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The Getaway: The Jefferson Hotel

The Getaway: The Jefferson Hotel
Written by Erin Byers Murray | Photos courtesy of The Jefferson Hotel

A Festive Affair

Walking into the Jefferson Hotel is a grand event any day of the year. After pulling into the stone-paved drive around a historic fountain, you arrive inside the striking Beaux-Arts lobby, which is punctuated by ornate marble pillars wrapped in a palm-frond motif under a stained-glass skylight. At the end of the room, a dramatic thirty-six-step marble staircase adds glamour. But when the holidays come around, this 125-year old Richmond, Virginia, landmark turns into an eye-catching wonderland accented by hundreds of yards of garland, bows, and twinkle lights, as well as a thirty-foot tree set atop a three-foot base. A team of decorators outfit the space with one hundred wreaths and poinsettias, and several smaller trees around the property.

Originally built in 1895, the Jefferson has long been a community icon, even through the years of World War II when it was used to house army recruits, and later, in the 1980s when, while it was closed, the ballroom played set to the film My Dinner with Andre. Now owned by a local investor group, the hotel has seen major reconstruction and updates; today, you’ll find stately guest rooms outfitted with muted tones, overstuffed chairs, and marbled bathrooms complete with soaking tubs. A stay here should include a stroll around the hotel to discover gems like the indoor pool lit up by an overhead skylight; the Palm Court, wrapped in stained glass; and the elegant Lemaire Restaurant where chef Patrick Willis sources many Virginia ingredients for the New American menu—go for the crispy Chesapeake Bay oysters over a bed of ham bits and pickled vegetables.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD: You’re in the heart of downtown Richmond, close to the museum district, galleries, parks, and the river, as well as the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, whose namesake was also the founder of the hotel. Get to know the city’s public art and murals as you stroll to one of many downtown restaurants, like the colorful and artsy L’Opossum for playful dishes like escargot with a ham biscuit.

THE VIBE: Grandeur and grace, accented by the hotel’s historic architecture and art collection as well as thoughtful design details.

THE DIGS: While the public spaces are show-stopping, especially this time of year, the guest rooms feel classic with dark wood furnishings, gold tufted headboards, and floor-length drapes in tans and neutrals with blue accents.

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