This schoolhouse rocks
“Where Sleeping in Class Is Finally Allowed.” That tagline is fitting for The Schoolhouse Hotel, a historic high school turned boutique hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Opened in May, the hotel is among the buildings and businesses in town that have been transformed following a devastating flood in 2016. Nods to the property’s schoolhouse past are found throughout the hotel, from photographs and football programs to the original 1912 school bell, which now can be found at the check-in desk.
The Varsity Club, the hotel’s flagship restaurant, serves upscale takes on Southern classics such as she crab soup, shrimp and grits, and pork Wellington. The Rooftop, its menus styled as composition notebooks, is the spot to sip craft cocktails and take in expansive mountain views.
The 30 guest rooms and suites offer plush robes with the hotel’s school bell logo and an interactive high-definition television that allows you to communicate with the front desk. The hotel’s accessibility features include touchpad control of guest room toilets, and a bar that allows wheelchair users to roll up to the counter for drinks. Early online guest reviews rave about the service, and some of those A+ grades have been earned by employees who once roamed these halls as high school students. Rates begin at $150.
The Schoolhouse Hotel, 125 Schoolhouse Way, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, 304-536-0999, theschoolhousehotelwv.com
Taste of the keys
Key West Cottages Chincoteague Island, which is set at the water’s edge on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, is expanding from five to 38 pastel-colored tiny retreats. Slated to open in October, the 33 new one- or two-bedroom cottages range from 376 to 661 square feet. Each has a full kitchen, tiled walk-in shower, coastal decor and a cozy covered porch with water views. Many of the decks are at the canal’s edge, making it easy to fish and crab from them.
The Key West vibe is carried through the cottage colors, decor and landscaping, and in music piped through speakers that dot the property. Perks include a private beach, pool, dock, outdoor firepit and tiki torches. Bikes are available (no extra fee). Chincoteague’s Main Street—home to boutique shops, restaurants and popular food trucks (don’t miss Build Your Own Cookie)—is a short walk, and Assateague Island (home to the area’s famed wild ponies) is a short drive. Cottage rates begin at $150.
Key West Cottages, 4251 Main St., Chincoteague Island, Virginia, 757-336-3700, chincoteaguekeywestcottages.com
Located in Richmond, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) reopened in May following a more than $30 million renovation and expansion that includes a new immersive orientation theater, grand two-story entrance, café and store. While VMHC had historically focused on Richmond, today’s artifacts, paintings and exhibits cover Virginia’s five major regions.
“History is very personal, and you should treat it as such. That is why we focus on specific people with specific experiences—and not just the famous people,” Jamie Bosket, the museum’s president and CEO, says about one of their guiding intentions. The “History Matters” exhibit includes the 2018 Virginia Tech graduation cap of the first African American woman to graduate with a degree in nanoscience in Virginia, and the green Converse sneakers worn by Rainbow Minute radio show co-host Judd Proctor at his wedding to co-host Brian Burns in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 2006, a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in Virginia.
In “Our Commonwealth,” you can learn how to do the Slide Step, a popular Appalachian dance move, via video from Martha Spencer, a singer-songwriter and dancer from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and learn about an African American family whose Virginia roots go back nearly 300 years. Commonwealth Explorers is the place for kids to play and create their own museum exhibit. Other exhibits include “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith,” which examines the continuing story of America’s “of, by, and for the people” form of government (through Dec. 31), and “Cheers, Virginia!” (through Jan. 29, 2023), which celebrates the state’s craft brewing, distilling and fermenting industry.
The museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets range from $5 to $10 (see website for details) and can be purchased online or in person.
Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 428 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., Richmond, Virginia, 804-340-1800, virginiahistory.org
This story appears in the September/October 2022 issue of Bethesda Magazine.