A Stay at Essex Inn is Something Special

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Essex Inn room in Tappahannock

Your pastries sprinkled sugar are still warm when you sit down for breakfast inside the dining room of Essex Inn, a Victorian B&B in the heart of Tappahannock just a block away from the Rappahannock River.

The fruit-filled goodies are the first of three courses crafted by Owner and Innkeeper Greg Huff, who invites you to make your own coffee using the machine in the next room that has buttons for cappuccino, espresso and even extra froth.

It’s a lot of fun to make coffee the precise way you like it at Essex Inn.

Huff will customize breakfast, too. “Crab quiche?” he asks. “Or a spinach and goat cheese omelet? French toast with a berry compote?”

He isn’t a professional chef, hard as that is to believe given just how exquisitely yummy everything tastes. Huff grew up cooking for his family after growing fascinated with food as a teenager, awestruck by the show in front of him during his first visit to a Japanese steakhouse. “The chef started with just a few simple things and then all of the sudden he created something pretty darn special,” Huff recalls.

The same could be said of Huff and his wife, Jennifer, who have transformed Essex Inn into a weekend destination that draws guests from all over the Middle Peninsula, Northern Virginia, the Outer Banks and beyond.

Unlike most B&Bs, Essex Inn is about more than an overnight stay followed by a homemade breakfast. It’s evolving into a community hub “hosting every kind of event mankind has created,” Huff says.

Essex Inn breakfast and dining room in Tappahannock

Weddings. Family reunions. Baby showers. Celebrations of life. The Inn has hosted those types of events as well as three 90th birthday parties since it opened in April 2021. “You’ve heard of the 12 days of Christmas?” Huff asks. “We had 14 events here over 12 days this past Christmas.”

Operating a B&B is a new venture for the Huffs, who moved to Tappahannock from the suburban Philadelphia town where they resided until their daughter graduated from high school. Greg Huff is a former history teacher and retired swim coach who ran a community pool.

“I managed the snack bar; that was the extent of my hospitality experience,” he said.

Jennifer’s job in pharmaceuticals allows her to work remotely. The Inn is their home; they live downstairs. Neither requires a whole lot of sleep.

They initially selected a plantation property for their move to Essex County but when that fell through they found exactly what they were looking for and went to work refurbishing the storied property. “When we discovered the Essex Inn, it was more than we could have ever imagined,” Greg said.

A walkthrough of the Essex Inn reveals fireplaces in each of the 12 original room with period pieces throughout, many of them donated by community members and refurbished by the Huffs. Built in 1851, the Inn pays homage to its history that includes Union troops occupying it on two separate occasions during the Civil War.

Essex Inn interior in Tappahannock

The Inn is easily accessible to a boat launch; guests can use either of the two kayaks for a day on the Rappahannock River and paddle to nearby Hoskins Creek. Essex Inn is also convenient to several downtown boutique shops, each locally owned Multiple restaurants are nearby as is Acme Ice Cream for a sweet treat.

The Huffs also own the property across the street, an historic “ordinary” tavern built in 1710, and they are busy at work on what will be called 1710 Tavern. 

The finished space will include three fireplaces with much of the original woodwork from the 18th century and the original hard pine floor from 1712. Recycled church pews will provide seating against the wall; the original windows will be restored.

“We’re going to have a bar that serves high-end bourbon and fun cocktails as well as fine dining and a patio under the pecan tree with a more casual vibe,” Huff said.  

With the opening of 1710 Tavern coming later this year or early in 2023, Tappahannock will have a spot for upscale dining that will extend the hospitality inside the Inn across the street. The Huffs look forward to welcoming the community to what promises to be a one-of-a-kind venue.

The same passion that Greg Huff found endearing in his native, Hubbard, Ohio, is similar to how he feels about his new hometown that he’s grown fond of in a short time.

“Being in Tappahannock brings me back to my childhood,” he said. “I’m not trying to recreate that. But that nostalgia is what I want to bring here. Parades. Pie eating. Events that bring people together. The community has embraced what we’re doing. I’d like to think we’re going about it in a unique manner. It’s pretty special.”

Essex Inn in Tappahannock

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