Secret Hideaways in NC
Nothing against hearts and flowers, mind you. They’re wonderful in their way. But a truly memorable expression of love – or, for that matter, its second cousin, indulgence – demands a memorable setting. Here, then, are the keys to nine of North Carolina’s most beloved “secret hideaways.” Places where you can have your every need attended to, away from the whim and caprice of the outside world. Places you don’t merely come to enjoy, but come to love.
Fearrington House Country Inn, Pittsboro
“We are a destination European inn in the English country style, “ says Phoebe Fox of The Fearrington House Country Inn, “and our claim to fame is total escape.” Fearrington House is known for its continental staff and character, reflected in embellishments, such as heated towel bars and in-room spa services. Three separate dining options await, from the five-star restaurant to The Belted Goat, a café serving sumptuous soups and lighter fare. With a Garden House offering a library-like atmosphere, a Sun Room for relaxation and games, and a village of interesting shops, small wonder many guests never leave the property.
The Duke Mansion, Charlotte
The Duke Mansion, a hideaway? Indeed. The largest Colonial revival home in North Carolina, The Duke Mansion is so well hidden on its 4.5 acres in historic Myers Park, that passers-by beyond the grounds’ green curtain scarcely know of its existence. “It’s a chance to live like the Dukes lived a century ago,” says Pat Martin, “and we deliver on that promise.” Each of the 20 overnight rooms has been decorated independently and many of the rooms offer private porches. The solarium, in which James B. Duke planned his philanthropic visions, is ideal for contemplative moments. The mansion offers a year-round romance package, as well.
Thomas Walton Manor, Laurinburg
The Thomas Walton Manor was conceived as a replica of a James River Plantation by New Yorker John Weaver in 1939. Newly restored by proprietor Larry Horne, this inn offers a uniquely Southern elegance. Rooms have been furnished with traditional antiques and fine fabrics. An English conservatory, which is pleasant rain or shine, offers a view of Charles Gillette’s lavish 1939 gardens. Quiet and serene in its village setting, the inn serves a full Southern breakfast and afternoon tea. Spa services are by appointment. If horses are your passion, a side trip to nearby St. Andrews College Equestrian Center should not be missed!
Highland Lake Inn, Flat Rock
How does total escape on a 26-acre country preserve wrapped around a private lake sound? Highland Lake Inn – once a boys’ military camp as well as a Catholic girls’ camp – gives you mountain ambience with easy accessibility. Try the secluded Primrose Cottage, and snuggle up next to its two-sided fireplace (or in the whirlpool bath). Many of the inn’s other rooms also have fireplaces, and there are individual cottages and garden hamlets, as well. Enjoy fine dining Wednesday through Sunday and the inn’s signature breakfasts every day.
Haywood Park, Asheville
Prefer a classic boutique hotel rendered with artistic flair? Asheville’s Haywood Park features accents like turn-down service with truffles by Chocolate Fetish. The soap dishes in each of the thirty-three rooms were handmade by a local artist, and the rooms feature one-of-a-kind appointments. (The three Grande Suites in this former department store are beyond spacious.) Chef Vijay’s Flying Frog restaurant (downstairs) yields award-winning dining while his Flying Frog Café (up) offers lighter fare or a martini. In-room massages and other creature comforts are available upon request. To say more would be to say too much. This is grand hotel living, but on an intimate scale!
Gideon Ridge Inn, Blowing Rock
Another Blue Ridge favorite of long standing, the Gideon Ridge Inn has always been, admits proprietress Cindy Milner, “about reconnecting – with a significant other, with yourself, with things overlooked.” Speaking of which, try the Grandfather View Suite, which gazes out on that venerable mountain. Built as a private summer home, the Gideon Ridge still has that feel, right down to the stone fireplace in the library, Don’t miss the Cordon Bleu chef’s creations, and discover why the neighbors have been known to finish their holiday dinners here during winter snowstorms.
Lords Proprietors Inn, Edenton
Fresh flowers upon arrival. Wine or champagne awaiting you in your room, along with a double whirlpool spa in your suite. Lords Proprietors Inn in romantic Edenton has indulgences no Colonial lord – or lady – ever knew. (All suites also have wood-burning fireplaces.) Sixteen beautifully furnished rooms are divided between the White-Bond House and the Pack House, the latter being a totally restored tobacco-packing house known for its long front porch where guests often gather on balmy afternoons. Chef Kevin’s kitchen has believers the length and breadth of the country. Be sure and ask proprietress Jane Edwards about the Romantic getaway package.
The White Doe Inn, Manteo
Hear that? That’s the sea breeze. The quiet Queen Anne-style White Doe Inn, actually on Roanoke Island, gently tugs at the heartstrings. Special trays for guests, in-room massage services, champagne, a four-course served breakfast, afternoon tea and sherry, a self-serve coffee bar serving café, latte, mocha … you get the idea. “We’re totally service-centered,” says proprietress Bebe Woody, “We’re here as much – or as little—as you want us to be. And we’re good at surprises and secrets.” There’s also a hidden garden. Wrap-around porches. Waterfront two blocks away. We could keep going. You’ll want to keep coming.
Marsh Harbour Inn, Bald Head Island
Maybe you need a little separation. As in: from the mainland. The Marsh Harbour Inn on Bald Head Island adds a dash of Shaker simplicity to its compelling cocktail of bright sunlight and gentle sea breeze. Accessible only by ferry, but eminently worth it. You can select a room overlooking the harbor or the Cape Fear seashore. The downstairs sitting room, with its overstuffed furniture, is designed for curling up with the latest offering by Conroy or Siddons. Your stay comes with the use of a golf cart for getting around. And of course, where there are golf carts …
added: December 22, 2008
updated: February 7, 2011
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