What: A Richmond landmark since 1895, The Jefferson Hotel hides a host of unique amenities behind its Beaux-Arts façade—all the way up to the rooftop beehive where the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s chefs harvest fresh honey. In the lobby, a Tiffany glass rotunda soars over a 19th-century statue of Thomas Jefferson. Upstairs, plush guest rooms are outfitted with antique furnishings, silk draperies, marble baths and, in some cases, original fireplaces. But this is history with a twist. Touches such as stainless-steel appliances in the presidential suite and easy-access Wi-Fi set The Jefferson firmly in the 21st century. And signature restaurant Lemaire is a destination for locals and visitors alike; most ingredients are Virginia grown (if not sourced from the rooftop hive or onsite garden) and dishes like North Carolina trout with collard greens and tobacco onions show off their Southern roots and The Jefferson’s sense of place.
Where: The hotel is located in the heart of Richmond, just blocks from the financial district and Virginia State Capitol, with Richmond International Airport less than 10 miles away. There are plenty of restaurants, theaters and galleries nearby, as The Jefferson stands on the edge of the newly established Richmond Arts and Cultural District. Carytown shopping and nightlife at Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom are only 10 minutes away by car; and The Jefferson’s complimentary house car will whisk you anywhere in the downtown area between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (last pickup is 10:45 p.m.), giving you plenty of time to explore all that Richmond has to offer.
When: The historic hotel opened in 1895 and received its first Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award in 2001. And to really immerse yourself in The Jefferson, book a stay during the spring. Richmond is a lovely springtime destination that bursts with blooms in April and May. Virginia celebrates its 80th annual Historic Garden Week this year from April 20 to 27, and Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden—named after The Jefferson’s founder—will celebrate with an April 24 soiree in its historic Bloemendaal House. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s Historic Garden Week package includes treats such as a Garden Week guidebook and a floral arrangement from the Blooms at The Jefferson shop.
Why: Though The Jefferson Hotel’s impeccable service is timeless, the hotel exudes luxury of another era that’s hard to come by anywhere else. History buffs will be fascinated by the lobby museum that features photos of famous guests from Teddy Roosevelt to Elvis Presley. Film lovers will be dazzled by the grand staircase, which is said to have inspired the set decorators of Gone with the Wind. Architecture aficionados will gape at the arches designed by Carrère and Hastings (also masterminds of the lion-flanked New York Public Library). And anyone who loves a good travel tale will appreciate the stories of alligators that once roamed the Palm Court Lobby—and that serve as the mascots of Lemaire today.
Photos Courtesy of The Jefferson Hotel