Asheville, North Carolina is blessed with gracious Southern accommodations — the Inn on Biltmore Estate, the Grove Park Inn, and, if moved side by side, enough Bed and Breakfasts to line a street worthy of Hollywood. But when we began searching in earnest for a unique, elegant place to stay for a weekend away, we turned to an old favorite — the Select Registry, a listing of distinguished inns and small hotels held to high standards. We’ve never been disappointed!
And so it was that we came to stay at the Black Walnut Bed and Breakfast Inn nestled under years-old shade trees in the historic Montford District.
Built in 1899 by the supervising architect of the Biltmore Estate, Richard Sharp-Smith, the mostly intact original structure is one of his finest residential commissions. The home was purchased for $10.00 in 1917 by a hardware store owner, Mr. Ottis Green, who later became the Mayor of Asheville. He willed it to the housekeeper who cared for him until his death. Years later, a woman from Chicago purchased the house and renovated it to create a bed and breakfast. In 1992, the Black Walnut Bed and Breakfast Inn was placed on the National Register of historic buildings.
In 2004, the inn was purchased by Peter and Lori White, owners of The Old Stone Bakery with two locations in Martha’s Vineyard and one in Tequesta, Florida. They sold the businesses to concentrate on fine pastry and sugar art (Lori has been both pastry chef and cake designer)! And their talents don’t go unnoticed at breakfast time!
The Whites’ attention to detail in decor is evident — every room we saw was tastefully decorated in period decor but without the fussiness that sometimes “hangs over” a room in a period house. Our room on the first floor had recently been painted a rich, chocolate brown in contrast to the elegant creams of the fireplace, sumptuous down comforter, and window seat pillows.
The bathroom, too, had an Old World feel from the gilt framed landscape to the lush Turkish towels.
Upstairs we peeked into the Walnut Room with its king-size sleigh bed, ample seating, and Oriental rugs.
The Whites invited us to relax beside the pond where koi swam gracefully under the waterfall and take a look at the perennials just coming into bloom.
Ruthie, who has prepared as a chef, greeted us at check-in and then proceeded to “whip up” a few tasty hors d’oevres for Afternoon Tea from 5 to 6 each day served in the foyer. All of us guests who felt quite fortunate to have found this place, sat on the expansive front porch, sipping and tasting, talking of travel and hobbies and where to dine that evening.
We met Gayle and Bob Bencivenga from New York who own a very interesting Internet business. Their blog, Places of Value, shares tips on where to visit and possibly settle/retire in North and South Carolina! We immediately checked that out on our iPad, since we love vacationing in both states!
The next morning, Annika and Vincent from Washington, DC enjoyed cofee while waiting for breakfast to be served!
First course — light, delicate coffee cake topped with strawberries Peter had purchased at the local farmers’ market. Second course — baked pear, halved and filled with cream cheese and walnuts, drizzled with honey and Marsala — warm, sweet, and dreamy to eat!
And the main event: Red pepper and organic spinach three-cheese frittata — a hearty, textural blend of veggies and cheese — served with two sides: field greens topped with figs, Craisins, apples and pecan vinaigrette, and stone ground grits!
Peter says he loves his work. Mainly, I suppose, because sometimes it doesn’t feel like work. He and Lori do what they love, talk to guests from around the world, and sometimes greet famous people. Like the actors from The Hunger Games and several of the principals from the Sandra Bullock movie 28 Days — all filming in North Carolina and staying at The Black Walnut!
Well, Peter and Lori — we loved it, too!
The Black Walnut Bed and Breakfast Inn, winner of Best B & B in Downtown Asheville (Travel Smart), has been featured in 1000 Places to See Before You Die and Travel and Leisure. For more information, please check out their website: http://www.blackwalnut.com/
The Black Walnut Bed and Breakfast Inn
288 Montford Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801