On a warm spring evening, I left DC and headed 3 hours north to the historic town of Wayne, Pennsylvania. I had plans to spend just one night there before venturing further south to explore the expansive gardens of the Brandywine Valley. I knew that Wayne was developed as part of the prestigious Pennsylvania “Main Line” in the early 19th century, and that the Philadelphia elite would often build holiday homes in this area, but I didn’t know much beyond that.
In the past, I’ve found that cities that are positioned right outside of major metropolises can suffer from a lack of identity, so as I drove up, road-weary from a bad bout of Friday-night traffic, I was a invigorated to see that Wayne was a place with a ton of personality.
For me, it was reminiscent of a little Georgetown in DC with independently-owned and bustling restaurants and bars, spas, bakeries and chic boutiques all lining Wayne’s Main Street and the perpendicular side streets. Every restaurant I drove past was bustling with their own style and energy… and was filled to the brim with patrons.
Anchoring the heart of downtown Wayne was my lodging for the night, the Wayne Hotel. Around since 1906 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the dramatic Tudor-style exterior stands like a monolith on Wayne’s main street, and it couldn’t be better positioned for exploring the town.
Stepping into the lobby, I was immediately struck with a feeling of comfortable sophistication. Sparkling chandeliers, a white oversized fireplace with crackling fire and boldly colored furniture set the tone. This was my kind of hotel!
My room was styled a little differently than the lobby, but embraced the hotel’s rich history. I found it to be romantic and traditional, with a 4 poster bed that was incredibly comfortable. The bathroom was pretty spectacular as well, with a rain shower head and dramatic granite floors, countertops and shower. (And, did I mention that there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the property? Love it!)
The Wayne Hotel is a notable fixture in the area, not only for the hotel but for its on-site restaurant, Paramour. In preparing for my visit, I had heard really good buzz about Paramour, so after checking in, I dropped off my bags, retouched my make-up and headed downstairs to scope out Paramour for myself.
The bar area and restaurant are decorated in the style of the lobby- which means that dramatic crystal chandeliers, modern leather chairs and booths, chic graphic prints and brightly arranged flowers abound in the dimly-lit space.
The bar area was hopping with Friday night revelry and had everyone from couples on dates to groups getting together for a fun night out. I felt like I was in the latest, greatest New York City hot-spot, and not the suburbs of Philly.
I discovered that the mixology craze has found its way to the Main Line and Paramour is known for making creative cocktails with house-infused liquors. It changes all of the time, but on my night there were 4 featured: three kinds of infused vodka (pineapple, blackberry and cucumber) and a thai-bird chili infused tequila.
I sampled a few — no judging, people! It was research! — and I found each one to be delicate and balanced, relying on authentic flavors. They were just perfect.
From left to right:
My favorite- the Fuego Margarita: Paramour’s infused chili tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime and a floater of Gran Marnier. It’s delicate, but packs a punch. (And, yes, those are peppers floating in the drink… spicy goodness!)
Then, it’s the executive chef Kyle Johnson’s favorite- the Aviation: Gin, Creme de Violette, Luxardo and lemon juice. I found this one to be floral and brightly tart, with a slight pine undertone.
Finally, I sampled the Rosemary Ruby. With vodka, ruby red grapefruit juice, agave nectar and generous sprigs of fresh rosemary, it’s essentially the perfect summer cocktail.
After testing the cocktails, I was hungry. I opted to take dinner in the glamorous dining room- bringing my sampled cocktails along for the ride. While my expectations were fairly high at this point, I really didn’t know that I was about to have one of the most inventive, exciting and mouth-watering meals of my life.
I decided to go all-out with the 5 Course Chef’s Tasting Menu- and I’m so glad I did.
Here’s what I was served.
The tasting menu is $55 — or $85 if you want sommelier-selected wines paired with the courses — and I think it’s a fantastic deal, especially considering the caliber of the food that’s served.
I left Wayne the next morning feeling like this was one of those “hidden gems” that makes me glad that I’ve committed to exploring the region around where I live. I highly recommend Wayne for anyone looking for a unique, lively and absolutely delicious overnight destination.