Family Stays at Colonial Williamsburg Guesthouses

Complete your authentic family vacation to Williamsburg with an overnighter at one of 26 historic guesthouses.


If your family vacations in a historic Colonial Williamsburg home, you can boast with certainty that George Washington slept there before you. Well, he slept in the vicinity, anyhow, because Williamsburg was at the center of the American Revolution, and Washington—as well as most Founding Fathers—came through this town, which was once the capital of Virginia.

Period Décor Mixed With Modern Amenities

Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg today can lodge in one of 26 guesthouses, all located within steps of the town’s historic attractions. Some homes are original and others are faithful recreations; each is exquisitely furnished with 18th century antiques and period reproductions (many of which are handmade by Williamsburg craftsmen). Paint colors, fabrics and accessories—like pewter mugs and feather quills—are copies of items actually found in colonial homes. And because these homes are located within the historical area, they offer the ultimate convenience for families, who can come and go during the day without the hassle of shuttle buses and parking.

The houses offer modern conveniences like room service, cable television, hair dryers, irons and so forth. There’s also air conditioning—a must in the swampy Williamsburg summers—but upstairs accommodations are often hot regardless, especially in rooms with sloped or very low ceilings. Watch out for extremely steep and narrow staircases as well; these can be scary for young children, and no fun for their parents, who have to haul luggage up and down.

Booking and Choosing Historic Lodging

Guests can rent single rooms (with private baths) within larger taverns; there are also a handful of highly coveted homes that can be rented in their entirety. The costs are surprisingly reasonable: Tavern rooms for two go for $189 per night in the summer, and two-bedroom houses that can accommodate a family of four go for $379 per night. These are the most popular accommodations in Williamsburg, and they book up quickly. Be sure to reserve several months in advance for busy periods like spring break, summer vacation and the winter holidays. For reservations call 800-HISTORY (447-8679).

Brief descriptions of five of my favorite historic homes follow. You can request a particular house, and the reservations folks do their best to accommodate your wishes, but there is no guarantee you’ll get your first choice.

Brickhouse Tavern

Mary Davis offered rooms for rent in the Brickhouse Tavern as long ago as 1770. Today there are 16 rooms on offer, along with a spacious common room with a large fireplace. Guests can rent individual rooms or the whole tavern can be booked for a family reunion or other large gathering. Many of the windows stick, and the small rooms can get a bit stuffy without circulating air.

George Jackson House

Prominent Williamsburg citizen George Jackson chartered ships and ran gunpowder from Bermuda to the American colonies, to further the Revolutionary cause. This building comprises his home and an attached shop. The house has two bedrooms and sitting rooms, each decorated with great attention to historical detail.

Lightfoot Tenement

This original building was used as a guesthouse in the 18th century, and today it houses two rentals (upstairs and down), each with a bedroom, private bath and a private sitting room. The nicest feature of this small house is the lovely adjacent garden. (The gardens that belong to historic homes are not reserved for lodgers; guests visiting Williamsburg can and will wander through to admire the flowers and vegetables in season.)

Peter Hay’s Kitchen

Kitchens of the 18th century were housed in small outbuildings, behind the main houses, to minimize the risk of fire. Peter Hay’s Kitchen is a charming white clapboard cottage with a mossy wood-shingled roof. There is a bedroom upstairs outfitted with a luxurious queen-sized canopy bed, and downstairs there’s a small sitting room with a brick fireplace.

The Quarter

This original building is believed to have housed slaves or indentured servants in the 1700s, and it’s one of my favorite colonial homes to rent because it has a roomy fenced-in yard. My extended family stayed here a few years ago, and the highlight of the visit for my daughter was the patch of wild strawberries growing in the back. The house offers a quaint sitting room and two bedrooms—although the one upstairs is rather claustrophic because of low, sloping ceilings.

For reservation information, go to or call 757-220-7978 or 800-HISTORY (800-447-8679). 

Destinations: Williamsburg

Themes: Family Travel, Historical Vacations

Activities: Sleep

User Comments

They sound great, but you will NEVER be able to get one. I have tried for over two years to get one of the smaller homes with a fireplace-they are NEVER available, despite the time of year-dates-etc. A friend whose daughter lived in Williamsburg and was knowledgeable about the foundation said these houses are generally "held" for the big time contributors and their friends. Didn't believe that at first, but after two years of trying-I'm thinking they are right. Looks good on their catalog though, doesn't it?

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