We are taking this ride off-road a bit! Every now and then I actually go on vacation. Every July, my family makes a trip to one of my favorite places on Earth, Ocean Isle Beach, NC. This was our 29th year visiting the same beach on North Carolina’s southern most coastline. When you’ve made this trip 29 times, you know you could drive it blindfolded (not that we would actually attempt that). The trip is always the same – who can spot the golden Charleston dome first?, a swing through Tamarack for a little shopping & lunch, and without fail, we can always spot hundreds of Ohio plates with “pods” trekking down the highway. We jokingly call this the “Great Migration” – Ohioans traveling to the Carolina coast for vacation every summer. Although it’s always the same journey, we find ourselves asking each year, “but where should we stay?” We’ve made the trip in one day – 9 hours of driving doesn’t kill anybody, but we like to stay one night out on the road. The logical place to stop is just shy of the Virginia/North Carolina border. There’s only one problem THERE IS NO WHERE TO STAY. Sure, there are your old standbys dotting the exits, but we always prefer something we can’t get at home while on vacay. But this year…we found it. We found the holy grail. It changed our experience. We talked about it for days. It made that one extra night of traveling actually part of our vacation. Nestled in little old Wytheville, VA is the Bolling Wilson Hotel, and this my friends, is perfection.
The Bolling Wilson Hotel is actually…a chain. It sure doesn’t look like it! There has been a resurgence of the independent, boutique hotels and brands are finally picking up on it. For Marriott, you have an Autograph Collection; for Hilton a Curio Collection and for Choice an Ascend Collection. If you visit one of these properties, the
only way you will know it is part of a brand is you can a) collect your loyalty points and b) the standards of service you’d expect from one of their sister properties. In Ohio, we don’t have any Ascend properties, so this was new to me and I loved it. The lobby is like a piece of art. Simple and to the point, but with a little pizzazz. If you aren’t a history buff and you haven’t caught on yet to the significance behind the name of the hotel, I’ll fill you in. The hotel pays homage to it’s most famous citizen, First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson (President Woodrow Wilson). If you take a closer look at the lobby, you’ll find some of the First Lady’s
favorites smartly entwined in the beautiful decor. Her love of orchids can be found everywhere in fresh flowers throughout the lobby and her love of canaries is displayed in the tiny birdcage, just behind registration. If you’re up at the right time in the morning, the birds wake up to greet you.
I don’t want to forget to mention the fantastic restaurant the Bolling Wilson Hotel has on site, Graze on Main. We were able to enjoy dinner here when we first arrived and I am so glad we did. Our family loves to eat, if you haven’t gathered that from other posts. Just like our preference in hotels, we like to find something unique when we’re dining out. And, like our search for an ideal resting place on this long trip down I-77, we’re hard pressed to find good restaurants as well. What a godsend that we found both in one place. I knew the week ahead would be full of carbs as most vacations are so I was wise in my dinner choice. Luckily, I saw a server walk by with a salad piled high with bleu cheese and I knew instantly what I wanted. I had the Chopped Salad (with chicken!) and as usual, TJ indulged in a Ribeye which was cooked perfectly. If you have a chance to stop by Wytheville and you can’t stay, I’d at least swing through this fabulous restaurant for lunch or dinner!
What stay at an historic hotel would be complete without a little sightseeing? I set out for my morning run as the sun
was coming up and was pleased to find downtown Wytheville alive with others enjoying the Heritage Walk. The trail was a mix between brick sidewalks downtown, weaving between cool, old buildings; paved paths through the park and hidden walkways. It was a great way to start the morning and you can pick up the trail right in front of the hotel. When I finally returned to the hotel, I was warmly greeted by the front desk employee who shared with me the story of the canaries and the love story behind the Bolling Wilson Hotel. I slowly made my way back up to my room to find my breakfast waiting for me outside the door. The Bolling Wilson Hotel does something I’ve never seen before –
taking “breakfast in bed” to a whole new level. They provide these great little baskets that they fill up each morning with breakfast for guests. In all of my time in the hotel industry, I’ve never seen this before. What a great idea for a small place that also wants to accommodate breakfast for its guests!
We are so glad we discovered the Bolling Wilson Hotel and cannot wait to make it part of our yearly migration to the North Carolina coast!
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck