4.13.2015

NC Mountain Escape: Tips to Plan a Trip to Asheville and Biltmore Estate

Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


Tucked away next to the entrance of the Biltmore Estate in historic Biltmore Village is the DoubleTree Biltmore. It is a full-service, upscale property that makes a great base for exploring Asheville, N.C.  

Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


When I say full-service, it means the hotels offers the following: room service, a restaurant on site, and a person to assist you with your luggage. This is an upscale property, not a luxury property by definition. The hotel owners though have raised the bar on the Hilton brand to make this Doubletree doubly special, which is why I feel confident giving it a very good rating for my #outaboutnc travel community, which serves all travel budgets for N.C. 
The Doubletree Biltmore. Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


I want to encourage you to browse hotel websites when you plan your vacation destinations because many times, they offer great packages that will save you money while exploring an area.  Packages usually come with great perks. It's time for travelers to get beyond the "old phrase" that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, "It doesn't matter where I stay. A hotel is just a place to sleep." 



Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


That saying may be true if you are going from Point A to Point B, and you need to stop to rest, but for vacations or weekend escapes, a hotel is NOT just a place to sleep. The right hotel can help enhance your travel experience. I found this to be true with the DoubleTree Biltmore on my trip to Asheville this month. 

The Doubletree Biltmore, which is owned by Biltmore Farms, has a majestic jewel within a two-minute drive of the hotel. Asheville's Biltmore  Estate is its' neighbor. 


The Biltmore Estate. Tips to your weekend getaway. Where do you stay?


Location to the Biltmore Estate and easy access to good restaurants makes Doubletree Biltmore a good lodging choice for Asheville. 

Staying on the Biltmore Estate vs. Off the Estate

I've stayed at the Inn at Biltmore on the estate, and it's beautiful. I recommend staying there, too which is evident from my "Pack Your Bags"  


Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


However, that Inn is perfect for couples and families who are willing to pay around $700 a night for a room and up. It's that simple. In peak season, such as this spring with Biltmore Blooms, a regular room at the Inn is priced at almost $750 per night and that does not include Biltmore House admittance or breakfast. Packages with house entry and breakfast start at over $1000 per night.  Day tickets purchased online to experience the Biltmore Estate begin at $47 for seven-day advance purchase tickets for adults, and $52 for tickets purchased with one to six days before a visit.  


Antler Hill Village Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


The estate is building a new hotel for Antler Hill Village, but it will not be ready until December 2015. The price point will be lower than the original Inn, but packages will still hover around $500 in the winter and around $900 in spring. Room-only rates will be around $600 in the spring. If you can afford this, and are dying to stay on the estate, do it. You will love it.  I personally think a few days of being on the estate, and treating it as a resort vacation is fabulous. There is a spa, afternoon tea, and an outdoor pool. There are a lot of estate resort amenities that make you feel like you are living the life of a Vanderbilt.The new Antler Hill location will be even better than the Inn, in my opinion. But, not everyone can afford those rates, and those who may not want that type of expense for a weekend getaway in the mountains. 


The Doubletree Biltmore is a great place to stay that is close to  Biltmore Estate.
The  DoubleTree Biltmore lets guests have fun revealing what brought them to town. My daughter said, "Elsa and Anna", but that is all she knows how to spell really well besides her own name, and she added that, too. 

A Good Family Hotel Choice Close to Biltmore Estate


Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.

But, let's talk about a great alternative at a lower price point outside the gates of Biltmore. For couples and families wanting to spend less than $500, I have found a good alternative, and you can even get more savings through its hotel packages. First you must know, I'm not an advocate of hotel packages that offer just offer champagne or strawberries on arrival. To me, that just adds unnecessary expenses to your bill unless you are really wanting something special for an engagement or anniversary. 

I think these "romance" type of packages in the limited-service to upscale hotel market are what many travelers think of when they think of hotel packages and as a result, they never really check into them when seeking out a vacation destination. 

But you are making a mistake if you don't check the hotel site for packages to see what is offered. I'm a strong supporter of hotel packages that can help you save on excursions, give you a flavor of the area with dining, wine and  beer experiences, breakfast offers, spa treatments, or extra family perks. This is what you need to look for when booking a hotel. You will save on your vacation and your travel experience will be greatly enhanced. 

Packages at the DoubleTree Biltmore


Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


You can stay at the DoubleTree Biltmore, visit the Biltmore Estate, the Dressing Downton exhibit, and enjoy breakfast for rates starting as low as $280 for 2-double-bed room. And it can be as high as $416, depending on dates and demand. 

With your complimentary admission as part of your hotel package to Biltmore Estate, the estate is yours to explore at leisure The Spring gardens are magnificent right now. 


Biltmore Blooms is beautiful in the Spring. Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.



The food is always wonderful at Biltmore. I enjoyed a break with Cedric's Beer and a pretzel. 


Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


My kids will never leave the estate without visiting the creamery for ice cream. 



Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


The Biltmore winery is also celebrating 30 years this year so a wine tasting there is always fun. Plus, they will have extra events going on to celebrate this milestone. On this trip, I purchased Biltmore Cardinal's Crest, the House Red, and of course, Cedric's Brown Ale.


The Downton Abbey exhibit was outstanding. That exhibit ends on May 25, 2015.  If you can, go see it.  I really enjoyed seeing these clothes.The dresses are stunning in person, and Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, is so tiny. I bet she is a size zero.  This was one of her dresses displayed in the library. 


Downton Abbey package at Doubletree Biltmore through May 25.
Photo courtesy of Biltmore Press Office. Photography is not allowed inside the home by visitors. 

When visiting Biltmore, allow a full-day for sightseeing. The tickets the Doubletree give you are for two days so you have that wonderful feeling that you are able to go back the next day, if you didn't get everything done on your sightseeing list. You must check in at the visitor's center to get a time for admission into the house.  We arrived at noon.  You all know we're slow movers, and we could not get into the house until 4:45 pm (the last entry of the day).  Peak times are busy. 

In reality, Biltmore has become such a popular tourist destination that every season is busy. The best lodging deals are in January, February, and early March for you future planners. 

After that, rates just soar and so do the crowds. 

The DoubleTree Bilmore experience

The Doubletree Biltmore is a top-notch hotel with great management and you can tell that they want your stay to be the best.  It was clean, staff members were friendly, and the hotel did little extras that made it special. We were there over the Easter holiday so they had crafts for kids and an egg hunt. I asked Liza what she loved about our trip once we got before I starting writing this story, and she said, "Going to the indoor pool and hunting eggs with the bunny." 


Little extras make hotels special.


So, it doesn't take much to make the kids happy when traveling, but its those extras that make things special and memorable. 


Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


And of course, the DoubleTree chocolate cookies make everyone smile when checking-in. Any hotel that gives away cookies gets my kids' blessing. 


The Downton Abbey package at DoubleTree Biltmore


The Doubletree Biltmore underwent a renovation in 2013. The lobby has an upscale feel with cranberry and tan tones. Regular double rooms are small for a family of four, but it's great for a weekend. The beds were cozy and upscale with good bedding. I had one child with me, and Will had one with him. Two adults in one double bed is harder to do, in my opinion, but it can be done.


Staying on the estate vs. off the estate. It is more afforable off the estate. The DoubleTree Biltmore is a good option.


If you are staying longer, it would be my advice to invest in a suite or junior suite with a sleeper sofa, robes, microwave, and fridge. All bathrooms in the hotel are small, but they look nice. We were there on a holiday weekend with all rooms filled by guests so I experienced a room at the lowest price point for the package. Ideally, the 2-queen premium room or a suite would be my recommendation if traveling with your family. It's not that much more in price, probably $20 to $75 tops for the Downton Abbey package, which is the hotel's most expensive package because of the official tour guide book. 


Treehouse Bar at DoubleTree Biltmore


On Friday night, the hotel opens the Treehouse Bar in the courtyard. There is live music, and of course, beer and wine at an additional cost, but it's a great place to kick off the weekend. It's really fabulous when you check-in after you've been traveling all day. The Treehouse Bar usually runs from 4 pm to 7 pm on Friday only. 

Breakfast is Best Feature of the DoubleTree Biltmore

This hotel aims to impress with its breakfast buffet. Breakfast is included in the Biltmore/Downton Abbey packages, and it is exceptional. The cost for adults is something like $11.95 and it is worth every penny. The public is welcome to dine there, too. The Ducker Tea room is small, but I loved the intimate feel of it. 


Breakfast at  DoubleTree Biltmore


While we were there, Chef Skip made omelets to order and I thought the "Blue Ridge", made with spinach, bacon, and feta cheese was delicious.Homemade sweets impressed and the blueberry scones got high marks from this scone lover. I could eat it without Devonshire cream. That says a lot. I give this breakfast a triple A plus. Is that even possible? Other guests agree with me. 



Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


The Doubletree Asheville Biltmore consistently ranks as the number one DoubleTree brand within Hilton for the best breakfast in the U.S. My advice to you is not to skip breakfast here, and let Skip make you an omelet or any egg of your choosing. You will be so full that you will skip lunch, especially if you are late breakfast eaters like my family. 


Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.


There is a marketplace in the lobby that also sells a few items for you to have on the go. The marketplace also has local beer and wine in stock as well as much-needed items like band-aids and toothbrushes. I needed a band-aid for a boo-boo that really did not need a band-aid, but you pick your battles with children so I purchased a pack of travel band-aids for $1.50. I'm glad it was there for that reason. 

In HinesSight on our Stay


Southern writer, Leigh Hines, brings hotels to life with her travel stories. Tips to plan your weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C and the Biltmore Estate.

Two-nights in Asheville, N.C. is just not enough time. You definitely need more to explore the city. But, sometimes that is all you have available. The Doubletree Biltmore makes a great base for exploring the Biltmore Estate, Biltmore Village, and downtown Asheville. It's a good fit for family travel. Kids can feel comfortable here. It is also pet-friendly. If I were staying longer than two nights, I would book a Queen Junior suite, which includes a sleeper sofa. You also have the option of getting a connecting double room. 

On your way out, be sure to buy some bags of Doubletree Trail Mix. It is delicious. I didn't eat any of it until I got home, and now we wish we had more. 


Want to Go:
DoubleTree Biltmore
115 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, N.C. 

To plan your trip to Asheville, N.C. visit Explore Asheville. 

Disclosure: This was a hosted stay, and wrapped up a campaign where I gave one Downton Abbey experience to a reader. A winner was drawn on April 1 and she and her family will be experiencing this same package in May. 





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