are romantic and fantastic in their own right — perhaps it would be worth it to stay in one of those and visit the inn for dinner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: littlew1ng

      littlw1ng : Thank you for replying.
      It sounds like the food at the Inn was quite good. Too bad that your server was cold and not as helpful after she realized you were not ordering more. That is not nice and should not be acceptable at those prices. She should have been better trained.
      I appreciated your suggestion as to perhaps staying elsewhere and just dining at the Inn. I will look into it.

    2. I have been to the Inn several times since 1990. Our most recent visits were in April of 2006 and 2007. I have to say that on those two most recent visits, the food did not wow me the way it had previously. Now, that could be because my culinary experiences have vastly increased since my earlier visits and thus, it takes a lot more to impress me. And, it’s not to say that the food wasn’t excellent, just not over the top incredible, as the prices would suggest. However, I have to say that my experiences at Komi and CityZen in the last year were better than my last two meals at the Inn.

      In all those visits, I have only stayed overnight at the Inn one time; that was in April 2007 and only because we had been given an extremely generous gift certificate that allowed us to stay overnight and have dinner as well. We stayed in the Mayor’s House which is in its own building across the street from the Inn itself. I can say that we found it to be impeccable, absolutely no complaints, and we have stayed in high-end hotels all over the world. And it should have been, considering that it cost at the time $1000 per night! I have no experience with any of the other rooms at the Inn.

      Some advice: when you book your dinner reservation at the Inn, be sure to specify that you want an individual table and do not want to be seated on a banquette. Our last dinner there we were on a banquette and I felt like I was rubbing elbows with the woman at the next table. My husband and I felt we needed to whisper in order to keep our conversation private. It was not comfortable, and at those prices, that’s not acceptable. Also, make sure you get a tour of the kitchen – they frequently offer it, but sometimes forget.

      Finally, if staying at the Inn is too pricey, there is a wonderful alternative in town called the Foster Harris House. A room there costs about a third of what a room at the Inn costs. We have stayed there several times and it has always been wonderful, both the accommodations and the breakfast. In fact, we both agreed that the breakfast at the Foster Harris House was actually better than the breakfast we had at the Inn the one time we stayed there in 2007. Not that the Inn’s breakfast was bad, not at all! Just that the FHH breakfast was truly exceptional and more personal. Oh, and they had a great young dog, a yellow Lab, who will let you play with her in the backyard, if you’re so inclined.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lauman

        Thank you for replying.
        Your information about requesting an individual table rather than a banquette is quite useful. I've read quite a few comments from people unhappy with the seating that is so close together so that is a big help. A restaurant that charges the sort of prices that have been mentioned should not cram their tables so close together.
        That desire to put is as many tables as possible to help their revenues without thinking of diner comfort instead says something about them and their thinking.
        Glad to know that The Mayor's House was kept in impeccable shape, as it should be at that price! High prices don't always guarantee things are kept in tip-top shape, so this was good news.
        Thank you as well for suggesting Foster Harris house as an alternate. If the accomodations are wonderful there at a third the price and with better breakfasts, it certainly makes sense to possibly stay there instead. Will look into it, especially with both you and littlw1ing making a similar suggestion.

          1. re: alkapal

            I concur on Foster Harris. It was great and added to our entire experience.
            It is just a short walk from the Inn.
            (For context, I have never stayed at the Inn so can't comment on it relatively speaking).

          2. True,
            Id have to say if you can stay there one night you might want to, I thought the breakfasts there were wonderful! The best bacon and oatmeal souffle I've ever had. I do think it's true that the Inn could use some more up to date renovations. Where ever you stay have a great time and might i suggest you have a menu signed by the Chef as honeymoon memory. If you go to photoeats dot com you can see some of the dishes we ate there.

            3 Replies
            1. re: nemis

              I agree about the breakfast - The best part of staying at the Inn (other than the lack of a drive home!)

              My last time there was I think Late 2007 - A bit earlier than the OP's cutoff. The food wasn't *Quite* as good as the first time I went there, 15 years ago - But it was still excellent - It could have been just the choices off the menu.

              We loved staying at the Inn - It was nice to take a stroll through town (walk slow and don't blink!) and the Staff seemed to dote over us even more since we were staying there (I believe the Men were given white carnations or such for our lapels, which signified that we were overnight guests)

              Our room was right at the top of the stairs - No really big deal, but we could hear folks walking by (it's an old structure) - My only real complaint was the size of the room - I don't mind small rooms mostly but I am 6'4" and the furniture overshadowed the room - I was constantly bumping my shin, etc - But then again I am also a Klutz!

              We want to go back and sit at the Chef's Table - And maybe stay somewhere else like the suggestions above.

              1. re: tommyskitchen

                Thank you for the detials in your response. It sounds like they have some nice touches to their service.
                For half the price, I'd have no qualms about hearing people walk by at night or having a small room.
                For $700 a night - $1,200 a night, I expect good insulation and solid core doors and plenty of space to stretch out.
                Perhaps just having dinner at the Inn is the best idea.
                You've given me some good pros and cons to think about.

              2. re: nemis

                Thank you, Nemis.
                Good food for breakfast is a great way to start the day ! However, if the rooms need to be renovated - it just isn't worth the price right now.
                Perhaps if they decide to make the changes necessary/spend the money to keep the Inn accomodations up-to-date, then it would be a great place to stay.
                Newly redone bathrooms, carpet, drapes, paint, a/c/, mattresses, duvets, pillows, all of it would then justify a 4 figure nightly bill including tax.
                I know they redid the kitchen a few years ago, so now it may be time to make the investment to redo the rest of the property.

              3. a limerick for true's dilemma:

                true, go and attend washington’s inn
                to get there it’s just a short spin
                the dining is fine
                even more with the wine
                so go there, to not do so’s a sin!

                i envy your chance to eat there
                ‘cause the money it costs is quite dear
                but spend if you must
                create mem’ries or bust
                ‘cause when you are old you won’t care.

                the food had better be savvy
                the service and attire quite natty
                so eat with aplomb
                finish with the bombe
                please do tell us all -- and be chatty!

                2 Replies
                1. re: alkapal

                  That was so clever ! :)
                  Will let you all know how the trip goes afterwards.
                  Life's adventures into luxury !

                  1. re: true

                    true, i never saw your review. where did i miss it?