It’s such a common knock against bed-and-breakfast inns that it’s almost a cliche: The owners are just too chatty. While you’re eating breakfast, on your way out to the gardens, as you come back from dinner — they’re always there, ready with some small talk.
This was not a problem at the Mark Addy Inn in Nellysford, Va. If anything, the place seemed almost too quiet.
There were signs that the staff would be unobtrusive even before I arrived: I called several times to ask about a reservation for dinner at the inn, but nobody answered the phone. When a woman finally did pick up, she said that she’d have to check with the chef. A few hours later, she called back. Dinner wouldn’t be served that Friday night.
My initial disappointment at not being able to say that I’d stayed at a bed-and-dinner (I’d be missing breakfast the next morning because of an early appointment) faded when the employee asked whether she could make me a dinner reservation at a spot just down the road. Yes, please.
I met my friendly concierge in person the next day. She gave me a quick tour of the inn, which sits on the grounds of an estate that once belonged to a friend of Thomas Jefferson’s. The high point, however, was the introduction to Baby, the resident parrot who doesn’t talk but “likes to flirt.” There was no sign of the married couple who own the inn.
I’d chosen the bedroom called Rue de Monet as my quarters for the night because I’ve had a soft spot for the Impressionist painter since my teen years. Reproductions of his pieces hung on sunny yellow walls. A few postcards rested on the mantel. Even the box of tissues had an almost artistic pattern to it. And mon cheri, look at that lovely scarf so charmingly tossed onto the coat rack. (Less charming was the stained bedding in need of replacement. It was late by the time I noticed it, so I stretched out on the top sheet. A plea to B&B operators: Play “secret sleeper” sometime and see everything a guest would.)
I didn’t have too much time, though, to fixate on the room. I needed to dash off to meet a co-worker at nearby Wintergreen Resort, and then we had a dinner reservation to keep.
The meal at Basic Necessities was a success. Even though I’d been to the area several times, I hadn’t known about this cafe plus wine-and-cheese shop, so I appreciated the recommendation.
When we returned to the inn, it was as quiet as when I’d left it. Until I tried to go to sleep, whereupon the wind suddenly picked up, rattling the windows and whipping the awning over the patio below. And all at once, the place sounded a bit like a zoo. The resident cat seemed intent on making up for the lack of conversation so far. It had a knack for meowing just as I was on the cusp of passing out. I may have heard the bird, too.
Early in the morning, I padded down to the guest kitchen to retrieve my to-go breakfast. It pained me to miss the sit-down meal, but it was clear that my package had been put together with care. I ate the container of yogurt and some fruit, saving the small cheese wheels and muffin for an afternoon snack.
My daybreak rendezvous at Wintergreen got me out the door before anyone else was stirring, meaning that I had to make a return trip about eight hours later to pick up my receipt. Again, silence reigned. It was just me and the parrot.
I stood in the lobby and called the inn’s number on my cellphone — multiple times — with no success. My hunt for an employee drove me outdoors (maybe someone was gardening?), prompting a pleasant tour of the grounds, including a stop by the chicken yard.
Eventually the host answered the phone and came downstairs to give me my paperwork. What could I do but shrug? It’s hard to argue with a little more peaceful time in the country.
The Mark Addy Inn
56 Rodes Farm Dr.
Rooms from $129.
A bi-weekly staff review of East Coast and regional lodgings