Interstate 81 stretches about 325 miles through western Virginia. Bed and breakfasts dominate the lodging choices in northern Virginia and motels line major interchanges and cluster around cities. Hotels are less common and tend to be historic properties that no longer serve their original purpose and have undergone renovations over the years.
The Martha Washington Hotel & Spa
The Martha Washington, built in 1832, is located in Abingdon at the southern end of Interstate 81. Originally a private home, the hotel served as a Civil War hospital and a women’s college. Individually decorated rooms and suites feature upscale amenities and a wood-paneled library houses more than 1,500 books. The hotel’s spa is open Tuesday through Saturday. Afternoon tea and an evening glass of port are among the extras. A glass natatorium, adjacent to the spa and fitness center, contains a heated indoor saltwater swimming pool.
General Francis Marion Hotel & Conference Center
Historic Marion’s General Francis Marion Hotel, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains in southwest Virginia, recalls the Roaring Twenties. Built in 1927 and renovated in 2006, the hotel sports an original tiled floor with a Prohibition-era secret message. In 2008 National Geographic magazine placed the General Francis Marion Hotel on its “Stay List.” The hotel’s restaurant and lounge serve American cuisine and local wines. Occasionally the hotel offers dinner and dance packages that include a meal and ballroom dance lessons.
Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center
Located in Staunton near the mid-point of Interstate 81 in Virginia, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America. The hotel, completely renovated in 2005, retains many of the features of the original lobby. Rooms in the historic wing are smaller than rooms in the new wing, but the individual character of each room adds interest. Flowers, herbs and vegetables grown in an organic rooftop garden are part of the hotel’s commitment to eco-friendliness. Sorrel, the hotel’s restaurant, serves casual cuisine and hosts live music.
Built in 1902 as a private hospital, the four-story, mansard-roofed Hotel Strasburg is near the northern end of Interstate 81 and the entrance to Skyline Drive. Rooms, decorated with Victorian furnishings, wall coverings and pictures, vary in size and have either full or ¾ baths. The hotel’s dining room, open to guests for continental breakfast and to the public for lunch and dinner, serves standard American fare. Live music and nightly specials are on tap at the Depot Lounge.