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Thanks to its rich, diverse geography — the enchanting Blue Ridge Mountains, the flat Coastal Plain, the wispy islands strung along the Atlantic coast — and its hip, lively cities, North Carolina truly offers something for every type of traveler. The state's lodgings reflect that diversity as well. Whether you’re looking to hole up for the weekend in a tiny cabin in the mountains or indulge in sheer opulence at a Southern-style estate, here are the best places to stay in North Carolina.
Best Overall: The Inn on Biltmore Estate
With glowing reviews ranging from “I will never get enough of this place!” to “We savored every minute here,” it’s safe to say that the Inn on Biltmore Estate is everybody’s favorite North Carolina hotel. Situated on 8,000 sprawling acres of lush greenery, meticulously manicured gardens, stables, and farms, it doesn’t get more picturesque than this five-star boutique resort (which used to contain America’s largest private residence).
One of the most beloved hotels in the region, the Inn on Biltmore Estate is more of an experience than a place. You can pretty much do whatever you want here: be it horseback riding, luxuriating in the on-site spa, swimming laps in the heated outdoor pool, taking guided hikes around the property, or simply languishing in the lap of rural luxury. The historic former home of George Vanderbilt, the hotel also boasts stellar farm-to-table restaurants, live music, a complimentary estate shuttle service and downtown shuttle, and a packed seasonal events calendar. Rooms are spacious and expertly decorated with sophisticated furnishings and amenities. Though luxury doesn’t come cheap at this one-of-a-kind estate, a weekend at the Inn on Biltmore Estate is well worth the expense.
Best Budget: Islander Inn
Beloved by budget-savvy travelers everywhere, the Islander Inn boasts oceanfront views and bargain prices. Overlooking one of North Carolina’s prettiest beaches, this lovely inn is known for its quiet, peaceful vibe and fabulous scenery. You can expect personalized service and thoughtful attention to detail that likely exceeds that of other low-budget hotels you’ve experienced.
The cozy, sunnily painted property is ideally located, and there’s a full range of amenities geared towards beach-loving clientele, from oceanfront rooms and balconies to an outdoor and indoor pool. Rooms are simple yet sparkling clean, and come equipped with in-room microwaves, fridges, and cable TV. Conveniently, for those traveling on a budget, guests at the Islander Inn are also privy to a full complimentary breakfast, with fresh fruit, waffles, pastries, and cereal. The hotel is located in Ocean Isle Beach, which offers world-famous golf courses, a plethora of beach activities, and plenty of fine dining options.
Best Boutique: Proximity Hotel
Proximity Hotel is an award-winning, eco-friendly boutique in Greensboro that prides itself on being the “greenest” hotel in the country. It was the first property to ever be LEED Platinum Certified, and there are energy-saving measures and features found in every corner of the hotel (including 100 solar panels and regionally sourced building materials and furniture). Conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from downtown and the Friendly Center Shopping Village, Proximity Hotel is a one-of-a-kind Southern gem whose sophisticated amenities are bound to wow even the most jaded travelers.
Rooms here are tastefully decorated and feature luxurious linens, lovely aromatherapy bath products, abundant natural lighting, HDTV, a custom-designed Magi Bed, and original artwork by artist Chip Holton. Unique on-site amenities include an Honest Drinking Bar, fine dining at the Parisian-esque Print Works Bistro, the Bluebell Garden (an outdoor garden with cocktail service), and bicycles and helmets available for rent.
Best for Families: Shell Island Resort
If you’re traveling with multiple family members in tow, opt to stay at Shell Island Resort at Wrightsville Beach — it’s the only oceanfront, all-suite stay on the island. Families of all sizes love the resort’s tranquil atmosphere, the fantastic fresh seafood at the on-site restaurant, and the wide variety of accommodations, in addition to the close proximity to countless restaurants, shops, and entertainment.
The scenic property features 169 beautiful guest rooms that all overlook the glittering Atlantic, each of which is equipped with a sizeable living area with sleeper sofa, two flat-screen TVs, stovetops, coffeemakers, blenders, fridges, high-speed Wi-Fi, and a BluRay DVD player. Other family-friendly perks include an indoor and outdoor pool, beach volleyball courts, delicious all-day menus at the Shell Island Restaurant and Oceanfront Lounge, and surfboard and bike rentals.
Best for Romance: The Omni Grove Park Inn
Lovebirds looking to hole up in North Carolina for a weekend or so will find the Omni Grove Park Inn fantastically romantic — especially if you’re in the mood for luxury. Easily one of the region’s most beloved historic resorts, the Omni Grove Park Inn is understatedly elegant and undeniably charming — ten U.S. presidents have stayed here, in addition to countless other notable political figures, celebrities, and athletes.
Offering expansive views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, this award-winning property boasts a full list of amenities for couples to enjoy, including top-caliber restaurants, a communal area with massive fireplaces, a state-of-the-art subterranean spa, golf, and so much more. Couples can hang out on the Sunset Terrace to catch stunning sunsets over the mountains and indulge in fine steak or seafood, or float in mineral pools (complete with underwater music and waterfalls) at the Spa at Grove Park. Rooms here are sleekly decorated and come with winning amenities; couples will also be happy to learn there’s a private, adults-only floor.
Best for Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
When it comes to sheer glitz and glamour, nothing beats the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte. This LEED-certified, luxurious resort was the first Ritz-Carlton in the world to attain Gold status, thanks to its innovative style and uniquely eco-friendly amenities. This is an ideal destination for those in the mood to splurge on the finer things in life. No expense is spared — from the world-class dining and bar scene to the green rooftop with a chef’s garden to the opulent Ritz-Carlton Spa and indoor pool.
In-room amenities include floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Charlotte skyline, 79-inch and 65-inch flat-screen HD smart televisions, a separate parlor and bedroom, and an elevated Honor Bar with exclusive local liquor. Though travelers may have a difficult time tearing themselves away from this gorgeous space, the Ritz-Carlton is just a short walk away from all the best cultural attractions, dining, and nightlife that vibrant downtown Charlotte has to offer.
Best for Nightlife: Sheraton Raleigh
For travelers keen on delving into Raleigh’s nightlife scene, a stay at the Sheraton Raleigh is a must. This recently renovated 353-room hotel is located in the heart of the city, less than a block from the Raleigh Convention Center and just a quick walk away from the capitol building and over 60 awesome eateries, museums, and bars. The hotel itself is well-stocked with superb amenities, including a very friendly front desk team, high-speed Wi-Fi, daily complimentary gourmet coffee, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
You have your pick between several room types, and in-room amenities include an ultra-comfy pillowtop mattress, complimentary bottled water and coffee, lighted makeup mirror, hair dryer, alarm clock, iron and ironing board, and in-room safe. Guests can also enjoy dinner at Jimmy V’s Osteria + Bar, the on-site restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and serves handcrafted cocktails and delicious food.
Best for Business: Cambria Hotel & Suites Downtown Asheville
In the center of downtown Asheville, the Cambria Hotel is favored by many business travelers for its affordable rates, convenient location, great amenities, and functional meeting rooms and business facilities. The hotel offers a variety of queen and king rooms, all of which are attractively furnished, and most of which have partial mountain views (some also have city views). Other business-friendly in-room amenities include a flat-panel TV, room service, iron and ironing board, Keurig coffee, microwave, fridge, and a desk and activity table.
Perhaps most importantly for business travelers, the hotel offers more than 8,000 square feet of event space, so you can easily book a large banquet hall or smaller meeting room for a conference call, work event, or meeting. The rental of the main event space includes catering, access to the fourth-floor terrace, custom menu packages, bar service with craft beer, wine, and cocktails, free Wi-Fi, and full-service AV equipment.
Best B&B: Black Walnut Bed and Breakfast Inn
For travelers craving a more intimate experience, the Black Walnut Bed & Breakfast Inn is the perfect lodging choice. Tucked away in Asheville's historic Montford district, the Black Walnut is ideally located and provides the perfect jumping off point for discovering all the wonderful shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants in the area.
Designed by famed architect Richard Sharp-Smith in 1899, this historic B&B is an example of English-shingle style, and it’s been gorgeously maintained over the years. A decadent, gourmet breakfast is served every morning, while a welcoming tea is served every afternoon and includes complimentary beverages and homemade treats. (Note: the friendly staff is happy to accommodate any special diet needs or restrictions.) All eight rooms are furnished with priceless antiques, silk drapes, vintage decor, working fireplaces, and private en-suite bathrooms, although each is decorated uniquely and boasts charming, one-of-a-kind features.