Sometimes you don’t have to get out of town to get away. Just heading to downtown Lynchburg and stepping into the lobby of The Virginian Hotel, with its marble floors and the sound of jazz standards swinging through the air, can temporarily whisk you away to a place of style, comfort, and modern convenience.
History & significance
The Virginian is the first hotel in the state to receive the elite distinction as a member of the boutique Hilton Curio Collection. While it may be new to Hilton, the hotel has a long history here in the Hill City; the building located on Church Street between 7th and 8th Streets opened on April 30, 1913. For fifty years, it served travelers and locals alike. In the 1970s, the space functioned as housing for Lynchburg Baptist College, then as Section 8 housing for more than forty years before succumbing to a brief span of vacancy. This past May, after nearly four years of renovation, The Virginian returned to its initial purpose, almost 105 years after its premier opening date.
Developers George Stanley and Blair Godsey have been active in downtown revitalization projects, but this is their first hotel. When they purchased the property in 2014, “It was in really, really bad shape. It took a lot of work,” recalls Dennis Marcinik, general manager. “All of the bones of the building are original, as are all of the marble and the wood flooring on the second floor, but everything else had to be replaced, including the windows.” Stanley’s construction group, Cityscape, did the actual renovation. “They are great hands-on owners. It was a labor of love, and expectations are high,” Marcinik says. Shelley Simpson, catering manager, adds that many features of the grand ballroom (which was the original lobby) are authentic to the building. “They only had to refurbish the marble. And both the staircase and the Corinthian columns are original,” she says, pointing out the “V” inscribed at the top of each column.
Cameron Harris, the principal interior designer, created an elevated sense of sophistication throughout the space by considering its history and original era. Thus, Art Deco reigns supreme everywhere, from the sumptuous furnishing to the Jazz Age-typography on room numbers and restaurant menus. Glamorous gilded mirrors, elaborate light fixtures, and luxe leather feature prominently. Glass lamps in shades of amethyst, ruby, and emerald present punches of color against the sleek palette of black, white, and gray.
The hotel is true to its name, celebrating the Commonwealth from the ground floor up. Marcinik explains, “It was important to the owners and important to us to have many touches that represent Virginia.” (Stanley and Godsey are both from Virginia—Richmond and Lynchburg, respectively.)
Unlike other hotel gift shops, The Virginian’s performs as a luxury retail shop that stars Moore & Giles products along with artisanal chocolates and jewelry. The gift shop is only the beginning of a Virginian journey at this hotel. Step into the library and you’ll find Virginia-centric authors and titles. Discover the mural of famous Lynchburgers and Virginians prominent during the civil rights era, and the quirky, fun paintings depicting James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington (playing cards) along with Patsy Cline and Roy Clark.
In another nod to the birthplace of our nation, all of the special event rooms are named for mothers of Virginian presidents. Head into the Eleanor Rose Gallery (named for James Madison’s mother) to catch which Virginian artist has work on display. Marcinik explains, “Local galleries will be providing some of the art, which will likely rotate on a seasonal basis.”
Speaking of art, the framed images hanging in the guest rooms are a step above the ordinary—from colorful abstracts to cheerful fields of poppies, it’s the kind of artwork you’d find in a gallery or in your own home, not the typical ‘hotel art’ you might find elsewhere. Even the mattresses are regional—provided by Kingsdown and made exclusively for this hotel.
In addition to luxurious decor, each guest room features blackout curtains, bath slippers and robes, and 55-inch TVs. Standard rooms are doubles with queen beds; other room options include king rooms, deluxe rooms, two-room suites, deluxe suites, and the Presidential Suite. Outfitted by Moore & Giles, this 750 square foot, penthouse-style space includes a leathertufted headboard and bench, soaking tub, custom bedding, a wet bar, granite countertops, a soaking tub, and a dining area. The hotel compendium (in-room directory), also designed by Moore & Giles, notes all of Lynchburg’s great cultural contributions.
Both guests and local visitors can enjoy the choice of three dining establishments within the hotel. Operated by the Parry Restaurant Group, who brought us Bootleggers, El Jefe Taqueria, and My Dog Duke’s Diner, The Virginian boasts their latest offerings.
Marigold Coffee & Wine bar continues the Art Deco flavor with hexagon tiles and violet-colored seating. The bistro boasts a menu of coffee drinks, quiches, soups, salads, and sandwiches. You can also treat yourself to an order of poached shrimp or deviled eggs to share, or a glass of wine or beer.
The Skyline Grill, The Virginian’s rooftop restaurant and bar, is the only restaurant of its kind in Lynchburg. “Everyone wants to be outside—it’s all about the mountain view,” Simpson explains. The patio wraps almost all the way around the building and provides plenty of small tables, fire pits, and seating to enjoy the view of the Lynchburg skyline. In addition to carefully selected wines, the list includes selections from Virginia’s breweries as well as several signature cocktails, such as the Skyline Gold Rush (a must-try for bourbon drinkers). Proffering appetizers like shrimp scampi flatbread with preserved lemon, chickpea fries with ovendried tomato jam and feta, along with crème caramel with roasted peaches, and chocolate bourbon pecan pie for dessert, the food and the scenery make it the place to be. “It’s stayed at full capacity since it opened,” Simpson notes. The restaurant does not accept reservations, so plan to be there early. (Local tip: Try a Sunday or Monday night.) The final restaurant offering—The William Henry steakhouse—will open this fall.
The hotel is within walking distance to downtown Lynchburg attractions such as Amazement Square, The Academy Center of the Arts, the Farmers Market, and the Bluffwalk. “We have wonderful food and beverage, and great lounging space, so we’re certainly kid-friendly and teen-friendly,” Marcinik says.“We want everyone to feel welcome. Everyone who comes to us is VIP.
Photos courtesy of The Virginian Hotel
IF YOU’RE GOING
The Virginian Hotel.
712 Church Street, Lynchburg.
(434) 329-3200 thevirginianhotel.com