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Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Hotels

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates four hotels in all price categories: Williamsburg Inn (very expensive), Williamsburg Lodge (expensive), Woodlands Hotel & Suites (moderate), and the Governor's Inn (inexpensive), plus a collection of tavern rooms and houses known as the Colonial Houses. Guests at all except the Governor's Inn can use most of the sports facilities at the Williamsburg Inn and Williamsburg Lodge.

For advance reservations, call the visitor center reservations service (tel. 800/447-8679; www.colonialwilliamsburgresort.com). You also can make walk-in reservations at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center.

Just for Guests -- There are advantages to staying at one of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's hotels. For example, you can purchase discounted Colonial Williamsburg admission tickets valid for the length of your stay (recently $30 adults, $15 children 6-17). You also get breaks on other fees and can use your room keys to charge Historic Area expenses to your hotel bill.

Like most hotels these days, room rates at the foundation's accommodations vary widely depending on the season and how many guests may be booked on a given night. Try to reserve as far in advance as possible for the busy summer season and for spring and fall weekends. You might get a bargain during other times, especially if business is slow. You also can make walk-in reservations at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center -- at discounted rates if the hotels have rooms to spare (don't expect to get a deal on weekends and holidays). Also be sure to ask about holiday, golf, family, and other package deals.

Colonial Houses 

My favorite way to experience Colonial Williamsburg up close and personal is to stay in one of the foundation's Colonial Houses. In fact, they are the only way to actually stay in the Historic Area mere steps from the main attractions. Scattered throughout the Historic Area, the Colonial Houses are former laundries, workshops, small homes, and stand-alone kitchens that have been converted into one- and two-bedroom bungalows. Others are rooms in taverns, some of which have as many as 16 units. Some rooms are tiny; tell the reservation clerk precisely what size room and what bed configuration you want. For example, I have stayed in the Robert Carter Kitchen, a two-story converted cookhouse just off the Palace Green. It has a downstairs living room and Pullman kitchen, and a winding staircase leads to a bedroom and bathroom. The sloping upstairs ceiling under a dormer roof was head-knockingly low on the sides.

Tastefully furnished with 18th-century antiques and reproductions, all the houses are variously equipped with kitchens, living rooms, and fireplaces -- and in some cases, sizable gardens. They all have air-conditioning, TVs, phones with dial-up dataports, and coffeemakers. The Williamsburg Inn, which manages the houses, provides room service, and guests here can use the facilities there. Each house has its own parking space. Tavern rooms range from $160 to $275, while houses go for $200 to $475 per night. Reserve through the visitor center's reservations service (tel. 800/447-8679; www.colonialwilliamsburgresort.com).

Other Hotels & Motels

I have room to mention but a few of this area's more than 80 chain hotels and motels. You can book rooms, buy tickets, and search for money-saving package deals on www.visitwilliamsburg.com, operated jointly by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and the Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association. Or you can call the association's reservations service at tel. 800/899-9462.

The majority of hotels and motels are west of the Historic Area on Richmond and Bypass roads. None of them is within walking distance of the Historic Area, but you can take the local buses.

Closest to Busch Gardens are the Marriott Williamsburg, 50 Kingsmill Rd. (tel. 800/442-3654 or 757/220-1500), the Courtyard by Marriott, 470 McLaws Circle (tel. 800/321-2211 or 757/221-0700), and the Quality Inn at Kingsmill (tel. 877/424-6423 or 757/220-1100). All are in an office park off U.S. 60 East at the entry to the Kingsmill complex.

Sitting on U.S. 60 between the Historic Area and Busch Gardens, the Crowne Plaza Williamsburg at Fort Magruder, 6545 Pocahontas Trail (tel. 800/333-3333 or 757/220-2250), draws lots of conventions and meetings but is also a good choice for families with children.

Bed & Breakfasts

Williamsburg has more than 20 B&Bs, including Williamsburg Sampler, 922 Jamestown Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23185 (tel. 800/722-1169 or 757/253-0399; www.williamsburgsampler.com), a 1976-vintage replica of an 18th-century plantation manse. For more choices, go to www.bandbwilliamsburg.com, official site of the Williamsburg Bed & Breakfast Network (no phone). You can book online.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.