The Bolling Wilson Hotel Review: Charming Boutique Hotel in Wytheville Virginia

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The two-story brick Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia with white columns across the front is a dominant sight on Main Street.
With 30 guest rooms, the Bolling Wilson Hotel provides a striking downtown appearance on Wytheville’s Main Street. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

The writer was hosted.

Canaries, bourbon and orchids filter through a night or more at the Bolling Wilson Hotel in the heart of downtown Wytheville, Virginia.

This southwest Virginia boutique hotel incorporates themes of history with delightful designs, and distinctive flavors too.

Who Was Edith Bolling Wilson?

Edith Bolling was born across the street from this hotel in 1872 but the first time she slept here she was 88 years old. In between she married President Woodrow Wilson when she was age 43, and he was in the White House coping with World War I.

Wytheville’s proud to claim her, and hotel guests can learn lots at the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum. Jaywalk across Main Street from the hotel and you’re right there.

About the Bolling Wilson Hotel

In the hotel—-plan to enjoy a multitude of public areas, indoors and out. Boutique is the Ascend Collection hotel category with 30 rooms and four floors.

Charming with its design themes and easily accessible front desk, common areas and mountain views, the Bolling Wilson Hotel presents a subtle story about Edith on each floor.

Third floor bedrooms at the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia use calm yellow colors and the headboards are covered with fabric picturing canaries which were loved by Edith Bolling Wilson's grandmother.
Furniture matters in a hotel room, but at the Bolling Wilson even the headboard tells a story about yellow canaries. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

SheBuysTravel Tip: If yellow’s a color which soothes you, book your room on the third floor and learn the tales about Edith’s Bolling grandmother and her 27 canaries! Dream about bourbon which Edith kept in a sipping glass on her nightstand? Then choose the fourth floor with bourbon-themed colors. Orchids and the color purple lend romance to floor 2 because Woodrow gave Edith an orchid every day when they were courting.

The Bolling Wilson Hotel is part of the Ascend Hotel Collection of Choice Hotels. Choosing this brand opens the way to one-of-a-kind properties, reflecting local history and the fabric of a community.

Edith’s large portrait on the stairway from the lobby to the second floor is a nice place to linger and ponder. I never thought much (if anything) about her studying American history as a kid, but turns out she’s rather interesting.

Don’t fret about that gracious-looking stairway. Elevators rise to each floor—-they’re little so you might have to wait a turn.

Elegant and understated is the appearance of Edith Bolling Wilson, portrayed in a large portrait in the lobby of the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia.
Edith Bolling Wilson’s portrait provides a gentle reminder of personal history in the hotel lobby. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Luxury Guest Room Details

Want to sip some bourbon soaking in your deep Jacuzzi tub? Then book a room on the fourth floor. Your headboard when you slip between the sheets will be the color of a stout bourbon.

Third floor room headboards are a modest yellow, and canary-themed. Perhaps Grandmother Bolling was a bit eccentric since she kept 26 caged canaries in that house-now-museum across the street and little Edith helped care for them, living and dead.

All total, the 30 rooms have 20 king beds, 9 double queen bed rooms and one with a pair of full-size beds. All have private bathrooms with toiletries; room amenities include hair dryer, air conditioning and ironing board.

Twelve king bed rooms have glass walk-in showers, three have sleeper sofas, one has the big tub, and three are shower/tub combos.

Double queen bedrooms break out the bathroom this way: three with shower/tub combined and six with glass walk in showers.

Single-cup coffee makers in rooms are discreetly behind closed doors but easy to use. The small fridge held two bottles of water and the desk and nightstands had ample places to plug in devices, not always the case in a historic building.

Plus there is free wifi and the front desk provides the password automatically as part of 3:00 p.m. check in. Check out time is 11:00 a.m. Free parking.

Black and white check floors in the bathroom at the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginiapay homage to designs decades ago, while sinks are set in modern tabletops.
Guest bathrooms blend modern amenities with historic design motifs. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Green Procedures

There’s no big fanfare about caring for the climate at the Bolling Wilson Hotel, but find gentle evidence in your hotel room to this effect:

  • Please hang this card on your door if you’d like extra towels or sheets or amenities
  • We refill soaps and shampoos and conditioners to protect the climate
  • If you’d rather not reuse your sheets, just let us know. Regular practice is to change after three nights.

I wondered about recycling since my room did not have separate receptacles, and found the answer astonishing, and perhaps practical. “Housekeeping separates everything appropriately.”

Smoke free is the air report, with non-smoking policies.

Accessible Rooms

Two of the 30 luxury guest rooms are focused on accessibility, and they’re on the first floor. One offers a king bed and the other has two full size beds.

Roll-in entry is available from the covered portico on the side of the building. Front door arrival to the lobby requires a few steps.

Stairs are necessary to access the rooftop bar called the Perch. Elevator fine to fourth floor but then a flight to walk up.

Should You Take The Kids?

Be comfortable with a hotel-provided Pac ‘n-Play only because there are no cribs or rollaway beds to request. Wytheville has lots of things to do so family fun is quite abundant.

White orchids within sprays of purple and pale green flowers form an enormous bouquet in the lobby of the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia
Gorgeous floral displays in hotel lobbies are not unusual, but at the Bolling Wilson orchids tell a story of love between Edith and Woodrow! Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Can Pets Enjoy This Boutique Hotel?

Animals have a history in Bolling Wilson Hotel stories so it’s only right this is a pet friendly hotel. Travelers with dogs and cats stay on the second floor—the orchid themed level. Expect a $50 pet fee.

Notice the portrait-style paintings of sheep in the hotel’s Graze on Main restaurant. They evoke memories of Edith Bolling Wilson raising sheep on the White House lawn and donating a whopping $100,000 to the American Red Cross for the war effort from selling the wool.

Groupings of sofas and chairs on  the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia front porch invite gatherings with a view of downtown Main Street.
The front porch veranda of the Bollling Wilson Hotel is one of three outdoor seating areas. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Outside Options at the Bolling Wilson Hotel

I only stayed two nights and that wasn’t enough to fully enjoy all the outside spaces.

Coffee on the front verandah. Cocktails in the Perch, a rooftop bar and dining space.

Casual dining and conversation in the courtyard, sometimes live music too.

Plus, the location at 170 East Main Street, Wytheville, VA 24382 let me walk to shops, restaurants and public art.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Yes, the hotel’s Bourbon Bar serves up whatever libation you might want, but it was also fun to walk a couple of blocks to Petal’s Wine Bar and select a bottle to enjoy with friends in the Bolling Wilson Hotel’s outside spaces.

In a portrait in the dining room of the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia, thick gobs of paint portray a sheep, evoking memories of lambs on the White House lawn during World War I.
Painted portraits of sheep are not random art in the hotel dining room. Edith Bolling Wilson raised them on the White House lawn! Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Meals in the Hotel

Breakfast is complimentary, served in the ballroom, just a few steps from the front desk. Serve yourself continental style includes hot and cold foods, juices, coffee and tea.

Graze on Main is the name of the restaurant, another storytelling moment in the history of the hotel’s namesake. Edith kept sheep on the White House lawn to reduce mowing costs and supply shear wool for socks for soldiers in World War I.

Menu staples include fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits and carrot cake made in house with cream cheese frosting.

The Bourbon Bar pays homage to Edith’s habit of keeping a sipping glass at her bedside — but in far greater quantity.

The Vault is a private dining room holding a dozen people, or fewer. Reservations recommended.

The Vault also doubles as a meeting room—-for small meetings.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Make a reservation for Graze on Main and the Bourbon Bar because long lines appear by 5:00 p.m. with people who did. I would have been disappointed to miss the Bourbon Bar experience.

An enormous mirror frames many bottles of bourbon and other spirits in the hotel Bourbon Bar right off the lobby of the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia.
The Bourbon Bar is a popular gathering place in the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Anything Missing?

The gift shop in the lobby near check in stocks sundry items that travelers might need to restock, and items made by local artisans.

Do not expect room service. Do lean on the front desk staff for concierge-type questions. I found them highly accommodating and knowledgeable.

Plan to drive a few blocks to workout. The hotel has a partnership with a Wytheville gym instead of keeping a fitness center on site.

Arriving in Wytheville

Three airports serve the community:

  • Roanoke Regional 79 miles
  • Tri-Cities Regional 87 miles (Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City)
  • Charlotte Douglas International 142 miles

For highway travel, follow Interstates 77 or 81; they intersect and there are plenty of Wytheville hotels with familiar chain lodging and food stops.

In the lobby of the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginia, the poster of a lady with a large, floppy feathered hat advertising the song "Oh You Beautiful Doll" from 1915.
Stories of Edith and Woodrow Wilson precede the building of the hotel, but appear as tender tales in the lobby today. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts

Before this was the Bolling Wilson Hotel

1927 was the year the George Wythe Hotel opened in Wytheville, receiving guests until the 1970s. For a while it was a bank, hence the private dining room named the Vault. Today’s property opened in the fall of 2014.

Hoteliers Bill and Farron Smith, partners with the Ascend Collection, delight in expanding the history of Edith Bolling Wilson’s life through the two-story museum across the street.

There is no admission fee.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Learning about this first lady allowed me to notice design details in the hotel more fully. Sipping morning coffee on the front veranda, looking toward the museum, allowed me to muse about Edith Bolling Wilson as the first first lady to:

  • write an autobiography
  • travel with a president to Europe
  • drive an electric car
A church steeple stands tall above treetops but the view from the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville Virginiais far  and wide into the mountains and skies.
The view from the hotel rooftop encourages musing about the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo credit: Christine Tibbetts
Christine Tibbetts believes family travel is shared discovery — almost like having a secret among generations who travel together. The matriarch of a big blended clan with many adventuresome traveling members, she is a classically-trained journalist. Christine handled PR and marketing accounts for four decades, specializing in tourism, the arts, education, politics and community development.  She builds travel features with depth interviews and abundant musing to uncover the soul of each place.
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