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All reviews low tide dining experience tasting menu pacific northwest potatoes san juan islands puget sound hot tub using local ingredients special occasion unique experience reception desk roaring fire pure heaven following morning nice amenities charming place
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Reviewed 30 August 2012

Like most people, we came to the Willows Inn for Blaine Wetzel's amazing food, which did not disappoint. Having read the reviews here, I had lowered my expectations for the inn itself. If you're expecting a fancy five star hotel to go along with your five star meal, then you might find the Willows Inn lacking. But we found it delightful. The staff were friendly and the inn was quiet, peaceful and well-appointed. It fits perfectly with the relaxed and informal nature of the island itself. We stayed in the farmhouse suite, which was rustic in decor, but perfectly comfortable and absolutely charming. If you embrace the ethos of "farmed, foraged, fished" that the restaurant is going for, then staying on the actual farm feels appropriate. If you are looking to stay for more than a night, the farmhouse suite would be ideal as there is a great kitchen with a giant pizza oven, a large dining table, and a comfortable living room. If not for the slightly exorbitant price per night, it would make a great writer's retreat. I definitely recommend staying at the inn, and second the recommendation of others to stay in one of the "satellite" rooms rather than the main building.

Date of stay: August 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Rinnster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 August 2012

WHAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR
Relaxing, no-agenda mini break. Time to catch up on reading, movies and sleep.

WHAT WE GOT
Thumbs up:
-- Great room with full view of the ocean (stayed at High Tide). Fell asleep & woke up to the sound of waves.
-- Breath-taking sunset. Best ever!
-- Private beach. During our entire 4 day stay, we were on the beach or deck most hours and saw no one except for a small family who picnicked one afternoon.
-- Incredible dinner (under separate review).
-- Attentive staff. I was worried we wouldn't get prompt service, being that we were off the main property, but they proved me wrong.
-- High quality wifi. On the beach, I went a decent distance from the house and was able to download a new ebook on my tablet.
-- Do not miss cocktail hour! Delicious drinks poured with a heavy hand.
-- Friendly locals.

Good To Know (Thumbs Sideways):
-- Bathroom is small.
-- Breakfast needs variety. Main stay of scone, yogurt, eggs and potatoes changed flavors daily and were quite tasty but by the 3rd morning, I was hoping for a small piece of ham or a different pastry.
-- Food options are limited on the island. If you're staying for more than a night, pack snacks, cold pasta or other refrigerator-to-table eats to expand what Taproot and the Beach Store Café have to offer.

Room tip: Beach House would be awesome for a large party. Low Tide, which is on the bottom floor right by the deck, has better views with twice as many windows than High Tide upstairs. But obviously, you'll have to compromise on privacy.
Date of stay: August 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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1  Thank YouDoTheDishes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2012

The amazing food is the real attraction here. The Chefs (Blaine and crew) are simply the best at simple, local, foraged fare. We've been back multiple times and each time we remark how lucky we are to have an experience like this so close to us in Seattle. The Inn is nice, we've tried the Inn rooms as well as the Beach house. Obviously the beach house with the views is better (for the price) but the Inn rooms are cozy as well. There are lots of things to do around the Island, mostly nature related. But at the end of the day its all about the food. And that's a good thing.

Room tip: Rooms right above the kitchen tend to be louder but not that big of a deal.
Date of stay: April 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Vivek S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 August 2012

This was our second visit to the Willows Inn mainly because we couldn't forget the amazing dinner we had last summer. Last time, we stayed at Low Tide but this time, we stayed at High Tide. It's in the same area away from the central inn. High Tide definitely has more privacy than Low Tide but the bathroom is located downstairs. You don't have to leave your room but you do need to go downstairs for the bathroom/shower. It was a bit chilly so we turned on the fireplace and heater. If you stay along the beach, I don't think you'll need air conditioning because of the nice breeze from the beach.

I do wish that the staff was a bit more friendlier. There was one lady who checked us in who was nice and the Taproot staff was super friendly. However, the rest of the staff didn't strike me as enthusiastic or friendly like last time. Perhaps I set my expectations a bit too high. Nonetheless, dinner was super tasty and we went back happy. If you don't like oysters, make sure you let the staff know when checking-in because this time, we had two oyster dishes and we aren't big fans no matter how they are prepared. It's a good thing that our favorite salmon came out twice. And the bread and butter. My husband did the wine pairing but he was disappointed. It was basically all white wine and he felt like it didn't pair with the food; it just cleaned his palate. We did the wine pairing last summer and it was absolutely perfect. Each glass of wine really complimented the food. My husband was hoping for the same kind of experience but unfortunately, not this time.

Do note that dinner is not served on certain days of the week, so when picking a date, make sure you are staying at least one night when you can experience this fine dining.

There are some trails nearby so if you plan on hiking, bring your gears! There are super easy ones that can be done in sandals. Also, the inn has bicycles but the ones that are available were too tall for me (I'm 5'2.) The electric bikes were a bit shorter but the inn charges a fee for them for four hours and we didn't have that much time until dinner. There's also kayaks where the Beach House, Low Tide, and High Tide rooms are. I'm not sure if they are only available for guests staying in those rooms, but if you're interested in that, you can ask when making the reservation.

Date of stay: July 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Pumpkin_Cupcakes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 July 2012

We just made our second visit for dinner and an overnight at the Willow Inn. Looking at the other reviews their are some consistent themes, which we would agree with. They are a unique and excellent dining experience, expensive but worth it if you value a great dining experience and the accommodations leave a bit to be desired.
Food is unique and fabulous. Great presentations and the wait staff is practiced and committed to excellence. I do agree with another reviewer who said the hard seats could really use some kind of fusion.
Expensive for sure. To be more specific dinner, wine pairing, Washington State Tax and tip makes it a $250 per person experience. But it is special and it all comes down to how an individual values that experience.
The lodging on our first visit was good. It was reasonably sized, had a nice shower, no closet and the gas fireplace was perfect in March. Our second visit was on a warm and sunny day in July. The first room we were offered had a small double bed, no closet, a hand held European style shower in a tub, was receiving full sunlight and had no air conditioning, screens or a fan. There was another room available. It was shaded and had a shower so that was an improvement. I understand no air conditioning at this type of place, but no screens or fan to me was unacceptable.

So we had a great dinner, a poor night's sleep and some mosquito bites.

When we go again, and we will, we will do it in the winter, and be sure the room we reserve has a king size bed, a shower and a fireplace. Also be sure you pick a night that they are doing the fixed price menu, assuming that is the main reason to go to begin with.

Room tip: Be sure it has a conventional, not handheld shower. Warm days are a problem.
Date of stay: July 2012
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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4  Thank George98177
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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