Take a step back in time, to a town nestled in the mountains of the George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Virginia. Here, you can enjoy the cozy and country charm of the Warm Springs at “The Inn at Gristmill Square“. The Inn is a unique bed and breakfast built from the 5 original 19th century historic buildings that were on the property and is home of the famous Waterwheel Restaurant. The Inn is also a member of the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia.
We arrived at the Inn at Gristmill Square and checked in with a friendly receptionist who not only showed us to our room, but also the magazines, games, and puzzles that we could use during our stay. The lobby was welcoming and free coffee was available for guests. I liked that the property was easily accessible, including the swimming pool, onsite restaurant, and neighboring spa. Parking was easy and there was plenty of spots. The rooms are located between the Hardware Store (where our Silo room was located), Miller’s House, Steele House, and the Blacksmith Shop. Each are unique in decor and offer free WIFI, local landline telephones, window AC, and breakfast.
Our room was in the Silo, a round bedroom with an enormous bathroom, featuring a 2 person jacuzzi tub. I loved the warm feel of the quaint yet spacious room, which offered a desk area, 2 wing-back chairs in front of the fireplace, and plush linens. The works of art on the walls were most interesting; pieces that had no similarities though complimented each other nicely. Thick handmade rugs on the floor were super soft and looked gorgeous against the hardwood floors, I would love to have taken one home with me! Our king size bed was incredibly comfortable and the separate bathroom, heavenly.
I loved the huge bathtub and later that day, I would soak my traveling aches away while reading the handful of brochures about Bath County I picked up in the lobby. There was a separate modern shower, private toilet, and complimentary toiletries, something I always enjoy trying out. The innkeepers were so thoughtful as they had a mini-fridge in the bathroom stocked with bottled water for us and even offered brown washcloths for removing make-up. How smart is that? I always hate defacing the white cloths in hotels but the Gristmill Square was clever enough to cover this base. Well done!
Each morning, breakfast is delivered to your room, which was a nice touch. A picnic basket filled with goodies, orange juice, water, and coffee are included with your stay and I was highly impressed with the thought and efforts that went into assembling each basket. One morning we had spinach cheese pastries and fresh fruit, while the second day we had homemade biscuits and jelly, sliced nut bread, and yogurt with granola served in the cutest little mason jars. I was delighted!
The inn offered plenty of outdoor seating for relaxing, socializing, and enjoying the fresh mountain air. I was fond of the small wrought iron tables that restaurant guests used for sipping their wine of the evenings. Beautiful, blooming flowers were found in nooks and crannies throughout the property, which was pristinely cared for.
We booked a reservation at the onsite restaurant, the Waterwheel, which is a converted mill that now houses a gourmet restaurant and Simon Kenton pub. Upon arriving at dinner, I was completely bowled over. From the white starched tablecloths to the upscale menu and wine list; from the professionalism of the waitstaff to the fresh flowers on the tables, not a stone was left unturned for providing an exceptional dining occasion.
My daughter Peyton and I began our meal with French onion soup, served in small crocks and topped with creamy Gruyere cheese. We were offered fresh baked bread, with real butter, and a salad wrapped together with a thin slice of cucumber that was too pretty to eat, though it did not stop me. For dinner, Peyton chose the Pappardelle Bolognese while I opted for the Faroe Islands Salmon with asparagus and basil & citrus risotto. Both dinners arrived, plated beautifully, and after our first bites, there was utter silence while we both savored these amazing dishes. The salmon was spectacular, with a crusty herb topping, and the slow cooked risotto was just how I like it. Peyton’s pasta was sinfully delicious and creamy; an irresistible Bolognese recipe. Simply put, both meals were up there as two of my favorites of 2015.
Later, our waiter delivered our desserts and that was the “icing on the cake”. Peyton opted for the flourless chocolate cake that was paired with caramel sauce, coffee ice cream, and compressed strawberries. Peyton 1; cake 0. My carrot cake was a deconstructed version, with the cake being muffin sized, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, heavily drizzled with a cream cheese icing, and a creative bit of peanut brittle stuck in the top of the cake. Picture me with my eyes rolling back in my head and my palate doing a happy dance with every bite of this ingenious and fantastic dessert. I later learned that the carrot cake recipe belongs to a long term kitchen employee; how special is that? It was in the top 5 desserts of my life!
After dinner, I had a chance to chat with innkeeper John, who was incredibly kind and attentive to all of his guests. He seems to subscribe to the same “Ritz Carlton” method of customer service that both my husband and I do, where dazzling the guest and making each one feel like top priority is top priority. I can see why he and his wife, Kate, have been successful in their hospitality careers. Though I did not meet Kate, I know through emailing her that she is equally as passionate and happy with her life as an innkeeper and owner as John. I wish them all the best in the future with this rustic slice of paradise, where relaxation meets elegance and thank them for hosting Peyton and I.
Check out my other post about Bath County, Virginia here.