by Wendy Irvine
Who hasn’t mulled time travel: the sights, the sounds, the exciting people we’d meet? While to date the endeavor has only been explored in fiction, there is a new-fashioned way to slip into the past.
The Jefferson Hotel – named after our country’s third president – has majestically held court in Richmond, Virginia for well over a century and is one of the rare hotels in America to have earned both the Forbes five-star and AAA five-diamond ratings. And boy, does it show.
Since it opened in 1895, thirteen presidents, music royalty, comedic artists, sports stars, politicians, and A-list actors and actresses galore have snoozed in this world class hotel. The list of who’s who is long, but at a glance, we’re talking Elvis, Spielberg, Chaplin and a gazillion more.
It’s important to note that before making a reservation at The Jefferson, we advise emptying your calendar as much as possible. Stay at this historical jewel when you can fully nestle into this gorgeous piece of history. An overnight at The Jefferson is like cruising the coast in a convertible; sipping something bubbly on a rooftop overlooking Paris; snorkeling the underwater gardens of Bali. You’ll need the luxury of time to explore, savor, and relax into your precious moments at this stunning property.
While The Jefferson has seen her share of face lifts through the years, she recently enjoyed a lavish renovation on Lemaire and every guestroom and bathroom on property — completed in late-2016. Clearly Richmond’s only five-star hotel means to keep every star and diamond to her name.
The Jefferson’s 181 guest rooms and suites are saturated in square footage – the coziest clocking in at 400-square-feet and the largest at over 1,000. Her rooms are layered in luxuries like a Nespresso coffeemaker, a huge flat-screen (maybe two depending on your room choice) and a stunning marble bathroom that’s more like a mini-spa with a soaking tub, a walk-in shower and mirror-TV.
If picturing your kids doing their usual goofing off in such an elite hotel causes dread, no worries. Kids are more than welcome at The Jefferson. Given the indoor pool, the complimentary bikes, even a memorable afternoon tea (a teddy bear and chocolate tea happen every month), children thrill to this special property almost as much as adults.
And when you’re ready to explore what’s just outside The Jefferson, you’ll be pleased to note the property’s awesome location. Wreathed in Richmond-excitement, you’ll find that you’re minutes from The Bryd Theater, Carytown, the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge (perfect for those bikes), Maymont, the Children’s Museum of Richmond, the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Altria Theater.
Our Editor Loves
- Yesteryear jewel dripping in opulence
- Sumptuous guestrooms with marble bathrooms
- Indoor swimming pool and sundeck
- Theme Park
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Jefferson's guest rooms are breathtaking spaces in which to lay your head, and brimming in special amenities that are tucked out of sight until needed. Before you enter your room you'll notice something unusual outside of your door. A doorbell. Just like doorbells in the finest homes. So, when room service delivers a tray of something heavenly or your kids accidentally get locked out, you'll hear an elegant bell versus the heavy knocking we associate with guestrooms.
Each room features a large flat-screen with premium cable, a fully-stocked mini-bar and a Nespresso coffeemaker. Most rooms offer the choice between a king or two queen beds, and specific suites have a pullout sofa. This being The Jefferson, each room has its own iron, ironing board, in-room safe, lighted make-up mirror and umbrella.
Even the most sophisticated hotel guest will be wowed by the impressive master bath. The soaking tub, crafted from white Carrera marble sourced in Italy, holds 55-gallons of lovely warmth. And the tub faces the latest tech-toy -- a TV in the mirror.
Each master bath has a spacious walk-in shower with a huge rain shower head. A private toilet closet with its own closing door sits near to the shower (music to a parent's ears). Molton Brown bath amenities are sprinkled throughout. The bathroom walls are drenched in a "silver mink" hue that ties this incredible space together. (Note: Four bathrooms out of 181 guest rooms do not have a soaking tub so if a lovely dip is part of a luxury visit for you, reserve a room specifically with a soaking tub.)
Every evening your room will receive a bit of attention from the hotel staff with an evening turndown and a final sprucing. A newspaper is delivered during the workday.
The honor bar fridge can be emptied by staff before your arrival so the little guys don't dip into the goodies. Call before you arrive for the fridge to be emptied ($25 restocking fee).
If you need a mini-fridge, call in advance and staff will deliver one to your room ($35 per day). Rollaways can also be requested ($60 per day) while cribs are complimentary.
Various rooms connect. DVD players are available upon request ($25 per day).
The Jefferson caters to larger families by offering the Virginia Suite that can accommodate six guests with two queen beds and a sofa bed. For groups of five or more, many connecting/adjoining rooms are available for groups up to twelve.
The 400- to 500-square-foot premier rooms have one king-size bed and a master bath.
Grand Premier Rooms
Delivering 500- to 600-square-feet, Grand Premiers are the largest of the guest rooms and offer either a king or two queen beds. This guestroom also has a master bath, seating area with table, arm chairs and an adjoining dressing area.
The Richmond Suites are new to The Jefferson and deliver 700-square feet with a king sized bed, two large flat-screen TVs, a separate living area, a half-bath connected to the living room. For an additional charge, a second bedroom can be connected to this suite. Note: Two Richmond suites do not have a soaking tub.
Offering 1,000 square feet, these brand new suites are named in honor of Major Lewis Ginter, The Jefferson's founder. The Ginter Suites feature a foyer with a half bath, a living room with a large flat-screen TV, a dining table and a kitchenette with refrigerator, wine racks, a sink and a Nespresso coffeemaker. The bedroom features a king bed, more seating and a second flat-screen TV. The suite also has a master bath and dressing area. A second bedroom can be connected to this suite for an additional fee.
This 900-square foot new suite includes a kitchenette, a half-bath and bedroom with two queen beds and a sleeper sofa in the living room (that sleeps two). The suite also boasts a master bath and dressing area.
Have not been to Richmond before, but have no issues with #1 traveler ranking. Very nice classical "Old South" style hotel. Hotel lobby was large, beautiful and grand. Like a "Gone with the Wind" setting. They have a small museum area you can visit to get the history. Room was large and very nice for price. Very quiet. Self parking just a few hundred feet walk away. Within walking distance of some good restaurants, but in the middle of an old city, so be aware of your surroundings if walking at night. We did not try their highly rated on site restaurant or bar, but both looked very elegant. Close to VCU college campus. A nice Starbucks a few minutes walk away. Short drive to airport. If we ever get back to Richmond, we will stay there again.
After a 4-night stay at The Jefferson, I am blown away by this hotel. The lobby, three-story reception area, and ballroom are all gorgeous examples of neoclassical Jeffersonian architecture. Dining at the hotel's Lemaitre restaurant and excellent bar was so good I had no desire to eat anywhere else. (Don't miss the fried deviled eggs with Va. country ham! Also the fried Chesapeake oysters.)
My room--really a suite--was amazing for under $250: a foyer with Nescafe coffee pod machine and free spring water, a huge king bedroom with new Chromecast-capable TV, a dressing room with ample closet space and the softest robes I've ever felt, and a giant, elegant bath with roman bath, walk-in shower. Did I mention chandeliers throughout? (Even in the bathroom.) Housekeeping service went above and beyond. Live piano was provided by a music professor from the university. Wifi service worked great everywhere. The indoor pool was a perfect 85 degrees. I have paid twice as much for room as hotels in NYC, SF, LA, and elsewhere that offer less than half as much. The Jefferson shows how outstanding a hotel can be when every detail matters. Old Tommy J would approve!
The Jefferson keeps six bicycles on hand for guests who want to cruise through Richmond or head for some much-needed nature-therapy. If it's the latter, we suggest the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge - that leads to scenic River trails - just six minutes away (by car) at 300 Tredegar Street, Richmond, VA 23219.
The Jefferson's bikes are Classic Dutch Bikes by Linus that have an upright position (picture a French girl pedaling through Parisian streets with a flower basket at the front. The Jefferson's bikes are missing the flowers, but you get the pretty picture).
Helmets, combination locks and baskets are also available at no charge. Plan to use the bikes for three-hours at a time and if you pedal too far afield? Great news - The Jefferson's sleek SUV with a bike carrier will pick up your family and bikes (if you're within the downtown area) at no charge. Reserve your bikes in advance by contacting the concierge.
You'll find a tiny museum on the rotunda level (bottom of the staircase and hang a left), where it's easy to become absorbed by a collection of artifacts that detail The Jefferson's history -- including original silver tea sets used by the hotel throughout the decades, photos, newspapers from the property's date of opening and more.
Located on the first floor (one up from the lobby), is a stunner of a swimming pool. Flanked by high-end chaise lounges and crowned with a dramatic atrium ceiling, this pool oozes luxury. A small rooftop deck sits outside - with gorgeous wrought iron chaise lounges -- for those wanting to catch a little Vitamin D and a nice Richmond view.
Parents will appreciate that the shallow end of the pool is just three feet while the deep end is five. Kids are welcome to let off steam and have a great time.
Glamourous tables with seating for four are both inside and outdoors on the sun deck, and one quick call to room service means a meal (or drinks) are headed your way.
No need to bring towels to The Jefferson's pool; large, thirsty towels are provided pool-side. Open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The independently-operated day salon offers a variety of services including hair (for women, men, and kids), skin treatments, massages, make-up for special events, waxing and an array of nail services. As long as a parent stays onsite, little kids can have a mani/pedi while big kids might love a facial. The salon is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 pm. Call 804-565-9000 to schedule an appointment.
Self-Guided Walking Tour
Visit the concierge desk in the lobby and let them know that you're interested in the self-guided walking tour. The helpful staff - who are thrilled to share information about their beloved hotel - will hand you a brochure that directs you to Thomas Jefferson's statue. From there, you'll wind through the hotel, brochure in-hand, picking up nuggets of fun facts. Kids love hearing about the original alligators that lived in The Jefferson's fountain for years, the 1901 fire that ravaged a good slice of the hotel, and hear about the many celebrities who've visited through the years.
Afternoon Tea at The Jefferson is a memorable experience for both children and adults. Tea at The Jefferson takes place in the beautiful lobby with its many seating areas ideal for a relaxing conversation. You'll find yourself choosing between an enormous array of pastries, scones, finger sandwiches, and of course, teas. Kids not into tea? Hot chocolate, juices and soda are also available.
Teddy Bear Tea
On the first Sunday of every month children can bring their favorite teddy bear or stuffed animal to join them at tea.
Chocolate Lover's Tea
On the third Saturday of every month, the full tea service features a lavish buffet of chocolates.
Santa Teas are served on two dates only in December and can be reserved on October 1. (Santa Tea fills within an hour so ask The Jefferson in late-September for the very best time to call and make your Santa Tea reservation.)
All Afternoon Teas are served Friday through Sunday with seatings between 3 and 4:15 p.m. Please call 804-649-4661 for reservations. Tip: To reserve an Afternoon Tea in December, make reservations in early September.
Sunday Champagne Brunch
The Jefferson's decadent Sunday Champagne Brunch is wildly popular with Richmond locals and visitors alike. The seemingly endless buffet features meats, freshly made everything like waffles, pancakes and eggs Benedict. The dessert list brims with treats like a pecan bourbon torte, various cheesecakes and a sundae station with your choice of bananas foster, cherries jubilee, stuffed crepes or waffle cones and ice cream.
Make a note to reserve the champagne brunch well in advance -- this baby fills fast. Reservations are taken precisely six months from the date of your visit.
Seating times are 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Please call 804-649-4609 for reservations.
The Jefferson's opulent dining spot features old world surroundings, impeccable service, but modern plates. And don't get us wrong, kids are welcome as long as they use their indoor voices.
The Lemaire plate is crafted from the chef's dedication to a farm-to-table philosophy and a small menu. The cold appetizers include pearl oysters, and seasonal fruit and arugula salad with camembert and ginger crÃ¨me fraiche. Hot appetizers features pan seared jumbo crab cake and southern fried green tomatoes with blue crab remoulade. The main menu offers a Virginia maple-pecan crusted salmon and certified Angus beef tenderloin along with vegetarian dishes. The wine list is extensive and a dedicated wine director is pleased to assist in pairing the ideal wine choice to your entrÃ©e.
Concerned about the price of dining at Lemaire? You'll be pleased to know that Lemaire is proud to keep prices at $30 a plate and under.
If you haven't saved enough room for dessert - and, hey, no judgement -- we suggest ordering one dessert and several forks. The luscious offerings include: peanut butter S'mores, a triple chocolate bread pudding with Bailey's Irish Cream ice cream and a toffee anglaise. Just want a scoop of vanilla or a plate of fresh fruit to top off your meal? Just make your request. Lemaire is brilliant at catering to guests' needs. Reservations strongly recommended, call 804-649-4629.
Highchairs, boosters, and crayons for kids? Yep to all three, plus the children's menu offers pasta with marinara, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese and so forth at small prices.
Open for dinner from 5 pm to 10 pm; the Daily Lounge from 4 pm to midnight.
Room service is available 24/7 at The Jefferson. TJ's caters breakfast and lunch room service orders, and Lemaire caters dinner and overnight service. The overnight menu is relatively simple with light sandwiches, salads and a short list of desserts.
TJ's Restaurant and Lounge
TJ's provides a casual-elegant spot for breakfast and lunch. The creative breakfast menu includes a bacon and cheddar scone paired with honey Tabasco butter, and omelets, eggs Benedict, triple berry smoothies and so forth. Lunch offers Jefferson peanut soup, upscale salads, large burgers and fancy sandwiches like the crispy cordon bleu. Desserts range from classics like a root beer float to the unique Almond Joy crÃ¨me brulee.
TJ's offers both a kid-breakfast and a kid-lunch menu. The breakfast menu features many kid-sized portions of waffles, French toast, pancakes, cereals, eggs and a lot more. Lunch features grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta and butter, peanut butter and jelly, a hamburger and more. Parents will be happy to find highchairs, boosters and crayons to keep the kids happy.
Open for breakfast Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and until 1 p.m. on Sunday; for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and dinner daily from 5 to 9 p.m. The bar and lounge is open Monday through Saturday from 11 to 11 and on Sunday from 3 to 11 p.m.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
We love resorts with no resort fee. High-speed wireless internet, local phone calls, in-room coffee, a safe and downtown transportation are all rolled into your room fee. Kids 18 and under stay free when occupying existing bedding in the same room with their parents.
The Jefferson has two well stocked business centers. You'll find the first at the bottom of the ballroom steps and the second in the Palm Court (across from the Concierge desk in the lobby). Just slide your guestroom key into one of The Jefferson's two business centers, and you'll have full access 24/7.
Check-in is at 4 p.m. and check-out is at noon.
One of the true benefits of staying in a five-star hotel is chatting with the super knowledgeable concierge. You can ask these people anything:
Wondering about the hotel's history or which famous people stayed at The Jefferson? Need restaurant reservations? Theater tickets? Babysitting services? How about reservations for the plane, train, or automobile? The Jefferson's concierge can even help with a florist and gift deliveries, transportation to downtown Richmond venues and a lot more.
The key when it comes to speaking with a concierge? Just ask. You may be surprised to hear, "No problem!"
Workout aficionados will be delighted upon entering The Jefferson's fitness center located on the health club level of the property (push "HC" level in the elevator). You'll find generous rooms for the cardio machines (including a rower), and both hand and machine weights. Forget your headphones? No problem -- a basket of quality headphones are on hand. You'll also find cold water, refrigerated towels, magazines and newspapers and fresh (great) fruit. The locker rooms are upscale with working lockers, a shower and supplies like razors, nail filing boards, styling gel and more.
The Jefferson offers great browsing at both Gators Gifts and Blooms at The Jefferson. Gators Gifts is a fun stop to pick up light sandwiches, muffins and coffee, beautiful jewelry, hotel bathrobes, Molton Brown products (heavenly), magazines and more. Gators is open Monday through Thursday from 7 am to 7 pm; Friday until 8 pm; Saturday from 7:30 am to 8 pm; and Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm.
Blooms at The Jefferson brims with gorgeous home goods including picture frames, topiaries, and more decorative home and garden items. Blooms also provides professional floral planning perfect for sending a gift to a guest at The Jefferson, planning the flowers in your wedding or for a business event. Blooms floral shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Blooms is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Same-day laundry and dry-cleaning services and overnight shoe shine are available for a fee.
The Jefferson offers valet parking at $20 per night. Two self-parking lots are available at $12 a day. Your first choice lot is at 101 West Franklin and sits very near the valet staff. The second lot - which is used mainly at super busy times -- is on Main Street and sits across the street from The Jefferson (between Adams and Jefferson). If you're a traveling single mom with kids, the first lot is a great choice, the second is fine during the day.
The Art of Smart Timing
Fall and spring are the two wow seasons to visit The Jefferson. Richmond in autumn means trees saturated in green, gold and crimson. Richmond's springs are a bounty of floral. Summers are warm in June, and hot and humid in July and August. Winter gets chilly, sees rain, and, in some years, even a few inches of snow. Keep track of the weather channel before you visit The Jefferson and during. Richmond has had her share of surprise storms that blow out of seemingly nowhere. A gorgeous June day can turn into a blustery summer evening with enough wind to take down trees. Stay aware and you'll have a wonderful trip.
The Richmond International Airport (RIC)) is just 15-minutes away -- given no traffic - from The Jefferson. You might see light traffic during morning and evening commutes, but otherwise traffic is rare in Richmond.
The Staples Mills Road Amtrak station is the only train station in Richmond. If you debark at this station and take Uber or a rental car to The Jefferson, expect a 14-minute drive.
Toll roads abound in downtown Richmond near The Jefferson, so keep quarters and dimes handy in your car.
The hip and chic neighborhoods of Richmond sit near The Jefferson - the Fan and Carytown - and are totally walk-able. (Although with children in tow, you might want to drive to these neighborhoods first and then walk the streets.) The rest of Richmond requires a car.
The Jefferson boasts a sleek SUV shuttle that will whisk you anywhere you need to go in downtown Richmond (within a 3-mile radius, give or take) including the Fan and Carytown. Just call the concierge and make your request.
The shuttle is available Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10:45 p.m.
For Mom and Dad
Cocktails and dinner at Lemaire minus discussion on LEGOs, the Flash, or the latest blockbuster video game that just hit the market? Sign you up!
The day salon offers a variety of services including hair (for women, men, and kids), skin treatments, massages, make-up for special events, waxing and an array of nail services. The salon is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 804-565-9000 to schedule an appointment.
Massage treatments include therapeutic, specialty and Swedish massage and are available in the hotel's onsite treatment rooms or in your guestroom. Thirty, 60 and 90-minute massages are available at varying prices depending on whether the massage is in the treatment or guestroom. Hot stone treatments are available for an additional fee. Call 804-565-9000 to schedule a massage. Twenty-four-hour notice is required on all cancellations of massage appointments or you'll be charged the full rate.