What do Lancaster, Pa., and Asheville, N.C., have in common?
More than one might think.
In addition to thriving arts scenes, each has a hip and trendy boutique hotel that is an artistic expression in its own right and a great place stay.
The Lancaster Arts Hotel exudes creativity from the tobacco leaf motifs incorporated in the lobby to the hundreds of pieces of art lining hallways and guestrooms. Exposed brick, super-high ceilings and an eclectic mix of furniture are just a few of the unique touches.
My room, which certainly was one of the most unusual—and I mean that in a good way–had exposed duct work, two walls with exposed brick decorated with nine original black-and-white paintings, a free-standing closet as well as a wet bar and wine refrigerator. (I thought I lucked out with the fridge but it turns out every room comes with one.) The configuration of the room—a loft suite—is about twice the size of a standard hotel room—also different, with one wall pitched sharply toward the ceiling.
The arts theme is even carried over to small touches such as the Do Not Disturb door hangers, which at this hotel states “Artist at Work Do Not Disturb” on one side and “Messy Studio” on the other.
Open for five years, the Lancaster Arts Hotel has 63 rooms of which 12 are suites. All are non-smoking. The art is rotated regularly and also is available for sale, which is also true of almost all of the hotel’s furnishings such as the leather chair with its back that resembles tobacco leaves that’s located in the lobby.
And there’s authenticity in some of the hotel’s décor. Back in the 1880s, the building was operated as a tobacco warehouse.
A breakfast room in the lobby is where guests congregate for the complimentary breakfast and drinks, and other meals can be taken in John J. Jeffries restaurant, located adjacent to the lobby. The lounge is a fun gathering spot in the evenings and the restaurant turns out inventive and mouth-pleasing dishes.
Rooms are in six categories at the Lancaster Arts Hotel with rates starting at $159 per night. Located on Harrisburg Avenue, the hotel is just a few blocks from the heart of the city’s arts district.
For more information, visit www.lancasterartshotel.com.
And wondering what to do while in Lancaster? Oh, there’s plenty.
The first Friday of each month the many galleries and shops along Gallery Row (W. Prince Street and several streets surrounding it) host open houses with refreshments—some with music or opportunities to meet artists. More than 70 businesses take part in the monthly events that run from 5 to 9 p.m. and keep the streets bustling with serious art lovers, the curious and those out for a night on the town.
I had a great time popping into about 10 shops that offered everything from fine art to crafts to clothing to home furnishings.
Before or after taking in First Friday, one should schedule some time to also visit:
• Lancaster Museum of Art
• Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum
• Demuth Museum
• Fulton Theatre
What better way to cap off a day of visiting artists’ studios, vendor carts and tapping one’s toes to the soulful sounds of street musicians than to check into a hotel that is equally artsy, innovative and stands apart from competitors.
That’s just what is in store for those fortunate enough to check into Hotel Indigo in Asheville.
The entire hotel has an organic feel–from the non-traditional layout of the guestrooms to wall-to-ceiling nature scenes that grace cylindrical walls to the eclectic mix of furniture to the stained concrete, glass tiles and quartz-like countertops.
Although the spacious rooms are bathed in teal, gray, green and gold with dark tone hardwood floors, it also includes trendy features such as a translucent metallic curtain that is part of a room divider and fully tiled bathroom with a spa-like shower.
Located within walking distance of art studios, shops and restaurants, this 100-room boutique hotel opened in 2009 and boasts of its locally inspired artwork and regionally sourced materials. The murals, highlighting Asheville’s great outdoors, were created by Asheville artist Zen Southerland and the lobby features a Gabion wall stacked with stone from the area.
The hotel also features a bar and bistro.
Room rates range from $159 to $369, and the hotel bills itself as pet friendly.
For more information on Hotel Indigo, visit www.boutiquehotel-asheville.com.
While I was in Asheville, I visited the spectacular 250-room Vanderbilt Estate that sits on a fraction of George Vanderbilt’s 8,000 acres and enjoyed an informative Grey Line trolley tour of the city. Those planning to take in several attractions may benefit by purchasing a Go Blue Ridge Card, which gives free admission to 25 museums, tours and attraction. The card can be used on a two-, three- or 5-day basis within a 14-day period. Costs of the card range from $84.99 to $159.99 for adults.
On the dining front I had one of the best breakfasts of my life at Tupelo Honey Café, a wonderful eatery on College Street in downtown Asheville. I would go back solely for another plate of their Jumbo Crab Meat Scramble (eggs, crab meat, caramelized onions, spinach and havarti cheese) and my girlfriend savored their sweet potato pancake served with whipped peach butter and spiced pecans. It was the type of breakfast that stayed with us all day and had us talking about it for weeks.
For more information on visiting Asheville, go to www.exploreasheville.com.