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“What a great getaway”
Review of Willows Inn

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Willows Inn
Ranked #1 of 1 Lummi Island B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Seattle, Washington
Level 5 Contributor
84 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“What a great getaway”
Reviewed 18 October 2011

Friendly people, outstanding food, in a lovely and relaxing setting. What's not to love?

Room Tip: Ask about the bed size -- our room only had a full size bed, way too small for two six-foot-tall fol...
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ianbnet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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182 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (54)
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  • English first
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English first
Seattle, WA
Level 4 Contributor
49 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 October 2011

We took a couple of days to celebrate my husband`s retirement and have created treasured memories. Lummi Island is a simple and unspoiled place...we had done our homework so we were not surprised that the chief joys are the incredible scenery, some art studios, and a few micro farms you can tour. Frankly, its a relief not to have Disney or Mall of America trappings, and we hope it stays that way. Arriving at the Willows Inn, we found the staff to be charming and helpful. Our room was The Haven and it was lovely and comfortable, and we especially enjoyed the fireplace and sitting area. As time and resource permits, we encourage the owners to refinish the deck, add a closet for guests to hang clothes, and to find a way to eliminate all the kitchen noise from the operations below the room (day and night this was an issue). The chief draw is the dinner, and it was simply extraordinary. We`ve dined at the Herb Farm, and Michelin restaurants all over Europe, but this was an experience like no other. The dining room is small and intimate, with a relaxed ambiance. The team who presents the food is wonderful, and each presentation came with little chats about ingredients and their pleasure in the preparation. We don`t want to spoil the surprise of the sequence or contents as part of our pleasure was the unexpected amuse bouche and ensuing dinner. Creative, delightful, delicious, beautiful, and insanely fresh (we watched them gathering from the gardens moments prior to dinner). A wonderful range of ingredients, many done in new ways or combinations. And then you arise in the morning to have breakfast, stunningly perfect tastes in a lovely arrangement of elements, just enough to fill you. It is so special that this experience is located in a beautiful place, away from noise and crowds, and lights and wretched excess. We regard this as an extraordinary treat...and we`re bringing family back in December to share the wonder. Congratulations to the owners and Chef Wetzel & staff for partnering with small local businesses and making something special in an unexpected place.

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Fossetti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 October 2011

The location is spectacular, the food out-of-this-world, and the ferry trip is only 10 minutes. What's lacking is any sense of decor. We stayed in the very pricey Beach House, which truly feels like someone's beach house. Someone other than the hotel; there are personal paintings, notes, food, etc. in the house. It doesn't feel like a hotel property, doesn't resemble the decor of the main hotel building, and you feel like you're renting someone's house.

That said, the view from the bedroom is phenomenal, you're right on the beach, and Lummi Island is a very special place. One caveat: they say they have bikes free for your use, which is great if you have some spare tires in your trunk and are 5'1". Otherwise, the free bikes don't do you much good, as they're completely unusable. Bring your own, or cheat and rent the $35 electric bikes.

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank misssnootysnoots
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
seattle
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 October 2011

Spent one night at the cottage at Willows Inn. The room was very nice, not luxurious. The inn is a wonderfully relazing place to spend a couple of days. Wish we had more time. Our motivation was to experience Chef Blaine Wetzel's food. All I can say is it's worth the trip from anywhere. Each snack and course was amazing. Smoked salmon in it's own small box with cedar chips still smoking and heirloom tomatoes with "hazlenut dirt". I'm still salivating. Call well in advance.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank seamitravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 22 September 2011

Like many other reviewers we had seen a very favourable report in our newspaper and had great expectations about our visit.
Lummi Island was a pleasant surprise - it is a very pretty little island with lovely beaches and well kept properties.
On arrival at the the ferry dock we were taken aback to see a sign announcing that the normal ferry was out of service and there was only a passenger ferry. We phoned the inn and were told that a shuttle van would meet us at the other side. This was not a huge problem but it was a bit annoying as we had not packed with the knowledge we would have to throw things in suitcases at the last minute. The ferryman told us this is an annual event when the car ferry is scheduled for maintenance so was not a surprise to the inn. While the inn said an email had been sent out to advise guests, no guests we talked to had received it.
However, the shuttle driver was a very nice young lady who gave us an interesting commentary about the island and pointed out the unique reef fishing boats.
Our room was High Tide which had a fabulous view of the ocean and islands with a nice beach. Our only quibble would be that the bathroom was like a 60's motel, very small and at the bottom of the stairs as if they had forgotten it when they built the room and had to add it later.
We enjoyed the 15 minute walks to and from the inn - very welcome after the dinner.
Much has been written about the dinner itself - the raison d'etre for the visit. The 5 amuse-bouches were mostly brilliant and we started to think this was leading to something truly fantastic. However, the following courses did not in our view exhibit the same creativity and originality. In particular, the potatoes with buttermilk whey and havarti was underwhelming as was the king salmon dish. The inclusion of a meat or chicken dish would have better demonstrated the diversity of the island's produce and the chef's range.
Overall, we applaud the chef and the owner of the inn in their genuine attempt at creatively presenting local produce but I think they still have work to do to live up to the high expectations. The staff were all very pleasant but the owner did not make himself known (maybe to acknowledge the ferry glitch) so the inn lacked personality. While not expecting an economy trip, the cost seemed high for what was actually delivered on our visit.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank willcoll
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle
Level 6 Contributor
124 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 September 2011

This will be a difficult review because I’m going to combine the dining experience and staying at the Inn. We wanted to come here even before the excellent New York Times review.

It is only a 1½ hour drive from Seattle to Bellingham where you catch a small car ferry (holds 20 cars) to transport you to Lummi Island. It is a beautiful island, and it was a good thing to explore a San Juan Island that we haven’t visited before.

We stayed in the “hillside room” behind the main lobby on the back corner of the main building. Our room was comfortable (a bit dark for my taste) but luckily we weren’t in the room much during the day. If you want to read in the room during the day then you would need to have the lights on. The bathroom was ok, but lacked shelves to put your toiletries on. There was this tiny 3-tier table where the face towels and hair blower were contained. There isn’t much space for your toiletries.

The nice thing about the room is that there was a second door that gave access to the main lobby where you could grab some coffee in the morning before breakfast was served in the main dining room at 8:30.

The dinner was wonderful with 5 or 6 mini plates that let you have a bite of smoked salmon, oysters, clams, smoke cod, heirloom tomatoes, spring salad, kale w/truffle oil, before the main menu appears (another 5 plates). The servers poured complimentary prosecco during the mini plates and when the five-courses began you could order wine by the glass or accompany your meal with the juice ($40) or wine ($65) pairing. They had enough servers to handle the full restaurant so the service was excellent. The rating would have been a 4, but I gave it a 3 because before our arrival we were told that they had increased the price for the dinner. It seems that management should have honored the rate they quoted us when we made our reservations.

The hot tub was situated on a slight hill that was in a shady spot surrounded by trees but we didn’t get a chance to use it because it was out of order. The Inn’s reception desk could have provided a map of the island and given out points of interests when we checked in but didn’t. We discovered on our own there was a farmers market on Saturday. There was no mention of complimentary bikes but only the electrical bikes on the website. When we inquired about renting them for the day we were pleasantly surprise to learn they also had complimentary bikes for guests to use. They had 4-5 bikes available and not in the best condition, but they worked well enough to explore and do wine tasting on the island.

When we checked out on a Sunday we asked about the ferry schedule and were told that on the weekends the ferries run every hour. We drove to the ferry and decided to get in line and wait. To our surprise the ferry loaded every half hour.

I was glad that we came here for the dinner but the Inn wasn’t anything memorable.

Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank p0rt0bell0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 September 2011

Lovely visit! Spot prawns, pizza and fabulous peach tart on the deck against a gorgeous sunset, followed by a steam shower and sound sleep in a cloud-soft bed. We had to leave super early in the morning for a conference in Seattle and they had breakfast boxed and ready to go! Hot coffee, eggs with mushrooms, what looked like house-cured bacon, herby home fries, fruit and a scone. We ate it in the car while waiting for a ferry to take us away from a perfect idyll. Next time we will come for more than 24 hours!

Room Tip: Try to get
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  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Christine B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Willows Inn

Property: Willows Inn
Address: 2579 W Shore Dr, Lummi Island, WA 98262-8667
Region: United States > Washington > San Juan Islands > Lummi Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Lummi Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Willows Inn on Lummi Island has become the Northwest's premiere destination for authentic farm to table dining. Come in and experience the culinary magic of our chef, Blaine Wetzel, and find out what eating from your landscape is all about. Savor wines from our extensive selection. Enjoy our elegantly comfortable accommodations. Drink in the views, watch whales, or relax with a cocktail by a blazing fire. Unplug, recharge and experience the Willows Inn--an authentic and affordable San Juan Islands adventure! Offering romantic beachside lodge rooms, cottage, and guest house accommodations and marine experiences. Organic food from Loganita Farm. A car ferry departs at least hourly for the five minute crossing to this scenic island retreat. Less than two hours from Seattle or Vancouver, BC. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Willows Hotel Lummi Island

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