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Boston architect William Perry designed the inn with the Regency style in mind.
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The Historic Shops at Colonial Williamsburg sell handcrafted goods and home decor.
Drive east on I-64 for 45 minutes to Williamsburg to experience two distinctly different design styles — pre-Revolutionary downtown Colonial Williamsburg, juxtaposed with Colonial Williamsburg Inn's Regency style of early 19th-century England. The inn and the 301-acre living interpretation of the Colonial downtown offer plenty of design and art inspiration to complement the area's rich historical narrative.
The 62-room Colonial Williamsburg Inn (136 Francis St.), which opened in 1937, was built by the Rockefeller family. John D. Rockefeller's wife, Abby Aldrich, wanted the ambiance of an English country house so guests would feel as if they were staying at a second home rather than a hotel. The whitewashed brick exterior is characterized by large columns, arches and a portico entrance.
The lobby is arranged like a parlor or living room. Accented by 75-year-old furniture, fabrics have been replaced, and the original oversize oval floral rug has been replicated three times. Crystal chandeliers hang from ceilings and Federal mirrors line walls.
Historians, archivists and the inn's interior designer, Cheryl Griggs, strive to accurately reflect everything from wallpaper to draperies and furniture arrangements in keeping with the original décor. Throughout the inn, John James Audubon's prints and other original artwork adorn the walls.
Each of the 62 guest rooms are treated like bedrooms, with furniture like emerald-green velvet high-back chairs, writing desks, vanities and tri-fold vanity mirrors, bed frames, chests and nightstands. Some pieces were designed by the Rockefellers with Kittinger Furniture (the first licensed furniture manufacturer for Colonial Williamsburg).
The inn is truly authentic to Regency style, down to the smallest detail. Even the closets are wallpapered. Rooms include exquisite details like gold-leaf cornice boards and colored beading on the doors. "We are as authentic as we can get without compromising the comfort of our guests," says Griggs.
A five-minute stroll from the inn is Colonial Williamsburg Merchant's Square. The Cheese Shop (410 W. Duke of Gloucester St.) is a sandwich and gourmet food shop with an impressive wine cellar housed in the basement. Head next door to the Wythe Candy & Gourmet Shop (414 W. Duke of Gloucester St.) for a sweet fix, signature canned goods and pickled produce. Jars of homemade "kickles" (pickles with a kick), Vidalia onion relish, pecan-apple butter, banana split jam, and more are stocked in the back corner. Across the street, Williamsburg at Home (439 W. Duke of Gloucester St.) sells rugs, decorative pillows, bedding and coverlets, and porcelain painted lamps.
From there, walk a half-mile down Duke of Gloucester Street into the heart of the Historic Shops at Colonial Williamsburg. Swing into the John Greenhow Store (108 W. Duke of Gloucester St.) for 18th-century décor: creamware pottery, an assortment of teas, beeswax taper candles, brass candlesticks and glassware ranging from 8-ounce shrubs to wine balusters. The Prentis Store (214 E. Duke of Gloucester St.) sells handmade goods such as oak baskets, wool blankets and bird bottles (earthenware birdhouses), as well as hand-blown glass decanters, jugs and glasses. Across the street is the Post Office (304 E. Duke of Gloucester St.). Buy reproduced copies of the Virginia Gazette from 1775, botanical prints and maps of the Colonial downtown.
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum (326 W. Francis St.) are housed under the same roof, a half-mile down the road from the inn. Enter through the Public Hospital building and descend into the museums. The decorative arts museum carries décor and furniture from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The folk museum is a mix of portraits and landscapes of the early American South, as well as quilts, instruments, signage and hardware.