Saturday, July 23, 2011

You Can Go Home Again! - A Trip to Winchester VA

John Handley High School- My alma mater!
The GW's Lobby makes you feel like a VIP!
That saying "You can't go home again." communicates to me that you can't expect things to be the same when you go home because you have changes, your home has changed, those you love have changed.  It is that reason that often people visiting the home of their childhood feel disillusioned or disappointed. So I tried to manage my expectations when we traveled to my hometown Winchester VA, to surprise my mom for her birthday at a barbecue hosted at my brother's house.  Since we needed to keep our arrival a surprise (she had no idea we were coming), we needed to find a hotel, and while there were many hotels in Winchester (it is now home to a regional medical center and a DC bedroom community for commuters), I remembered the grand and glorious George Washington Hotel, an historic structure with grand ballrooms that was home to the Apple Blossom Festival's Queen's Ball and the weddings and events of Winchester's "haves".  Since I had left home more than 30 years ago the GW had undergone quite an evolution.  Overtime it became a bit rundown, as sometimes happens with historic structures and at one time was even a home for adults.  However I had heard that it had been completely renovated, and after checking out the site, I knew that I had to take my family there.

Our room had a king bed and a sleeper sofa
This indoor pool is a jaw-dropper.
Since we had our two daughters (16 and 22) with us we got a room that had a King bed and sleeper sofa (there were no double double rooms available, and suites were out of my price range).  From the moment we walked into the hotel, we were impressed.  The renovation maintained the historic feel of the hotel and made you feel like one of the "haves" from the moment you walked in.  Staff was courteous and helpful, the bed was super plush and the linens luxurious. And now let me say something about the pool-it takes a lot to impress my children but they were blown away!  The indoor pool was like a movie set with Greek columns and statuary! Not Olympic size but a great place to unwind.

Another highlight of the hotel is its location on the fringe of the Winchester Old Town area, a place that as a child I remembered as home to McCrory's and Leggett.  It is now a bustling area full or restaurants, shops and clubs on a pedestrian mall that provides a night life I wished had been around when I was a young adult!

We headed to Brewbaker's, a place where my brother's bands The Merge and T-51 often play, but we had a drink there. Brewbaker's had an extensive menu and I hope to return there (hopefully when my brother plays there!). We then headed to Picadilly Public House for something to eat.This old building dates from 1900 when it was an old grocery warehouse. Since it was late we got several appetizers off their pub fare menu and were very happy with the food and service. The ambiance of the old building was very welcoming, it felt like a neighborhood place. While not what I would consider a fine dining establishment, Picadilly's was an unpretentious gathering place with good food and many menu choices.

My brothers and I back in the day-nice hairdo, right?
Of course the highlight was surprising my mom for her birthday, and hanging out with my brothers and their families which we don't get to do that often. I am the oldest in my family and the only girl and what a pleasure it was to interact with my brothers and their wives and children- my stomach hurt the next day from laughing so hard. And seeing the cousins together and how they got along right away, exchanging Facebook and telephone information to keep in touch was just priceless. My sister-in-law who hosted us has celiac disease and so the menu was gluten free and her daughter is a diabetic and so there was an amazing gluten free mac and cheese and sugar-  and gluten-free desserts that even the non-diabetics had seconds of!

My brothers and I at Mom's birthday celebration- handsome, huh?
It was such a success that we are thinking of doing this annually, and besides Brewbaker's,  I am scouting some other dining destinations including Cork Street Tavern, where Anthony Bourdain was recently spotted, One Block West, located on Indian Alley, and Peru's Chicken, which is a hard-to-find place that garners 5-star reviews for their crispy-skinned Peruvian-style chicken, and favorites that I remember as a child - the Snow White Grill, which holds strong memories of my dad (my mom hated the smell of the sauteed onions on their mini burgers!), and the Wayside Inn, an historic inn where my husband and I went for our senior prom dinner.

For people in the mid to Northern Virginia area, Winchester is a great place for a weekend getaway even if you don't have family there - in the center of a lot of Revolutionary War historic sites, Civil War battlefields, historic homes and wineries, as well as quick access to the Skyline Drive, and some of the prettiest driving you will ever do. If you go, check out some of my favorite places and let me know yours. Because you can go home.... again, and again, and again.

4 comments:

natalie said...

That hotel looks lovely, but (yes, I'm a dork) I look at that pool and think, "Gee, I'd run into one of the columns as I was doing laps." :)

Aldrin Mark said...

Nice place. Try this one

Busyb223 said...

That was a lovely hotel. I hope you all enjoyed all of luxuries it had to offer.

Mydish said...

I’m really lucky and so glad that after surfing the web for a long time I have found out this information. .
http://www.mydish.co.uk