There wasn't a knickknack out of place. Not a speck of dust on any surface. And there were a lot of knickknacks and many a smooth, dust-catching surface. So the aura of neatness and order was truly impressive.
Everything at The Country Inn at High View was just so - pristine and perfect and oh-so-prettily put together. Not in a don't-you-dare-touch sort of way, though. That's because this four-room (plus former-granary-turned-guesthouse) bed and breakfast isn't some 100-year-old abode filled with grandmother's precious antiques and gewgaws.
The graceful Victorian-style house atop a West Virginia hillside is just 7 years old, a longtime dream fulfilled for owners Gail and Grant Johnson, who built it from scratch on a family-owned parcel of land and opened for business in October 2005. It's full of shiny new furniture and still sports the spanking-new feel of a recent suburban construction: fresh paint and smooth floors, doors and windows that open and close with ease.
And even though it's smack in the middle of the countryside, it looks like a suburban home, too, a mini-McMansion on a hill. All that's missing is the surrounding development. "When we got here, I felt like we were just pulling up to somebody's house," said Tim, one half of the other couple staying the same night my husband and I did. Tim was a B&B newbie, so he was not aware that many are in people's homes, but I knew just what he meant. This one definitely felt different.
And right from the get-go. It was a little tricky to find, the only marker being a small sign in a field by the side of West Virginia Route 259, or Carpers Pike, in the Eastern Panhandle. Even arriving well before dark, we went right past it and had to backtrack to the drive that winds past a small, rustic-looking building (the granary) and then heads uphill through the trees to emerge upon a grassy clearing where the inn sits in solitary splendor, gazing out upon a sublime mountain vista.
We made our way past the artfully placed pumpkins and mini-scarecrows on the wraparound porch to the check-in area. There was no one at the desk, so I wandered through to the parlor and stopped stock-still in front of the stone fireplace that rose from floor to cathedral ceiling along one wall. Oh. My. Goodness. Heaven! I knew I'd like the place, right then and there.
I eased my mouth closed and pulled myself together as Gail emerged from the innkeepers' private quarters to greet us. She graciously showed us around, taking us through the parlor with its comfy, country-style seating, to the brightly colored sun porch where breakfast is served and then up the stairs to the loft, where more plush armchairs beckoned for a sit-down. Heaven again! (Well, of course. We were in West Virginia, after all.)
Our quarters, the Harvest Room (a shiny brass "H" hung from the door key; Gail doesn't miss a decorative beat), were on the first floor, behind the parlor. The bedroom was pretty, with a high queen-size four-poster bed and a gas fireplace in the corner (topped by two shelves of perfectly positioned doodads) but not particularly roomy. Especially compared with the bathroom, which was huge. Because of the Jacuzzi. Which, alas, we'd have no time to use.
But who needs a big room when the whole B&B is your oyster? Before we headed out for dinner at a nearby eatery (Gail's recommendation; great choice!), I sat in the parlor for a bit, flipping through magazines and admiring all the fall decor spread artistically about the space - loads of little tabletop pumpkins, scarecrow figurines, haunted cottages and more. Gotta hand it to Gail; she has a real knack with those knickknacks.
The next morning, my husband got up early to have coffee on the porch. By the time I joined him before we went in to breakfast, he'd already seen at least a dozen deer gamboling on the lawn. Ah, the joys of country life.
And the joys of the Country Inn at High View. After breakfast (sumptuous!) and check-out (Gail packed us some apple bread for the road), we rolled our bags through the parlor and I took one last look around. The sun was pouring through the windows, shining on the floors and tabletops, wreathing everything in a gossamer glow.