Written by Lynsey Oxton
I found myself in Alexandria, Virginia on a work trip. Considering the furthest I’d been with work previously was London, I was feeling very lucky indeed.
As soon as we stepped off the plane at Dulles Airport and caught a taxi cross-state into Virginia, I forgot about the long day sat on a plane and began to feel comfortable and relaxed. I think laid-back Virginia seems to do that to you….
Historic Old Town Alexandria is a quiet, quaint place, with brick-lined streets and cobbled alleys – the type of old-fashioned charm that can often lack in America (at least, in the parts that I have visited).
Our stay was at the wonderful Hotel Monaco in the centre of town; a bright, art-deco boutique hotel with comfortable rooms, friendly staff, ‘wine o’clock’ every afternoon at 5pm and the fanciest bath robes I’ve ever had the privilege to wear (zebra stripes are so chic!). If you’re looking to stay overnight (or longer), I couldn’t recommend Hotel Monaco more.
Despite being a mere 20 minutes from DC, Alexandria has no skyscrapers, no underground, no smoke, no smog – just the sense that you are somewhere safe, peaceful and pretty. The houses and boutique shops were all unique – not one the same. The tree-lined streets were a gorgeous shade of reds and oranges – a real plus to travelling in Autumn.
Every third person you came across was out walking their dog – all of which added to the ‘neighbourhood’ feel you get in this town. There were also shops dedicated to selling fancy biscuits for pooches.
It wasn’t just the dogs who got tasty treats; we found some great eateries during our stay, from La Tasca, to Sinclairs Oyster Bar, to a funky burger joint called King Street Blues, with crazy papier-mâché characters on every wall!
My favourite restaurant, however, had to be Gadsby’s Tavern, where we met with friends and took our seat in a dimly lit colonial dining room. The prices may be a little more, but it’s worth it to enjoy the atmosphere and laugh the night away with nightly entertainment from ‘Gadsby’ himself! Oh – and the French onion soup was up there with the best! Go here; you won’t be disappointed.
It doesn’t take too long to walk the length of King Street and if you continue to the bottom, you’ll reach National Harbor, a gorgeous little place on the banks of the Potomac River, overlooking Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon, just south of DC. You could take a trip across to Mount Vernon (sadly no crossings when I was there) – or, like me, you could just grab some nachos and a cherry cola and ‘boat watch’.
After 5 nights in Alexandria, it’s an easy decision to say I’ll be returning again some day. It’s probably one of the lesser visited places in the US, but that’s what makes it so special.
As I mentioned, Alexandria is only a short distance from Washington DC so to me, it makes sense to combine two trips into one.
If you have time, read my short blog on ‘A Day in DC’ too!