Bed check: Pennsylvania

An inn blooms in Brandywine Valley


Washington Post Service

At the Fairville Inn, the nightly rate includes afternoon tea (hot and iced) with a spread of cheesy snacks and homemade pastries, and daily breakfast featuring baked goods and a selection of three hot dishes. Also: WiFi, parking, bottled water, satellite TV and local sightseeing advice.

What’s not rolled into the price: Ozzie the dog.

“I think your dog was trying to climb into our car,” said a departing guest, as she deposited the four-legged rascal at the two feet of Rick Carro, co-owner of the lodge and the pooch.

Ozzie was not trying to escape the five-acre Chadds Ford, Pa., property for a better life in an SUV. He was just snuffling around for crumbs.

“He likes Cheerios,” said Rick, referring to the common detritus found in most family vehicles, including his own.

The Carros — Rick and his wife, Laura, their two daughters and two pets, Ozzie and Harriet the cat — took over the Fairville in 2007, becoming the fourth keepers of the Brandywine Valley inn since 1986. In earlier times, the region’s monarchs, the Du Ponts, occupied the 19th century main house as a summer residence.

The daffodil-yellow structure with the inky black shutters now contains five guest rooms, a curl-up den with a fireplace, and the dining room and kitchen, where Rick cooks breakfast and special-order desserts. An adjoining room holds the reception area and a corner gift shop selling pottery mugs, antiques, fuzzy grass plumes from the garden and wool rugs woven by Rick-of-all-trades.

Around back, the four-room Springhouse stands on the site of the former barn, which is gone but not entirely forgotten: reclaimed parts such as wooden beams and doors have returned as interior decor. I stayed in the six-room Carriage House, which resides on the same land as the former (and smaller) “garage.”

Each of the inn rooms is individually decorated, with some overlapping elements: gas fireplaces in eight rooms and cathedral ceilings in two. My room’s key pieces included a princessy bed framed by floaty gossamer panels and a pair of cushy chairs for princes-in-waiting.

My back deck overlooked a living Wyethian landscape of a cascading meadow, pervasive plantings and decorative and edible gardens. Rick is an adherent of the yard-to-table ethos, often incorporating his recent harvests into the morning dishes. Peppers, squash and tomatoes from his personal plot appear in omelets; melons land in the fruit salad; smoked and pureed pumpkins perk up pancakes and donuts.

When I arrived in the evening, the hotel was one bulb short of lights out. The front desk attendant issued a last call for ice, then led me to my room through the dark. I checked the stars from my porch (still twinkling), then kicked back on the snow-white bed, crawling to the edge for a better view of the very-small-screen TV.

On weekdays, breakfast runs from 7 to 9 a.m. (weekends, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.), and guests must sign up for a specific slot, which helps stagger the hot entree orders. As the last visitor to check in the night before, I’d missed out on all the good (read: late-riser) spots. The solution: Below the last entry of 8:40, I scribbled in my name and 8:50. In hindsight, I should have added “ish.”

Guests were still scraping their plates when I wandered in. Laura, full of smiles, stopped at my table to refill my coffee. She inquired about my day’s plan, throwing out such suggestions as visiting the nearby Longwood Gardens and the Wyeth artworks at the Brandywine River Museum. Crunched for time, I asked about the closer Fairville Gardens.

“That’s Rick’s garden,” she said. “You'll see him out there pruning and tending to his pumpkins.”

At that moment, Rick was on breakfast patrol, but once freed from the kitchen, he took me on a tour of the grounds. We also peeked at the suites and into my downstairs neighbor’s accommodations, a fairy nymph’s fantasy of forest-green-and-white floral wallpaper and a tall wooden headboard with a bow.

Eventually, the chef/gardener/weaver/innkeeper had to return to his duties and I had to check out. But before driving off, I quickly glanced around my car to make sure that Ozzie wasn’t in the back seat, vacuuming up the cereal bits.

•  Fairville Inn: 506 Kennett Pike, Chadds Ford, Pa.; 610-388-5900; Rooms from $175 a night.

Read more Travel stories from the Miami Herald

A flight over Holuhraun in Iceland shows lava flowing from a volcanic eruption.


    A flyover tour of an Icelandic volcano in action

    There is something so majestic yet simultaneously frightful in a volcanic eruption that someone viewing it just cannot look away. In Iceland now, people are paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to experience this bucket-list thrill.

Tom Owens of Marion, Mass., left, buys Heady Topper from Victor Osinaga, one of the owners of Craft Beer Cellar in Waterbury, Vt. Owens traveled to Vermont in order to buy the beer.


    A hard-to-find brew and the ultimate beer run

    Let’s not call this a “beer run.” That has such a… Friday night frat boy connotation. Let’s instead call this a “beer journey.”

  • The travel troubleshooter

    I was charged an extra $134 for my car because I was an hour late

    Q: I have a complaint about my recent car rental experience at Indianapolis International Airport. I’ve called Hertz and Hotwire, the online travel agency I booked this through, and didn’t get answers that make sense.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category