I love a subtly themed hotel, especially an historic one that pays homage to its origins. So I was all about the shoe theme at the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg, Virginia. There’s a giant red pump by the parking lot, a different shoe cutout on every guest room with the room number and the fine dining restaurant is named Shoemakers. And the resident dog’s name? Penny Loafer.
The shoe theme comes from the building’s history as the Craddock Terry Shoe Company, founded in 1888 by John W. Craddock. At one point the factory was the 5th largest shoe company in the world, cranking out 2,500 pairs of shoes a day at this location at its peak.
Half of the hotel is housed in the King Building, built in 1896 and used to store and dry tobacco for the Imperial Tobacco Company. These two buildings kind of sum up the basis of the economy of Lynchburg in the early 1900s – shoes and tobacco.
John’s great-grandson, Hal Craddock, was the architect who spent five years renovating the two historic buildings in 2007 to make the hotel as it is now, with 44 rooms – 33 in the main building where I stayed and 11 more in the adjacent building. There are three suites with jetted tubs and private patios. The hotel also has 4,000 square feet of meeting space, which can accommodate events for 10-200 people.
As you’ll find in many historic warehouse conversions, the hotel has red brick walls and some rooms have soaring ceilings with large wooden beams.[See related story: Best Southern Hotels Where We Always Feel Welcome]
Guest rooms at Craddock Terry Hotel
I was in room 407, identified with a cutout of a black-and-white spat, a shoe popular for men in the 1920s. A lot of gangsters wore them in the Roaring Twenties, but they were also popular with other well-dressed men who probably made their living in a more honest fashion.
I loved my room – wood beamed ceilings, an exposed brick wall and floor-to-ceiling windows covered with drapes. The room was large, with a king-size bed, chair, couch and desk and big bathroom. The only thing that would have improved it would have been views of the James River, which was on the other side of the hotel.
I was traveling with my friend Hope and our rooms were adjacent with an adjoining door, which made it easy to slip back and forth for a glass of wine before dinner.
On-site dining at Craddock Terry Hotel
One of my favorite features of the hotel is again shoe-related. When I checked in I saw a wooden shoeshine box on the bed with a note to leave it outside if I wanted breakfast. It brought back long-ago memories of my dad having a similar box to polish his dressy work shoes. My husband shines his shoes but leaves all the polish-encrusted rags and half-used polishes inside the plastic foot soaker/massager I gave him for Christmas one year. Well, at least he’s using it for something, right?
The next morning I had a USA Today, muffin, orange juice, yogurt and orange waiting for me with a note that read “Getting your day started on the right foot.” I am the type that needs coffee first thing in the morning and do not like to have to get dressed to go get it, so I was happy to see a Keurig machine in the room. That definitely helps me get my day started on the right foot.
If you need a hot breakfast, you can head to one of the diners in downtown Lynchburg, just a short walk away.
Hope and I opted for lunch at one of the on-site restaurants, Waterstone Pizza, which also had brick walls and a spacious interior. Waterstone specializes in fire-roasted pizza, and also serves salads, sandwiches and pasta.
Dinner at the fine dining restaurant Shoemakers American Grille was a real highlight. Seated in a cozy booth in another beautiful red-brick wooden-beamed room, Hope and I enjoyed some delicious wine while deciding what to order.
My husband and I had a discussion recent about food sharing – we are huge food sharers and typically always share a meal, but we learned many people are very anti food-sharing. But I wasn’t too sad that Hope turned down my offer of sharing the sheared ahi tuna, became oh my gosh, it was amazing.
Although tuna fills me up, I still ordered the Shoemakers Classics, a filet and a crab cake. So yummy, but I had to save the steak for the next day.
I don’t know how it could have escaped my notice when we checked in or on the way to dinner, but on the way back as we walked through the lobby I spotted the cabinet in the corner that serves wine by the glass. What a magical concept! Many times when I’m traveling I’d like a glass of wine but don’t want to buy a whole bottle or sit at the bar. Ingenious.
Other Amenities, Activities and Location
There’s a gift shop in the lobby, 24-hour fitness center and business center. You can get your shoes shined overnight and charge your Tesla in the parking lot.
The hotel is pet-friendly, which may be evident when you see the hotel mascot, Penny Loafer. Guests who check in with a dog get a welcome gift bag.
The hotel is located right in downtown Lynchburg, an easy walk to stores, restaurants and the Lynchburg Community Market. Sadly, the market was closed the day we visited but looks like a fun place to visit. You can take the Bluff Walk, a series of trails, that will take you to the James River.
We opted to hop on the complimentary bikes to hit the nearby trails instead. The hilly terrain made a few places a bit challenging – I did my best to make it back up the steep hill by the hotel but couldn’t quite get to the top before I had to get off and walk my bike the rest of the way. But once we hit the Blackwater Creek Trail it was fairly flat and took us by the river and through wooded areas.
– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief