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.
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.”
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.
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
You’ll instantly sense that rhododendrons and waterfalls await you beyond the coziness of Chetola’s deep chairs and firelit lobby.
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.
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.
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 • 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 • Pittsboro
Floral arrangements plucked from nearby gardens, and a window seat that begs for lounging both showcase Fearrington’s famous hospitality.
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 • 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.