Airlie, Warrenton VA: Not Just a Conference Center Anymore

Airlie – Virginia’s Stunning Resort And Seeds of Earth Day

There’s a reason even Virginia residents and astute travelers have never heard of one of the most exquisitely set lodgings in the state. “Airlie?” most say. “Where is that?”Airlie Resort entrance Warrenton VA

Until two years ago, Airlie, a 150-room resort on 300 landscaped acres in Warrenton, Virginia, was strictly a Conference Center. Recently, however, owners decided to upgrade rooms and open this beautiful place to leisure travelers.

Airlie Resort English Garden, VAHaving stayed here during the first blooms of spring, I have no doubt that Airlie will be on a growing number of “Stay Lists” in short order.

Exterior of Mansion at Airlie Resort, Warrenton VA

A Historic Hotel of America, Arlie’s centerpiece is the 1899 Manor House, owned by Harry Connolly Groome, a wealthy Warrenton fixture in the early 1900’s who traveled to Scotland, fell in love with golf and named his home after a Scottish castle.

Ironically, Groome never built a golf course on his property. And neither did the next owner, Dr. Murdock Head, a doctor, dentist, lawyer, and professor at George Washington University in Washington DC, who purchased the mansion and grounds in 1956.

Lodge at Airlie Resort VA

In 1961, Head turned Airlie into an oasis – a neutral location absent of city distractions – where progressive organizations and government big wigs could meet. Coined “An Island of Thought,” Airlie’s first conference, “The Challenge for the Minds of Men” focused on the country’s religious heritage. It set the standard for meetings to come.

Most significantly, in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson announced his plans for Earth Day at Airlie.

Over the years, Airlie has hosted environmental, gay rights, world health, women’s, and other, mostly non-profit, groups and organizations. Though Airlie still serves as a Conference Center, it’s improved its level of cuisine and added leisure travel offerings.

Airlie is on our list of 20 Surprisingly Romantic Getaways in VA. Check it out if you wish to explore the state further.

Looking for someplace dreamy outside of Virginia? Check out our 150 Best Romantic Getaways in the Northeast US (Virginia to Maine).

First Impressions of Airlie

Airlie Landscape, Warrenton VA

Rolling hills, stone walls, spring buds starting to bloom and undulating backcountry roads: you may find yourself wondering if you’ve stumbled into some kind of fairyland idyll.

Drive on and look for the signs. Pull in to the long drive and take a deep breath. It’s truly beautiful here.

Airlie Resort Mansion, Warrenton VARooms are set inside cottages and buildings clustered around the property. The main building, a grand yellow Georgian colonial, houses a small reception desk and restaurant space. Hidden from the foyer are a series of large, bright conference rooms.

Entrance to Butterfly Garden, Airlie Resort, Warrenton VA

Across from the mansion, discover a somewhat secret Butterfly Garden accessed through an arched stone gate. It’s no surprise that more and more weddings are being booked here.

Lake Cottage exterior, Airlie ResortCheck-in is personalized and friendly, with a warm greeting, a map and explanation of the property and activities. I stayed in the Lake Cottage – a quick walk uphill. Utterly charming, it was like a home in the English countryside.

Rooms at Airlie Resort

Lake Cottage Guest Room, Airlie Resort, Warrenton VA

My cottage featured a barn-cute den and kitchen area shared by two other bedrooms. Each guest room has been for the most part updated, country charming and cozy.

Lake Cottage living room, Airlie Resort VA

Other buildings and lodges have distinct room décor – and all have been updated to luxury standards with  modern amenities.

Dining at Airlie

Chicken, Garden Bistro, Airlie Resort, VA

This is where Airlie shines, and if you haven’t been here, or it’s been awhile, you may be surprised by the sophistication of the cuisine. Many of the ingredients used by chefs here are sourced from Airlie’s organic garden.

During its conference-center only period, Airlie placed the meeting experience before food. Now, it offers some of the freshest, most delicious and beautifully plated food to ever emerge from a kitchen. Anywhere.

Garden Bistro, Airlie Resort VA

Both the newly renovated and built Harry’s, and buffet-style Arlie Dining Room serve dishes created from hyper-locally sourced greens and meats.

Airlie Garden fresh, Airlie Resort VAChefs fashion delectable foodstuffs out of produce fresh-picked from Airlie’s own garden, and chicken and other meats from farms down the road. Jams are house-made. Wines are from local vineyards.

Swan Pub, Airlie Resort, VA

In a separate building, the Irish-style pub “can be raging one night and quiet the next.” It’s a few minutes walk from the Main House in a building that houses the billiards and game room, complete with foosball, Wi, and Karaoke machine.

Amenities and Things to Do at Airlie

Archery at Airlie Resort, Warrenton VA

In addition to the game and billiards room, there’s a state of the art fitness center with treadmills, elliptical machines weights and balls. And outside, fine fire pits (pick up a s’mores kit at the desk), pool, tennis courts, skeet shooting, and even an archery range. Use of bikes on the property costs nothing.

Just the Facts

Rooms from $116 include use of resort amenities, wi-fi, loaner bikes, parking. Packages, from $335, include breakfast.

Airlie Resort VA Pin


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

6 thoughts on “Airlie, Warrenton VA: Not Just a Conference Center Anymore”

  1. The present Airlie House isn’t the original one. Harry C. Groome build the original house in 1899 and it burned to the ground in 1924. He rebuilt over the original house foundation the present Airlie House in 1925.

  2. Many of our clients go to Airlie for their weddings and make it an entire weekend event. It is such a naturally beautiful setting and creates the perfect, relaxing atmosphere for a gathering of friends and family. We love going here! TaylorMade Weddings

  3. Thanks for reading and commenting, Darlene. Airlie certainly is a perfect spot for weddings. Gorgeous! Malerie

  4. Hi BJAM – I can only imagine how great it is to work in such a stunning place. Everyone there was so nice! Thanks for the comment. Malerie

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