1. The Clifton Inn is a Secluded Getaway That’s Just 15 Minutes from Downtown Charlottesville
The Clifton Inn may be situated on 100 acres of beautiful forests and lakes, but it’s also only a quick 15-minute drive from downtown Charlottesville, making it a perfect location for a romantic Virginia weekend getaway. Options for staying include rooms and suites in a main house, a farm house, a carriage house, and a honeymoon cottage. If you like feeling more connected, try to stay in the main part of the inn, but if you’re looking for seclusion, the Collina Farm House might be right for you. I stayed in the Dogwood Room at the Collina Farm House, which featured a private porch with sweeping views of the back lawn.
The Farm House also has its own kitchen, wrap around porches, and a beautiful rustic-chic dining room. You’ll feel like you’re at a country retreat—but you’ve got one gourmet restaurant right on the property and the rest of Charlottesville’s city amenities just a quick drive away.
2. The Clifton Inn’s Food is Outstanding
Make your stay truly luxurious and book dinner at the Clifton Inn Restaurant. The menu is small but elegant and the atmosphere has a warm, French country-inspired vibe.
If it’s the right temperature outside, see if you can dine on the beautiful patio that overlooks the grounds. And if you’re really traveling in high style, you can also ask about booking the Chef’s Counter, it seats a maximum of seven and comes with a minimum order of $400.
On our visit standouts included the shrimp n’ grits, which were an upscale take on a dish that you see all over Virginia with decadent, creamy grits, goat cheese, perfectly cooked shrimp, spicy lamb sausage, and a drizzle of mint oil.
I also couldn’t help but sample the caramelized onion soup with oxtail and Beaufort cheese—it was basically really, really good French onion soup taken up an umami note from the savory addition of oxtail. The Cracked Farro Risotto entrée was also rich and indulgent with roasted mushrooms, wilted arugula and shaved chestnuts. The farro gave the risotto more texture and individuality. Seared sea scallops were also perfectly cooked, large and flavorful.
For dessert, the signature sticky toffee pudding was rich, sweet, and everything our server promised.
Even if you don’t do dinner, your stay includes free continental breakfast at the restaurant. Stop by for coffee and a little plate of yogurt, fruit, granola and pastries to start the day. If you’re a light breakfast eater, this is plenty. If you’re looking for something a little more protein packed, there is also a full breakfast menu you can order from.
3. Your room comes with Madeira
The property where the Clifton Inn is located has history dating back to 1735 and was owned by Thomas Jefferson’s son-in-law. You know what else has a long history in our country? That’s right, Madeira. The card in your room will tell you it was the classic wine of Colonial Times and was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson who was said to have had over 4,400 bottles of Madeira at the White House during his presidency. Why shouldn’t you toast Declaration of Independence-style while you relax at this historic property? There are many types of madeira, but the version you will find in your room is sweet and nutty, making for a perfect little treat when you arrive or as a nightcap before bed.
4. The Infinity Pool in the Summer and Cozy Fireplaces in the Winter
Going to the Clifton Inn during the summer? The luxurious infinity pool is breathtakingly beautiful, upscale and inviting. You won’t need to drive to Charlottesville because you won’t want to leave what feels like your own private mansion pool.
In the winter, the main inn’s sitting area features an inviting fire and cozy furniture—a perfect place for enjoying a craft cocktail from the bar.
5. Special Details Around Every Corner
One of the fun things about staying at a locally owned, historic inn is the distinctive details, large and small that are tucked in every corner. I loved that our room was furnished with elegant American antiques and art.
Depending on the room you choose, you might get a private fireplace, a soaking tub, a private patio, or a loft.
If you’re there at the right time of day, you might get a look at The Clifton Inn’s extensive wine cellar where rehearsal dinners and other private events are often hosted.
Apparently, there’s also a cookie jar that the chefs always keep stocked with changing flavors of fresh-baked confections—I didn’t find it on my last visit. Something to seek out next time…