My favorite memory of visiting Asheville, North Carolina, isn’t sipping a remarkable local beer or conquering a challenging mountain hike. The thing I remember most about my recent stay is the hotel turn-down service. I should have known when I was offered a glass of local cuvée at check-in that more nice things were about to happen to me. Later that night, when we returned from an equally as memorable dinner at Benne on Eagle (just downstairs), our beds were fluffed, freshened and turned down. The lights were orchestrated to promote a soothing slip Ito sleep, heavy drapes were closed and a tray sat on the bedside table.
Two small porcelain cups on linen coasters hugged a tall stainless thermos. Inside, hot chamomile tea steeped and on a plate were two home-made granola cookies.
We paused to admire the still life before tucking in.
It’s details like these that make staying at The Foundry Hotel Asheville so special. A former steel foundry – known for forging the steel used in construction the Biltmore Estate- the hotel opened last year and combines three historic buildings with two new builds for a beautiful 87-room boutique hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Asheville on Eagle Street in The Block neighborhood, The Foundry Hotel (Curio Collection by Hilton) pays homage to the foundry’s historic past and the vibrant surrounding neighborhood. For much of the twentieth century, Eagle Street was the place to be on The Block. Local businesses – ranging from record shops and grocery stores to dry cleaners and beauty parlors – lined the street; each one helped weave the collective fabric of the predominantly African-American neighborhood. The original elevator pulley system, steel star fastenings and exposed brick, plus immersive localized programming such as private Hood Tours help guests understand more about the building and its past.
Jeremy Martin is the hotel beverage director and he holds court in the Workshop Lounge, an expansive lobby bar housed in the a former 1920’s woodworking building, serving classic and craft cocktails with organic, locally-distilled spirits. He curates his cocktail menu with classics and riffs on the classics like the julep and rickey. He makes his own Grenadine and a fig-infused bourbon. “Figs grew in our backyard in Charleston and I’ve also been working on a formula for an infusion, an after-dinner drink, raisiny like port, but more approachable,” says Jeremy. The Workshop Lounge is furnished with deep sofas, mid-century modern lines, conversation nooks, plenty of reading lights and tables for drinks, magazines or your laptop. As soon as I sat down in an oversized wingback armchair to attend to my morning inbox, an ice bucket appeared with a glass bottle of water.
Get a table downstairs at Benne on Eagle for dinner. Chef John Fleer, called “the leader of Asheville’s culinary renaissance,” formerly of Blackberry Farm and current chef-owner of Rhubarb and The Rhu) oversees the culinary program. Chef de Cuisine Ashleigh Shanti was working her magic the night we dined and kept a parade of beautiful and rich food coming to our table. A pan-fried Sunburst Trout was served on a bed of roasted fingerling potatoes, caramelized fennel, leeks, and nettle pistou. The grilled pork chop was mighty, with sorghum-lemon candied yams and collards. Each dish whispered a tribute to the neighborhood’s past and Benne on Eagle will remain one of my favorite dining experiences of the year.
The hotel has a spa partner, Spa Theology, and the house Tesla will deliver you to your appointment (the concierge can help make that happen). I recommend their signature massage with a highly concentrated blend of lavender, rosemary, and menthol essential oils to reduce inflammation and promote circulation. Local brand (now in Atlanta), Privai Skincare products are used exclusively in this quiet oasis.
Uber or drive 15 minutes to the Biltmore for an afternoon of wandering. Be sure to walk the formal and informal gardens designed by America’s foremost landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.
While Asheville will always appeal to outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate a local craft beer, thanks to The Foundry Hotel, the destination now offers a stay that will satiate even the most discerning and curious traveller.