Platinum List 2019: Best Inns
Farmhouse Inn, The Inn at Erlowest, The Inn at Little Washington
In New York and Virginia, these unique properties offer acclaimed fare and bucolic charm.
Forestville, California, United States
Boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant, Francis & Alexander spa services and VIP access to Sonoma County’s best wineries, the 25-room Farmhouse Inn ticks every box for a high-end Wine Country getaway, but with a notable difference: pretension-free approachability. “We’ve got a quirky team, from the front of the house to the back,” says Catherine Bartolomei, who bought and shaped the property with her brother, Joe, in 2001. The two are fifth-generation Forestville natives—Catherine currently lives on their great-grandfather’s property down the road, where he grew grapes and hosted lively gatherings of family and friends.
“My great-grandmother would cook, and my great-grandfather would play the concertina,” she says. “The attic was full of beds!”
Recapturing that feeling of bonhomie was integral to the Bartolomeis’ vision for the Farmhouse, with a decided dose of timeless, European sophistication. Butter-yellow exteriors may give the impression of a barn, but interiors capture a clean country aesthetic, with bright white linens, four-poster beds and indoor-outdoor fireplaces. Showcasing local bounty is the guiding ethos here, from the restaurant, which features eggs from Joe’s ranch, to the spa, which utilizes his honey and apples from the Farmhouse property.
The siblings’ local cred also allows them to share the best Sonoma has to offer through daily wine tastings, as well as programs granting guests access to unique experiences. “Luxury doesn’t have to be gilded,” Catherine says. “It can be riding in the back of our friend’s pickup through his vineyard.”
Still, once you arrive, it’s awfully hard to leave the Farmhouse. As I sit poolside, cold glass of rosé in hand and a tasting with MacRostie winery on the patio fast approaching, I turn to my husband and ask, “Can we just stay forever?” Thankfully, there’s no need to leave come dinnertime—the Farmhouse Restaurant, featuring chef Steve Litke’s creative, seasonal tasting menus, has been a major draw since the hotel opened, with consistent Michelin stars year after year.
We enjoy meltingly tender morsels of rare king salmon, caught just off the coast and paired with a bright, yet rich, Foxen chenin blanc, and the restaurant’s signature Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit, a three-part punch of flavor showcasing rabbit loin, rack and confit leg. Hard as it is to skip dessert, we have pressing after-dinner plans—s’mores by the firepit, featuring housemade vanilla marshmallows. Turning our forks over the flames, we reconnect with a couple we’d met during the afternoon’s wine tasting, comparing notes on our dinners. For Catherine, that feeling of easy connection, inspired by her great-grandparents’ gatherings, is what the Farmhouse Inn is all about.
Washington, Virginia, United States
This celebrated Relais & Châteaux property has 23 rooms and suites of varying sizes, all appointed with exuberant flair. Presiding over the famed kitchen is James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Patrick O’Connell, who concocts three tasting menus each evening.
Lake George, New York, United States
This 1898 Queen Anne castle houses ten sumptuous guest rooms and has its own farm-to-table restaurant (try the rabbit ragout with cavatelli).