Airlie Review: A Tranquil Retreat in Virginia’s Countryside

Nestled amidst the serene countryside of Virginia’s Fauquier County, Airlie stands as a hidden gem of hospitality and natural beauty. In this travel blog post, we invite you to embark on a journey of discovery and relaxation as we delve into a comprehensive review of Airlie, a historic and eco-conscious retreat like no other.

This enchanting haven is not just a hotel; it’s a captivating escape where luxury meets sustainability, where guests can immerse themselves in lush gardens, unwind by tranquil ponds, and savor farm-to-table dining experiences. Join us as we explore the unique charm and eco-friendly ethos of Airlie, making it the perfect destination for those seeking a harmonious blend of comfort and environmental consciousness.

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 English Garden, VA

Until recently, 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.

Having stayed here during the first blooms of spring, I do not 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 1900s 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 Hotel

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 into the long drive and take a deep breath. It’s truly beautiful here.

Airlie Resort Mansion, Warrenton VA

Rooms 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.

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.

Check-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

This is where Airlie shines, and if you haven’t been here, or it’s been a while, 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.

Chefs 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.

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. Outside, fine fire pits (pick up a s’mores kit at the desk), pool, tennis courts, skeet shooting, and even an archery range. The use of bikes on the property costs nothing.


  • 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.

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6 thoughts on “Airlie Review: A Tranquil Retreat in Virginia’s Countryside”

  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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