“For the third year in a row, Honeywell Heaters has released their list of the Top Ten Coziest Cities In America, and we’re definitely ready to pack our bags.
To determine which cities offer the best in cozy comfort, Honeywell teamed up with environmental scientist Dr. Ted Myatt, and just like last year, they considered how many restaurants, coffee shops, museums, florists, breweries, and bed and breakfasts each area has. This year, however, they added a few more factors as well, including specialty grocery stores, bookstores, and bakeries (AKA places that instantly make you feel warm and fuzzy).
Topping the list: Asheville, North Carolina…” ~ Elle Decor
We are not surprised.
Do you remember when we were invited to visit Asheville and Biltmore Village in November? It was such an incredibly amazing experience in such a warm and beautiful city. I shared photos and experiences with merchants, restaurants and attractions, and I have more to share!
If you’re looking for a destination for Valentine’s Day, any other holiday, or even for a weekend escape, THIS is the place. We are completely enamored, absolutely all warm and fuzzy, and I guarantee, you will fall in love.
We began our day at the breathtaking Biltmore Estate. I honestly can’t tell you what was more beautiful; the grounds or the estate itself.
Completed in 1895, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room chateau is as impressive today as it was more than a century ago. Biltmore House is truly a wonder of architecture and hospitality. As our guest, you’re invited to enjoy a self-guided tour of the house, as well as the beautiful gardens and grounds surrounding it, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. ~Biltmore Estate
Village Wayside Bar & Grill
After an incredible visit to the estate, we stopped for lunch at Village Wayside Bar & Grill. When you visit Biltmore Village, this is THE place for lunch. It’s cozy, quaint, historic and has AMAZING food! My favorite were the sliders and sweet potato tots.
The village of Best, named for owner of the Western North Carolina Railroad ,William J. Best, was the location of Asheville’s first railway station with its initiation October 3, 1880. Railway passengers traveling to Asheville and surrounding areas used the small depot in Best for 15 years, until George W. Vanderbilt purchased the small town as the site for his Biltmore Estate and surrounding village. The small, undistinguished station was replaced with a symmetrical, one-story depot with half-timbered pebbledash walls and a brick foundation, designed by Richard Morris Hunt. A central porte cochere, low-hipped roof, wide overhanging eaves and heavy, chamfered brackets distinguish the exterior. The depot, along with Hunt’s other designs in the village, stands in striking contrast to Hunt’s more monumental efforts, such as the Biltmore Estate.
The arrangement of the interior is typical of small railway stations of the period. Double waiting rooms, one originally for whites on the right and a smaller one formerly for African Americans on the left, are separated by a center ticket office and vestibule. The depot’s placement is directly in the line of sight of All Souls Church, so passengers arriving by train had an impressive view of the church. This central axis was the focus for Biltmore Village. Passenger service on the impressive Southern Railway line continued to arrive in Biltmore Village until August 1975. Today, the building serves visitors as a restaurant and lounge.
(National Park Sevice, 2004)
Shopping In Biltmore Village
After lunch we were ready to shop! Biltmore Village has the best shopping in Asheville Hands down. You can find everything from chic clothing to original art and everything in between in the eclectic boutiques that line the streets.
While you’re out and about, make sure to stop by Boheme for fabulous and funky clothing, jewelry, home decor and collectibles. Another great option is Bette Boutique for unique clothing and don’t miss Monkee’s of Biltmore for fantastic accessories “beyond your girlie imagination”!
To take home the perfect momento, visit MTN Merch. MTN Merch offers a wide range of locally-designed and printed apparel including community-inspired t-shirts, jackets, hoodies, hats and various other products that represent the true spirit of outdoor life in the mountains.
At the The Gardener’s Cottage you can find a charming mix of old and new that creatively merges the style of European elegance with that of the rustic mountain cottage. Don’t miss a visit to Blue for the perfect piece of custom, handcrafted jewelry to add to your collection.
Even without its history, even without its architecture, even without its charm, Biltmore Village would be among Asheville’s can’t-miss destinations based on its shops alone. You’ll find the national chains you love as well as one-of-a-kind shops you won’t find anywhere else. Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. Gifts, jewelry and art. Housewares, furniture and books. Everything you can imagine.
Biltmore Village Inn
After shopping, we were invited to tour Biltmore Village Inn. There are truly no words that can do this magnificent inn justice. It has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and couldn’t image a more perfect place for a weekend escape.
The Biltmore Village Inn is located on top of Reed Hill, above Biltmore Village. You can see why Samuel Reed, George Vanderbilt’s lawyer, situated his mansion here in 1892 after he sold Mr. Vanderbilt the land for Biltmore Village. It commanded a 360-degree view of the mountains, and overlooked the Village and the Swannanoa River valley.
If you have a chance to visit, and are looking for something truly majestic, make reservations here. It will be a magical experience.
Catawba Brewing Company
After tearing myself away from the splendor of the Inn, we decided to visit Catawba Brewing Company for a much needed adult beverage.
When Billy opened the box he said “what is it, a pickle jar?”. Of course it was a carboy, the fermentation vessel of the homebrewer. That Christmas in 1994 started the journey that would become Catawba Brewing Company. The extract brewing lasted only a few weeks until all-grain brewing began. Then it was dumpster diving for bottles, and growing Chimay yeast in petri dish. The homebrewer became consumed with brewing. And so it began…..
Grand Bohemian Hotel & Red Stag Grill
After a full day of tours, fun shopping, and beer, we were ready for dinner. At the heart of Biltmore Village is the Grand Bohemian Hotel and Red Stag Grill.
With the lush Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, the European hunting lodge-inspired Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville was named a “World’s Best Hotel” by Travel + Leisure, and a “Top 40 Hotel in the South” by Condé Nast
This is a man’s man restaurant and hotel, and it is incredible.
We were met with Champagne and hors devours and enjoyed an amazing presentation on the art gallery located in the hotel.
Our gallery boasts works of art by local, regional and internationally acclaimed artists. From contemporary paintings and glass art to intricate jewelry and ceramics, the Grand Bohemian Gallery represents a wide array of talent, often hosting exhibitions and exclusive artist receptions. Come in and be inspired.
A little “behind the scenes” action…
After the art gallery we were taken on a tour of the hotel. It is truly grand. From the gorgeous rooms, to the fine attention to detail in every aspect of the hotel and restaurant, it is clear no expense has been spared in creating excellence.
After the tours we were starved and Chef Scott Ostrander was ready to deliver.
In addition to overseeing all kitchen staff, Chef Ostrander provides the ultimate fine-dining experience at Red Stag Grill, continuing the restaurant’s commitment to Asheville-area sourcing and sustainable farming.
“Red Stag Grill offers Asheville’s finest dining with the freshest local ingredients, personally selected at nearby farms by our chef. Featuring contemporary European comfort food, Red Stag Grill is sumptuous, rustic hunting lodge meets modern-chic sensibility. After dinner, sip a signature martini or cocktail in the Red Stag Grill lounge and bar area and be entertained by local musicians.” ~ Red Stag Grill
Prepare to be transported back in time to a place in Mid-Europe. Bohemia. The Red Stag Grill is sumptuous, rustic hunting lodge meets modern-chic sensibility. Under the hand-hewn beams you’ll be seated in a cozy booth at a custom, handmade wooden dining table.
When you get the menu, you’ll discover that our Executive Chef has created a bill of fare that features contemporary European comfort food complemented with local ingredients. A meal at the Red Stag Grill will always satisfy your appetite for a casual atmosphere and exceptional cuisine.
Awe-Inspiring. Enchanting. Extraordinary. Educational. Completely spell-binding and truly magical. Our visit to Biltmore Village was surreal.
From the immense history to the abundance of natural beauty, to the fantastic shopping and fine dining, Biltmore Village is positively everything you could wish for in a vacation destination.
If you’re looking for a romantic get-away for Valentine’s Day, or the perfect escape from reality, you will find what you’re looking for at Biltmore Village. It’s everything you you believe it will be.
A Very Special Thank You!
A very special thank you to the following for making our stay at Biltmore Village a several days of dreams…
- Historic Biltmore Village Partnership
- Gail Dowell, Biltmore Property Group: http://www.historicbiltmorevillage.com/
- The Grand Bohemian Hotel & Red Stag Grill: http://www.bohemianhotelasheville.com/
- Village Wayside Bar & Grill: http://www.villagewayside.com/
- Biltmore Village Inn: http://www.biltmorevillageinn.com/
- Catawba Brewing Company: http://catawbabrewing.com/
- The many fabulous merchants at Historic Biltmore Village
*While our trip was complimentary and hosted by the Historic Biltmore Village Partnership, all thoughts, opinions, words and drooling are entirely my own.