Mom’s Visit: Biltmore (inc. stay at new Village hotel)

My mom came to visit recently and while she’s been here a few times already, we’ve yet to visit Asheville (other than driving through it on our way from TX last fall!). I knew she’d love the Biltmore, especially the special exhibit they had going on – Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film.

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A Travelzoo deal came across for their new hotel, Village Hotel, and I couldn’t resist the great rate – plus it allowed for door-to-door access to the house. Mom has mobility issues and any opportunities to shave off extra walking was important.

The new hotel is located at Antler Hill – our room literally looked over the winery. You can exit out the back of the hotel right at the doors of the winery or wander down a short walkway to the shops and restaurants. Such a great location!

For a “moderate” hotel, it was lovely. I adored the decor! Parking was free, close, and easy to access. We booked a double-double room and it was well appointed.

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The only thing I thought was lacking were the towels. We saw some of the Biltmore towels in the gift shops and since I’ve been on a hunt for replacement towels at home, I thought that maybe they’d use their own brand in the rooms so I could try them out! The answer is no, they used small, thin, slightly scratchy towels. Hmph.

Once we got settled, we wandered down to the Antler Hill Village to see the special wedding exhibit that features the Vanderbilt family. It was small but informative…. and evidently I took no photos.

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Since both Mother’s Day and her birthday had been the week before, I wanted to treat her to a nice dinner out so of course we had to go to the Red Stag Grill. It’s located at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, right outside the Biltmore estate, so easy peasy.

It’s dark in there (the menus light up!) so my pics aren’t so great 😦 It was delicious, and such a beautiful restaurant.

I ordered the trout (pictured) and mom ordered the scallops. We were feeling seafood that night!

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For dessert, we split the Cheerwine molten lava cake, which was like eating a bowl of raw dark chocolate brownie batter. It was SO rich – and amazing!!

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The next morning, we took the internal bus from the hotel to the house. What they don’t tell you is that on the bus ride, you get the 3 dollar tour of the property – we saw it all, it seems, and the bus driver/tour guide was very interesting! I am now full of useless Biltmore knowledge 😉

When we visited the Biltmore last time, there were no photos allowed, which was a bummer. Now you can take photos (no flash, of course) so I took the opportunity to take some of the rooms. According to their website, cameras with removable lenses were still not allowed so I left my SLR at home and just used my phone. But, then I saw others with their SLR so I have no idea what the rule is. Oh well.

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Right in the entry is the wedding cake and flowers for the special exhibit – it was stunning!

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The wedding dress exhibit was really just spread throughout the house. Secretly, we thought it was much more interesting than the house 😉

That’s only a small piece of the dresses – there were tons!

The view from the back balcony:

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This is from the main kitchen in the basement!

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We toured the entire house and then wandered over for lunch at the Stable Cafe. It’s located among the other shops/restaurants near the house and did not have a long wait. While it was a lovely day to grab food at a kiosk and dine outside, I rarely pass up an opportunity to have a waitress.

Chicken salad sounded great to us both and it was delicious! I was really impressed by how affordable it was, especially in a tourist trap. Our waitress was fantastic and very friendly.

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Instead of taking the stairs to the garden, we took the internal bus around to the gardens. The bus system is only for hotel guests, which really ticked off a guy who was stuck in the gardens and needed to meet his family at Antler Hill, but I guess they don’t have the infrastructure to transport all guests between the three main areas.

(they give you a white card with your hotel details on it – that’s your bus pass)

The gardens are not the kind in Alice in Wonderland. They are massive and really take a lot of walking to see. Mom wasn’t able to do much exploring but we saw the rose garden (mostly out of season)

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and I wandered the conservatory (where I found a harpist!).

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And on the way out, we drove past the walled garden.

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Our only hiccup with the bus system happened when we finished at the garden and needed to get back to Antler Hill and our car. Because the bus loads up at the house first, then travels to the garden before heading onto the hotel, it kept arriving full and unable to take anyone new. Some of those waiting got discouraged and decided to hike back to the house to grab it but that wasn’t a possibility for us – that route is not accessible. Finally, after 30 minutes or so, a kind bus driver called in the problem and they sent a mostly empty bus directly to us.

On our way out, I went the long way to get some house pics and drive through the grounds one more time. The weather was perfect – especially in a convertible 😉

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She was worn out so we did not attempt a visit to Downtown or any of the other great Asheville offerings – there is always next time!

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