Reimagined by Designer Celerie Kemble
By Wendy Carlson
The Mayflower Inn, Washington’s venerable landmark resort, has a whole new look. When hotels shut down last spring in response to COVID, Auberge Resorts, which acquired the inn two years ago, used the closure to do a complete makeover, hiring New York-based designer Celerie Kemble to orchestrate the reimagining.
The redesign encompassed 17 guest rooms and suites, including Mayflower’s signature restaurant, and the inn’s historic main house and parlor. Drawing inspiration from storied English and Scandinavian country houses, Kemble used a palette of florals, complex patterns and color, Gustavian antiques, and contemporary art to renovate the interiors.
From the outside, the inn’s historic 19th century Shingle-style facade remains the same. A row of Hunter boots are dutifully lined up on the portico entrance, and an ever-present valet is ready to spring into attention. However, the real transformation begins inside the grand foyer. Gone are the white walls, the Turkish rugs, the varnished woodwork, the polished wood tables, and the antique oil portraits of New England ancestors glaring down at guests. Instead, a ficus tree planted inside an enormous 18th century Spanish vessel commands the attention of all who enter.
“Before the inn had been very traditional, very old New England,” says general manager Israel Benyair. “Celerie Kemble has taken it to a whole new level so it is more of a discrete country house experience.”
To that end, much of the inn’s richly-detailed woodwork, including mantles, trim, and staircase, have been painted to compliment new textile wallpaper. In the foyer, rope stools circle a table topped with an eclectic mix of African sculptures, and a pair of contemporary accent chairs have upstaged the traditional leather arm chairs. The parlor has been painted a deep mustard yellow (although Rayo de Sol would be a kinder name for it) and the hardwood floors are now cream colored, which along with the floral-themed artwork, antique Gustavian side table, and needle point pillows complete the country retreat tableau.
Leading into the dining areas, the hallway features ceiling wallpaper in a Venetian-marbled motif, and a series of metal disc-shaped sculptures representing the planets make for curious wall art. Inspired by the inn’s 58 acres of natural surroundings and the Shakespeare garden, Kemble’s renovation of the formal dining room features hand-painted wallpaper, painted hardwood floors, and more spacious seating. In the tap room, there is a new bar and bar stools, textile wallpaper—and Voila!—the oil portraits return here, taking their place on the walls just to “give it an old Mayflower vibe,” says Benyair.
The only room untouched in the redo is the library. With its built-in curved window bunk seat, wall-to-wall bookcases, fireplace, and well-worn leather reading chairs, “it’s legendary to the inn,” explains Benyair.
The guest rooms and suites still include timeless pieces such as the inn’s signature four-poster beds, but have been refreshed with custom furnishings, sisal carpets, Turkish rugs, hand-crafted ceramics, and whimsical wicker. Colorful textiles from Schumacher, Sister Parish, and Penny Morrison reflect a modern sense of comfortable country life. Damasks, crystal lamps, and French influences have been traded for more eclectic furnishings and artful layering, to give each room its own persona.
Despite all the changes, one feature well preserved is the original solid-oak entrance door. The doorknob is set lower than usual, a remnant from when the inn was once a boys dormitory for The Ridge School before it became an inn in 1920. In 1990, after years of neglect, the structure was purchased and restored by Washington residents Adriana and Robert Mnuchin, who turned it into one of the country’s premier luxury resorts.
Mayflower Inn & Spa
118 Woodbury Rd, Washington