The George Washington Hotel rests in Old Town Winchester, brimming with both history and charm. At five stories tall, one of Winchester’s tallest buildings, the hotel has welcomed visitors – including many famous ones – for nearly a century.
It was built in 1924, and opened in June of that year with 102 rooms – and only 45 private baths. The original building was L-shaped; in 1929, 50 additional rooms were added to the east of it, giving it the U-shape it still has today. Its lower level originally included a cafeteria, a barber shop, a men’s furnishing shop – even a candy shop. Its name comes from first President of the United States George Washington, who began his association with Winchester at just 16 years old. He would later have an office in Winchester, that is still standing now as a museum not far from the hotel.
The same year the hotel opened, a large group of people from the Shenandoah Valley began promoting tourism in the area by forming the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association. After being asked by the association to celebrate the apple industry with a festival, the city of Winchester held its first Shenandoah Valley Apple Blossom Festival – still the largest festival in the area today. A small room in the hotel’s lower level originally served as the Apple Blossom Headquarters, and many celebrities visiting for the festival would speak or stay at the hotel. In 1975, the Secret Service set up its headquarters inside the hotel when President Gerald Ford’s daughter was the festival queen.
Betty Crocker held an apple pie-baking contest at the hotel, and celebrities like Bob Hope and Lucille Ball have stayed as guests (Lucille stayed in room #314). Colonel Sanders is said to have shared the source of his “secret recipe” with the night auditor during his stay. Dinner guests were treated to music by the Vienna Boys Choir when it stayed there while on tour.
The hotel closed in the mid-1970s, and the building was then used as the George Washington Home for Adults. In 2003, the hotel was purchased by GW Development, LLC, and construction began immediately to revive the property as a hotel once more. Now a franchise of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, it officially reopened in 2008. According to the hotel, great care has been taken to preserve its history, and “much of the fine architectural details have been preserved and the majority of the public spaces retain their historic Colonial Revival and Neoclassical character and ornamentation.”
Since its reopening, the hotel has welcomed guests like Tim McGraw, Val Kilmer, LeAnn Rimes and The Beach Boys, among others.
The hotel’s amenities include an indoor pool and hot tub, spa, restaurant, bar/lounge, coffee shop, business and fitness centers and more.
The George Washington – a Wyndham Grand Hotel is located at 103 East Piccadilly Street in Winchester. It can be reached at (540) 678-4700.