There’s no shortage of style, sophistication and refinement in Loudoun. From glamorous resorts and luxury inns to famous farm-to-fork restaurants and fashionable boutiques, the county knows good taste. But we also know a good time, with a slate of activities that have the kind of cool cachet residents from other regions can only envy. Here we highlight some of the luxury experiences open to all in Loudoun.
Resorts & Inns
When looking for pampering in Loudoun, look no further than the equine-themed Forbes Five Star Salamander Resort & Spa set in 340 acres of Middleburg horse and wine country. The 168-room luxe resort has a world-class spa, sumptuous wine bar, multiple restaurants and a slate of outdoor activities including archery, horse riding, zip lining and croquet. A few miles away, the more secluded Goodstone Inn is equally gorgeous: an intimate 18-room inn and farm on 265 tumbling acres, famous for the acclaimed Conservatory restaurant where guest can dine on sublime four and five-course tasting menus paired with world-class wines. Back in Leesburg, meanwhile, there’s the elegant 296-room Lansdowne Resort on the banks of the Potomac River. Enjoy rounds of golf on one of three courses, dine in one of the superb restaurants including Riverside Hearth facing the Potomac and enjoy a massage, facial or detox at the property’s 12,000 square- foot wellness center, Spa Minérale.
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
In 1986 nurse Beverly Morton bought a 40-acre farm overlooking the Potomac River in Loudoun. Long before “locavore” was a thing, she was raising her five daughters on food grown and foraged on her land. By the early 90s she had opened a restaurant in a greenhouse on her property, serving what she called “Earth to Table” food. Fast forward 20 years and today, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is one of the most exclusive dining experiences in the U.S., rated by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World. Book well in advance to sample unique flavors such as farm egg with sultanas and fennel; roasted rabbit with eggplant butter and sweetcorn agnolotti with chanterelle mushrooms and pine needle cream on the ever-changing, nine-course Progression Menu.
Perhaps it’s James Bond ordering a martini (shaken not stirred), but there’s something about drinking a perfectly poured cocktail that suggests you’re living the high life. Live the Loudoun high life at The Docket, the craft cocktail bar in the courtyard carriage house of Leesburg restaurant SideBar. The cozy, light-filled space has a handful of tables and an intimate bar where trendy yet discerning clientele can order everything from Old Fashioneds and SideCars to inventive house cocktails such as the Goldsmith, made with fig-infused rum, Giffard Banane Du Bresil, Galliano and maple. Enjoy your drink, Mr. Bond. For something equally classy, head over to the sumptuous Bia Kitchen in Purcellville where bar staff mix all the classics as well as creative signatures such as the French Riviera made with coconut rum, fresh lime and cranberry juice topped with Prosecco. The gorgeous space with distressed walls, golden light and long counter lined with caramel leather bar stools is worth the entrance alone.
Horse Racing and Polo
They call horse racing the Sport of Kings and while we haven’t had a monarchy in the U.S. for three centuries, we do like to watch those horses run. Middleburg’s Spring and Fall races at Glenwood Park are highlights of the regional social calendar where people arrive decked out in designer hats and seersucker suits to tailgate. Leesburg’s Morven Park Equestrian Center meanwhile hosts the Loudoun Hunt Point to Point steeplechase in April, fans cheering on from the rails. Come summer, Morven Park also hosts the equally upscale Polo in the Park. Matches take place Saturday evenings from July through August with residents and visitors alike coming out to cheer on leading national and international players.
Boutique Wine shops
October is Virginia Wine Month – a perfect time to visit one of Loudoun’s 50-plus wineries or to attend the annual Loudoun Wine Awards at Lansdowne Resort & Spa on October 14. But what if you want to sample great wines but don’t have time to visit a winery or attend an awards ceremony? Fear not – a slate of upscale Loudoun wine shops have you covered. The Liberry in Leesburg is the beautiful, open-plan space of husband-and-wife team Robert and Ji Dalkin that sells a raft of local vintages and international wines as well as craft beer and artisanal coffee. The name is a play on the word “library”. Peruse the shelves for a best-selling Burgundy. Gvino Enoteca is the new boutique wine store of Italian born sommelier Giacomo Galimberti and his wife Kristen MacCormack in Leesburg's Market Station complex. While they focus on high-end European wines they also stock bottles from private Purcellville winery Iron Will.
In the Mom’s Apple Pie space at Hill High Market, Round Hill wine merchant Bush Nichols stocks an astonishing array of Loudoun, American and international wines. Expect to find Walsh Family Wine Rosés and Fabbioli Cellars reds on the shelves next to famous vintages from Burgundy, Tuscany and Stellenbosch. In Middleburg meanwhile, chef and Master Sommelier Jarad Slipp is behind Knead Wine – a unique take-out gourmet pizza and specialty wine retail shop. There are not many pizza joints where you leave with a truffle and olive pie – and a world-class bottle of wine.
The 1000 Miglia Warm Up
Loudoun is known for horses, but what about race cars? October 18-23 sees Middleburg play warm-up host to the prestigious Italian vintage sports car race, the 1000 Miglia – considered by many to be “the most beautiful race in the world.” The iconic race dates back to 1927 in Italy, and Middleburg becomes part of that storied history by hosting the warm-up series starting with the Green Flag Send Off at the Visitor Center on Thursday, October 20 and including time trials at nearby Creighton Farms on Saturday, October 22. Kids, car enthusiasts and curious visitors will enjoy watching the racers cruise through town and down country lanes and also get the chance to meet and take pictures with the drivers. Participation is limited to cars produced no later than 1957. Fantastico!
Middleburg Film Festival
Cannes… Sundance… Toronto… There’s nothing more glamorous than a major international film festival. To that list we can now add the star-studded Middleburg Film Festival, the 10th edition of which runs October 13 to 16. Founded by Salamander Resort & Spa owner Sheila Johnson, the festival takes place at venues all over the bespoke horse country town and is a major stop on the Oscar trail attracting the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Jason Reitman and Maggie Gyllenhaal.