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Travel Diary: Richmond & Virginia Beach, Virginia

Meet Virginia… (forever a favorite Train song!). Let’s talk my favorite state. I went to the University of Richmond for college, and it was hands down the best four years of my life. It’s where I discovered my passion for blogging and marketing, made my very best friends, landed my dream job, and met the love of my life. A lot happened in four years, and they are some of the sweetest memories I have to date. And it all occurred in beautiful state of Virginia.

Which is why I jumped on the opportunity to go back, this time with the experts on Virginia themselves, Visit Virginia. I went on a long weekend trip to share the new United MileagePlus packages that offer United customers exclusive offers at 15 of Virginia’s luxury hotels. And let me tell you, it was a total dream trip. 

Here’s the scoop: This past June, United Airlines, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, & the Virginia Tourism Corporation joined together to launch a first-of-its-kind partnership, in which they now offer luxury packages for United’s MileagePlus Members. The partnership features exclusive offers for United customers at 15 of Virginia’s premier luxury hotels, resorts, and spas, all within a few hours’ drive of Dulles Airport!

These Virginia-based hotels have phenomenal packages that United MileagePlus members can access… like in-room massages, private Virginia wine experiences, chef tasting dinners, & more. The properties of the participating hotels are located all across VA, situated in gorgeous surroundings and offering truly personalized experiences to their guests.  

Virginia Travel Diary

My boyfriend, Johnny, and I had the absolute pleasure of visiting two of the hotels that are participating in the United MileagePlus packageThe Jefferson in Richmond and The Cavalier in Virginia Beach. We flew into Dulles from LaGuardia Airport in NYC (on United) and rented a car from the airport. Then, we drove to Richmond for the first night and Virginia Beach for the second night.

We toured both cities, and the hotel properties at each, over the three day weekend (though I worked remotely on Friday), and got to firsthand experience the luxuries that come with staying at these hotels through the United MileagePlus package.

I am sharing all about both hotels and what we did/where we ate while we were there. Spoiler alert: I would highly recommend both because of their rich histories, exquisite décor and amenities, and delicious dining experiences! Keep scrolling for all of the intel and photos… 

Richmond, VA

WHERE WE STAYED

The Jefferson

This may be one of the most special and memorable hotels in my life. It’s where I spent the night before I moved into college and it’s where my dad walked me down it’s grand stairs during my junior year Ring Dance. It opened up in 1895, and throughout the past century has hosted a variety of distinguished guests (from 13 different presidents to Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra…). It is steeped in history and tradition, yet the amenities are as current and elevated as they come. 

The hotel had its most recent renovations in 2013, when it transformed the rooms and suites into what they are today… truly beautiful and high end. I have always been blown away by how nice they are– with luxurious bath tubs and TVs in the mirrors of the bathroom (perfect for watching College Game Day, Johnny may add😉). This time around, our stay was exceptional and we so loved getting to be back in Richmond!

As an FYI, it’s about a 20 minute drive from the University of Richmond’s campus, so it’s a great spot to stay if you’re visiting campus for whatever reason and are looking for a nicer hotel. I would 100% say that it’s the nicest place to stay in Richmond! From the grand ballrooms to the intimate bar and restaurant, it’s such an old fashioned and stunning place that is a jewel among every other hotel in the area. 

WHAT WE DID

Afternoon Tea

On our first afternoon there, we enjoyed tea in The Palm Court (a section of the lobby) of the hotel. It’s such a nice treat that you may not get to enjoy often (I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy a fancy afternoon tea enough!). More on that below in the “where we ate” section… 

Tour Richmond’s Campus

After we enjoyed tea, we took a quick trip to visit our old stomping grounds at the University of Richmond. It was an odd combination of walking around in awe, trying not to cry, and reminiscing over all of our go-to spots and favorite memories. Definitely my favorite place just about ever. I love that staying at The Jefferson allowed us to make a quick visit and experience that! I received a few questions about my recommendations for the city, so here’s the Richmond Travel Guide I wrote when I was in college– it still rings true today! 

WHERE WE ATE

The Palm Court

We enjoyed afternoon tea in the Palm Court, where you can pick the tea that you’d like to have (I got the “Richmond” blend, which smells and tastes just like Christmas… so good!). They also bring out a tiered tray of tea sandwiches (the chicken salad was our favorite!), sweet and savory scones, and decadent pastries. It was such a lovely and delicious experience! I also love that it’s right in the lobby so you can sit under the stunning stained glass dome ceiling and people watch everyone going in and out. 😊

Lemaire

That evening, we had such fun and tasty cocktails at the Lemaire bar (get the pimento cheese as an appetizer!) before heading in for a formal dinner. The room where we sat was majestic yet cozy– with stunning detailed crown molding and all! You seriously cannot go wrong with anything on the menu… 

Room Service

On the morning after our stay, we ordered room service and it was delish! Johnny got a omelet and I just the fresh fruit bowl (and lots of coffee, always😉). 

Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The stunning entrance
Virginia Travel Diary - Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Bubbly & cheese is ALWAYS the way to kick off a weekend!
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
There was a TV in our bathroom mirror... we felt fancy
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Afternoon tea in the Palm Court
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The Jepson Leadership building at UR {fun fact: I was a Leadership Studies minor!}
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
How grand is this room right off the lobby?!
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA

dress c/o // earrings c/o // headband // similar shoes here and here

Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Pimento cheese & cocktails at Lemaire
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Room service, Eloise style
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Alligator statue outside... there used to be live alligators in the lobby when it first opened

Virginia Beach, VA

WHERE WE STAYED

The Cavalier

Roaring ’20s seaside glamour. That’s how I would best describe The Cavalier’s grand appearance and rich history. Construction started on it in 1926 and soon after that set Virginia Beach on the map. It quickly became a luxurious east coast destination and hosted people like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and Elizabeth Taylor… omg. It was fully remodeled a few years ago, but still maintains so many of its iconic features. For instance, the thousands of bricks on its facade!

From the moment we pulled up to the hotel we were immediately in awe. It’s located in the most charming little neighborhood. And filled with the quaintest three-story homes that are all lined up along the tidy winding streets. As soon as I walked into the lobby and saw the entrance table overflowing with hydrangeas and pink roses, I was sold.

When we checked in we found ourselves staying in “The Reidy Suite” which is one of the hotel’s “Heritage Suites” that was adorned by the personal paintings of Frank and Juliette Reidy, who are principals of The Cavalier. They lived in Singapore for 15 years, before moving to Virginia Beach. So the art in the suite was collected from and inspired by their lives. It was such a unique touch that I just loved! Not to mention the olive green velvet headboard and couch. It was the dreamiest room! But we were sadly too busy out and about to enjoy it for too long. There was just too much to do on the hotel’s property! 

WHAT WE DID

Relaxing at The Beach Club

On our afternoon there, we hopped onto the golf cart right outside the lobby. It swooped us down to the Beach Club, where we were immediately obsessed. It’s a very different (but equally as good) vibe to the hotel. It’s a bit more contemporary– with an infinity pool, hot tub, and beach bar complete with TVs and plenty of lounge chairs. There’s also an indoor lounge area that looks like it’s straight out of a Serena & Lily catalog… so good! We hopped into the hot tub for a bit and soaked up the sun. 

It was in the mid-70s and felt like beach weather in the middle of October. I was living for it! Note that we went on the last day of the season that the Beach Club would be open, but I imagine it opens back up in the spring, in case that’s something you want to be sure to enjoy while you’re there!

Massages at the Seahill Spa

After spending some time at the Beach Club, we walked across the street and back up the hill to the hotel, where we went straight to the spa (there’s an entrance on the outside) and enjoyed the amenities of the his and her locker rooms before getting massages. There’s a sauna, a steam room, and a salt whirl pool. And that’s just in the women’s locker room! After enjoying those amenities, I got the relaxation massage (and Johnny got the deep tissue one) and we couldn’t recommend them more. My masseuse was so sweet and wonderful (her name was Annie if you want to request her!), and I pretty much fell asleep during it, it was that calming! If you can, I would 100% get a massage there the next time you’re in the area or staying on the property. 

Dip in the Pool

On the morning of our second day at The Cavalier, we woke up early, grabbed coffee from The Raleigh Room (they have the most convenient coffee bar set up in there for you to help yourself to) and took a dip in the indoor hot tub and pool that’s located right off the lobby. This was personally my favorite aspect of the hotel. It was decorated in black and white accents, rattan furniture, and palm fronds everywhere. So naturally it was right up my alley in terms of aesthetics. I also loved how massive the hot tub is and how you can see straight up into the sky through the clear ceiling. It’s a cannot miss sight (or swim ) while you’re there! 😉

WHERE WE ATE

Becca

As soon as we checked into the hotel we sat down for lunch at Becca. And the food did not disappoint. It’s located in the gardens right next to the hotel and is the most romantic little spot for a bite to eat. Get the oysters and the crab cake sandwich. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had! 

The Raleigh Room

This is the bar area right off of the lobby, and it has the chicest 1920s-styled décor. I loved the rich jade tone velvet furniture and the quirky artwork. So good! It’s a swanky spot that’s perfect for a cocktail before dinner, which is exactly what we did! I got the “Sunken Garden” cocktail and Johnny and I split the cheese board. Such a perfect way to kick off the evening. 

The Hunt Room

After we had drinks in the Raleigh Room, we enjoyed dinner in the Hunt Room. It is a rustic (but newly renovated) historic “social lounge” that is basically a hunting club meets distillery meets sports bar. Of course Johnny loved it and we had the richest and most delicious meal! Our favorites were the moscow mule (made with alcohol from their distillery, The Tarnished Truth), the parmesan cheese brussel sprouts, the reuben sandwich, and the pumpkin cheesecake… um, Y U M. It would be such a fun, lively spot to grab drinks with friends or watch a game as well! 

Enjoy these photos of everything I described above…

 

Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The grand entrance of The Cavalier
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The entrance to the Seahill Spa
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The Reidy Suite
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Lunch outside at Becca
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The Beach Club's pool
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Festive pumpkins at the Seahill Spa
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Virginia Travel Diary - Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The indoor pool of my interior design dreams!
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA

dress // bag // similar heels // {use the code ‘AMY60’ to receive $60 off your first-time purchase from M. Gemi

Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The Tarnished Truth Distillery outside of The Hunt Room
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
Visit Virginia trip at The Jefferson and The Cavalier, VA
The view from the beach road

All in all, I am so truly thankful for the opportunity to visit a state that means so much to me, and experience the grandness and luxuries that it has to offer in these hotels. The divine accommodations, relaxing activities and feel-good meals made it a trip that we will always look back on so fondly! I can now very confidently say that it is 100% worth checking out the United MileagePlus package that grants you access to exclusive offers to enjoy while staying at best of Virginia’s hotels! xx

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