By Hope S. Philbrick
When searching for hotels in Lynchburg, Virginia, discerning grownups need look no further than the Craddock Terry Hotel & Event Center.
Step into a spacious hotel that feels swanky yet welcoming and offers everything you need to enjoy an overnight getaway, from a fluffy dog to cuddle to an upscale restaurant to impress your palate.
Whether you arrive solo, with a friend, or significant other, expect to feel at home. Now a landmark hotel, this building once housed a shoe factory—and not just any shoe factory, but an industry leader that at its peak during World War II produced 2,500 pairs of women’s shoes a day in this building! (At its multiple locations, the company produced 100,000 pairs daily at its peak.)
“Some people still visit because their grandma or other family member worked here,” said Kimberly Wolfe, director of sales, while giving me and my friend Jan a tour of the place. Familial connections run deep here. The great grandson of the shoe factory owner is an architect who purchased the building to transform it into what it is today: A luxurious boutique hotel with a homey feel that blends fashion and history with modern conveniences.
Walk around and spot the posts with so many holes it’s easy to imagine them once pinned with orders and notices, the original business safe (too heavy to move!), soaring ceilings with industrial beams, craggy brick walls, and other eye-pleasing details including countless charming references to shoes of all styles—including the hotel’s cute mascot dog named Penny Loafer.
The only boutique hotel near Lynchburg’s historic waterfront, Craddock Terry Hotel offers 44 guestrooms and suites, two on-site restaurants, meeting/event space (to accommodate weddings and other events of up to 130 guests), and grownup fun amenities including a wine station and bikes.
When Jan and I strapped on our bicycle helmets to ride across the street on a trail along the James River, one staff member said, “Too bad Penny Loafer isn’t here right now because she’d want to ride along in your bike basket.” A genuine pity indeed! I’d have loved to pedal that fluffy dog around…though I suspect Jan and I would have had to arm wrestle for the right to be the dog’s driver, and I’m pretty sure Jan could beat me. Even without a canine companion, the trail was lovely—and easy enough to do even if I hadn’t ridden a bike for quite awhile.
From the hotel it’s easy to walk or ride to the nearby trail or stroll among the shops of downtown Lynchburg. Between the multiple hair salons you’ll find a local farmers market, wooden door manufacturer, buggy warehouse (!), flower shop, wig store, and more unique surprises.
Shoemakers American Grille
After a day exploring Lynchburg, Virginia, it feels quite relaxing to stroll from your guestroom down stairs to the restaurant. Tables are available inside the restaurant and outside on the patio. Service is upscale and attentive. The award-winning wine list impresses. The menu offers a range of local flavors as well as dishes with international influences. Jan ordered the seared ahi tuna, and though I generally avoid eating tuna I snagged a bite and it was truly scrumptious with a kick of heat from cilantro and soy sauce tempered by crushed avocado. I opted for the surf and turf combination, in part because I adore crab cakes (and the server promised it wasn’t overwhelmed by bread) and because the filet mignon was “dry-aged a minimum of 28 days” and harvested from a local farm in Lynchburg. It’s not often the local beef is that local! The meal was delicious, and the beef especially impressed.
If you’re dining solo, you might enjoy a seat at the bar—just reading labels on the bottles will keep you occupied for quite awhile.
Craddock Terry History
Craddock Terry Hotel and Event Center is a member of Historic Hotels of America.
The Craddock Terry Shoe Company was founded in 1888 by John W. Craddock. The company grew into the fifth largest shoe company in the world with locations in Virginia, Ohio, Missouri and New York’s Empire State building. The original site of the main factory, the Southland Factory, is on Jefferson Street in Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1905 when the Southland Factory was unable to keep up with production, the building that is now the Craddock Terry Hotel was built. This building produced over 2,500 pairs of women’s shoes daily. The company produced every type of shoe—“from baby shoes to combat boots”—reaching 100,000 pairs daily at its peak.
The second building of the hotel, which houses 11 suites—was the William King Jr. Tobacco Warehouse, built in 1896. The six-story building was made using hand-made brick fired in Virginia.
Hal Craddock, chief architect of the Craddock Terry Hotel, is the great-grandson of John W. Craddock. His business partner Lynn Cunningham served as interior designer and architect for the restoration project, which took nearly five years. The entire roof of the King building needed to be replaced.
21 Point Inspection
1. Adults Only/Odds of Encountering Children—The Craddock Terry Hotel is officially family-friendly (kids are allowed), but most guests are adults traveling without children. This is especially true during the work week.
3. Clean—Clean, non-smoking property.
4. Space—Guestrooms are spacious with plenty of places to stash your personal belongings.
5. Kitchen(ette)—Guestrooms offer a mini ‘frig.
6. Coffee/Tea—In-room Keurig machine plus a refreshment station in the lobby.
7. Glassware/Ice—Ice bucket and drinkware provided in every guestroom.
8. Tub/Shower—Walk-in shower; some rooms have large bathtubs plus a separate shower. Good water pressure. In addition to towels you’ll find plush terry robes.
9. Temperature—Adjust the room temperature to suit personal preferences; the HVAC system is quiet.
10. Linens/Mattress—Upscale linens dress the very comfortable mattresses. Beds are triple-sheeted with Egyptian cotton and topped with a duvet.
11. Hooks—Multiple towel bars and hooks are in the bathroom. Plus there’s a large closet with luggage rack, hangars, and safe.
12. Hair Dryer—Yes, plus a make-up mirror is available, too.
13. Window Treatments—Draperies help darken the room and offer privacy.
14. Seating—My king guestroom had an ergonomic desk chair plus a sofa, great for sipping wine or watching something on the flat screen TV with HBO.
15. Work-Friendly—Free high-speed Internet access. My guestroom desk was large enough to sprawl out my work and plug in the laptop.
16. Outlets—Recharge with ease at the alarm clock with Mp3 plugs.
17. Pet-Friendly—Dogs are allowed with a one-time, non-refundable fee of $50.
18. Service—Staff members are friendly and helpful.
19. Pool/Hut Tub—There’s no public pool or hot tub but some of the 44 guestrooms offer large bathtubs so book one of those if you enjoy a good soak.
20. On-Site Amenities—Complimentary overnight shoe shine service. Complimentary continental breakfast delivered to your door in the morning in a wooden shoebox (1 per room; additional breakfasts are $6 each). 24-hour fitness center. 24-hour gift shop. 24-hour business center. Concierge services available. Tesla charger station. On-site dining with room service available. Over 4,000-square-feet of event space. Two on-site restaurants with outside dining available. A wine station in the lobby offers $2, $6 and $9 pours of four different wines. Bikes available for rent.
21. Accessibility—Mobility-accessible rooms available. Discuss options that can accommodate your specific needs when making a reservation.
Rates from $170/night. Check in at 4 p.m., check out by Noon.
Craddock Terry Hotel and Event Center
1312 Commerce St.
Lynchburg, VA 24504
Area attractions include…
- Appomattox Court House
- Blackwater Creek Trail
- D-Day Memorial
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
- Amazement Square
- Old City Cemetery
- Legacy Museum of African American History
- Virginia Wine Trails
– Photo Credits: Exteriors and dogs courtesy Craddock Terry Hotel; LOVE, bed and box © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion. Thanks to the Craddock Terry Hotel for hosting my overnight stay and dinner at Shoemakers.