B&Bs: Civilized alternative on golf vacations


The Hummingbird Inn may seem as if it is in the middle of nowhere, but some excellent golf is within 40 minutes.


    A golf vacation shouldn't just be about the golf course.  The pre- and post-round activities are an important ingredient to the total golf package.  Then there is the lodging.  When you are with a group of the guys, the place you stay almost seems irrelevant (especially if one of your buddies made the arrangements).  Just make sure there are enough beds for everyone, a good-sized living/dining room for watching television or playing cards, and a refrigerator large enough to hold a case or two of beer. (Yes, I know, I am engaging in stereotypes, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.)
    When I travel alone or with family, I prefer a more genteel approach, the bed and breakfast accommodation.  Our readers in the UK and elsewhere will know these as "inns" in which the proprietors, typically a husband and wife, but not always, live in one corner of the house and rent out rooms to visitors. 

When is the last time Bill Marriott pulled up a chair next to you at one of his motels...

Unlike boarding houses of olden days, most B&Bs don't force you to share a bathroom with the folks down the hall.  Most rooms are "en suite," providing a private full bath for guests.
    B&Bs certainly don't have the marketing budgets of the big golfing resorts, but what they lack in notoriety they more than make up for in comfort and personal touches.  If you want peace and quiet at the end of the day, there is often no better choice.  Compared with chain motels, B&Bs are downright civilized.  You will never hear your neighbors yelling or playing the TV too loud - most B&Bs confine the TVs to the living room - and you always see the same proprietor in the morning that checked you in the night before.  There are no "staff" problems since the owners are almost always the staff.  Moreover, B&Bs, quaint though they are, are mindful that even the most refined travelers want modernhummbirdbedroomphoto.jpg conveniences.  The last two I have stayed in offered wireless internet connections throughout most of the house and scores of stations on the cable TV in the common room.
    And then there is the breakfast.  Talk about contrast, recently I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express one week (perfectly decent for a chain motel) and the Hummingbird Inn in Goshen, VA, the following week.  The highlight of the "free" Holiday Inn breakfast was the warmed up, previously frozen cinnamon buns.  The breakfasts Pam Matthews at the Hummingbird prepared for us and the other guests - she owns the place with husband Dick - included omelets, potatoes, fresh fruit, real slab bacon, sausages, and a homemade granola that was so good I begged for the recipe.  (Pam emailed it to me, I made it at home, and it was worth at least a night's fee for lodging).
    Another thing about B&Bs:  You actually talk with the people at breakfast or while relaxing in the evening in the den or living room.  That doesn't happen in a motel.  During a recent stay at another B&B, I worked on a jigsaw puzzle with a fellow guest, a nice bonding experience.  B&B owners are likely to join in the conversation, as Pam and Dick did toward the end of breakfast each morning.  When is the last time Bill Marriott pulled up a chair next to you at one of his motels to discuss the issues of the day or where to sightsee locally?
    The accommodations at a B&B are much more civilized too, offer some nice surprises and are worth the extra tariff compared with chain motels. If you don't arrive too late, the owners are happy to give you a tour of the house and grounds and point out the refrigerator with the free soft drinks (not all B&Bs offer that, but the Hummingbird does).  My wife and I stayed in the Franklin Room, which featured a canopied queen-sized bed, a fireplace we could light with the flip hummbirdfdrbabyphoto.jpgof a switch for a little extra heat, a rocking chair, nice chest of drawers, a bathroom with combo whirlpool and shower, and pictures of former President Franklin Roosevelt (thus the name of the room).  One was a framed cover of LIFE magazine circa 1949 showing a two-year old Roosevelt in a girl's dress. 

    I slept wonderfully in the firm queen bed in spite of the image of a former President in a dress, the too-soft pillows and the freight train that rumbled through the front yard during the night, about which my wife informed me in the morning.  That is another thing about B&Bs; they have their charming idiosyncrasies, and a working rail line not 10 yards from the front door was the Hummingbird's.
    Some B&Bs feel as if they are in the middle of no place, even when they aren't.  (I define "no place" as an hour from decent restaurants, shopping, and the like).  Goshen certainly feels that way, and with good reason.  The town lost its one and only restaurant last summer, and the single place in town to purchase any prepared food at all - a warmed-up pizza, really - is the local gas station.  When you leave the Hummingbird in the morning, don't come back until after dinnertime.  Except for some breathtaking Shenandoah Valley scenery down Route 39 along the Goshen Pass, the town has little magnetism.  
    I didn't play golf during my wife's and my three-night stay at the Hummingbird, but I could have.  Vista Links (Buena Vista) and Lexington Golf Club (Lexington), both previously reviewed here, and the renowned Cascades courses at The Homestead in West Virginia, are within 40 minutes.  If golf had been on my mind, I would have gladly traded the resort convenience of a walk or shuttle to the first tee for the soothing effect of The Hummingbird Inn.  Soothing is good for the soul, as well as the golf game.

The Hummingbird Inn is located at 30 Wood Lane, Goshen, VA, about 30 minutes from Lexington and 40 minutes from Hot Springs, WV.  Proprietors:  Pam & Dick Matthews.  Telephone:  800-397-3214.  Five rooms, all with private bath.  Rates:  $130 to $175 per night.  Web site: HummingbirdInn.com.  There are other B&Bs in the area, some within minutes of the aforementioned golf courses.  Check out InnVirginia.com for a list of them.



Vista Links in Buena Vista, VA, is one of a half dozen courses within 40 minutes of the Hummingbird. 


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