In Asheville we stayed at the Princess Anne Hotel, a historic bed and breakfast built in 1924. The hotel has sixteen rooms and is in a mostly residential neighborhood not far from Asheville’s downtown area. Our suite on the top floor was very nice and the staff was incredibly helpful. They served a great breakfast each morning and even had a wine and cheese hour each afternoon. For our first night’s dinner they suggested the French “comfort food” restaurant, Bouchon in downtown Asheville. The food really was delicious–Megan had mussels and I had something else involving pasta and seafood, although I forget exactly what.
We spent most of our time in Asheville visiting the Biltmore, a French chateau style mansion built by a Vanderbilt descendent (with way too much money on his hands). The architecture was quite impressive, and we did both a self-guided tour and the Architect’s Tour which took us to the balconies and rooftops for extra views of the property. The home was built in the 1890s at the height of the Gilded Age, and really shows the splendor of the nation’s wealthy at that time.
It was interesting to see the technology in the house; it was built on the cusp of the electrical revolution so it has a mix of old and startlingly modern features (e.g., an elevator and indoor swimming pool). The gardens and wooded grounds around the house are also quite pretty, and we ended up coming back for a second day to see the gardens. A storm thundered through just as we headed to lunch, and we barely made it inside before the worst of the downpour (it even briefly took out electricity in the restaurant). Later we stopped by the Biltmore vineyard to sample some of their wines.
We spent our other days in Asheville wandering the streets and browsing the stores and cafes. It was quite a lively town and seems to be going through a nice artsy revival. Hopefully we’ll head back someday!