Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, North Carolina Review
From the moment you arrive at Old Edwards Inn and Spa – greeted with a glass of champagne, no less – you’ll know that you are in for a luxurious couple of days, with spoils that extend from the hotel’s AAA Four Diamond food and drink program to its awarding winning spa and posh accommodations (seriously, I never slept on linens so comfortable).
It’s why the Old Edwards Inn and Spa (445 Main Street, Highlands, NC) has won so many awards, including Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards #16 Top Hotel in the U.S., Travel and Leisure World’s Best Awards #1 Hotel in North Carolina, and TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards #5 Hotel in the U.S. With so many accolades, an Old Edwards Inn Review almost writes itself.
Highland, North Carolina
You can’t get any more off the grid and still be on the grid than in Highlands, NC. The closest interstate is a two-hour drive away along winding Blue Ridge Mountains switchbacks that, when driven at night, make that welcome glass of champagne necessary.
Even with its remoteness, everything you could possibly want or desire for a weekend retreat is at your beckon call at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. And, when you bore of the property, Highlands itself is a charming village with a storybook street lined with galleries, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The setting itself makes for the perfect romantic getaway.
Old Edward’s Spa
The main reason why you’ll want to visit the mountain retreat is for the Old Edwards Inn Spa, which has won a few awards of its own like Condé Nast’s Top Hotel Spa in North America.
What I like most about the spa is that the facilities (steam rooms, mineral whirlpools, serenity solarium, sauna, Swiss showers, and fireside lounge) are available to guests of the hotel regardless if they opt for a spa treatment. But you’ll want to opt for a treatment. I spent the greater part of a day enjoying the serenity of the spa, away from my phone and laptop.
Other amenities that make Old Edwards Inn and Spa more of a resort than a hotel include a fitness center that rivals the size of any city gym, complete with Barre, spin, yoga, and aerobics classes – so you can either work off the calories consumed at Madison’s or keep the Zen going from the spa. There’s also two pools, tennis courts, and an off-premise Old Edwards Inn golf course.
Know before You Go!
I hope this post has inspired you to book a stay at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. If it has, do plan in advance. During in season, rooms book up as much as six-months in advance. Check out the latest rates on TripAdvisor. Also, Old Edwards Inn and Spa isn’t what I would call kid friendly, so plan on leaving them behind. Besides, do you really want to hear screaming cannon balls why you’re experiencing a Zen moment?
If you still want to visit the Highlands but aren’t sure the Old Edwards Inn and Spa is the right fit, check out one of these alternative options.
Guest quarters themselves are spread out amongst the historic inn, which was built in 1878, and a series of lodges, cottages, and individual homes that take up the majority of Old Edwards Inn and Spa’s three-block presence in Highlands. I stayed in a King Suite in Falls Cottages. As I was there in the winter (and for a writer’s retreat), the only time I left my suite was for the spa or to eat. With the fireplace, comfortable couch, and a wet bar, I had very little reason to leave. I sat on the couch and cozied up with my laptop to the roaring fire.
The attention to detail was most impressive. The bathroom (which is the size of some hotel rooms I stayed at…) had a heated towel rack and heated floors, along with a Milton Brown body scrub bar that gave my body a scrub it’s never experienced (it retails at $22 a bar). Then there are those linens I mentioned earlier – Frette Italian linens – that are the thing that makes dreams. Can you tell I want to go back? And then there’s the food…
AAA Four Diamond Restaurant Grill Roomis the star of the culinary show at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. The kitchen is led by Chef Chris Huerta and features dishes composed of both sustainable and, when possible, local ingredients, some of which come from Old Edward’s garden and greenhouse. Enjoy the same menu in the Wine Garden during warmer months.
I started my dinner with their Southern Fideuà, a dish very similar to paella but with a bit of a southern flare. From the thick cut bacon chunks to the prawns, mussels, and touch of heat from the chili, it was the kind of dish you want to linger over, savoring every bite because you know you may never eat anything like it again.
My main course was sunburst trout served amongst a family of seasonal root vegetables that added a heartiness and warmth to a lighter dish. The dish fell more to the simple side, but I believe that was by design. The chef clearly understands what it means to respect the ingredients and allowed each its place on the plate.
The wine list head sommelier Phillipe Brainos has curated is as decadent as the food. All of the wines – by the glass or by the bottle – have a rating of at least 90 points from Wine Spectator. My one complaint is the lack of a robust craft beer list given Old Edwards Inn and Spa proximity to Asheville. That doesn’t mean the resort is without craft beer, but the selection was on the smaller side.
Other Onsite Restaurants and Lounges
I also enjoyed a fresh lunch at the Grill Room (think health forward dishes with smoothie and fresh juice options) and fireside cocktails in Hummingbird Lounge and Library. Other dining options on premise include Arts for coffee, breakfast, drinks, and lighter fare; the Grill Room to feed hungry golfers; and poolside dining for when you don’t want to vacate your spot in the sun.
Tell me why you need a retreat to the Old Edwards Inn and Spa?
Thank you to Old Edwards Inn and Spa for hosting me. Regardless of their Southern hospitality, readers receive my honest feedback, as my opinions are not for sale. All photos are credit to Old Edwards Inn and Spa.