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Killahevlin
1401 North Royal Avenue
Front Royal, VA 22630
800-847-6132
Kilahevlin Home Page

June 2001

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at Kilahevlin in Front Royal, Virginia.


Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips

Accommodations

We stayed in the Plum Cottage Suite, which is on the first floor of the tower building right behind the main house. The suite was lavish, with homey touches, and exquisitely decorated. Keith noted that when light switches were wallpapered over, the time was taken to match up the wallpaper on the light switches exactly to that on the walls. There was a sitting room with sofa, gas fireplace, and tv. The bedroom had a queen size bed. The bathroom was very large and contained a large whirlpool tub and separate shower. Killahevlin's website is very good and includes pictures of all accommodations. We could not do it justice, so please check out Killahevlin's page to see pictures of our suite.

There were two outside private porches for the suite overlooking the countryside. We enjoyed our stay and would highly recommend this inn to others.

Inn Amenities

A feature we particularly enjoyed was the pub, free to the guests. It included a bar with stools, other seating, and was stocked with a keg of beer, and a refrigerator with wine, champagne, beer, and soft drinks. There were also snacks sitting out on the bar (popcorn, nuts). There was a large tv, so we spent one evening in the pub watching the NBA finals with another couple from western Pennsylvania. The pub was a nice, informal gathering place for guests and encouraged guests to get to know each other. There is an outside entrance to the pub, which was handy for us, since we were not staying in the main houes. There was also a door from the pub that led to the wrap-around screened porch, where we sat the first evening and watched the colors of the fading sun over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The grounds are well-maintained. There are two restored gazebos that are available to guests and were most inviting. There is a 1930s swimming pool that has been turned into a koi fish pond in back of the main house (and next to the tower where we stayed). We observed the innkeeper taking care of the pond several times during our stay; she obviously took great pride in her beautiful inn.

Inn Food

A full breakfast is served each morning, beginning with a buffet where guests can help themselves to fruit, breakfast breads, cereal, and juice. Although we don't drink coffee, a large thermal carafe of coffee was placed on each table. The first morning we had waffles and sausage. The waffles were very tasty. The servers were extremely pleasant and more than willing to bring additional helpings. (We heard the record for waffles was seven.) The second morning, we had eggs benedict. While we were helping ourselves to fruit, the innkeeper told us what the entree would be, and Lori requested no meat, and that was accommodated. Again, they asked if we wanted additional helpings, but eggs benedict is a pretty filling way to start the day, so we declined. The breakfast room is sunny and pleasant and has several individual tables. Snacks were available throughout the day (nuts, popcorn). It is possible to purchase some mementos of Killahevlin (Irish cake, coffee mug, beer mug). We purchased a green ceramic beer mug with a rendition of Killahevlin on the front.

Inn Bar/Lounge

The inn does not sell liquor, but as noted above, has a pub that is free to the guests.

Inn People/Service

The innkeeper, Susan O'Kelly, greeted us upon our arrival with a big smile and her charming accent. She showed us around the public area of the main house and even introduced us to some couples in the pub, and we noted she remembered all of their names. She then walked us through our suite and showed us everything we would need to know. She gave us a map of Front Royal, complete with restaurant recommendations. We already had a restaurant in mind, and she picked up the phone in our suite (she had the number memorized) and requested a reservation. She even remembered how to spell our last name. We had called prior to our arrival and requested a bottle of champagne be chilled and waiting in the room, and it was waiting for us, along with glasses and a bowl of nuts. Because champagne is also available in the pub free-of-charge, we were not charged for this extra little service. Susan was a good innkeeper, intent on seeing her guests had a good time, and seemed to light up the room when she entered it. We noted that she is a well-respected member of the business community. In one restaurant we ate in, the hostess spoke reverently of our innkeeper.

Area/Attractions

Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive Web Site
Killahevlin is located in Front Royal, which is in northern Virginia (about an hour and a half west of Washington, DC). It is the northern entrance to Skyline Drive, which is part of Shenandoah National Park. It is a nice drive, with plenty of spots in which to pull over and gaze out at the breathtaking scenery. There are camping spots in the park, along with picnic areas, food service, some lodging, and many other activities. We drove approximately 32 miles on Skyline Drive, from the northern entrance in Front Royal, to the Thornton Gap Entrance Station, where we exited and route 211 west to Luray.

Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns Web Site
Lori had been to Luray Caverns a long time ago - in 1975, when she was a kid, with her family. As we drove into the parking lot, she said it did look familiar. Luray Caverns is one of the premier underground attractions in the US. It was found approximately 125 years ago and excavated to allow visitors to see the spectacular rock formations. The operation is very well run. Even though we visited late on a Sunday morning, there really was no wait (tours ran every 10 minutes, as this was summer season). Note that the tour is 1 mile, and some of the footing is slippery, so wear sneakers or hiking shoes. The cavern is a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit, but we were comfortable in shorts (it is extremely humid). There are some inclines and quite a few steps at the beginning and end, so this is not recommended for those who have difficulty getting around. The tour took about an hour. Our tour guide was only 14, but had been trained well and had a commanding presence. There are several caverns in this area, but Luray is the largest.

We also stopped at several wineries in Virginia. Please visit our wine page for more information and links to these wineries.

Dining

Stadt Kaffee - 300 East Main Street Front Royal, VA 540-635-8300
Stadt Kaffe Web Site
We love authentic German food and dine in German restaurants whenever we get the chance. We had found the website for Stadt Kaffee when researching our trip to Virginia, and were happy when we saw it was one of our innkeeper's recommendations. Stadt Kaffee literally translates to "street cafe." It is a storefront restaurant full of German ambiance. Free parking is available nearby. There was a nice selection of German beer, and we each had some Hefeweiss, which was on tap. It was nice and crisp, served up with a slice of lemon in the glass. We split potato pancakes as an appetizer. They were more than enough for the two of us: three large potato and onion pancakes, served with fresh applesauce. The entrees included a salad and thinly sliced bread. Keith had the cordon bleu schnitzel, which was a huge helping of schnitzel smothered with ham and swiss cheese. It was accompanied with potatoes (cooked with onion, of course). Lori had delicious fresh bratwurst accompanied by spaetzle. Since the Hefeweiss can be filling, Keith switched to a Pilsner and Lori chose a glass of a local Virginia wine. We noted with pleasure that the restaurants we went to in Virginia proudly featured local wines. The desserts looked wonderful, but we were simply too full from dinner to indulge. The owner of the restaurant is from Germany, and several of the staff spoke German. While we were eating our dinner, a German couple from Munich sat down near us, and the server easily switched to German, much to the delight of the patrons. Note that Stadt Kaffee is closed on Sundays. For those who enjoy German food, we would highly recommend this restaurant.

14th Street Bistro -101 West 14th Street Front Royal, VA 540-636-8400
14th Street Bistro was another recommendation by our innkeeper. We went there Sunday evening for dinner. They have limited hours on Sundays, so it is necessary to make reservations. We dressed a little nicer for this restaurant, but noted that other patrons were quite casual, so casual attire is definitely acceptable. As soon as we walked in and gave our name and reservation time, the hostess smiled, and said, "Oh yes, you're with Susan!" We had a very secluded booth (the hostess told us it was our innkeeper's favorite table). We ordered a bottle of local white wine from Naked Mountain, a winery we were not able to visit. (We got a laugh at the cork, which said Drink Naked.) The meal began with a basket full of tasty warm rolls, some with herbs, and accompanied by three dips: hummus, pesto, and olive. It was great and our server smilingly provided us with a second basket of rolls and fresh dips. Keith had a good (and large) caesar salad as his appetizer, and Lori's meal came with the house salad. Lori had an appetizer of warm brie with walnuts and wafers. Keith's entree was a strip steak coated in bleu cheese, and Lori had shrimp and angel hair pasta. The service was attentive and we enjoyed our dining experience.

Nightlife

Since a pub was provided for guests at Killahevlin, we simply returned to our inn after dinner, and did not sample any of the local nightlife.

Weather

We were fortunate and had beautiful weather with low humidity. If visiting this area of Virginia in the summer, expect warm, humid days. Air conditioning is a necessity.

Tips/Suggestions

Whenever possible, we try to exit the major highways and travel some of the local roads to get more local "flavor." If you are visiting this region and have some time to spare, try out some of the less-travelled routes. Nearly every road is also a numerical route (even dirt roads, it seemed), so it is pretty simple to follow maps.