As summer slides into fall, few places in the South are as beautiful as the Blue Ridge. If you want to avoid the crush of leaf peepers or just want to get away for the weekend before the holiday merry-go-round takes over your schedule, these four recently renovated and newly-opened mountain hideaways make for relaxing escapes. But book a room now before someone else ends up drinking your glass of hot apple cider by a staff-laid fire. No room in the inn? No problem: The views (and accommodations) are just as breathtaking come spring.
The Inn at Little Washington
An hour’s drive from D.C., the tiny village in the foothills of Virginia looks about the same as it did when a teenaged George Washington set about surveying it; plus one award-winning inn and a Michelin-starred restaurant. The twenty-six acre property includes two dozen guest rooms, a kitchen garden, greenhouse, and cherry orchard. The inn’s newest addition is the Parsonage, a rambling 6,000 square-foot Victorian. Chopped up into office space with “some of the ugliest gray carpet you’ve ever seen,” the whole place was stripped down to the studs and completely renovated by owner Patrick O’Connell and designer Joyce Conwy Evans.
Travelers Rest, South Carolina
Surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards, Hotel Domestique could easily be somewhere in the French countryside instead of the winding back roads of Upstate South Carolina. Seventeen-time Tour de France vet, cyclist George Hincapie would know. He and his brother Rich used to pedal by the pastoral property and joke one day they’d buy it. Becoming their own punch line, they did just that, opening the thirteen-room boutique hotel last September. There’s a fleet of high-end road bikes for guests who want to enjoy the area’s world-class cycling, and for hardcore helmet-heads, Hincapie leads regular rides. But if sweat and sore muscles don’t factor into your vacation plan, book a massage or a table at Restaurant 17, helmed by chef Adam Cooke, formerly of the Barn at Blackberry Farm.
The Greystone Inn
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
The historic twentieth-century hotel—the lakeside mansion was built in 1915 as a retreat for Northern industrialists—gets a twenty-first century makeover without losing any of its charm. Gone are the dark wood interiors and dated eighties upholstery. In their place are lighter and brighter guestrooms, a new bar, and spa. Go a round on the croquet lawn, lace up your hiking boots for guided day-hikes that explore a handful of the area’s 250 waterfalls, or just kick back aboard the Miss Lucy, the inn’s custom-built mahogany cruiser, with a glass of bubbly and watch the sunset.
Asheville, North Carolina
Get the mountain views and easy outdoor access without going off the grid. Being located in the heart of downtown Asheville, within walking distance of some of the city’s best restaurants and breweries (the hotel is also scheduled to open an outpost of Miami’s Miacchialina Taverna Rustica next year), doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on space. Each of the fourteen stylishly appointed suites in this newly renovated building has a full living room and kitchen.