2.10.2011

Pack Your Bags: We're Heading to the Inn at Biltmore

The other day, I was at our attorney’s office to sign some papers.   She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill the same year I did, but we didn’t cross paths until several years ago.   We both married later, and had our first children after the age of 35 so we have some things in common.    In between getting the signatures she needed, we started chatting about schools, the kids, vacations, my new blog, and my obsession with luxury hotels.  She asked me, “What is the nicest hotel you’ve stayed in for a night in North Carolina?" I wasn’t sure if she was testing me to see if my hotel standards were on par with hers or if she just wanted to know my thoughts since I depict unusual characteristics of Internet hotel surfing even when I’m not planning a trip.   Regardless of her motive, it didn’t take me long to come up with an answer.    



Courtesy of the Inn at Biltmore
 
So take a few minutes and escape with me today. Pack your Bags: We’re heading to the Inn at Biltmore in Asheville, NC.

Asheville, North Carolina is a thriving arts community nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 


It is a gorgeous and sophisticated destination, and is also home to one of the most beautiful, and romantic chateaus in the United States.    The Biltmore House and Gardens, which was built on 8,000 acres overlooking the French Broad River, rivals some of Europe’s finest palaces.


Photo of the Biltmore House taken by my husband
 
More than one million people visit George Vanderbilt’s exquisite mountainside vacation home each year and I had the pleasure of being one of those visitors in 2009.

Vanderbilt created the Biltmore to escape everyday life, and if you really want to experience life as Mr. Vanderbilt intended in the late 1890’s then you must make the Inn at Biltmore your home away from home while in Asheville.   It is the only inn on the Biltmore estate, and as soon as you give the gatekeeper your name, and make your way down the winding, scenic road that leads to the Biltmore House, winery, and the estate's inn, you immediately feel the daily stress of your life disappear.   It’s an enchanting journey!

I was seven months pregnant when my husband and I decided to spend a weekend at the Inn at Biltmore   We thought it would be nice to take a break from our son, his sleeplessness which I mentioned on Tuesday, relax, rest, and just rejuvenate before our daughter arrived.     The hotel grounds were beautiful; our room was luxurious, spacious, spotless, and inviting.  The bathroom was superb and it even served as a sitting area for me when pregnancy induced insomnia had me reading “Gourmet” Magazine at 2 am in there with my feet propped up on the marble countertops so I wouldn’t wake my husband.  It really was the most perfect setting.

Courtesy of the Inn at Biltmore.  Our room was reversed from this photo
Feeling as big as the Biltmore's stable, being 28 weeks pregnant, and recovering from a virus, I could have easily never left the inn the entire two days, and been perfectly content surrounded by magnificent views and down comforters, but we did venture out on the estate to see what it had to offer.   We stayed at the Inn at Biltmore in August of 2009, and surprisingly, the mountains had a slight heat wave that weekend.  It was above average temperatures, however, the gorgeous mountainside pool was a great retreat.  

Courtesty of the Inn at Biltmore
We also had a lovely night to dine outside at the Arbor Grill adjacent to the estate’s winery.  I cannot speak highly enough about the food on the Biltmore Estate.  Every meal was truly outstanding and we still talk about our experience from time to time because I do frequently bring up our trips in our conversations because it just makes me happy.  My trips are some of my best memories.

We had an early Saturday lunch at the Stable CafĂ©, and homemade ice cream in the afternoon.  You know a pregnant woman would find her ice cream!   We took a quick ride to downtown Asheville on our last night, but decided to come back to the inn, go to the Library Lounge and have a late dinner sitting on the inn’s Veranda.   We loved being at the inn that clear, bright, starry night.   That impromptu meal on the veranda was a favorite experience, and the view was spectacular.  I still think about that wonderful Pizza Margharita, too.

The Inn at Biltmore not only left a lasting impression on me, but also on my husband.  He enjoys our trips a lot, but never really says much about them except “It was nice!” And of course, since he prefers saving over spending, he never really enjoys paying the checkout bill part.   But in this case, this inn actually got the biggest compliment of any hotel we’ve ever stayed.  He said, “I would definitely go back!”  

The great thing about the Inn at Biltmore along with the Biltmore House and Gardens is that it has a new appeal every season throughout the year.   With so much to do on the estate, one can get a different experience in winter, spring, summer, and fall.   I cannot wait to take our children one day.   And if you think you may like to do the same then now is the time to plan that trip.   Children 16 and under have free admission to the Biltmore House and Gardens through March 31, 2011.   The Inn at Biltmore is also offering  a great winter rate that is 50 percent off of rack rates.  

Next time I go back to Biltmore, I’m going to stay three nights instead of two if I can, and I’ll definitely be checking out the afternoon tea service and spa.

Till next time, I’m off to have a cup of tea!
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