Homes away from home

The rewards of Rappahannock’s vacation rental trade

Rental options

With about 26 vacation rental homes and 11 B&Bs scattered throughout the county, visitors can easily experience what residents hold very dear — scenic views, great food and services, and quiet country life. Websites like VRBO.com and homeaway.com list vacation rental homes in Rappahannock County and around the world.

Those looking for B&Bs should visit bedandbreakfast.com and innvirginia.com — both of which list B&Bs in the county and elsewhere. More specific, county-based websites such as visitrappahannockva.com, rappahannockvacationrentals.com and bnb-n-va.com provide lists of accommodations specifically in Rappahannock.

Rappahannock County is unique in that much of the rural character of bygone days is preserved. There are no traffic lights, chain restaurants, strip malls, supermarkets or big box retailers, which makes it easy for residents and tourists alike to experience rural landscapes.

Because of the county’s rural nature, tourists who wish to linger might think they have to seek lodging in a motel in another county. But nestled inconspicuously among the homes, businesses, woodlands and fields are vacation rental homes and B&Bs that offer something no motel can — a true taste of Rappahannock County living.

B&Bs are private residences that provide sleeping accommodations for one or more, while full breakfasts, housekeeping and other services are provided by on-premise innkeepers. Vacation rental homes are also private residences, but are different in that they’re rented to just one party at a time, and have no resident innkeepers. Therefore, they offer more privacy and independence than a B&B.

Barbara Adolfi and her husband Ray Boc operate one such vacation rental, The House on Water Street, a tastefully adorned four-bedroom village farmhouse in Sperryville. Adolfi first bought the property in 2004 as an investment, but after she and her husband completed renovations, she realized that she not only wanted to keep it, but also wanted to share its ambience with others.

Ray Boc and Barbara Adolfi outside of The House on Water Street in Sperryville.Courtesy photo
Ray Boc and Barbara Adolfi outside of The House on Water Street in Sperryville.

“It just gives us an enormous sense of satisfaction to provide a place where people can come to relax, enjoy good food and art, and experience the small town way of life,” Adolfi said.

Colorado resident Jill Polanycia rented the house and raved about it. “Every year my friends from college and I go on a girls’ retreat,” Polanycia said.

“This year we decided to tour Virginia Wine Country, and a Google search took us to Rappahannock County and The House on Water Street. It was the perfect place for what we wanted — a quiet vacation away from the craziness of the city.” Polanycia and her friends took advantages of one of the getaway packages Adolfi and Boc offer.

“We purchased the Ultimate Massage and Farmhouse Dinner Mountain Getaway,” Polanycia said. “It was just what we needed.” Adolfi and Boc offer numerous packages that utilize other local businesses and include services such as massages, writing workshops, photography lessons, hiking trips and dinners cooked by local chefs.

“We had a great time,” Polanycia said. “We’re very glad we chose Rappahannock County for this year’s reunion.”

Seattle resident Ann Tyson chose Rappahannock County and The House on Water Street for a different reason — her fiancé needed to unwind from his service in Afghanistan.

“We just wanted a quiet, calm place, where he could rest,” Tyson said. “We’ve rented the House two times so far. It’s a very special place. We love strolling to the restaurants and the market, seeing the lovely homes on our street, and just being a part of a small village.”

While Adolfi and Boc offer a taste of village life in Rappahannock, Andrea Wooten and her husband Steve provide the experience of seclusion in a vacation rental home on their 128-acre property, Cardinal Springs Farm, located just outside of Sperryville.

“Guests have the amenities of a fully equipped farmhouse, with updated kitchen and laundry facilities,” Wooten wrote in an email. “They also have 128 acres of land to explore and enjoy fishing, canoeing, swimming and paddle boating on our 2.5-acre pond and smaller ponds.

“Our 60-plus friendly farm animals are also a big attraction, especially for children. Often our guests enjoy gathering eggs for breakfast and vegetables from our gardens for their meals. Some guests even help with farm chores because they want the full farm experience.”

The view from the patio and pergola of The King Mountain House in Washington.Kay Beatty
The view from the patio and pergola of The King Mountain House in Washington.

Wooten and her husband get a lot of satisfaction in providing a peaceful farm setting for guests. “We love sharing our love of animals and nature with others,” she said. “I’m very glad a friend convinced us to do this.”

Judy Reidinger and her husband Richard also enjoy sharing their love of Rappahannock County with others. They own a 13-acre property in Sperryville they call Hazel Mountain Haven. They bought the property in 1994, and updated the 1970s house, as well as the more than 200-year-old chestnut log cabin in which they currently reside. After renovations, they rented the newer house to families long-term. In the early 2000s they decided to try something new.

“After getting a permit from the county board of supervisors we offered it as a vacation rental home,” Reidinger said. “It’s been wonderful meeting people and giving them a sampling of life in Rappahannock County.”

She noted that they’ve had renters from all over the country and around the globe — Canada, England, Africa, China and others. The property offers views of Old Rag and the Hazel River, while being near to local eateries and tourist attractions.

As one online reviewer of the Reidingers’ vacation rental home wrote: “My husband and I called Hazel Mountain Retreat our ‘home’ for three wonderful weeks . . . Our hosts, Dick and Judy, made sure that our stay was not only comfortable but also culturally enriching with their area stories and must-do recommendations . . . When not wanting to do anything, Hazel Mountain gave us all it claims to be: A tranquil and restorative place where you can watch the changing light of the day, misty mountains and night skies. We were sad to leave at the end of our stay, but we promised ourselves a someday-soon return to this very special place.”

In another region of the county, Amissville, Merilee Poe and her husband, Randy, own and run Miss Kitty’s Place. Classic in design, Miss Kitty’s is filled with the comforts one might find at grandma’s house, including 19th century family portraits and lovely antique furniture.

The home is surrounded by flowers that Poe has maintained in memory of her mother, Catherine Gollaher, whose nickname was “Miss Kitty.” Down a flower-lined incline, next to the Rappahannock River, is a large recreation area the couple provides for guests.

Merilee Poe’s mother, Catherine Gollaher (aka Miss Kitty), relaxes on the front porch of Miss Kitty’s Place with grandchildren Stephany and Bethany in 2002.Courtesy photo
Merilee Poe’s mother, Catherine Gollaher (aka Miss Kitty), relaxes on the front porch of Miss Kitty’s Place with grandchildren Stephany and Bethany in 2002.

“My parents bought the property in the 1950s for weekend use,” Poe said, “In the early 80s, after my father passed, mom wanted to move close to me, so she remodeled the house and moved in full-time. When she died, she left the place to me. I turned it into a vacation rental so guests can enjoy a relaxing place away from the city, while our family can still use it to create more fond memories.”

Poe has been a Rappahannock County resident for over 50 years, and her husband is a life-long resident. “I enjoy meeting people who rent it, stateside and world-wide,” she said. “It’s nice to share the joy of living here with others.”

Dawn Look and her family, residents of Portsmouth, Va., stayed at Miss Kitty’s Place twice in 2012. “There is plenty of space for small or large groups to relax in comfort,” Look wrote in an email.

“The house was clean and has all the conveniences of home. The location is great. There are many things to do and see in the area — we were able to go to Luray Caverns, local wineries and the Apple Festival. Miss Kitty’s Place is also a great getaway even if you don’t go out exploring the area. We spent an entire day sitting around the kitchen table playing board games and laughing the day away. The outside porches, trail, lake and river allows for a great afternoon relaxing outside.”

While Miss Kitty’s place offers scenic views of the river, The King Mountain House, a contemporary-style vacation rental home located on a ridge of Mary Jane Cappello and husband Chris Bird’s Horseshoe Hollow Farm in Washington, showcases spectacular views of the county’s landscape. From the patio and the expanse of windows in the home, renters can gaze at miles of mountains, rolling hills and valleys in the distance.

“My in-laws bought the 375-acre farm and built the house over 40 years ago,” Cappello said. “Our home is on the other side of the farm (from the vacation rental).” Cappello taught in the Rappahannock school system for 29 years. After graduating college in 1974, her husband moved to his parents’ farm to work full time. They met in Rappahannock County.

“We couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” Cappello said. “And we didn’t want to sell his parents’ home after his dad passed in 2013.” That’s why they felt opening it as a vacation home made perfect sense.

“We can still use the house when family and friends visit, but we can also generate income from using it as a vacation rental home,” she said. “Plus, we like introducing new people to the farm.” Their first guests arrived on July 25.

“Two former college roommates, one from Fredericksburg and one from Long Island, stayed from Friday until Sunday,” she said. “I received texts all day Sunday, after they left, about how much they and their significant others enjoyed their stay. I’m looking forward to meeting many more guests.”