Romantic Luxury Inns of the
It's not terribly difficult to find stately, historic inns in the South.
It can be a challenge, however, finding properties that capture the rich
architectural charm and decor of the 18th and 19th centuries while also
offering a full complement of modern amenities. Sure, life without
high-speed Internet and cable TV can be a blessing when it's time to get
away from it all. But if you're aiming to celebrate a special occasion or
treat your mate to a memorable getaway weekend, it is nice to find a
romantic inn that offers such snazzy perks as 300-count linens, double
whirlpool tubs, and individual climate control.
Another concern, which is arguably more rooted in perception than reality,
is that outside of big cities and resort towns, the South is iffy when it
comes to gay-friendliness. For the most part, reputable inns in the South
- and especially upscale ones - offer just as warm a welcome to same-sex
couples as opposite-sex couples.
Here's a sampling of six ultra-posh, especially gay-friendly getaways in
the Southeast, from the Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and
eastern Tennessee to the beach towns of South Carolina and Florida.
Biltmore Village Inn - Asheville, N.C.
Artsy Asheville has rather quietly become one of the South's most popular
gay destinations. It's also a city famous for its stunning inns and B&Bs,
many of which celebrate the Queen Anne design movement of the late 19th
century. The gay-owned Biltmore Village Inn, completely restored to its
original 1892 appearance, is the quintessence of Queen Anne beauty. Inside
this dramatic home with a distinctive turreted three-story tower, rooms
and public areas are outfitted with high-quality antiques; the gorgeous
bathrooms all have whirlpool tubs, and a few of them even have working
The Biltmore contains six guest rooms, four in the main house and two in
an old servant's cottage out back. The Alabama Suite contains a Chinese
Chippendale love seat and a bay window overlooking the wooded countryside
surrounding the inn. In the Forrest Suite, your spacious digs include a
huge bedroom with a four-poster bed and a separate sitting room with a TV
and VCR. The Biltmore lies about 3 miles south of downtown Asheville,
which abounds with gay-friendly cafes and nightclubs.
Casa Monica Hotel - St. Augustine, Fla.
With 138 rooms, this historic boutique hotel in America's oldest city is
considerably larger than the other properties featured in this article.
But it's an intimate hotel with a personal staff, and given St.
Augustine's steadily increasing cachet with gay and lesbian travelers,
Casa Monica makes for a delightful romantic retreat. The grand pink
castle, constructed in 1888, captures the Spanish aesthetic of dignified
St. Augustine, which was established in 1565 by explorer Pedro Menendez de
Aviles. A major makeover a few years back helped transform the hotel into
the city's most distinguished - and distinctive - lodging.
Although the Monica retains its historic integrity, rooms have plenty of
modern features thanks to a $25 million restoration in 2000, including
wireless high-speed Internet, in-room safes, and multiple phones. Imported
feather duvets, luxury robes, triple-sheeted wrought-iron beds, wicker
lounge chairs, and ceramic-tile bathrooms lend a sumptuous air. Consider
dining in the hotel's restaurant, 95 Cordova, which serves stellar
contemporary Floridian cuisine, or pop inside the swank Cobalt Lounge for
a martini or single-malt scotch. Guests also enjoy use of the snazzy
Serenata Beach Club, in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach.
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