The Refuge Inn: Family-friendly lodging on Chincoteague Island
I don’t know what kind of images the words “beach motel” conjure up in your mind, but they make me thinking of sandy floors, beige bedspreads, and freeze-dried coffee – certainly not lush landscaping, hot breakfasts, pet ponies, and helpful service – all of which you’ll find at the Refuge Inn in Chincoteague, Virginia.
The Refuge Inn comes by its name honestly. It is a perfect antidote to your run-of-the mill beach motel: Casual, family-friendly, and very affordable, but with nice touches that put it squarely on the luxurious side of budget accommodation.
So what did we like about the Refuge Inn?
The location. Not only is the Refuge Inn walking or biking distance from the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, it’s across the street from the not-to-be-missed Museum of Chincoteague Island. It’s also minutes away from Woody’s Beach Barbeque and the Island Creamery.
I can’t imagine a more convenient place to stay, with easy access to the beach and Chincoteague’s downtown.
Our room. We stayed in a standard Queen Room and were perfectly comfortable (if you want more space, the inn also offers suites). I loved the thoughtful cottage-style décor – definitely a step up from a chain hotel.
Please click on photos for full-size versions.
Although I usually request a room on the top floor and we were on the ground floor, it was very quiet and we really couldn’t hear the people in the room above us walking around. We had a busy weekend and weren’t in our room much, but I know that if we had spent more time hanging out there, Matt and I would have made good use of our own little patio area just outside that sliding glass door.
Breakfast. My children are both fans of choose-your own continental breakfast buffets like the one offered at the Refuge Inn. There was a different hot item on offer each day (waffles one day and French toast the next during our stay) and a variety of cereals and fruit to choose from.
Word to the wise: If the hotel is busy, the breakfast room (also called The Rookery) fills up fast, so get there when they start serving.
The pool. The Refuge Inn has an indoor heated pool. This meant my kids weren’t disappointed at all when they woke up on Sunday morning to rain and wind and a precipitous drop in temperature.
I think indoor swimming is an especially nice feature of a beach hotel, because it gives you something to do when the weather doesn’t cooperate
The ponies. While we had several opportunities to see the famous Chincoteague ponies but the Refuge Inn was where we got to actually get up close and personal with a few of these famous island residents.
Teddy loved feeding them.
Other nice touches at the Refuge Inn? Free wi-fi throughout (yes!), a basket of menus for local restaurants in the lobby, and a hot beverage station (with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate) on offer at all times. And let’s not forget the onsite bike-rental shop. We brought our own bicycles with us, but had we wanted to rent them it would have been very easy to do so. The Bike Depot also has beach supplies like umbrellas and boogie boards.
Teddy also really enjoyed the gift shop in the breakfast area and couldn’t wait to spend his allowance on a whinnying pony, which he promptly named “Hurricane.”
But perhaps best of all, what I liked about the Refuge Inn was the friendly atmosphere. Everyone working there, from the hostess in the breakfast room to the cleaning staff to the women working behind the front desks smiled and greeted us like they were glad we were there. And you know what? We were glad too.
Many thanks to the Refuge Inn and the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Association for covering the cost of two nights’ stay. My opinions, are, as always, my own.