Berkeley Springs WeekendPosted: April 24, 2012
A few weeks ago, I spent a long weekend in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. My mom has been a bunch of times (with my dad or just with her friends), but this was my first visit. It is about 3 hours from where I live on one of those nice drives that doesn’t see much traffic. I took a Friday off work and spent two nights in town.
The main town is extremely small. There is a main street with shops and restaurants, and a side street with a collection of shops. There are a few things outside of this 2-3 block range, mainly restaurants, spas, or places to stay. The shops in town fall mainly into the following categories: gift shops, art gallery/shops, new age stuff, antiques. The main attraction is town is the natural spring water and spas have been built all over that offer whirlpool baths and other spa services like manicures and massages. There is a small arts community and you can see dramatic performances, art done by school kids, or even catch a movie (only on the weekends) in the renovated theater. There are also a bunch of nature-related activities to enjoy nearby, like hiking or fishing, but I cannot speak to those based on this trip.
I stayed in the least creepy B&B I could find: Brookside Manor. It is in an old house, but is only a year into its life as a B&B. The decor is country/antique but not overdone. I couldn’t relax in a B&B full of lace and creepy dolls. The rooms also have really comfortable beds and modern bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs. There was not a full breakfast, but a sort of plus-sided continental breakfast.
The best meal I had was at Lot 12 Public House. It is an upscale American farm-to-table restaurant and is a real gem for the town. My only regret was that I went their my first night and spent every meal after wishing I was back at Lot 12! If you plan to go, make reservations.
Since I have never been to Berkeley Springs, I wanted to sample the different spas. The State Park operates a spa. The park itself is very small, just one block. You can get massages and other treatments in one building, but I opted to get a “Roman Bath” which is in the second building. It was $35 for one hour. You get a private room, with a large titled, walk in mini swimming pool-like arrangement. The pool dimensions are probably 5 feet by 10 feet. It spans the width of the room, and there is just a small area for a chair outside of the pool. You are allowed to have up to two people into these pools. The water was a little over waist high, and warm but not hot. I basically just hung out, and read a book for a while. The facility is somewhat run down and not fancy. It seemed clean enough, but definitely had more of a YMCA locker room feel than a day spa feel. Still for the price, I would go back.
I also went to Atasia Spa (caution – website has sound) for a 15 minute whirlpool bath and a massage. This is a more traditional day spa, with a fancy reception area, small gift shop, and locker rooms with a shower and amenities like a hair dryer. An attendant showed me to a locker, gave me a giant fluffy robe and told me to step into the hallway when I was ready. It seemed like they had three separate rooms for whirlpools. The rooms were tiny with low lighting and wood paneling (like a sauna, not a basement). This tub was one of those large, jetted ones that is more like a personal hot tub than a bathtub. They turned the jets on for 15 minutes and when the bubbles stopped, that was my cue to head upstairs for my massage. There were two different waiting areas with couches, futons, and chairs for you to wait for your massage, or to chill out after having a massage. These areas had low lighting and typical spa instrumental background music. The massage itself was awesome. The massage therapist used a variety of techniques, including hot rocks and hot towels on my neck. I would recommend this spa if you are interested in massage or other more traditional services.
On my last day I went to the Five Senses Spa at the Country Inn for a whirlpool bath. I had a terrible experience, which started with them calling me at 12 to say I was late for my 11:30 appointment. My appointment was for 1:30 by all records I had. The receptionist was not there, and when someone did show up, they gave me the room where the tub water had been sitting since 11:30. They assured me it was still warm. The actual spa rooms were nice, but I would not bother going there again.
On my way home, I stopped at Frog Valley Artisans, and bought some jewelry and a metal star sculpture. Then I ate brunch at Panorama at the Peak (caution – website has sound), enjoying the locally sourced food and the fantastic view.