Among my fellow Ashevilleians, it is our tradition to gather together under the moon of the Autumn Solstice and await with eager ears for the engine-sounds of tourists, as stream in from parts unknown to witness Fall in the mountains.
Like clockwork, they come each season, and for good reason. As a traveler of moderate experience, I can tell you there really isn’t anything like watching the leaves change in Asheville.
But Winter speeds towards us like a raging snow-leopard, and soon, all the leaves will be gone. With some alacrity, you may still catch the leaves in colour, but a visit to Asheville demands some premeditation.
Gone are the days you may simply drift into town on your dappled stallion and find temporary residence at the local saloon. Now you need things like “reservations,” and “valet service,” and as an additional complication, you must choose from a plethora of hotels.
To aid yourself in your journey, I invite you to read on, and study some of the best hotels in Asheville.
1: Hotel Indigo
As I’m sure you’ve heard many times: location is King.
This phrase, of course, raises all manner of questions. How did location become King? When was the coronation? Is location legally King, or is it more of an ad-hoc, brute-force arrangement? Should we be in revolt, demanding a charter of rights? Who’s location’s Queen?
Sadly, we may never know the answers to such inquiries, but nonetheless, Hotel Indigo takes its King very seriously. Located on the western edge of downtown, the hotel lies in walking distance to the Asheville Pinball Museum, the Grove Arcade (for shopping, wine, food etc.), and the monumental Basilica of St. Lawrence. Furthermore, Hotel Indigo is just a short drive away from the River Arts District, and the more residential, authentically Ashevilleian western side of town.
For travelers with pets, Hotel Indigo offers a one-time pet-fee, allowing entry for all manner of animals, so long as they weigh less than 80 lbs. Combined with a sleek, modernist aesthetic, Hotel Indigo is one the best hotels in Asheville located downtown.
Cost: Hotel rates can fluctuate wildly given holidays, corporate motivations, alignment of stars, etc. All estimations are made to the best of my abilities. A room at Hotel Indigo can be found for around 200$ per night, and valet parking costs about 20$.
2: The Foundry Hotel
So numerous are the places to stay in Asheville, NC, that many hotel-names drift aimlessly across the aether, devoid of impact and artistic imagery—they quickly forgotten.
However, tell someone you’re staying at “The Foundry,” and they’ll immediately have notions of molten steel, blazing furnaces, and warm beds. It is not only the Foundry’s name which rings with character, but the location itself—in the great Ashevilleian architectural tradition—is a refurbished foundry.
By fiat of that origin, interspersed between the Foundry’s homey furnishings and fire-pits, one may find artifacts from the building’s industrial past. Surrounded by a lawn landscaped by the NC Arboretum, the Foundry is designed with an admirable respect for aesthetics, and its amenities are no less pleasant. Boasting a ground floor bar/lounge, and Benne on Eagle—known for its authentic Appalachian fare—the Foundry invites you to relax and contemplate your surroundings.
In terms of unique décor, and consistent style, the Foundry Hotel is one of the best hotels in Asheville, and its proximity to Biltmore Avenue—Asheville’s north-south lifeline—offers many opportunities to explore downtown, especially the South Slope, known for its breweries.
Cost: Around 300$ per night, 36$ valet parking.
3: The Grand Bohemian Hotel
As I learned when I was about 14 years old, The Grand Bohemian Hotel has very little to do with The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film by Wes Anderson—except in terms of atmosphere.
Both hotels are seeped in splendor, but whereas the fictional “Grand Budapest,” delves into Continental extravagance, the Grand Bohemian is styled like a hunting lodge, with furs, trophies, and fireplaces; in short, it’s an opulent interpretation of Asheville’s connection to nature.
This theme is most obvious in their pet-friendly policy, and the attached Red Stag Grille, which serves—among other delicacies—duck breast, and wild boar. To offset their forest-cabin motifs, the Grand Bohemian also contains a strong dose of high-culture, via its art gallery, Poseidon Spa, and a one-of-a-kind bosendorfer piano.
I have no idea what “bosendorfer” means, but I can say with certainty that the piano often finds itself played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, when the Grand Bohemian holds live music events in its lounge. Located in Biltmore Village, just south of downtown, this hotel lies in proximity to walking-distance boutiques, and the Biltmore Estate itself, thereby finalizing the Grand Bohemian’s position as one of the best hotels in Asheville.
Cost: Around 400$ per night, 24$ valet parking.
4: The Omni Grove Park Inn
No list of the best hotels in Asheville would be complete without the Grove Park Inn—in short, it is an icon.
Hidden away from the city’s main arteries, on an expanse of catered forests and lawns, the Grove Park Inn is practically a settlement unto itself.
With a host of restaurants and bars, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a golf course, and an entire wing given over to a semi-subterranean spa, I make no exaggeration when I say that when the apocalypse comes, the Grove Park Inn will be alright.
Really, it was a childhood fascination of mine to consider the defensibility of the inn’s grounds, and I’ve concluded that the Grove Park has much in common with a medieval estate. And like such an estate, the Inn is frequently the site of seasonal events which draw locals and visitors alike, such as their Thanksgiving buffet, and gingerbread-house competition.
If one ever finds the Inn’s grounds too confining, a brief drive takes you to north Asheville, site of Asheville Pizza and Brewing (a splendid local cinema), The Hop Ice Cream, and UNCA, which hosts its own botanical gardens.
Cost: Around 400$ to 500$ per night, 15$ valet parking.
5: Asheville Cottages
Despite the advantages of all aforementioned places to stay in Asheville, NC, my own world-travels have led me to speculate that a traditional hotel may not be the optimal option.
Rather than spell out my theory on epitomic travel in grand terms, allow me to refer to some specifics. Why put up with the cacophony of inconsiderate upstairs neighbors?
Why rely on solely on café-fare and restaurants, when you could have your own kitchen?
Why share your fireplace with strangers, when you could share it with friends? The same goes for hot-tubs, if you are so fortunate as to stay at a place which provides them.
In truth, there is no reason to abstain from such luxuries, as Asheville Cottages provides all these and more.
By “more,” I mean heated bathroom floors, a gas grille, Bluetooth speakers, and proximity to the North Carolina Arboretum, an unparalleled destination for casual strolls, and immersion in Asheville’s abundant flora. It may seem ironic that one of the best hotels in Asheville is in fact, not a hotel at all, but I persist that the privacy and amenities offered by Asheville Cottages makes them a superior choice.
Cost: 200-300$ for a one-bedroom rental, 300-400$ for a two-bedroom rental, 360-400$ for a three-bedroom rental.
Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown
151 Haywood St, Asheville, NC 28801
The Foundry Hotel Asheville
51 S Market St, Asheville, NC 28801
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville
11 Boston Way, Asheville, NC 28803
The Omni Grove Park Inn
290 Macon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
29 Asheville Cottage Ln, Asheville, NC 28806
Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co (North)
675 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
The Hop Ice Cream Cafe
640 Merrimon Ave #103, Asheville, NC 28804
The North Carolina Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806