I love discovering a unique place to stay--an inn with character, heritage, all the modern amenities, and a restaurant that makes me smile. The South boasts lots of these jewels, and one of my favorites sits in the Brandywine Valley of Delaware, land of the Du Ponts--and those guys sure knew how to live.
Bungalows, tucked into rolling hills, gleam with welcome. Flickering gaslights cast dancing shadows across the narrow lanes leading to 11 buildings that compose The Inn at Montchanin Village--a perfect romantic getaway.
The 19th-century buildings hold 28 unique guest rooms, filled with tasteful period and reproduction furniture. Note the gas fireplaces, refrigerators stocked with complimentary sodas and water, and marble bathrooms with heated towel racks. Beds boast whisper-soft linens and snuggly afghans. A cabinet filled with china, glassware, and utensils enables you to order in and enjoy a hibernating kind of stay.
You must venture out, however, to Krazy Kats Restaurant (888-4200), a short walk down the lane. Located in what was once the village blacksmith's shop, this restaurant features terrific cuisine prepared by chef Damian Durnin. Try the prix fixe dinner (Monday-Thursday), which gives you three courses ($35). The smoked salmon pastrami--with tarragon-scented cottage cheese, radicchio, and toasted raisin-walnut crouton--makes an excellent beginning. Follow with the slow-braised osso buco, and end sweetly with the Milbourne Orchards Apple Bread Pudding. Even the breakfast menu shines with French toast and fresh-squeezed orange juice. The coffee is as smooth as silk sheets on a Du Pont's bed.
More of the Brandywine
Should you decide to roam, you don't have far to go to discover the local attractions. Longwood Gardens (www.longwoodgardens.org) lies only a few minutes away. Winterthur Museum & Country Estate (www.winterthur.org) and the Hagley Museum and Library (www.hagley.org) are other popular area stops.
The Inn at Montchanin Village: State 100 and Kirk Road, Montchanin, Delaware; www.montchanin.com or  888-2133. Room rates: start at $179 per night, suites $279. (Note: Rates will increase April 1.)
"Delaware Deluxe" is from the February 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.