Award-winning Inns for the perfect holiday respite
By MARIANNE LEEK
As the days become shorter, a layer of frost covers the ground, promises of snow flurries linger in the chilly evening air, and most of us gather indoors with family and friends in anticipation of the holidays. However, with winter break just around the corner, a weekend getaway is a guaranteed respite from the bustle and busyness of the season. Sometimes the best escapes are far from the ordinary, but not too far from the familiar, and still feel remarkably like home. Whether you’re planning a girls' weekend, couples retreat, family destination vacation, or solitary sabbatical, these exquisite mountain inns have you covered.
The White Birch Inn - Clayton, Georgia
The White Birch Inn is a boutique hotel in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Northeast Georgia. Conveniently located on the square in downtown Clayton, the White Birch Inn is within walking distance of fine dining, wineries, artisans, antique stores, boutiques, breweries, and simply some of the best shopping in the area. This charming downtown feels like stepping back in time, complete with many of the quaint nuances captured in a Norman Rockwell painting.
The White Birch Inn offers stunning luxury accommodations for the most discerning traveler. For instance, the Mountain Laurel Suite features an in-room stone fireplace, cozy down bedding, and an elegant bath complete with a hammered copper soaking tub, while the Willow Room has “an iron king canopy bed, painted to look like white birch branches.” Each guest room in the inn is a meticulously decorated, dreamy space.
Begin your morning sipping a hot beverage on the screened porch, the Hemlock sundeck, or the white birch patio. After a full á la carte breakfast, spend your day shopping downtown or exploring the beautiful outdoors of nearby Lake Burton or Tallulah Gorge State Park. Consider visiting local favorites like Wander North Georgia, Universal Joint, Moonrise Distillery, Main Street Gallery, Currahee Brewery, or the wine bar Napa South, before returning late afternoon to complimentary wine and cheese in the guest lounge. And don’t forget to pick up some freshly baked treats at White Birch Provisions before heading up to your room. Whether you’re looking to learn how to fly-fish, are excited to hit the trails, need to relax and recharge, or celebrating an anniversary, The White Birch Inn has the perfect getaway package tailored to meet your recreation requests.
Inn on Montford - Asheville, North Carolina
Surrounded by Mountain Laurel, beautiful gardens, and hundred-year-old trees, it’s hard to believe the historic and beloved 1900 Inn on Montford is only steps away from downtown Asheville. Innkeepers Willy and Shawnie Gruber have curated a bed and breakfast experience as unique as Asheville itself. “Outdoor thrill-seekers, history buffs, and art and music aficionados alike all feel at home in our expansive Arts and Crafts style bed and breakfast.” Book lovers will appreciate that guest rooms are named after such literary heavyweights as Fitzgerald, Wharton, Morris, O’Henry, and Asheville’s very own local luminary Thomas Wolfe.
The carriage house includes three dog-friendly guest rooms with private entrances and outdoor patio space. At 1,300 square feet, the Cloisters, one of the guest rooms located in the carriage house, boasts an in-room fireplace and heated marble floors, as well as a luxury bath. Spend the evening taking in the surrounding mountain vistas while savoring a glass of wine and relaxing in the oversized soaking tub. Zelda’s Retreat, a stunning, 1,100 square foot, two-bedroom suite located in the main house also offers guests a private entrance, and a spa-like tub to relax in after a day of adventure. Smaller guest rooms are available in both the carriage house and the main inn, depending on your preferences.
The Inn on Montford offers premiere accommodations without feeling the least bit pretentious. Guests will start their day with a hot, three-course breakfast, thoughtfully prepared and served, using locally sourced, farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients whenever possible, and with vegetarian and vegan options available upon request.
Whether you spend your day strolling downtown, hiking or biking local trails, or visiting the nearby Biltmore Estate, you’ll enjoy afternoon snacks, refreshments, and freshly baked cookies when you return to the Inn. But make sure to book your visit on a weekend if you want to enjoy the sweet sounds of Appalachian heritage music from renowned local artists on the expansive front porch or in front of the fireplace every Saturday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. The Inn’s porch has become a favorite intimate “venue.” Over 40 local musicians have visited to date, some of whom have played with GRAMMY award-winning artists at the Grand ole’ Opry and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. The Grubers believe that “visiting Asheville means not only visiting the city but experiencing the culture. For us, culture means music and community. We are proud to support local artists and give them a platform (or at least our front porch) to perform.”
Whether you’re traveling alone, with a loved one, or with the family and the family dog, Willy and Shawnie are curators of hospitality and comfort.
The Orchard Inn - Saluda, North Carolina
“Located where the foothills end and the Blue Ridge begins,” The Orchard Inn is a historic bed and breakfast in Saluda, North Carolina, a small town about 35 minutes from downtown Asheville. Recognized as a National Historic District for being at the top of the Norfolk Southern Railway’s Saluda Grade, Saluda is a picturesque mountain village that serves as a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re visiting for road biking, whitewater rafting, hiking, fly-fishing, zip-lining or shopping, you’ll want to stay at The Orchard Inn.
Featured on PBS, The Orchard Inn has a rich local history, originally built in 1926 “as a summer getaway for railroad employees and their families.” Marc and Marianne Blazar are the current innkeepers, with son Adam Blazar as general manager, and they pride themselves on cultivating “the perfect combination of charm, elegance, and coziness.” Whether you stay in one of the nine rooms in the inn, five cottages, or two luxury suites, you can rest assured that your stay will be nothing less than perfection. If you’re traveling with kids, or just simply want a more spacious, private, pet-friendly option, the cottages offer charming and cozy accommodations with such amenities as fireplaces, soaking/whirlpool tubs, private decks, and screened-in porches. Just five minutes from downtown Saluda, home to outdoor adventure, trendy boutiques, local cuisine, general stores and art galleries, The Orchard Inn is your perfect “base camp” for fun!
The on-site, award-winning, Newman’s Restaurant is a fine dining, farm-to-table, experience that is open to the public, but as a guest at The Orchard Inn, you’ll enjoy a made-to-order gourmet breakfast as part of your stay. Newman’s Restaurant also offers a delicious dinner and Sunday brunch menu, with most seasonal produce sourced from their very own organic garden and mini-orchard.
Newman’s Restaurant’s annual Charles Dickens’ Dinner is a holiday treat not to be missed. This beloved Christmas tradition happens every Thursday to Sunday, December 1st - 18th, and features a four-course dinner, ending in candlelight readings in front of the fireplace from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. However, if you can’t book your stay before the Christmas holiday, consider ringing in 2023 at The Orchard Inn with Newman’s black-tie optional New Year’s Eve Gala, which includes hors-d'oeuvres and a seven-course, spectacular dinner.
On-site spa accommodations, fine dining and the coziest of modern amenities, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, make The Orchard Inn the perfect holiday getaway destination.
The Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia have some of the most scenic small towns in America. So whether you book a weekend adventure in Clayton, Asheville, or Saluda, or consider a staycation right here on the plateau, your next winter getaway is much closer than you think.
Old Edward’s Inn - On December 15th, guests can enjoy Fireside at the Farm: A Holiday Evening with Mike Kinnebrew. This event is open to the public. The Old Edward’s Inn also offers several inclusive holiday packages, including the following: Winter Slip Away and Save, Winter All-inclusive, Comfort and Joy and Romantic Mountain Escape. To reserve your winter staycation or purchase tickets to Fireside at the Farm, visit https://www.oldedwardshospitality.com.
Park on Main - The Park on Main is conveniently located on Main Street in Highlands and offers views of their Central Park-inspired hotel garden or balconies overlooking the charming streets of downtown. “The Park on Main is a 24-suite luxury, dog-friendly hotel in Highlands, NC with an upscale-rustic theme, providing an elegant place to stay in the southern Appalachian Mountains.” To reserve your winter staycation, visit https://www.theparkonmain.com.
High Hampton - Celebrating 100 years, High Hampton is ready to commemorate this milestone. “Celebrate the holiday season all month long at High Hampton with festive crafting, cookie decorating every Saturday, holiday movies on Christmas Day, and more! On Christmas Eve, join us for fireside story time with cookies and hot chocolate with Mrs. Claus!” To reserve your winter staycation, visit https://www.highhampton.com.