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Travel | Hocking Hills

Romantic Retreats

These four spots are perfectly suited for a weekend away.

Scottish Estate
Glenlaurel | Rockbridge

There’s a wee bit of Scotland in Ohio. Glenlaurel was created in 1994 when its original owner yearned for an estate that reflected his Scottish heritage. Today, the 140-acre property, complete with snow-dipped hemlock trees and frozen waterfalls this time of year, is a romantic escape that reflects those passionate Scots. (Think poetry readings, a bagpipe calling guests to dinner and traditional shortbread cookies to be shared.)

The stone-and-stucco Manor House is the hub of Glenlaurel. It is home to overnight accommodations, the Loch Ness Pub and three dining rooms. The Carriage House includes a new upstairs arrangement of two private rooms joined to a common area for couples who are traveling together. Cottages and mini cottages known as “crofts” make you feel as if you are in an old Scottish village.

“Room decor is created and named after different Scottish clans. All the furnishings and carvings on rich wood mantels are unique to the clans,” innkeeper Tracy Baker says of the MacGregor Room and others.

“Some people like to choose a room based on the history of their name,” adds co-owner Kelley Leonard.

The Extras: Picturesque hiking trails beckon guests, but with exceptional fireplaces, king-size mattresses tailor-made for the inn, new hot tubs and six- and seven-course, candle-lit dinners, you may never step outside. “Also, our in-room spa service means you never have to get prepared to visit the spa — we come to you,” says Baker. “One guest ordered a bottle of champagne to enjoy in his hot tub before he came down to dinner.”

What To Do Nearby: Tour the factory and museum of the Columbus Washboard Co. (the last of its kind in the United States) in Logan, or visit the Reese-Peters House in nearby Lancaster, which is home to the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio. “It’s an easy drive to Lancaster, where the old-fashioned streets and buildings are lovely,” says Baker.

14940 Mount Olive Rd., Rockbridge 43149, 740/385-4070,


Gervasi Vineyard
Taste of Tuscany
Gervasi Vineyard | Canton

Blame it on Grandma Gervasi. If her incredible marinara sauce hadn’t been loved so much by her Italian family, maybe her ancestors here would have never considered opening a romantic gathering place where good food, wine and friendship flourish. The Swaldo family (Gervasi was a maiden name) opened its Italianate-style inn in 2011 on a 55-acre former tree farm in Stark County. A winery, two year-round restaurants and a piazza are Tuscan to the core (or maybe that should be cork).

“You can’t fake authenticity. You can’t cut corners. You can throw a little stucco on a building and call it Tuscan, but you really need more detail,” says co-owner and general manager Scott Swaldo. “Our furniture is hand-painted in the Tuscan style, we use travertine limestone flooring instead of ceramic tile, and we have lots of custom wrought iron work, including lighting fixtures.”

The Villas is a boutique inn that comprises six separate buildings, each with four individual suites. Breakfast — wrapped in linens to keep it warm — is delivered to the common area lobby in a wooden wine box. The Farmhouse is another overnight option. It features four bedrooms, two baths, a modern kitchen, dining room, sitting room and study.

The Extras: “It’s very unusual to find a destination winery. You can’t even go to California and generally find a winery that has a restaurant and a hotel,” says Swaldo, the son of Gervasi Vineyard’s founder. “We really went all out. It’s really very beautiful and very luxurious.” Guests can enjoy tours of the winery, cooking and art classes, live music and the Crush House, a new wine bar.

What To Do Nearby: “Some people never leave the resort. But you can always find plenty to do in Canton, including visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National First Ladies’ Library,” says Swaldo. For warm-weather visitors, Gervasi Vineyard also has an agreement with Glenmoor Country Club, which features a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Transportation to the club for a day of golf can be arranged.

1700 55th St. NE, Canton 44721, 330/497-1000,

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Tudor Gem
Best Western Premier Mariemont Inn | Mariemont

Don’t let the Best Western name throw you. Spending a night here is more like staying at the mansion of a rich relative than at a hotel. Thoughtful exterior preservation of the three-story, Tudor-style building built in the 1920s has created a one-of-a-kind romantic getaway. The inn was built as the personal guesthouse of Mary Muhlenberg Emery, founder of Mariemont, a planned English garden community in southwest Ohio.

The inn has had only three owners since opening. The current one, Spinnenweber Builders, is a family company that has owned the Mariemont Inn for 54 years. A multimillion-dollar interior renovation over the past decade reduced the number of rooms from 60 to a more comfortable 45.

“All our rooms have luxurious bedding, custom oak furniture and electric fireplaces, which are particularly nice and romantic when it’s cold outside,” says co-owner and general manager Bill Spinnenweber. “Above each fireplace mantel is a TV hidden by retractable artwork. The rooms aren’t typical hotel rooms.”

The Extras: The hotel’s National Exemplar restaurant (upon which the First Watch restaurant chain is based) and its Southerby’s Pub are loved by the locals. Many like to share the fascinating history of the community and offer advice to hotel guests about what to see and do. “You know the food is good when the locals eat at your restaurant,” says Spinnenweber.

What To Do Nearby: The inn is part of Mariemont’s town square — a lovely collection of green space and historical buildings. The Mariemont Theatre is a traditional moviehouse that shows foreign and art films. The town square features four sit-down restaurants and other shops within walking distance. “Graeter’s Mariemont Square store is an old-school, romantic ice cream parlor,” says Spinnenweber.

6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont 45227, 513/271-2100,

German Village Guest House
City Getaway
German Village Guest House | Columbus

Located on the National Register of Historic Places, Columbus’ German Village neighborhood boasts smaller brick homes and shops that date back to the 1840s. It is a charming area of cobblestone and brick streets, and the German Village Guest House, built in the 1800s as a private residence, blends in perfectly. However, visitors are often surprised once they step beyond the front door, according to co-owner John Pribble III.  

“People expect to find something different inside, more traditional,” he says.

Pribble opened the bed-and-breakfast with his wife, Darci Congrove, in 2005. Today, the property has three guest rooms and two suites.  

“A lot of German Village buildings are historical on the outside but are quite modern on the inside like we are,” Pribble says. “And because we designed it to be easy to clean, it is always super clean.”

The couple lives next door, which ensures their prompt attention if needed while also giving guests their privacy.

The Extras:
The owners make their own banana bread, coffee cake, muffins, granola and yogurt. “Our yogurt is an extra special treat and guests love it,” says Pribble, noting that the continental breakfast is a delicious but casual affair. So, don’t worry if you’re not sitting at the table promptly at 8 a.m.

What To Do Nearby: “Not only will guests benefit from my knowing where to go in German Village, but I’ll call places they think they can’t get into and make introductions,” says Pribble, a Columbus native. Popular visitor spots include the 23-acre Schiller Park with its Umbrella Girl sculpture, The Book Loft bookstore, and Copious and Notes, a new dining and live music venue that focuses on local food and talent.

748 Jaeger St., Columbus 43206, 614/783-4173,