We had a problem with Oak Lodge bed and breakfast hotel in southwestern Pennsylvania: Even when my husband and I were visiting famed Fallingwater nearby, or cavorting through the rolling green hills of the Laurel Highlands… we couldn’t stop thinking about our magical cabin back at the lodge. It was downright distracting.
“I know Fallingwater is one of the most amazing landmarks in all of America,” I found myself saying, “but… can we go back and hang out on our cabin porch again soon?”
I’m not kidding. Take a moment to examine the interior of our little luxury-rustic abode at Oak Lodge, below. Can you see how nature and cozy comfort are dancing a waltz in this cabin? Can you imagine trying to focus on anything else in the region, with this cabin calling your name?Ahh, that smooth, honey-colored wood and high ceiling! Ooo, the happiness of being cozy in a forest cabin… while still having a mini-kitchen, hearth, and flat-screen TV! Yeah, and there’s a jacuzzi in the bathroom on the right.
The handful of forest-nestled cabins are new additions for Oak Lodge, and what brilliant additions they are. It is a profoundly different feeling to have an entire home (however petite) to oneself, surrounded on all sides by the swish of towering emerald trees… versus being squished between noisy hotel rooms in standard lodging.
Architecturally, these cabins draw from Frank Lloyd Wright by melding with surrounding nature — especially our cabin’s spectacular screened-in porch, pictured below.
This trip was only our second couples’ vacation since having two young kids (Portland, Maine being the first), and — in addition to exulting in the quiet calm, and getting a break from diapers — part of the luxury of Oak Lodge was the home-cooked breakfast.
“You mean I don’t have to race around, hurling sandwiches on plates and slopping yogurt down, while madly trying to shove hunks of bread into my own mouth, while simultaneously yelling at the kids not to put jelly in their hair?” I asked Colin as we walked down the shady path to the breakfast building.
As if in response, Oak Lodge’s Matt Hegan emerged, smiling and carrying out this luscious breakfast plate.
During his kindly chat with us, Matt revealed several surprising things about Oak Lodge — the most shocking being that it has a reconstructed 18th century village in it?!
But more on that in a moment, because I can’t wait a second longer to include the next photo. It belongs with another Oak Lodge fact: The property stretches over 800 acres through the Laurel Highlands, and if you drive to one end of the grounds — POW — this lake says hello! Isn’t it a beauty?
Maintaining 800 acres is no small feat, and I salute the staff of Oak Lodge for keeping the grounds lush with the flowers, trees, and general billowing greenery to relax and refresh its guests.
After two nights mingled with this nature, I felt as dewy and glowing as the flower, below.
Back to surprising Oak Lodge facts. It turns out that much of the property is wheelchair-accessible! This is an extremely rare trait for any property, let alone a semi-rural, rustic-luxury one.
Look closely at the hotel’s pool, below. Yes, it has heavenly natural light, and a ceiling fit for a mansion, but peer closer. See the white chair lift into the pool? See how wide the doors are? These are good things, which open opportunity.
Ok, are we ready to address the fact that there’s an 18th century village inside Oak Lodge? Let’s go.
The cluster of old-time buildings is called Jimberg Village, but here’s what moved me about it, once I got over the “WHAA?!” of its existence: The concept could be completely cheesy and weird, but at Oak Lodge, it’s not. The craftspeople who created Jimberg Village so artfully and lovingly constructed each building, that the village instills pure joy and awe.
Take, for example, the chapel pictured below. Like all of the buildings in Jimberg Village, this chapel is constructed of historic wood — some of it over 200 years old — from local barns.
Examine how each log is shaped and pieced together, using techniques that have been almost forgotten in the current era. Every beam here was hand-measured and cut manually, then painstakingly fit together. Jimberg Village is no plastic theme park: It is an act of preservation, honor, and art.
Just because it’s honorably historic, however, doesn’t mean Oak Lodge isn’t fun, too. It’s not every day a gal stumbles across an actual covered wagon (a la Oregon Trail) in her bed and breakfast, but if you look below, we sure found one.
“How does one pose with a covered wagon?” I asked, perplexed.
Outtakes included pretending to drive, dancing, and wagon-hugging… but ultimately the winner was showing my freshly bulging workout muscles in a standard hands-on-hips pose. Because nothing says “flex your muscles” in a flowery travel dress like a covered wagon.
Jimberg Village is full of delight-inducing, authentic pieces of the past like the covered wagon. In the “Tally Ho Tavern” building pictured below, for example, most of the historic signs decorating the walls were salvaged from actual centuries-old structures.
So what are these buildings used for now, besides bringing a smile to the face of people staying at Oak Lodge? Why, they’re available for event rentals — including weddings!
Though I adored our Boston wedding, I do feel a pang of “Darn it!” that I missed the opportunity to clip-clop into matrimony in a covered wagon.
A note on the decor at Oak Lodge: There are historic taxidermied animals around the walls of Jimberg Village and the Main Lodge, so if that’s not your style, stick around the cabins, which are of more contemporary design.
Speaking of design, a special acknowledgement goes to Robin Hegan, the local artist who decorated some of the most compelling parts of Oak Lodge. Observe the barn below, for example, which is near the pond. It has a secret…
Here’s the surprise: As historic as that barn sign looks, it’s actually just been recently created by Robin, who analyzed exactly what style of paint would fit best with the surroundings!
This exemplifies the spirit of Oak Lodge: History, art, and nature swirled together into bliss, thanks to modern creators and caretakers.
What else does Oak Lodge create in tandem with nature? Its own maple syrup! And you get to put it in your mouth during breakfast.
Pictured below is a close-up of the French Toast Muffins that the chef, John (who also does wonders with landscaping) whipped up for our second morning. The maple syrup tub in the upper left was promptly devoured, along with those celestial muffins.
Getting intrigued, and want some logistics? Oak Lodge is an easy hour drive from Pittsburgh (a city that we LOVED), a 35-minute drive to Fallingwater, and just 15 minutes from the cute town of Ligonier which boasts an epic garden and collection of glass paperweights.
This bed and breakfast isn’t just for out-of-towners, though. Pittsburgh-dwellers looking for a romantic getaway nearby: Oak Lodge’s cabins are the place for you!
For other opinions on Oak Lodge, pop by here for traveler reviews (a TripAdvisor affiliate link), and ogle all the 5-star ratings. It’s clear that we’re not the only guests who can’t stop dreaming about those delicious cabins!
In the words of my dear parents-in-law, who were kind enough to babysit while Colin and I traveled: “We also stayed in a cabin near Fallingwater when we visited, but it was at a different hotel — one that was clearly WAY less awesome. And it sure didn’t have an 18th century village or accessible pool!”
So what about you? Have you stayed at Oak Lodge, or in the region? Does this seem like a place you’d like to go? Do share!
We were guests of Oak Lodge and the Laurel Highlands, but all opinions and cabin obsessions are my own.