“Cccllliiikkk. Cccllliiikkk” The rhythmic clicking of a small bird outside our window dragged us from our deep slumber. The golf course was covered in a dense, humid haze rising off the vegetation – like a smoke in the Shenandoah hills. The magnificent Keswick Hall at Monticello resort is a reminder of grand Southern living, debutante balls and the ladies who lunch.
The little village of Keswick, Virginia is a throwback to a bygone era. The village has a main street and a handful of businesses. Keswick’s claim to fame is that it was featured in the 1956 film Giant starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and Dennis Hopper. The little downtown is about a little over a mile from the resort on a dirt road.
This was a “bucket list” trip for us. We love grand hotels and always search them out on our travels. A few years ago, Laura encountered a picture in a magazine of a yellow hotel built in a Tuscan style nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We knew we had to go there.
In 2013, we were surprised to find a two-night stay at Keswick Hall being offered in an annual charity raffle. We bid resort package and won! And did we ever win…this resort is amazing!
One of the highlights of our visit to Keswick Hall at Monticello was the historical tour of the grounds. It was part historical lesson and part society gossip column. Originally built by Mr. Robert B. Crawford in 1912, the Villa Crawford manor house and the 300+ acre grounds were his castle in life.
But sometimes, life doesn’t have a happy ending. In 1917, Mr. Crawford leaves the home…and his wife, passing away two years later. For 35 years, the Villa Crawford was a private residence and different owners – and more than a few mysteries and unhappy endings. Since 1948, the site has been a country club and now the resort known is Keswick Hall at Monticello. The historical tour was a fascinating glimpse into southern society!
This makes the perfect base to explore Central Virginia. On our first day, we headed to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home for a behind-the-scenes tour. Of all the former Presidential homes, Monticello is probably the grandest, both in terms of design and location. Monticello is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States and a place I’ve wanted to visit for years – it was worth the wait!
“Wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health…” Thomas Jefferson
Our second day in Central Virginia took us to vineyards. Right before the American Revolution, young Thomas Jefferson oversaw the planting of grape vines near his Monticello estate in 1774. With that act, the New World wine industry was born. Today, a number of fantastic wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail are producing smart white and bold red varietals. We bought up about 10 or bottles and brought them home with us.
Whether you love golf and tennis or gourmet dining and fine wine, you can enjoy the fine Southern living at Keswick Hall!
Keswick Hall at Monticello
The Restaurants: The resort has a number of restaurants to accommodate resort visitors. The fine-dining restaurant is called Fossett’s and serves innovative, contemporary cuisine in a formal environment. We enjoyed rock shrimp and noodles in a mushroom broth; chocolate cherry bread from the local Abermerle Bakery; and a giant Bison rib eye steak.
The less formal Fossett’s Bar serves specialty cocktails and bar food, along with the full menu from Fossett’s. The hamburger at Fossett’s Bar is a piece of artistic perfection! The Villa Crawford, named for the original manor house, serves a nice lunch buffet spread and is packed daily with the ladies who lunch. And there’s poolside dining.
The reality of Keswick Hall, is that each of these restaurant spaces flows into each other so you don’t know when you’re leaving one and going into the other (particularly on the terrace). We just picked where we wanted to sit and ordered whatever we wanted off the various menus. All of the food was excellent!
The Concierge: The front desk is staffed 24-hours per day with helpful staff. During the day, a concierge was on-site.
The Spa and Recreational Facilities: This is a resort in every sense of the word. Everywhere you look, you see the massive Pete Dye Full Cry at Keswick Hall golf course. For non-golfers, there’s a tennis and aquatics center. The resort also offers fly fishing, hot air ballooning, archery (yes..archery) and croquet. Naturally, a full-service spa is available. We opted to spend our time at the horizon pool!
The Rooms: Rooms at Keswick Hall are divided between the historic rooms in the original Villa Crawford manor house and the newer rooms in adjoining wing. We stayed in Room 9 – the original master bedroom of Villa Crawford. The room had a large bed, sitting area, and a private patio that overlooked both the horizon pool and the Pete Dye golf course.
The WiFi: The room had excellent wifi service.
The Television: There is a large-screen TV in the bedroom and we caught a football game while sipping cocktails from the Fossett’s Bar downstairs.
The Bathroom: The crisp white and sky blue bathroom was spacious and featured a large shower/bathtub. The bathroom looked out on the horizon pool below.
The Amenities: The property features amenities by Molton Brown.
The Cost: Rooms start around $279 per night. We won our two-night stay in a charity raffle.
The Location: The resort is located about 9 miles east of downtown Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. It is just north of the I-64 highway near many local wineries. Keswick Hall is located 7 miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home.
The Transportation: The resort is best accessed via private car. There is ample parking at the resort and the staff will gladly valet your car.
The Airport Transfer: The resort is located 16 miles from the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO). Richmond International Airport (RIC) is slightly larger and is about 72 miles away. The nearest major airport is Washington Dulles (IAD), which is 98 miles away.
The Website: https://www.keswick.com/
Keswick Hall Review
The Tuscan-inspired Villa Crawford has evolved over the last 100 years into this majestic resort. In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and nestled among the wineries of the Monticello Wine Trail, this one of America’s grand country resorts.