As you turn off of US-501/15 into the entrance to the Fearrington Inn, the first thing you see is a silver silo rising out of a green pasture. Grazing on either side of the road, penned in by brown split-rail fences, is a herd of black and white cows. These fuzzy bovines, distinguished by the wide swath of white fur that circles their middles, are the property’s iconic Belted Galloway cows, affectionately known as “Belties.”
Up ahead is a cluster of white clapboard buildings. It might feel like a quaint village center in New England, but this is Pittsboro, North Carolina, 10 miles south of Chapel Hill. In 1974, local developer RB Fitch purchased the 640-acre, family-owned Fearrington Farm, with its white-columned 1927 colonial-revival homestead. On this land, Fitch envisioned a planned residential development tucked into the rolling pastureland. The first home was completed in 1976.
The next addition was a French restaurant, set in the original house and initially leased to two local restaurateurs. In 1978, RB’s wife Jenny, a gourmand in her own right, renovated the homestead as Fearrington House Restaurant. The Fearrington House Inn, which opened in 1986 with 14 rooms, was accepted into the coveted Relais & Châteaux group two years later.
Today, 32 rooms scatter throughout the village, but the original ones, the Garden Suites, huddle around a charming flagstone courtyard punctuated with gardens and a burbling fountain. Recently renovated rooms display a rustic-chic décor with a mix of patterns in soft hues that echo the setting’s country charm.
From the Garden Suites, a brick path leads to the restaurant, where Executive Chef Colin Bedford, who was awarded the title of Grand Chef by Relais & Châteaux in 2012, holds sway in the kitchen. A native of Bristol, England, Bedford prepares memorable cuisine using the best ingredients available, many of them local. “I like to under-promise but over-deliver,” he says.
A multicourse dinner at Fearrington House might begin in front of the fireplace with a miniature glass jar layered with a hazelnut crumble, butternut squash purée, sage meringue, and a savory sage sablé. The main course could bring succulent medallions of roasted rack of veal, served over a bed of melted leeks with shavings of black truffle and a julienne of candied lemon peel. Dessert should include the gluten-free, Valrhona single-origin chocolate soufflé, a fixture on the menu.
Elsewhere in the village, you’ll find a full-service spa; venerable McIntyre Books, which welcomes authors for regular book signings; and Dovecote, a shop offering stylish women’s clothing in the former milking barn.
For more casual dining, The Goat deli and wine shop serves light fare for breakfast and lunch. The Granary, housed in the renovated granary building from the original farm, dishes up a relaxed dinner menu of burgers, pasta, and entrées like roasted chicken, grilled meatloaf, and seared duck breast (they also serve lunch and Sunday brunch).
If all this sounds idyllic, it is. No matter how you divide your time here, a weekend at Fearrington will satisfy your need for a luxurious getaway in bucolic surroundings . . . at least, until the cows come home.
The Fearrington House Inn // 2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, NC // (919) 542-2121 // Rates start at $325 and include a full gourmet breakfast & afternoon tea