The Darling Greenbrier Resort of Southern West Virginia

They had me at Dorothy Draper’s. When I was invited to visit the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, I jumped at the chance.

Draper was the Doyenne of Design of the 30s, 40s and 50s, and her sumptuous style has fascinated me since I saw her bold decoration at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, in Michigan. I fell in love with its large floral wallpaper, its colorful upholstery and its bold carpet. The Greenbrier that she began decorating in 1946 after occupying the hotel as an army hospital is perhaps her most impressive achievement.

In addition, Draper captures a sense of place and history at the Greenbrier. The luxury hotel displays its inimitable style From one room to another and from one corner to another.

After Draper’s retirement in 1960, his protégé Carleton Varney became president of Dorothy Draper & is still Designer and curator of the Greenbrier to this day. Fabrics, wallpaper and decoration can be found in the Dorothy Draper Home store on the commercial level of the Hotel, as well as online. You too can have a room that looks like this!


In 1778, a native settler learned about the existence of a sulfur spring from Native Americans and discovered that the water helped her rheumatism. Soon the news of the “healing water” spread and diligence brought people here in search of “healing”.”

In the 1830s, the resort “Old White” was well established. An inscription on the outside of the station reads: a famous inn, affectionately known as Old White, stood here. Once the pride of the ancient domination, whose gracious hospitality, the beautiful environment and the healing waters have acquired a national reputation and have made it the destination of many pilgrims. Here, from the North and the South, great generals, famous statesmen and philanthropists, beautiful ladies and reigning beauties gathered, who left on the silent shore of memory precious images and thoughts that do not die and cannot be destroyed.

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway purchased the property in 1910, added more wings, and converted it into a year-round resort. They changed the name of the county to Greenbrier. The old historic white building was demolished in 1922, but the name of the 18-hole golf course dating back to 1914 has remained.

When World War II broke out, the U.S. army bought the hotel to use as a hospital (President Eisenhower was a patient there) and sold it back to the C&O Railroad in 1946. At the time, they commissioned Dorothy Draper to remodel the interiors. The inauguration in 1948 was an international affair.

The guests included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Bing Crosby and Joseph and Rose Kennedy, who spent their honeymoon there in 1914. Indeed, 27 of us, presidents have slept here and countless celebrities and athletes. Families come back, generation after generation. Therefore, it is called “America’s Resort.”


I woke up the first morning at the Greenbrier in a field of poppies, tulips and irises. My room was a classic Suite with a beautiful living room where I found a coffee machine and more rhododendron flowers. It was nice to revel in Mrs. Draper’s imagination!

One thing that surprised me (and also disappointed me) was that there were no fluffy bathrobes in the closet or the bathroom. With a resort fee of $39, I expected them to be Standard. Later I learned that you can call the cleaning service to request bathrobes and slippers at no extra cost. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and his holdings own the hotel after it returned from bankruptcy in 2009.

Large groups such as families and weddings can book superbly furnished Cottages and properties on the property, which are part of the 710 rooms.


Without a doubt, my favorite part of staying at a historic luxury hotel is the dinner in the main dining room. They all have a main dining room and Greenbrier’s is as elegant as any other. Leave your Jeans in your room; the dress code requires jackets and trousers for men, elegant casual clothes for women.

In addition to the atmosphere and the decor, the food is simply spectacular! The menu is written in French and English and offers a nice selection of starters, salads, meats and seafood, even a delicious vegetarian risotto. A specialty is Onion Soup, a cream of soup with five onions poured individually over a spoonful of whipped cream with chives. The desserts are as elegant as the decor, like this Grand Marnier soufflé.

In addition to food as famous as spring water, Greenbrier China has its own heritage. Each of the 20 Restaurants and Bars has its own model, and each has become a collector’s item.

The lobby bar is a great place for Cocktails before meals. Look up and you will see the chandelier seen in the Movie Gone with the Wind.

Wellness area

Soothing pastel tones and indirect lighting set the mood for pampering at the Greenbrier Spa. In addition to a full-service Spa, there is a hair salon (perfect for weddings), medical skin care, and healing and meditation services. The hotel pumps precious mineral water from the original source for use in the Spa.

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