For many, the ingredients for a romantic weekend often include these cliché components: sun, sand, and cocktails. This would, of course, lead one to believe that the only way to be intimate with your partner and enjoy an ultra-romantic holiday is to hop on a plane to the Caribbean and indulge in fruity cocktails with pink umbrellas while sunning oneself on the beach. While there is truth to the idea that sun, sand, and cocktails—fruity ones, please—work in conjunction to create the ultimate aphrodisiac, there’s something to be said about a rustic getaway to a city steeped in history and which has now become a foodie and music destination. Charlottesville, Virginia—oft overshadowed by Washington D.C., which is about two hours away from this quaint and colorful college town—truly epitomizes a romantic getaway. And said romantic vacation for two begins at the intimate seventeen-room Relais & Chateaux property, Clifton Inn. Set on 100 stunning, pastoral acres, Clifton exudes romance from the minute you drive on property up the winding, gravel road to the inn. Perched on the top of a hill with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a picturesque backdrop, sits the more than 200-year-old inn, which was built and used by Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., son-in-law of Thomas Jefferson. The setting—which includes an infinity pool with views of the mountains and a gorgeous lake that serves as the perfect spot for a romantic afternoon picnic or morning stroll—makes for a romantic getaway but the accommodations are what often draw couples to Clifton. The private, stand-alone cottages are where couples will want to stay for a luxurious night for two. The 730-square-foot Carriage House (from $395 per night) boasts a loft bedroom complete with king-size bed and a sitting area that’s so comfortable you’ll want to cuddle up together in front of the fire with a glass of wine or bourbon. Though likely made for one, the antique claw foot tub in the Monticello Suite (from $295 per night) makes for a luxurious bubble bath for two after a day of indulging at the local wineries and breweries. For foodies, though, the dining at Clifton might be the most romantic aspect of all. While the dining room and verandah are certainly intimate spots for dinner, easily the most exciting seat in the house is at the chef’s counter—a six-person bar situated directly in the kitchen where guests have a direct view of each course being prepared not to mention access to executive chef, Tucker Yoder, and his team. As each course—often paired with wines—is served, Chef Yoder will explain how dish such as wood roasted beets with beet green crème fraiche, cured duck and Asian pears is prepared before you dive into a culinary whirlwind of extraordinary flavors. The experience alone is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Clifton Inn is not the obvious choice for romance—after all, there’s not much sun, sand, and fruity cocktails—but that’s also what makes it so fitting for an intimate getaway. The unassuming inn is so quiet and peaceful that you and your partner can reconnect without the need of a five-hour flight to a Caribbean island. Consider the fruity cocktail a glass of Virginia wine—sans the umbrella.
GETTING THERE: Charlottesville is about a five-hour drive from Charlotte. US Airways also flies from Charlotte to Charlottesville.