If you’ve got a deep love of shoes, take a detour west of the Blue Ridge Parkway or south from Charlottesville and spend some time at the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg, Virginia. The 1906 building was a factory annex for a local shoe company; at one point the Craddock Terry Shoe Company was the fifth-largest in the world. It’s been revamped into an upscale boutique hotel while retaining many of the original structural elements.
A giant red pump adorns the entrance, a shoe chair is just inside the door, and various artifacts from the factory days are scattered around the lobby. All nice, but it’s the more whimsical touches that really bring the theme home. Each of the 44 rooms has a different cutout painted wood shoe on the door, from a Mary Jane to a Converse all-star to a sparkly party shoe. The electronic room keys each have a different shoe pictured. Before retiring to bed each night, you place your complimentary continental breakfast order in a shoeshine box and the next morning it’s outside your door with the order.
All the gimmicks make you smile, but so do the comforts in this surprisingly chic hotel. Rooms feature plush comfortable beds with duvets and a leather headboard, several pieces of fine furniture for lounging, interesting textural wall coverings, and silk blackout curtains. Some rooms feature a wall of exposed original brick. Spacious baths have showers big
enough for two and plenty of fluffy towels. Terry robes are standard, as are a fridge, flat-screen TV with more than 75 stations, ergonomic work chair, free high-speed Internet access, and toiletries from Gilchrist and Soames’ Bee Kind eco-friendly line. (Plus you’ve gotta love any hotel cool enough to play the likes of M. Ward and Arctic Monkeys in the lobby instead of the usual Muzak or smooth jazz drek.)
If the weather is frightful, like it was during my visit, you don’t have to go far for a great meal or beer. Two restaurants and a brewery are in an adjoining building that also holds 11 of the rooms. Waterstone specializes in pizza and Jefferson Street Brewery puts together a range of microbrews, while Shoemaker’s Grill is more upscale and has a full bar area.
Craddock Terry has a small fitness room, free parking, and complimentary coffee 24 hours. This member of Historic Hotels of America also has views of the James River and is situated in a city called by Thomas Jefferson “the most interesting spot in the state.” With rates starting at $109 on weekends, you can spend a night here for less than a pair of fancy shoes.
See more photos and history at CraddockTerryHotel.com. (Hint, the “kill the music” button is at the top right.)
[Photos by Tim Leffel, author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, who was hosted as a guest of Craddock Terry hotel for one night while in Lynchburg.]