Our digs in Asheville during the 2008 trip were on the grounds of the famous Biltmore Estate, which drove a bit of before we checked in, and it was 47 different kinds of beautiful. Rolling fields, forest, Smokey Mountains, creeks, river, and more.
The Inn itself is built to more or less reflect the shape of the manor house and is very gracious. We were amused that the piano player in the lobby was tinkling out “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. Was he trying to be subversive or are we just old enough that Bowie qualifies as a standard?
The rooms are full of likable touches: fresh rose in a bud vase in the bathroom, big bottles of water, high quality chocolates on the pillows—there are the things that make experiences like this special. The rooms aren't huge - in fact, they are fairly standard in terms of square-footage - but they are so finely appointed and that they seem downright palatial. They come fully equipped with big TVs, wireless Internet, robes, hair dryers, irons and boards, and all of the other comforts of home.
Add to that a view from our windows of the aforementioned fields, mountains et al, and we were most well set up for the night.
In addition to the big lobby with plushy chairs there is an onsite restaurant, a pool and hot tob, a gym, a sundry store with some very fine chocolates (yes, we sampled), a concierge (that helped us enormously with dinner suggestions), and even a library where you can pick out a book and cozy up in a chair with a glass of wine.
If outdoor activities are your forte they can arrange everything from horse back riding to Segway tours to cross-country trips in a Land Rover and more. We didn't go quite that far but Mary took what was supposed to be a nice little walk down by the river, during which she a) Got lost twice, including once in an increasingly dark wooded area, b) discovered that sheep like their butts scratched as much as your average furry dog, c) saw a rabbit and two groundhogs (we think), d) saw the rosy pink sunset, and e) pretended that all this was hers.
We admit it was mighty nice waking up in our comfy beds in our rooms over looking our - whoops, we mean, the Vanderbilts' estate. While there are plenty of hotels in the area, given the lure of Biltmore House, there is nothing else like staying on the actual grounds, watching the sunset from a chair on the broad veranda, the Smoky Mountains looming over it all. The Inn is elegant, certainly, but also very friendly and comfortable enough that we saw a family playing Scrabble in the library off the lobby. Staying here was a really special experience for us, and we are grateful for it.
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