This is a long overdue, glowing review of Country Willows Inn in Ashland Oregon. We just had the pleasure of visiting on a perfect April weekend and were among the first to dine in the new, stunning breakfast room. This was our sixteenth year staying at Country Willows and each stay makes us want to come back. When Kara and Dan Burian took ownership a few years ago they had big shoes to fill (we adored the two previous sets of innkeepers) but they are a delight. They have managed to make this place entirely their own, but still kept the charm and the memories.
Country Willows is just two short miles from town, but feels secluded, quiet and spacious. We often find ourselves forgoing the excellent nearby restaurant options in favor of bringing a picnic meal back from town (augmented with cookies and iced tea from the inn) and eating on the front deck while watching the birds, the deer, the geese, the dragonflies. During the hot days we can stay cool on the breezy upstairs balcony or by dipping our toes in the pool. I look forward to our summer trip when the we can sit outside the new breakfast room, enjoying the views of the fields and hills.
Breakfasts are always fabulous here, but meals on this trip exceeded our already high expectations. Food is expertly prepared, inventive and ample without being excessive. Small pastries, rich coffee and tea are available an hour before meal service. Breakfasts typically begin with juice and a fruit dish – some examples, grapes in a yogurt, toasted fennel and tarragon sauce or fresh strawberries topped with a tart/sweet sabayon sauce. Innkeeper Daniel Trevallee served us scrambled eggs with feta and goat cheese on roasted vegetables that had me pausing between each forkful to ask how he could make eggs taste that light and wonderful. We all know our way around a plate of scrambled eggs, but these were unlike anything I had ever tasted before. They were surpassed only by the next day’s perfectly poached eggs on a bed of caramelized onions and polenta, sprinkled with mushroom duxelles. Even the “sweet” options are filling and not cloying as one often finds with typical sticky, sugary B&B casserole breakfasts. This morning’s offering was a puffed “pancake” (think scone/muffin texture) topped with cottage & cream cheese, lemon thyme cream and warm blueberry compote. Most meals are served with a side of lean, flavorful sausage, but the meal is satisfying enough for those of us who want to forego the meat option.
The new breakfast room just opened earlier this month. It is bright and spacious with huge windows made for daydreaming or drinking that fourth or fifth cup of coffee. It is a vast improvement over the previous cozy but cramped breakfast room in the house. The placement of the tables will still allow for chatting across tables and sharing play reviews or for privacy as the guests choose. The choices of bright, inside dining or sunny outside tables should please all diners, though I can see how the stairs might be daunting to some visitors. The new building masterfully ties in with the barn and the outbuilding. Once the landscaping takes over and the wood railings are weather-worn I imagine it will look like it was always meant to be there.
The inn has nine rooms, all with private bathrooms – four in the house, four in the barn and a separate cottage near the pool. There are great variations in size and room amenities (but we all get the same breakfast!) We often stay in Willow, a large room with an inviting king-sized bed and a small sitting area. We have the run of the house with plenty of places to read and a television set downstairs with an eclectic collection of movies.
Kara, Dan and Daniel are calm, engaging and hospitable. We feel welcome and comfortable as soon as we walk in the door and Dan and Kara felt like old friends as soon as we met them. Bringing Daniel back to the inn was a stroke of genius. I suspect his quiet efficiency – and that of the friendly staff – has much to do with the Inn’s success. We try to be good guests, but on this visit we seemed to be interrupting Kara often, peppering her with questions and requests. She remained unflappably gracious and often gave more than we asked for. A request to photograph baby geese and ducks in their pen in the garage turned into an impromptu romp on the lawn, feeding, petting and photographing the little ones. Last summer Dan treated us to a lovely guitar concert on the lawn, singing old favorites while we were served wine, cheese and fruit. It was a memorable evening and a highlight of our trip. I hope we will again have the opportunity to enjoy such a wonderful evening on our return summer visit.
Coming to Country Willows feels like coming home. So much so that I often reach for our garage door opener as we turn into the front drive. We hate to leave but always look forward to our return.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Country Willows Inn, located on five lush acres of farmland, is surrounded by the beautiful Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges. We offer cozy and quiet rooms in the restored 1890s farmhouse, our private cottage, and our beautiful barn suites. Relax in comfort on one of our spacious porches, enjoy the heated swimming pool, or find a secluded nook under the willow tree next to the goose pond and enjoy the beautiful mountain vistas. Only 2 miles from downtown Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Other area activities include hiking trails leading right from our inn, bicycling the country roads, horseback riding, or skiing at near by Mt. Ashland. ... more less
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