I had vaguely heard of the Biltmore Estate. I knew it was some huge estate located…somewhere…and it was…well…huge.
OK, I said it was pretty vague.
It wasn’t until we began planning to cover the East Coast via the Tall Ships Challenge last spring that it came into focus that the Biltmore Estate was actually located in Asheville, North Carolina about halfway between our home city of Lexington, Kentucky and Savannah, Georgia which was our ultimate goal. So we decided to stop.
Spend some time Asheville.
And visit the Biltmore Estate.
Things fell into place, as they do, especially when you spend approximately 8,932 hours arranging them, and we pulled into the parking garage of the Hilton at Biltmore Park right on schedule. Biltmore Park is a new area located right near the Biltmore Estate and full of little shops, restaurants and a movie theater right by the hotel itself.
The Hilton is also brand spanking new and in lovely, pristine condition. We checked in with no problem, settled into our comfy room and then strolled around, checking out the free Internet connection, fitness center, pool and the Sensibilities Spa. One of the most surprising things about this particular Hilton is that pets are allowed and we immediately saw people with their well-behaved dogs on leashes. Asheville is very pet-friendly and we saw dogs all over town, most especially on the terraces of the restaurants downtown. This is the place to go if you like to travel with your pet.
We had a reservation at Roux that evening, the gourmet restaurant located inside the Hilton, and this was one of the best decisions we made the whole time we were in Asheville. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Roux uses as much local food as possible and has an innovative menu which features southern comfort food presented in a lovely and delicious manner. We sat down and our friendly and knowledgeable waiter shared his ideas about what he thought were our best choices and, as we sat there, the sun began to set and glare through the window at just the right angle to shine right into my eyes. I had no more than begun to squint slightly when the waiter noticed my quandary and immediately moved us to another table, apologizing profusely – as if he had anything to do with the sun glare! But that’s just an example of the great customer service we had during our entire visit to the hotel.
I’m a big fan of ordering local food, so our first choice was the “Local Board” which had three delicious cheeses from local farms and was absolutely lovely and scrumptious.
Next, it was time for the entrée and, after much debate, I decided on the salmon. I’m always hesitant about ordering salmon as it can be absolutely delicious if it prepared correctly and a dry, miserable mess if it is not. Luckily, Roux knows all about preparing salmon correctly.
At this point, we were absolutely stuffed and no business ordering dessert but our kind server informed us that we absolutely must try their bread pudding as it was completely wonderful in every way. This may very well be the best advice we received on our entire trip. Because it was indeed wonderful.
One of the best things we did at the Hilton, in addition to enjoying our accommodations and the fabulous food, was visit the Sensibilities Spa for an afternoon. Or, should I say, I visited the spa for a fabulous massage and facial while Tom waited for me because he is the best husband in the world. And, as long as he has his iPad with him, he can entertain himself for hours. Enter the door of the spa, discreetly tucked away beside the lobby of the Hilton and you smell that fabulous and relaxing spa smell. Hushed and quite lovely, this relaxing place is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Or a day. Or possibly an entire week.
Not only were both of my treatments absolutely wonderful, I spent the rest of our week of travels marveling over how great my complexion looked. At one point, I was looking at myself in a mirror in the bright sunlight, marveling at how great this weather was for my face when I suddenly realized the facial might have had something to do with it! So, check out the Sensibilities spa. And get the European facial. You will be so glad you did.
After we had relaxed, eaten and had a lovely spa experience the first day, it was finally time to spend an entire day at the Biltmore Estate, which was actually our goal for visiting Asheville. We were immediately impressed with the Biltmore Estate as we entered through some gorgeous gates, then wound our way through acres and acres of lush fields and beautiful forests (there are actually an incredible 8,000 acres) before finally arriving at the house which is actually more like a palace than a house.
George Vanderbilt’s 250 room mansion is just as impressive today as it was when it was first built back in 1895. Your tour includes an audio portion so be sure to put on the headphones and listen to the fascinating history of this place. You just can’t believe the amount of time and money that went into making this place truly a showplace.
After the tour of the house, walk over to the Stable Cafe for lunch. There are plenty of dining choices on the estate but what could possibly be better than dining in what used to be the stables for the estate? Which even has some of the original hardware and you can sit in a booth located in what used to be a stall? Seriously, where else could you possibly want to eat?
Once you have finished lunch in the stable – still so cool! – you are going to want to spend some time walking around the incredible gardens. Everywhere you turn, there are beautiful, shaded walks, benches, fountains and incredible flowers.
Plan to devote an entire day at the Biltmore Estate because there is so much to see and do. We didn’t even make it to Antler Hill Village and Winery, which would be fabulous if you are into drinking wine. There’s also plenty of place to shop and eat and just enjoy your day. We were so impressed, we would like to go back and spend more time – I’m sure it’s absolutely incredible at Christmas.
So, plan a visit to Asheville and specifically, the Biltmore Estate as soon as possible because you are going to enjoy everything about it! And that’s not vague at all.
Full disclosure: Our stay was provided by the Hilton at Biltmore Park, spa services were covered by the Sensibilities Spa and our visit to the Biltmore Estate was provided by them, but as always, I will share my honest opinion about any travel experiences I have.Pin It