Your retreat by the river at The Chesapeake Inn awaits in Urbanna, a rural, coastal port town on the Rappahannock River.
Everything about this boutique hotel invites you to relax. Owners Gari Lister and Matt Gobush redecorated and renovated each of the 12 guestrooms, transforming a Coca-Cola cinderblock plant into an oasis. All the rooms feel elegant with a chandelier overhead along with original art and a mix of vintage and modern furniture where “you can still safely put your bare feet or border collies on the furniture.”
Speaking of, the couple named the Inn after their own border collie, Chesapeake Leigh, 11 years old now. Their new puppy, Callie Kate, will likely be the one to greet you, though, and the couple and their staff will make you feel at home right away. They promise no endless wait to get the keys to your room; the Inn has no official check-in or checkout time. The Inn is also pet friendly, charging no fees for guests’ four-legged family members.
With yoga classes, free snacks, a restaurant adjacent called The Half-Shell Grill and common spaces that encourage lingering, it’s easy to spoil yourself here. Outdoor amenities, “the toys,” extend the respite beyond the beautiful garden.
In addition to the bikes, trikes and signature pedal-operated surreys, Inn guests can use any of the five onsite kayaks free of charge. Two are traditional singles that are closed, two are open singles and another is a tandem.
“We don’t rent the kayaks to anyone; they’re dedicated to our guests,” Lister said. “We all have so many demands placed on us. We need an opportunity to unwind, relax and feel special. That’s what we try to do for our guests.”
Guests can kayak both on the Rappahannock and in Urbanna Creek, where even a beginner would be comfortable. A beach across the Creek from the harbor is ideal for picnicking or just hanging out with friends. “That’s the shortest little paddle you can imagine,” Gobush said. “Paddling the Creek offers much more than just the beach to explore with beautiful wildlife and historic sites; there’s actually a sunken civil war ship!
The town is working on a Bluewater Trail with sites that are historic and eco, natural sites.
Keep your eyes out for eagles as Urbanna is actually a bird sanctuary. A number of playful dolphins add to the revelry of being out on the water.
The Chesapeake Inn recently began partnering with Friends of the Rappahannock, a grassroots nonprofit that advocates to protect and restore the Rappahannock River. Monthly, guests can enjoy a trip out on Urbanna Creek to learn about oyster aquaculture and other conservation efforts. Three living shoreline projects are providing new homes for oysters. Up to six people can go at once.
Another partnership with Friends of Dragon Run offers another unique paddling experience just a short drive from Urbanna.
Guests can also wander off property on foot or with one of the bikes or surreys to Waterman’s Park, a riverfront pocket park on Kent Street, an exquisite spot to savor a sunset.
Lister and Gobush married in Key West, and when they decided to look for a spot to raise their family, they felt a similar vibe in Urbanna. “I loved that you could walk to dinner and walk home,” Lister said. “You can walk to everything here. It’s an easy walk to the water. It’s an easy place to be at peace.”