Post Written by Nancy Moseley
Situated just barely on the outskirts of downtown Blacksburg, Clay Corner Inn, a local bed & breakfast staple for over 15 years, is at first glance nothing more than a private residence. Built in 1929, the home has a driveway, flowering window boxes and flies a Virginia State flag out front. But if you look closely there is a small black plaque to the right of the front door that denotes it is actually an Inn.
“We aren’t allowed to attach any major signs out front because of the historic status of the property,” new owner Nicky Aymes-Arevalo laments. “But we just accepted that and took it on as a challenge, how do we get the word out that the Inn has new owners and a new look, how are going to imprint it with our personalities?”
Nicky and her husband, Rick, took over the Inn in the fall of 2011 after the original owners decided to retire. From their previous home in California they spent two years searching out B&B properties along the East Coast, wanting to get closer to their three children, the youngest of whom is in Barcelona, Spain, Nicky’s hometown.
“This has always been a dream of mine and when we walked through the door of Clay Corner Inn we knew right away, this is the place, this is it.”
Nicky, who wrote her senior thesis on running a 15-room inn where each room had a different theme, saw the potential with Clay Corner Inn to change the perception of B&Bs everywhere, to disprove the “scary dolls and doilies” stereotype.
There are eight total rooms at the Inn divided between the main house and two additions out back, the Magnolia House and the Dogwood House. And true to Nicky’s dream, each room has a well-developed theme, ranging from what you might expect – The Hokie Room – to a selection of locally-focused suites including The Cascades and The Appalachian.
Certain rooms are dog friendly and all have fireplaces and private bathrooms. Meticulously designed with every detail and accent in place, the décor features murals and paintings from local artists and creatively uses splashes of bright color to emanate a more contemporary feel.
“We offer all of the amenities of a typical hotel, but our goal is not just to give you a place to stay, but to provide you with a home, because this is our home. Meeting and getting to know new friends is our favorite part of running the Inn.”
Click here for video interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXJ3Llfg6Uc&feature=youtu.be
A majority of the Inn’s guests are parents of Virginia Tech students, coming for mid-year visits, orientation or to bring their child back to school after breaks. Nicky and Rick make every effort to assure parents that the Inn can be a home away from home for their children.
“Once you stay here you are part of our family. One time we got a call from a nervous parent whose daughter was sick, so she came over from campus to stay with us so we could take care of her.”
The public spaces at the Inn include a main living room, two kitchens, a business center, an outdoor swimming pool and an eating nook where breakfast is served daily. Each entrée is made-to-order, easily accommodating vegetarians, vegans or those with food allergies.
“One of the biggest changes we made after taking over the business was bringing in recipes with a European influence… from Italy, Spain and France,” Nicky states. “And we make a huge effort to keep everything as healthy and organic as possible.”
All of Nicky & Rick’s hard work has been well worth it; they are completely booked through VT’s 2015 graduation and were just awarded a perfect rating from the Bed & Breakfasts Association of Virginia. The “Certificate of Excellence” had arrived in the mail the day before my visit.
And what is it exactly that makes the Clay Corner Inn so excellent? When I asked if there have been any notable guests, Rick, who had joined our conversation toward the end, gave a sly smile, “Well, all our guests are notable.” Answered like a true host.
Make sure you “like” Clay Corner Inn on Facebook
Visit Clay Corner Inn’s website here
Clay Corner Inn is located at:
401 Clay St., SW
Blacksburg, VA 24060