Imagine the elegance of an English country village nestled against a backdrop of fields and foothills. Fearrington Village is not just a picture-perfect community with white pasture fences, but also an unexpectedly scintillating destination consisting of world-class dining, lodging, shopping and an exciting new spa.
A cordial country village and residential community, Fearrington Village lies about eight miles south of Chapel Hill in Pittsboro. On approach, visitors feel as if they have entered a stately family farm, and that's exactly what Fearrington Village once was.
Fearrington Village began its long history as a 640-acre operative dairy farm purchased in 1786 by William Cole. Cole passed the estate from generation to generation for two centuries, until it came into the hands of his great-great grandson, Jesse Fearrington. In 1974, Jesse sold the property to developer R.B. Fitch and his late wife, Jenny, who have since expanded the farm into a country village encompassing 1,400 serene acres.
The landscape is still dominated by the dairy barn and silo. Belted Galloways, a rare and ancient breed of cows characterized by completely black hide with a single white vertical stripe around the midsection, graze the meadows and greet all visitors as the community’s unofficial mascots.
As you arrive in the Village Center, you’ll see The Fearrington House Inn and adjacent Fearrington House Restaurant, placing you in the middle of this delightful European experience. The two-story Inn is centered on a beautifully landscaped courtyard and fronts the White Garden, a manicured garden in riotous, year-round bloom (white, naturally). The Inn and Restaurant are one of only six southern properties to achieve the distinction of being admitted to the international Relais & Chateaux hospitality association – a collection of the most beautiful hotels and restaurants scattered around the world. Fearrington House is also rated Five Star in both lodging and dining by Forbes (formerly Mobil) Travel Guide.
Each of the 32 rooms and suites at The Fearrington House has a distinct character all its own, but all share a romantic country elegance. Inn rooms are accessed through courtyard gardens and offer serene views of the Village Center.
Rooms mix the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ – with antiques and original works of art alongside iPod docking stations, flat screen televisions and complimentary wi-fi. Rooms also include Kingsdown pillowtop featherbeds and plush 300 thread count sateen Egyptian cotton bed linens. Guests regularly comment they receive the best night’s sleep ever here! And don’t miss port at turndown with handmade chocolate truffles. Fresh flowers, many cut from their own gardens, and a bowl of fresh apples, await.
The 1927 Fearrington family homeplace houses the restaurant; it includes a collection of small rooms, including two glass-enclosed porches. Open to non-guests also, the restaurant serves contemporary American dinner in these candlelit rooms overlooking the garden and grounds.
Inn guests enjoy complimentary a la carte breakfast in the Restaurant overlooking gardens, and afternoon tea served in low chairs in the former homestead’s front parlors.
Fearrington is also made up of a collection of unique shops, many housed in original farm buildings. The granary now houses the Fearrington Granary Restaurant, a lively bar and grill fronting the Village Center. The former milking parlor is now Dovecote Home & Garden, which sells gifts, accessories, jewelry, furniture and more. Adjacent to Dovecote is The Belted Goat, a charming deli that serves casual fare, coffee and pastries. An outdoor beer garden called Roost (the former corn crib) awaits, offering local craft beers and live music on the front porch on warm days. Pop in McIntyre’s Books and you’ll probably arrive in time for an author reading – they host over 150 of them annually. This handsome store has been a beacon for southern authors for over 20 years.
And be sure to stop by the latest addition, The Spa at Fearrington. This two-story day spa sits perched over the Village Center. Enter through a gorgeous spa shop called Haven and present yourself to the receptionist. A full range of manicures, pedicures, facials and massages awaits.
The shops, restaurants and spa of Fearrington Village are surrounded by stunning, meticulous gardens that are maintained by a dedicated full-time staff. Visitors are encouraged to relax and stroll the many gardens, and ask questions or just say hi when encountering a Fearrington gardener. The garden beds here are unusual in that they use the full spectrum of plant materials – bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs and mature trees – for a sophisticated, dazzling look that creates artistic, colorful combinations year-round.
If you find yourself wishing for a change of pace – maybe an old-English experience without leaving the country – Fearrington Village invites you to immerse yourself in world-class accommodations, explore distinctive specialty shops and restaurants, or relax in a restorative spa treatment.
And don't forget to pet the friendly, curious Belted Galloways.
added: December 22, 2008
updated: November 8, 2011