A Philadelphia Guide to Vacationing in Charlottesville, Virginia

If you lacked luxury, hhead south for lush vineyards, fine dining, and just the right amount of C excessharlottevilleVirginia.

The Horizon Pool at Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia / Photo courtesy of Keswick Hall

Less than five hours southwest of Center City, there’s a posh sanctuary in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Originally built in 1912, Keswick Hall (fares from $600) reopened last fall after a multimillion-dollar renovation by locals Molly and Robert Hardie. Laura Ashley prints have gone out of style in favor of stylish guest rooms reimagined in an airy color palette, some with terraces from which to admire stunning mountain views.

The luxury is in the plentiful common areas — the adult-only infinity pool with cabanas; a cozy library and a billiard room that channels a classy friend’s country house. (There’s also a family pool for those with kids.) But it’s also down to the smallest detail, like the Red Flower bath products custom-made to incorporate local flowers from nearby Hardies Farm and the fact homemade chocolates that appear via nightly turndown service.

While you’re here, make time to dine at the on-site Marigold by Jean-Georges, for classics from the famous French chef (black truffle pizza) alongside dishes showcasing local bounty. Play a match on the red clay tennis courts or visit the spa which will open this summer.

It’s hard to leave, of course, but venture off the property to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, to sample sustainably produced wine and take a tour of the estate – and stay for a cooking class. Led by Chef Ian Rynecki and Certified Horticulturist Diane Burns, you can tour bee colonies, harvest ingredients, and learn some tricks from Rynecki while cooking dinner — accompanied by wine, of course.

Take time to take a scenic cruise along Skyline Drive, which stretches over 100 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spend an afternoon strolling through the boutique-lined Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall. Admire the collection of paintings and photographs at the Fralin Museum of Art, stopping along the way at MarieBette for financiers and other French pastries.

If you’re in town on the first or third Friday of the month, book a free public evening ticket to the Leander McCormick Observatory, where you can listen to an astronomer’s presentation and look through a historic 26-inch refractor telescope to see the stars.

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Published as “If You Missed Luxury…” in the June 2022 issue of philadelphia cream magazine.