Bolling Wilson Hotel In Wytheville, Virginia: History And Charm

Review of The Bolling Wilson Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member | 170 East Main Street
The Bolling Wilson Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member
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Connie
Connie
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The Bolling Wilson Hotel dates back to 1926, but it has been remodeled, redesigned, and renamed in recognition of one of Wytheville’s most notable citizens, Edith Bolling Wilson, the second wife of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. It is a boutique hotel with a fabulous restaurant and a great location for taking advantage of shops and museums in Wytheville, Virginia.

Attractive and imposing location in the center of town

Exterior of the hotel
Source: Connie Pearson

Located at 170 East Main Street in Wytheville, Virginia, the Bolling Wilson Hotel has a prominent place in this remarkable town. There is only one Wytheville in the entire United States, and the Bolling Wilson has a singular feel to it as well. Wytheville sits at the junction of two major interstate highways, 77 and 81, so guests can easily find the hotel as they travel all over the country or if Wytheville is the primary destination. All roads leading to Wytheville are scenic, and the beauty continues as you get closer. Folks from Ohio come right through Wytheville on their way to the beach, and people from miles around come when the fall colors are at their peak.

The town has so many interesting stories and attractions. For example, the New River is not new but is actually second only to the Nile River in age. Unexpectedly, it flows from south to north. And locals like to tell the story of Molly Tynes’ ride, which was similar to that of Paul Revere. Wytheville boasts Virginia’s tiniest church and the state’s only pay-what-you-can restaurant. The Open Door Cafe is a project of HOPE Ministries – Helping Overcome Poverty’s Existence.

The Bolling Wilson Hotel began its life in 1926 as the George Wythe Hotel. Later the building served as a bank for 30 years and finally was resurrected and transformed into its present function as a 30-room boutique hotel. The distinct features of the hotel’s decor are closely tied to the preferences expressed during the life of Edith Bolling Wilson, for whom it is named.

Elegantly appointed guest rooms

Guest room with king bed
Source: Connie Pearson

The hotel has four floors with the first floor housing the reception lobby, a ballroom, a gift shop and a restaurant. The remaining floors contain 30 well-appointed guest rooms. Each guest room floor has a distinctive decorating theme. Edith Bolling Wilson was known for her love of orchids, canaries and bourbon. One floor has orchid paintings and photos with purple coloring. Another floor has yellow accents to represent the canaries, and the last floor has lots of brown leather to represent the bourbon.

Guests enjoy the CapePlush Kingsdown mattresses and luxurious bedding sets. Complimentary Wi-Fi, a flatscreen television, a desk area, a coffeemaker, a safe, iron, ironing board, refrigerator, and a lounge chair are also included.

Functional and comfortable guest bathrooms

Guest bathroom
Source: Connie Pearson

Guest bathrooms provide a hair dryer, a makeup mirror and Gilchirst and Soames toiletries. Some bathrooms have a tub//shower combination, while others have a walk-in glass shower. Tiled floors and granite countertops add more hints of luxury.

Meaningful hotel logo

hotel logo
Source: Connie Pearson

The hotel logo is both whimsical and meaningful. It features a purple orchid and a canary on top of a bourbon barrel. When Edith Bolling Wilson was a young girl, she spent many years caring for her invalid grandmother. Grandmother Bolling had 26 canaries and carefully taught Edith how to feed and tend to them. Her favorite flower was the orchid. When Woodrow Wilson met her and learned of her preference, he sent her a bouquet of orchids every day of their courtship. As for the bourbon, it was Edith’s preferred alcoholic drink. Years later she admitted that when she was riding in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade she had a flask of bourbon in each of her coat pockets ready to take a sip in order to stay warm.

Rooftop bar with a magnificent view

rooftop bar
Source: Connie Pearson

The rooftop bar at Bolling Wilson Hotel is called Perch Rooftop Terrace, in reference to Edith’s love of canaries. From there, you can see blocks of the downtown area, as well as the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Guests are welcome to enjoy the firepits, heaters and umbrellas as they relax and unwind. The food and beverage service is seasonal and depends on the weather.

On-site restaurant

Graze, the on-site restaurant
Source: Connie Pearson

Graze on Main is the hotel’s restaurant located in the lobby. As Virginia emerges from COVID-19, the menu is more limited than normal, but they still offer steak, seafood, chicken, pork chops, burgers, salads, and sandwiches. The pimento cheese dip and fried green tomatoes are highly recommended, along with specialty bourbons.

The private dining room called The Vault is available for small groups who desire more privacy. The name refers to the hotel’s past history as a bank.

The decor and the name of Graze on Main suggests a connection to the fact that President Woodrow Wilson and his wife Edith brought a flock of sheep to the White House lawn during the World War I years. Those sheep kept the grass in check while normal groundskeepers worked on the war effort. The wool from those sheep was also auctioned off with the money being spent on the war. Life-size sheep figurines can be found on either side of the front steps leading into the hotel. Paintings on the walls include sheep and other farm animals.

A signature dessert

carrot cake
Source: Connie Pearson

You most certainly will not want to leave the Bolling Wilson Hotel without sampling a piece of its signature carrot cake. This moist, two-layer confection has a thick cream cheese filling and is topped with a buttermilk drizzle. Once again, there’s a connection to Edith Bolling Wilson. She and President Wilson chose a carrot cake for their wedding cake. Pastry chefs have experimented with different recipes but were met with huge resistance. For the foreseeable future, the recipe will stay the same.

Wytheville area attractions

Museum in Wytheville
Source: Connie Pearson

Wytheville has three very interesting museums within easy walking distance of the Bolling Wilson Hotel. They are the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum, one of only eight such historic sites in the U.S. dedicated to a First Lady, the Thomas J. Boyd Museum, who was the “Father of Wytheville,” and the Haller-Gibboney Rock House Museum, recognizing Dr. John Haller, the town’s first resident physician.

Big Walker Lookout is a scenic drive away and features a 100-foot (30.4-meter) observation lookout where you can see five states. It is spectacular in the fall.

The Beagle Ridge Herb Farm includes formal gardens, a tea room, a walk-through butterfly house and lots and lots of lavender plants. It is very popular in the spring and summer.

The Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre attracts musical theater lovers from miles around with its four-course meals and first-class entertainment. Their Christmas show is generally a complete sell-out.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be very happy in Wytheville, too. Between trout fishing, hiking trails and plenty of camping options, this is a recreational hot spot.

Beautiful boutique hotel with a surprising number of area attractions

Wytheville has a population of less than 10,000 people with 35,000 in the entire county. Yet, the people have taken great pride in showcasing their significant attractions and welcoming visitors to experience their unique town for themselves. It definitely feels like a small town, but it offers so much more than most places of this size. Whether you come for the outdoor recreational opportunities or the historical connections, you will have a great accommodation choice with the Bolling Wilson Hotel. Cecil Childress is the experienced and very capable manager, and you’ll love meeting Rashedah McCray, one of the most helpful receptionists I’ve ever found.

One more thing. If you start craving a hot dog, you’ll be happy to find Skeeter’s right across the street from the hotel’s front door. It has been serving Skeeter-Dogs since 1925.

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The Bolling Wilson Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member
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