People who know beer have long known Asheville, North Carolina, as a mecca for unique and experimental local breweries. But for those who enjoy quality hospitality with their bar and brewery hopping, Asheville was sorely lacking in hotel experiences that felt authentic to the area. Until recently, travelers were limited to highway hotel chains and hit-or-miss Airbnb’s outside the lively downtown area.
Enter The Foundry—a gorgeously rehabilitated steel mill turned 87-room boutique hotel. Though managed by the Hilton Curio Collection, the property is locally owned and has gone to great lengths to preserve an important aspect of the city’s history. A relic to the impact that the former steel mill had on the city—it quite literally built most of the downtown area and much of the famed Biltmore Estate—The Foundry provides an experience that solidifies Asheville as one of the top emerging destinations in America.
Why it’s worth the trip:
Though Asheville in and of itself is a great place to visit—with beautiful nature to explore, top-notch brewery culture, friendly locals, and delicious food—The Foundry’s (very central) location and efforts to make accessible all that Asheville has to offer plays a large role in its appeal. The hotel’s Tesla drop-off service will take you anywhere in the city you want to go, and let’s face it, you don’t want to have to rent a car if you’re going to hit up multiple breweries in a day.
The hotel’s star restaurant, Benne on Eagle, is worth a visit in its own right. Serving up “Appalachian soul food” like buttermilk-cornbread soup, onion-braised rabbit, and pan-fried trout, you’ll want to eat here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At least once. The upscale, 100-seat restaurant honors the women who owned or cooked at restaurants in the historically African American neighborhood and their impact on Appalachian cuisine. Famed local chef John Fleer works with long-standing community member Hanan Shabazz to develop the ever-changing menu (her portrait, along with three other influential women, hang prominently in the dining room) paying tribute to regional culinary traditions with seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients.
You’ll like it here if…
You appreciate a turn-down service (with locally-made tea and cookies) after your hike through the Blue Ridge Mountains, or you fancy a post-brew-hop night cap of specialty cocktails at the hotel’s Workshop Lounge.
Starting rates begin at $239-$349 during low season and $399—$599 during high season, depending on accommodation choice.
Hotel patrons consist of well-groomed, REI-clad hiking and beer enthusiasts. Thursday nights, however, the Workshop Lounge becomes a local haven for live-music lovers with a 10-piece jazz band.
How to prepare:
The Foundry is good about taking care of most things for you, and though the Tesla service will drop you off anywhere, it’s not always available to pick you back up. Be sure to download your favorite ride-sharing app, which is readily abundant in Asheville, in order to get back to the hotel with ease.
If you forget any hiking gear, the hotel’s marketplace, the Asheville Supply & Foundry Co., has you covered.
While you’re in the area…
Have the hotel Tesla drop you off in the South Slope Brewing District and explore the famous brewery culture Asheville is known for. For something a little closer to home, watch live glass blowers at Lexington Glassworks (they also have a bar with local brews open in the afternoons Thursday through Saturday). Biltmore Avenue, Asheville’s main thoroughfare, is just one block away and offers great local shopping and dining at places like Rhubarb (if you can’t get enough of John Fleer’s Appalachian twists) and Cúrate (expertly-crafted Spanish tapas).