Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Blowing Rock and the Meadowbrook Inn

Blowing Rock is a charming little resort town in the high country of North Carolina. It's a great starting point for cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway and taking in all the "scenic overlook" stops that appear at very regular intervals. Without lots of access points along the way, traffic can move smoothly, with the exception of the occasional driver paranoid of making a fatally wrong left turn and thus driving at about 15 mph below the already scenic stroll speed limit of about 45 mph.

The town has several little shops, some full of tourist trapping gifts, others with a bit of real local charm. A variety of restaurants, also mostly small local places make dining an easy and fun adventure. After talking with the staff of some of the local businesses, it's clear that none of them live in Blowing Rock; it's simply too expensive. Housing prices reflect the escape destination that is Blowing Rock. Overall though, it's a nice small town with plenty of friendly people and easy going charm.

I spent several nights at the Meadowbrook Inn, on main street in the historical district. While it's not the most modern hotel, it's very comfortable and does have all the modern amenities. The continental breakfast is adequate and the room service food is good. I suggest the fruit & cheese plate, great late night snack. Fresh pineapple, not something I'd have expected at 11pm in the middle of the mountains. The small bar has a creative staff that knows the options well. I stayed in a VIP Suite, and the size and features for the moderate price is impressive. A separate living room, wet bar area, fireplace and large jacuzzi tub are a few of the details. What makes the hotel really stand out to me is the staff; they're always friendly. Every single one seems upbeat and genuinely interested in making sure your stay is good. They're great actors or it's a pretty good place to work, either way it adds up to a good experience for the guests.

My rating = 4.5 stars
Pros: Great hospitality, convenient location to the historical area. Very good value for the money with the suite rooms.
Cons: Slightly dated style and overall feel. Continental breakfast is limited, and room service is only available in the evening. Most parking is uphill from the hotel.

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