Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing winter the way it should be experienced, relaxing during a bucolic getway at Airlie in Warrenton, VA. The funny thing is it was a bit of an accident.
I booked an Amarone wine tasting for my husband for his birthday, The American Wine Society tasting was at one of our favorite Virginia vineyards at Pearmund. It was on Sunday before Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday. We accidentally booked the hotel reservation at Airlie for Saturday night. We showed up at the winery wondering where everyone was. Oops! Fortunately for us Airlie was right down the road and it was their winter rates. We booked another night and were able to fully enjoy a long weekend getaway, when it was 2 degrees below freezing. Here are some pics from the weekend.
The main Airlie House / checkin area
Love is in the air and on the hillside
Topiary Love Knot Garden
Airlie’s Main Beautiful Dining Room.
We only ate breakfast in the main dining room. It was a glorious setting with morning light streaming in and Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra seranading us. The majority of this space was reserved other times for two wedding parties while we were there.
Instead, we headed down the side steps to Harry’s, where we ate at least four delectibal meals. I’m still craving the juicy seared pork chop with sweet potato puree and delicious brussell sprouts. I wish I had taken a picture.
Mural walk to Harry’s
Trompe l’oeil detail
Reward: many rounds of their Manhattan Slings in tribute to non-prohibition days
Harry’s is names after Harry Connelly Groome, the original owner of Airlie.
Just outside the bar doors is a lovely pond and fountain. Most of it was frozen except at the center. We saw geese crossing over to where they could swim.
Signs guide you
Main pond and fountain
Lobby in Lodge
There are many things to do at Airlie, including a lot of weddings. There were two different wedding parties while we were there.
You can enjoy a firepit with friends, play archery (in warmer months), walk the many paths, take bikes to other cottages to workout or play pool. We rode bikes to these and their organic farm. It was frigid and I couldn’t feel my face much less my fringers in the 2-degree below cold. I wouldn’t advice riding in this extreme cold but it was a fun adventure.
You can reserve an organic dinner with friends in the garden and under the stars. How romantic and memorable it would be! The uncanny thing is this is the very dinner I’ve been wanting to do through Vermilion, one of our favorite restaurants. Airlie is one of the farms that provides their produce and where you can book a farm to table dining experience.
Organic Farm Table Experience
Under the Stars
We had so much fun relaxing at Airlie that we were starting to feel transported with the sensation of being back at Sewanee, sitting on the porch, watching the shadows shift as time just drifted by. I caught up on some journal writing.
However, I neglected to take pictures of the wine tasting but you can read more about our previous experiences at Pearmund. Tomassi is a brand that usually never disappoints and we were happy to have it at the tasting. What a Airlie way to experience winter and a wonderful birthday celebration.
Let’s start by saying “Happy New Year!!” and this post actually isn’t just another day at the White House but a part two tour — of the West Wing.
Disclaimer: There are actually no pictures of the interior of the West Wing of the White House that were taken during the tour in this post. They are not allowed.
Our Christmas Eve tour started out at what I always affectionately call “DC’s Haunted House” but is actually the Eisenhower Executive Office Building,* also known as the “Old” Executive Office Building or EEOB or EOB for short. There are “newer” townhouses that are also a part of the EOB that were built across the street. There was a two-tier, tight security process to enter the well-guarded grounds, as only someone who works in The White House can register visitors for this type of tour.
*(Click the link above to scroll to see interesting facts about this building at the bottom.)
Obama’s White House tour site has great archived photos all around, so check back here for a thorough visual synopsis of this post and then some.
Our friend is one of the Chiefs of Staff for one of the commissions that advises the President. This was a great present and opportunity for us to see where she works and where the President, Vice President and other high-ranking government officials work in the West Wing of the White House, along with offices in the EOB. We were happy that our son and his wife decided to join us.
The following pictures have their descriptions below each photo.
Exterior of The Old Executive Office Building
Interior of the EOB. In any other scenario the colors would be garish!
Polished, patterned-diamond-marble floors oddly remind me of Alice in Wonderland
The Indian War Room – where treaties are signed and Cabinet meet
George Washington and Victoriana at their best
Incredible design detailing in every room, including the ceilings
Beautiful golden-swathed plaster walls nearly looks like Venetian Plaster
Detail of hand-scalloped plaster walls
Most likely wallpaper, as are the walls but truly spectacular
View from exterior portico of EOB, heading to West Wing
Since we couldn’t take any pictures inside the West Wing, it is worth describing that everyone in our group noticed how small the halls and how low the ceilings were. My guess is that they are barely seven feet tall, only because I could almost touch them with my hand. I’m short too but they were definitely shorter than eight feet tall, the ceiling height in my house. I wonder if the President and the First Lady have to bend down when they enter?!
The halls were decorated as if you were in a traditional home or hotel with antique furniture and collector’s paintings — in a more “comfortable but stately” way than you see depicted in almost every film about The White House.
The White House “Mess” is more like a small fancy, four-star restaurant. Most all White House staff and members eat here. It is surprisingly “cozy” and stately with its Navy tribute theme. You can take another “virtual” tour of inside the White House via the link above.
via Inside the White House Mess via President Barak Obama
The Oval Office was, however, characteristically “huge” with the tallest ceilings and the most light. It was unexpectedly understated but beautifully designed with President Reagan’s rug while President Trump’s is being made. Each President designs their individual rug. I like the stylish peach and gold colors and the fact that Trump has pictures of his parents on his desk. Otherwise, this and all the rooms were reflective of the People’s offices.
The last time we did a similar tour was in 2005, when another friend was working in The White House under President George W. Bush. It was after 9-11 and security was understandably tight but we were still able to take this picture outside of the West Wing along the corridor made famous by other Presidents as they are shown walking during reflective moments during perhaps tumultuous times of their leadership.
The White House West Wing corridor, Christmas 2005
This image of Reagan walking the same West Wing corridor in the same direction is from The White House Museum, where you can see other Presidents walking the same path.
President Reagan walking White House West Wing Corridor via White House Museum
We were able to take a family picture outside of the White House as you exit, under the Presidential Seal.
More current family pic with Libby, Piers’ wife, Piers, myself & Peter
From here, we walked to the Press Office. Even though it has been renovated (in 2014) since we were last there, its exceptionally small footprint has not changed.
Walking to the White House Press Office
Interesting Behavioral Age study: Peter takes a picture of one of the news correspondent’s chair (names are below). Libby takes a selfie.
This was taken from the back 7th row with 7 seats across = can only seat 49! Camera Crews are set up behind the chairs.
We walked back to the EOB to collect any bags we had. When inside, I should mention, don’t forget to look up at the beautiful stain glass ceilings. They bring in light and ornate decoration.
Just one of many EOB Stained Glass Ceilings
Wow! Just wonderful!
A view with people give the perspective of how large this ceiling is
After a great tour and cold day with family and friends, we each went home to enjoy our Christmas Eve separately. Ours was at Grace Church.