I love a good weekend getaway—don’t we all. The inspiration for our weekend getaway content is to encourage one another (and you Bitches) to take advantage of the people little towns and spectacular cities just a few hours from Washington. For me, one of the main draws of D.C was its proximity to nature and running trails, plus the Virginia countryside. Virginia is packed with charming little towns that have charming inns, adorable vineyards, loads of history, and great hikes. Of course, there’s Middleburg and Charlottesville, but also teeny tiny towns like Sperryville, which is outside of Shenandoah National Park.
When I heard my Aussie boyfriend had yet to explore Virginia, aside from Arlington, I was horrified. I booked us for a weekend getaway at the Townsman, a boutique hotel right on the Charlottesville downtown mall. As we both are able to work remotely, we planned for a Sunday hike in Shenandoah National Park followed by two nights in Charlottesville.
After hiking Old Rag in just four hours, we drove a quick hour through Virginia’s beautiful country roads to Charlottesville. Sweaty and achy, we were pleased that the Townsman is a check-in free hotel. There’s no concierge, you receive your information and key codes via email, and simply let yourself in. No waiting a desk making small talk. Pull out your phone and you’re in. It was simple and efficient.
The three-floor, boutique hotel has four charming, individually decorated rooms. It has a vintage vibe with classic décor: leather couches, dark wooden furniture, and old fashioned light fixtures. The bed was incredibly plush and comfy—we slept like rocks both nights.
The Townsman is a speakeasy style hotel, which was the theme of our weekend. Hidden in plain sight with a very small sign, the Townsman is easy to miss. And we did: we walked right by it. After freshening up, we headed out to a speakeasy style restaurant, the Alley Light. (Noticing a trend?)
Just around the corner, the Alley Light is marked only by a light in a dirty, empty alley. Inside, lies a beautiful, low-lit restaurant with black-and-white tile, and a beautiful, long wooden bar. It’s as if you’ve stepped back in time and are in a 1920s bar and brasserie in France. It certainly doesn’t feel like Virginia. We started with cocktails: a grapefruit whiskey confection for my gent and an Aperol Spritz for me. Both were beautifully crafted. It’s surprisingly easy to screw up an Aperol Spritz—but this cocktail was heaven.
The food at Alley Light is absolutely divine—we oohed and ahhed over each bite, ordered far too much, ate it all, and then had to refrain from licking our fingers. We began with the fresh ricotta with asparagus and spring peas—served with fresh French bread. It could not have been more perfect. We also tried a crab and asparagus appetizer that was heaven.
The beef tenderloin with a carrot puree, roasted beets, and leafy greens was pure decadence. The meat was beyond moist and tender, and the carrot puree was like nothing we’ve experienced. The filet of halibut was massive, and served in a saffron vanilla broth, with mussels, fingerling potatoes, and roasted fennel.
We were in heaven, and so utterly full, but we knew we had to order dessert. The Mr. Rehn is named for a Parisian pastry chef whom the original Alley Light admires. This monsieur must have been a great guy, because the cookie confection named of him was unreal. It was made of two massive thick, caramelized cookies – the type of cookie that is so gooey that the chocolate chips and dough blend together into a chewy confection. Between the two was a fluffy custard that was not quite ice cream, not quite pastry cream, but something in between. This sweet dairy deliciousness does not, apparently, have a formal term. We were speechless.
The following day, we made our way to Common House, a brand-new, members-only club for creatives, a la SoHo House. The beau is a member of SoHo House, so we often visit them to work and dine on our various trips. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Charlottesville had a similar concept, and that we had access to the club as guests of the Townsman. In keeping with the speakeasy trend for our getaway, the Common House is deliberately hidden in plain sight—it’s members only, of course. We knocked on the door and were greeted by a bubbly young lady, who checked us in and gave us a tour of the three-level property. Downstairs, there’s an expansive co-working space: a beautiful, large room with high ceilings, beautiful wood flooring, and plenty of tables, seating, and outlets. Plus, complimentary coffee, water, and WiFi. Upstairs, there is the most stunning restaurant. Filled with natural light, the chic restaurant had beautiful marble high tops, white oak tables with white seating, and memorable, natural light fixtures over Edison bulbs. The black-and-white tile floor and Picasso-esque paintings on the wall adding a playful modernity to the sleek design for added interest. I so wished this was my kitchen.
We took our breakfast on the Common House’s beautiful roof deck that overlooks downtown Charlottesville. The restaurant offered all the basic Bitch essentials: iced lattes, green smoothies, and avocado toast. All beautifully executed and presented by friendly servers.
After a day of work, we spent the late afternoon strolling the UVA Campus. Charlottesville is known for its vineyards, Monticello, UVA campus, and its incredible dining. While we didn’t make it to Monticello or the vineyards this visit, we did take a stroll through campus, pausing to lounge on one another in the grass like undergrads. The difference being that, as adults, we had far more responsibility and actually pulled out the WiFi to take care of some work fires whilst lounging. That said, I highly recommend Monticello.
And, if you head out to the vineyards, the Bitches love the following Charlottesville area wineries. (Get them in our Charlottesville Guide.)
– Barboursville Vineyard, 17655 Winery Rd, Barboursville, VA. (540) 832-3824.
–King Family Vineyards, 6550 Roseland Farm, Crozet, Virginia 22932, (434) 823-7800.
– Jefferson Vineyards, 1353 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA. (434) 977-3042.
– Pippin Hill, 5022 Plank Rd, North Garden, VA 22959. (434) 202-8063.
–Veritas Vineyard & Winery, 151 Veritas Lane, Afton, VA 22920. (540) 456-8000.
The other two restaurants we visited on our trip: C&O and Public Fish and Oyster should be on the list of must-visit restaurants in Charlottesville. C&O is a classic Charlottesville restaurant with incredible, fresh Franco-American fare. Depending on your preference, the cozy downstairs bar or the courtyard patio are perfect for top-notch cocktails, and the duck confit gnocchi is a must-order.
Meanwhile, Public Fish & Oyster offers a killer oyster happy hour in a beautiful setting, as well as delicious moules frites and friendly service. We loved the marinara mussels, fresh oysters, crisp white wine, and the killer key lime pie to conclude.
The essentials for a Charlottesville weekend getaway.
– The Townsman Hotel, 211 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA.
– Common House, 206 West Market Street, Charlottesville, VA.
– The Alley Light, 108 2nd Street S.W., Charlottesville, VA.
– C & O Restaurant, 515 Water Street S.E., Charlottesville, VA.
– Pubic Fish & Oyster House, 513 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA.