The hazy blue mountain ranges known as the Blue Ridge and Great Smokies stretch from North Carolina to Tennessee. They are home to some of the best towns, cities, and destinations to visit in the Southeast. One underappreciated aspect of the dreamy area is that it boasts dozens of unique hotels, inns, and lodges that can provide top-level luxury and amenities while still preserving the sense of rural wonder and quietude that keeps us coming back over and over again.
This private mountaintop resort, located just outside Waynesville, North Carolina, features remarkable Smoky Mountain views, award-winning eats, and charming rustic accommodations. A stay in one of The Swag’s exclusive 14 individually decorated rooms makes for the perfect mountain getaway retreat. Relax on the lawn and take in the view, dine on-site, and enjoy the easy access to beautiful hiking trails.
Lucy Armstrong built her estate on Lake Toxaway in North Carolina in 1915. Over a hundred years later, her home has grown into an elegant testament to her passion for the area. The natural splendor of the Nantahala National Forest surrounds The Greystone Inn’s stone facade: The architecture evokes turn-of-the-century glamour that has evolved to embrace modern simplicity. Swiss mountain chalets inspire the large square windows and gray board siding with white trim. The estate was privately owned until 1985 and underwent many renovations. Its most recent improvement occurred after the property exchanged hands in 2015. The Greystone Inn closed its doors in January of that year as it underwent a multi-million-dollar restoration. It reopened in May 2018.
Half-Mile Farm, a luxury country inn owned and operated by Old Edwards, is a place where serenity is paramount. The inn, in the mountains of Highlands, NC, restricts lodging access to guests over the age of 18 and strictly enforces a noise policy. But ask any guest, and they’ll tell you how grateful they are for a quiet reprieve. The policy is well-tailored to the breathtakingly landscaped grounds that comprise Half-Mile Farm.
The Grand Bohemian Asheville
Situated just outside the gates of the Biltmore Estate is the unmistakable facade of The Grand Bohemian Hotel. This luxury mountain getaway is the Asheville chapter of the Kessler Collection’s signature fusion of art, eclectic decor, and luxury accommodations. Every Grand Bohemian has a distinct character, and the Asheville property embraces a European mountain lodge aesthetic with playful fervor. Hunting imagery and relics associated with the outdoors coexist with velvety ultraluxe interiors. The Grand Bohemian is also just outside of downtown Asheville.
Inspired by the travels, tastes, and lifestyle of legendary cyclist George Hincapie, Hotel Domestique exists at the intersection of two hospitality ideals. Part countryside auberge, part modern boutique hotel, Domestique is the definition of a retreat—it’s even located in a town called Traveler’s Rest. The destination is tucked at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the foothills of upstate South Carolina, allowing for some of the most stunning views in all of Carolina. Enchanting guests in search of peace from across the nation, the hotel’s unique blend of Old World style and contemporary design creates an atmosphere entirely cut off from daily routine (and daily stress).
Boone, North Carolina is known for being a quaint college town surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The brand new Horton Hotel opened in February 2019. Located on buzzing King Street in downtown Boone, this elegant hotel offers guests exquisite views and fresh mountain air. The first of its kind in Boone, The Horton boasts a traditional historical exterior that preserves the hotel’s roots dating back to the 1920s when H.W. Horton built a car dealership and department store. As a connoisseur of the finer things in life, Horton would be proud to see his legacy continuing as a luxurious hotel providing high-end drinks, amenities, and experiences.
The Inn on Biltmore Estate
The Inn has a gorgeous, châteauesque-style based on the French Renaissance architecture of the estate itself, making it a relaxing way to enjoy the grounds and surrounding Asheville area. The sense of opulence never leaves you as you enjoy any of the fifteen restaurants within a mile of the inn. The Inn on Biltmore Estate also boasts proximity to the Biltmore Estate Wine Company, which opened in 1985 and produces high-quality local wine. The company has relatively young wine with sweet, Riesling-like whites, and spicy, chocolate-y reds. You can taste them yourself at one of the many sampling programs the Biltmore provides.
Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Known for its combination of luxury and relaxation, this western escape will immerse you in the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains. The Old Edwards Inn and Spa offers its guests an array of fine European-style suites, cottages, and private estates. The Inn also provides guests with art, music, and pristine outdoor adventures for an unforgettable experience. There are several spectacular waterfalls in the Highlands area, so we recommend you venture outside the hotel room for a day trip.
Tucked in the heart of downtown Highlands, NC, 200 Main offers guests ideal accommodations for a weekend getaway in the mountains. Take a dip in their outdoor heated mineral pool, or relax with a glass of wine next to the fire pit. The hotel is located next to a handful of local shops, restaurants, and art galleries, allowing you to explore the city to its fullest extent.
The Inn at Crestwood
Built in 1949, The Inn at Crestwood is a quaint mountain-side accommodation located in Boone, NC. The inn offers guests a relaxing and luxurious stay in the lush mountainous area. You can dine onsite at their New American-style restaurant. Or spend a day decompressing at their upscale spa before venturing into the bustling downtown of Boone.
The Park on Main
The Park on Main is an upscale, rustic retreat where luxury meets comfort in Highlands. The pet-friendly resort is perfect for the hiker who likes to bring their furry friend along on outdoor adventures. The Park on Main is equipped with a dog park as well as relaxing rooms with views of the hotel’s garden terrace. Just three miles from Dry Falls waterfall and seven miles from Whiteside Mountain, you’ll be able to get your adventuring fill.
The Pisgah Inn is located on the picturesque Mount Pisgah in the Blue Ridge Parkway. At 5,000 feet elevation, guests can expect stunning views of the sweeping mountainscape. Hike along one of the many nature trails or indulge in a decadent dinner at the inn’s onsite restaurant. Relax on your porch with a warm cup of coffee and revel in the quiet, crisp mountain air.
Green Park Inn
The historic Green Park Inn has been providing its guests with excellent service and upscale accommodations for the last 126 years. The charming resort, situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is chock full of character, turn of the century style, and southern hospitality. Over the years the Green Park Inn has hosted many of history’s most notable figures including J.D. Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Calvin Coolidge.
Mckinley Edwards Inn
The McKinley Edwards Inn is an upscale boutique hotel overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains in Bryson City, NC. Conveniently located near restaurants, shops, and unique local attractions, the inn is the perfect spot for a family-friendly vacation. The Mckinley Edwards Inn offers pet-friendly lodging, spacious accommodations, and stellar views of the rolling hills.
The Omni Grove Park Inn
For over a century, The Omni Grove Park Inn has been the perfect destination for travelers to rejuvenate, relax, and breathe clean mountain air. This resort sits atop Sunset Mountain, providing guests with breathtaking views. The inn has its own award-winning spa and a selection of restaurants and bars. For a classic mountain experience, visit Grove Park. Downtown Asheville is just a short drive down the road, so once you’ve explored the grounds of Grove Park, you can explore all the city has to offer.
The Lodge at River Run
The Lodge at River Run is an upscale bed and breakfast located in Banner Elk, NC. This hidden gem overlooks the picturesque Elk River and emphasizes serenity. Guests are pampered with comfortable king-size beds, fine linen, private paths, and an outside hot tub. Each night the lodge offers a complimentary wine and cheese reception. On special evenings, the hotel showcases live entertainment featuring local artists.
The Foundry is a unique retreat located in the heart of Asheville. The historic building was originally used as a steel factory. Though the hotel has since been renovated and refined, it maintains many important elements of its industrial origins. The hotel’s interior presents an artistic approach to modernity; extremely fitting for the vibrant city of Asheville. Each room is expertly curated to impress guests with each individual design. Indulge in The Foundry’s artisanal food and craft cocktails, with their restaurant Benne on Eagle, and enjoy the neighboring River Arts District.
The Red Horse Inn
Located on the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina, the quaint Red Horse Inn encourages guests to indulge their senses with the natural beauty that surrounds them. Spend an evening luxuriating at the wine bar, which overlooks the picturesque Grand Terrace. Or cozy up to the outdoor fire pit and watch as horses frolic in the nearby pasture.
Chetola is an exquisite 87-acre resort in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Beloved for its tantalizing views and the unique attractions the property offers, Chetola is the perfect destination for every season. The Resort has also managed to fully embrace its stunning natural setting around. It offers many ways to have fun at the Highlands Sports and Recreation Center, outside at Chetola Lake, and on the adjacent hiking trails.
As a mainstay for generations of guests, the Eseeola Lodge is a unique mountain resort steeped in tradition. The Lodge is known for its high standards in hospitality and provides great fun for the entire family. Depending on the time of year, guests can find an array of arts, festivals and local vineyards. Whether you’re looking for an exciting night out or just family fun, you can find it all at Eseeola. Plus, if you visit during the summer you get access to Appalachian Summer Festival, one of the nation’s most well-respected regional arts festivals.
Mast Farm Inn
Known for its impeccable weddings and historic lodging, the award-winning Mast Farm Inn is a great getaway. Enjoy mesmerizing views and a scenic atmosphere plus a wide variety of amenities ranging from outdoor activities to fine dining and shopping, the Inn gives guests a great home away from home. While you’re there, pop over to the original Mast General Store—it’s one of the primary reasons to visit Valle Crucis in the first place. Grab a spicy Blenheim Ginger Ale and linger on the century-old porch, which is always full of oldtimers and banjo-picking.
Additional contributor: Sunny Hubler