My husband and I discovered Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina many years ago. Built entirely of stone, it was once a playground for presidents and celebrities. (Their portraits are displayed in the hotel’s hallways.)
Although we first visited the famed inn when a relative recommended it for their after Christmas buffet, we discovered there was so much more. From the lobby with its polished stone floors and enormous, six-foot high fireplaces, to endless hallways and hidden sitting areas, we were blown away. It’s easy to get lost, even on the first floor, but it’s a great place in which to disappear. It’s also a good way to find gems such as a small waterfall isolated in a quiet spot.
After our initial trip there, we returned several times. One year we opted for an historic room. Instead of using the regular elevators, we were sent to a small one set into the stone wall and guarded by a steward. The old-timey compartment took us to the top floor, under the eaves. The whole room seemed to be carved from oak, and the thick furniture made me think a giant once lived there. We didn’t have the amount of space we were used to, but we did have a magnificent view of the mountains and part of Asheville through our tiny window. And, although it was interesting, we thought we’d rather stay in one of their modern rooms during subsequent trips, complete with floor- to-ceiling windows and all of the updated amenities.
Something unique about Grove Park Inn is the Gingerbread Contest. It wasn’t well-known as the time, but a few years later I spied it on television, and it had become a really important national competition. Perhaps that’s one reason so many people started showing up during the Christmas holidays–and now it’s the place to be.