5.06.2013

Pack Your Bags: A Traveler’s Look at the Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, N.C.

Nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains in Highlands, near Georgia’s border, is one of the best luxury hotels and spas in the United States.  TripAdvisor says so.  So do Conde` Naste Traveler, and Travel andLeisure.  And now I say so!

Highlands, NC Luxury Hotel
This beautiful terrace was outside our bathroom door. 
No question that Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, North Carolina, is one of the best check-ins, but it’s also one of the most beautiful hotels that I’ve visited in my home state, and probably one of the loveliest and most comfortable inns that I’ve encountered in my travels thus far. 

Luxury Hotel

Every room is like stepping onto the pages of a magazine, set in a European village. 

Highlands, NC, luxury hotels


This is what we walked into after we checked in … our living room to our queen suite.

Luxury Travel
The owner of the hotel, Angela Williams, has personally decorated every room in a $50 million plus renovation since acquiring the property in 2001. 

The Hummingbird Lounge is a great spot to grab a light bite or drink
From the intimate rooms in the historic Inn to grand cottages around the property that make you feel as if you are royalty, each room is a masterpiece of style.  Her taste is impeccable, and each room has special luxurious details that make it truly special. 

Luxury Hotel, Highlands, NC


Heated towel racks, heated bathroom floors, plantation shutters, Molton Brown bath products, Italian linens, in-house mountain-brewed coffee, and plush bedding make Old Edwards five-star luxurious, but the complimentary butler’s pantry with Dove Ice Cream bars, homemade macaroons at turndown, and the warmth of staff make you feel as if you are staying with family.

The  Butler's Pantry is located in the main building of the Inn. 

We stayed in the gorgeous Hickory Queen Suite for two nights, and my poor husband didn’t leave our room for over 36 hours.  But if he had to be sick, this was certainly the place to be sick.  He came down with some bug the day of our arrival, and I was on my own with the kids while he recovered in our room.   Old Edwards staff were absolutely fabulous to us, and, unfortunately, my husband’s sickness eventually made its way to my children, too.  On this trip, we tested out room service, laundry service, and housekeeping services on demand.  We were really horrible guests with all of the sickness, but staff never stopped smiling and catering to our needs.

Yes, the floors were heated.  This space was HUGE.

Our huge suite, with a living room, two queen beds, and a bathroom large enough to house another queen bed, was a tranquil retreat that suited my family’s needs.  My son and I even enjoyed breakfast by the fire one morning in the living room since we were the only two well at the time.



Highlands, N.C.

The location of Old Edwards Inn and Spa is smack in the middle of downtown Highlands, and we could walk everywhere we went.  Highlands, at an elevation of 4,118 feet, is a small town with picturesque beauty.

The Presbyterian Church is located on Main street. 
In some ways, it’s almost like the “Palm Beach” of the mountains, and caters to Floridians and Georgia natives who like to escape the humid summers of the South. Quaint shops, fine dining, and the best of nature abound in Highlands. 


Just one of many falls in the area.
















Old Edwards is certainly a year-round resort destination, but the town of Highlands thrives in the summer months and can be deserted after 5 p.m. in the spring.  Old Edwards Inn and Spa is at the center of it all with an award-winning golf course, spa and pool amenities, five-star dining, and entertainment for families.



The Spa at Old Edwards Inn

The spa is drop-dead gorgeous and exudes Old World charm with its cozy spa café and magnificent lounge area.  I enjoyed a glass of champagne and pampered myself with the spa’s signature facial.  My experience was exquisite. 

The Solarium area of the Spa is divine.
The spa is opulent but not pretentious.  Honestly, it’s a place where you just want to stay for hours. The lounge area is filled with beautiful natural light, and when you retreat to the spa café, you feel as if you have been transplanted to Europe with the rich woods and antique-type furnishings.  If a scone wasn’t so fattening, I bet they would serve it, but they do limit the menu to healthier, lighter options.

 I met several ladies who made the short drive down from Atlanta, and enjoyed chatting with them in the lounge area so much that I lost track of time.  The Spa at Old Edwards really is a special place, and I can certainly understand why it has been given top spa honors through the years.

Madison’s Restaurant

The Inn’s signature restaurant, Madison’s, is located in the historic part of the hotel, which served as a boarding house in 1878.  This Forbes Four-Diamond, farm-to-table, award-winning restaurant, under the direction of Executive Chef Johannes Klapdohr, focuses on serving local, sustainable ingredients.  Our waiter, Jeffrey, who moonlights as “Mrs. Doubtfire” during the town’s annual Halloween festival, went the extra mile for making this fine-dining experience enjoyable for its two younger guests.  

This photo was taken during our lunch at Madison's, which is more casual for lunch than it is for dinner,


Typically, Madison’s is the type of restaurant where I would hire a sitter if it were located in Raleigh. I tend to enjoy higher-priced entrees when my children are not with me. However, when traveling, I bend the rules some and will dine in higher-end restaurants, if they are located in our hotel because unless it’s an adults-only property, hotels are used to serving children and will welcome them with open arms. 

And in case you are wondering, I also ask/expect my two (aged 7 and 3) to be on their best behavior by bribing them with some scrumptious dessert.  To a child, a luxury hotel can make even plain vanilla ice cream absolutely dreamy.  My trick works most of the time, and on this occasion, another couple came over to us as they were leaving Madison’s and said that our children were “absolutely fantastic.”  Little did they know that we threatened taking away that dessert, under our breath, several times during dinner.  Just keeping my travels real for parents and grandparents who read my “Pack Your Bags.”

Madison's Restaurant in Highlands, NC
The Spring Salad at Madison's Restaurant
Everything we ate at Madison’s was fantastic, but the fresh salads were the most memorable for me and continue to stick out in my mind, a good month past the trip.  I’m not kidding. They were so fresh and delicious.  The homemade dressing was so good that I probably committed every dining faux paus there is by not leaving one piece of lettuce on my plate.  It was almost like I was still dipping my fork on the plate as Jeffrey took it away.

The Church Street Cottages

We loved Old Edwards Inn and Spa so much that we extended our stay another day. Will was finally better, so we could explore the town and surrounding area before taking on the long six-hour drive back to Raleigh.  However, the Hickory Queen Suite where we had been staying behind the main inn was booked, so we moved to an English Cottage on Church Street to finish our excursion. 

This cottage has two bedrooms downstairs and a third bedroom on the top floor.  Each room can be rented separately. 

We rented two king bedrooms, which gave us access to the entire lower floor in the cottage.

The common living room area in the cottage. Two private king bedrooms, which are rented separately, share this space. 


Again, gorgeous!

Both King bedrooms have private porches

A King Bedroom in the cottage. I chose this one as my bedroom. 
Old Edwards will open the Falls Cottages in June, and these cottages will overlook a brand new mineral pool with a special children’s area.  In a future post, I’m going to share with you some photos of the individual homes and estates that are also available for rent.  I didn’t see these in person, but the photos are unbelievable, and I think you would love to see the décor

In case you are wondering, historic room rates in the main inn begin at $280 in the high season, the Hickory Queen Suite begins at $499, and the two-bedroom cottage on Church Street with a living room begins at $725 or $385 to rent just one downstairs bedroom.  A one-bedroom suite in the new Falls Cottage will also begin at $385.

Old Edwards is a spectacular place to visit, and, in my opinion, it’s another great reason to visit North Carolina.

Want to Go:
Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Member of Preferred Hotels and Historic Hotels of America 
445 Main Street
Highlands, NC



Disclosure: My thanks to Old Edwards Inn and Spa for sponsoring this "Pack Your Bags" stay.  In order for me to write this feature, many amenities were included in our press package complimentary. We did have our own costs at the hotel while we stayed as guests, and received a special hotel rate for any additional nights.  As always, my opinions and experiences are my own. 



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