hotel lobby feature
photograph by Charles Harris

Sure, you could stay just anywhere — at a roadside pull-in, a high-rise downtowner, a college-town chain. And then there are the Great Hotels, for which the phrase “place to stay” doesn’t even apply. Appreciate these places as destinations in their own right, where the lodging itself — and the service and the grounds and the decor and the dining — is the reason for a reservation. North Carolina is endowed with any number of posh palaces, charming inns, luxury lodges, and historic hotels, each of whose identity lies in its personality. Reservations, please, because sentimental as they seem, don’t look for a Vacancy sign. At these stylish accommodations, count on nary a neon light in sight.

The Lobby

A hotel lobby says far more than “welcome.” Decor and furnishings, lighting and flowers; sleek luxury, soaring spaciousness, or quiet hush: These rooms represent more than a reservation. They also set the expectation for an experience you’ll remember with a sigh and a smile for months — even years — hence. “We’re glad you’re here,” a lobby proclaims. “We’re here for you.”

Grove Park Inn lobby

Photograph by Tim Robison. photograph by Tim Robison

The Omni Grove Park Inn • Asheville

With stone walls inscribed with quotations, two fireplaces as large as elevators, and seating for privacy or socializing, this lobby projects warmth and majesty.

pinehurst carolina hotel lobby

Photograph by John Gessner. photograph by John Gessner

The Carolina Hotel • Pinehurst

Golf bags and cleats feel just as much at home as cocktail dresses and sport coats in a lobby that feels plush, yet clubby and comfortable.

chetola resort blowing rock lobby

Photograph by Cheryl Zibisky. photograph by Cheryl Zibisky

Chetola Resort • Blowing Rock

You’ll instantly sense that rhododendrons and waterfalls await you beyond the coziness of Chetola’s deep chairs and firelit lobby.

umstead hotel spa lobby

Photograph by Charles Harris. photograph by Charles Harris

The Umstead Hotel and Spa • Cary

With clean lines and cozy, dark niches, the Umstead’s sophisticated lobby showcases fine artwork and flower arrangements that qualify as masterpieces, as well.

washington duke inn lobby

Photograph by Charles Harris. photograph by Charles Harris

The Washington Duke Inn • Durham

A world away yet surrounded by renowned universities, the formal elegance of this hushed lobby leads to hallways lined with pictorial histories of the magnates and philanthropists behind the setting.

old edwards inn lobby

Photograph by Tim Robison. photograph by Tim Robison

The Old Edwards Inn • Highlands

For more than a century, travelers have trod the wooden floors of this historic lobby, which boasts dark panels, imported rugs, and Dove ice-dream bars behind the desk.

proximity hotel lobby

Photograph by Stacey Van Berkel. photograph by Stacey Van Berkel

Proximity Hotel • Greensboro

The reception area seems to float over a dramatic, two-story atrium, where live orchids adorn the walls opposite the sweeping, curved staircases.

fearrington house inn lobby

Photograph by Charles Harris. photograph by Charles Harris

Fearrington House Inn • Pittsboro

Floral arrangements plucked from nearby gardens, and a window seat that begs for lounging both showcase Fearrington’s famous hospitality.

ballantyne hotel lodge lobby

Photograph by Peter Taylor. photograph by Peter Taylor

Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge • Charlotte

Refined elegance in a baronial mansion setting sends a message from the grand lobby: Linger here. A window to the world lends perspective as you decide your next move. Or no move at all.

sanderling resort lobby

Photograph by Chris Hannant. photograph by Chris Hannant

Sanderling Resort • Duck

Airy spaces and a wall of windows set a beach house feel for a lobby that opens to a seascape just a few steps away.

This story was published on

Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.