Asheville, North Carolina
September 13, 2004
The large front porch may be the hotels biggest draw. On a clear morning you can watch the sun rise over the highest peaks of GSMNP and sleepy little Bryson City slowly come to life. Most of the rooms have a forest view, except those over the central portion of the lodge, which is flanked by huge wings to the west and the east. You won’t see a photo of the whole hotel because these large wings have been engulfed by the very forest that created it. Much of the lodge still has its original poplar bark shingle siding, and the entire hotel is paneled with beautiful, wormy chestnut. Imagine long, dark paneled hallways, huge stone fireplaces in the public areas, no telephones, televisions, air conditions, or right angles.
Though all rooms have a private bath, every room is different. Rooms with two double beds are quite large. Rooms with king-sized beds vary in size and the quaint queen rooms are of original vintage. Some rooms have full-sized sofas or claw-foot bathtubs, and most have a nice sitting area. Nights are generally cool with ceiling fans, box fans, and large pocket windows.
The hotel itself is a quiet place, though the pool and tennis courts keep some people busy. Board games are popular with families in the living room. Each evening, Amanda the bartender spins a nice mix of bluesy folksy but modern tunes and mixes a mean drink with a smile in the Fireside Bar off the dining room. There is one television and one free public phone. It is the kind of place to make where you are likely to make new friends than make phone calls to old ones.
The Fryemont is half the price of some exclusive country inns in the area, and you get an excellent, full country breakfast and a four-course dinner in a grand old dining room (included with the room rate). This makes this hotel my new top pick for best value south of the Smokies. Bar items and tips are not included but can be added to your bill as you go. The Fryemont Inn offers a heavy dose of casual comfort and nostalgia without breaking the bank. The central location south of GSMNP is perfect for rafting the Nantahala, taking a train ride, exploring the ancient Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, or cruising at the 5,000 foot level on the new Cherahola Skyway.
From journal The Uncommon Guide to the Smoky Mountains of N.C.