The question of where to stay in Asheville, NC is quite easy to answer due to the nature of the city itself. It has an almost mathematically precise structure, as its neighborhoods are divided according to the sides of the world: North, South, East, and West Asheville, with the center (Downtown Asheville) in the middle of the city.
Every neighborhood has something different, and your choice will ultimately depend on your preferred attractions.
Also, Asheville is not a huge city. That means that you can visit and see almost everything with a good plan and organized time management. We hope that our guide will help you do precisely that.
Where to Stay in Asheville, NC
Asheville, NC has been called “The Paris of the South,” and looking at a few pictures is enough to confirm this qualification. Asheville’s downtown is very much like Paris’ Latin quarter, the famous Biltmore Estate is its magnificent Versailles, and the powerful French Broad River is much like the Seine.
Medium-sized (with a population of 95,000 and an area of 45.86 sq mi) and quaint, Asheville is a true sight to behold. The city and its outskirts are full of beautiful architecture and historical buildings — Biltmore estate, most of all.
It even has its own art district in its western parts, as well as many museums and galleries. However, most of its richness and historical beauty is concentrated in the downtown and the famous Vanderbilt mansion, but the other parts of the city have a lot to show too.
But Asheville is not only about culture and architecture. We mustn’t forget that it’s a part of North Carolina, a state which is full of natural wonders.
A few miles north, east, south, or west out of downtown, culture starts transforming itself into nature and architectural beauties into natural sublimities. Rivers, forests, and mountains dominate the vistas, providing plenty of sightseeing for potential hikers, walkers, and cyclists.
Finally, there are the farms too. Asheville offers a rich, varied, authentic farming experience full of calm pastures and mild hills. There you can find fresh and tasty meat, pastries, and cheese that will fill your belly and warm your soul.
In short, Asheville is a visitors’ paradise, offering almost everything a stone’s throw away. So, make a plan, organize your timetable, buy plane or bus tickets and start your adventure in “The Paris of the South.”
The 5 Best Parts of Asheville, North Carolina
As we said, every part of the city has its own identity and uniqueness, and the best thing you can do is to orient yourself according to your preferences. Here’s what you can expect from each area.
- Downtown: The heart of the city, where you learn about Asheville’s history and do some mighty shopping
- South Asheville: Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, a posh, Versaille-like vibe
- North Asheville: The quietest part of Asheville, full of parks, tree-lined streets, and a significant historic district
- West Asheville: Best suited for the lovers of art or nature (or both)
- East Asheville: The ultimate nature and farming experience — a place for hiking, driving, cycling, mountain climbing, and slow living
Asheville’s Best Areas and Hotels
If you’re predominantly a history buff or an architecture lover, the downtown area, the South, and the North are the places for you. If you’re an arts and crafts person, and especially if you’re an artist, the west, with its River Arts District, is definitely where you should settle.
But if you adore farms and outdoor activities, the east will offer itself splendidly to you. But these are all generalizations. You can do any of these things in almost every area of Asheville.
That being said, accommodation choice — whether it’s a hotel, a motel, or an inn — depends on your preferences. If you’re a luxury type of person, downtown and the south are certainly where you should entertain yourself. The best and the most expensive places are there.
If you’re on a budget and looking for a cheaper place, the east is where you’ll mostly find them. For a combination of both, look in any other area of the city.
Downtown Asheville is definitely the heart of the city, where you can find anything and everything. Due to its beautiful and richly ornamented architecture, lively culture, and artsy vibe, it’s the definitive Latin quarter of the “Paris of the South.”
The description is not far from the truth because the center of the city is both traditional and modern, full of museums, memorials, and traditional architecture. However, it also offers a plentiful variety of shops, restaurants, and festivals.
There are just too many things to do and places to see! Downtown Asheville is basically an outdoor museum. Its history is not in dusty and lifeless enclosures but written on the tissues of the buildings, squares, and parks themselves.
So, the first and maybe the best thing you should do is to take a walk through Asheville’s Urban Trail. The walk is 1.7 miles long, and it’s divided into five different areas and 30 stations, each representing some distinct part of Asheville’s history.
First come the buildings from the Gilded Age, then the O. Henry memorial statue and Tom Wolfe’s house. Later on, you can find a lot of more modern and contemporary stuff, such as a famous marketplace, a bookstore, and the Afro-American Center.
The Urban Trail begins and finishes at the beautiful Pack Square Park. The whole walk can be done in an hour, and the map of the tour can be downloaded for free.
After the history tour, you’d surely want to do some shopping — by that point, you’ve surely (and subconsciously) window-shopped the entire district! Downtown Asheville is a shoppers’ paradise for sure, with more than 200 shops, boutiques, bookstores, etc.
- The Grove Arcade, which is both a historical marvel and a great place to shop;
- Haywood Street, where you can find almost everything;
- Wall Street, which offers a versatile blend of shops and restaurants;
- The Broadway & Biltmore, full of galleries, shops, and restaurants;
- Lexington Avenue, which boasts the motto “where world culture meets counter-culture,” the most versatile place in all of Asheville.
The downtown of Asheville, like most city centers of the world, is loud and expensive. It offers the best connections and the best image of the city, but that comes with a price. For those who want to have a calmer and cheaper experience, they should take a look at the north, east, and west of the city.
Things to Do
- Walk Asheville’s Urban Trail and learn everything about the city’s history, presented in a fun, easy, and practical way. Don’t forget; the museum is outside this city.
- Go on a shopping spree through the downtown; just choose the street (or streets) that best suit your needs and desires. After you finish, take a rest in some of the restaurants and grab a bite.
- Make sure to visit some of the many festivals the city organizes, like the Spring Biltmore Blooms (April to May), some of the Summer festivals that span from June to August, the Autumn Asheville Art in the Park (in October), or the long Winter, Christmas Festivals.
- Make sure not to miss the Basilica of St. Lawrence, completed in 1909, one of the brightest jewels of Asheville, NC.
Where to Eat
- Curate: Authentic Spanish Tapas offers a wide range of traditional Spanish dishes, such as jamón Ibérico and vermuterías, but also a rich list of local Spanish wines. It’s located in a beautiful 1920s building.
- Chestnut is a great no-nonsense restaurant, serving a variety of dishes from house-cured meats and mashed potatoes to local steaks and vegetables. Also, you should definitely check their cocktail list.
- Carmel’s Kitchen & Bar is located in the historic Grove Arcade with the largest outdoor patio in the city, serving traditional southern cuisine full of butter, cheese, and meat. There’s a great selection of craft beers and vines, too.
Downtown Budget Hotels
- Downtown Inn offers complimentary breakfast, a pool, rooms with refrigerators, a coffee maker, and cable TV.
- The Beaucatcher is located on Interstate 240, 5 minutes from downtown, and offers a complimentary breakfast and a respectable variety of craft bears.
Downtown Mid-Range Hotels
- Hilton Garden Inn Asheville Downtown is a nice hotel, with air conditioning and flat-screen TVs in every room, free Wi-Fi, and a great location.
- Haywood Park Hotel has a great location, located in the heart of Asheville’s downtown. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi and breakfast, and it has a gym that guests can visit at any time.
Downtown Luxury Hotels
- Kimpton – Hotel Arras, located near the basilica of St. Lawrence, offers a restaurant, a bar, and a gym, inside the hotel. Also, it provides evening entertainment and a shared lounge.
- Cambria Hotel features a fitness center and a restaurant inside the hotel. The rooms have flat-screen TVs, a fridge, and a microwave. Everyone on the staff speaks both English and Spanish.
2. South Asheville
When a Vanderbilt comes to settle in your town, nothing is ever the same, and when George Washington Vanderbilt II built Biltmore Estate just south of downtown, Asheville was never again the average North Carolina city.
If downtown is the Latin quarter of the Paris of the South, then Biltmore Estate is its Versailles. Biltmore Estate, built at the end of the 19th century, is a French Renaissance Castle in the middle of the American South. It has around 250 rooms, and the land attached to it amounts to 8,000 acres.
This monument of a building completely dominates South Asheville, and all the activities happening south of downtown are in some way connected to it. The castle and the estate are more than just visual spectacles — they offer plenty of activities.
There’s the house itself, the gardens, the ponds, the winery, the dining and shopping, and you can experience most of that by foot or while riding a horse!
Between Asheville and Biltmore Estate lies Biltmore Village, so you can’t have one without the other because most of the accommodations (but not all) are located in the village. It is basically modeled like an English village, just built by world-famous architects.
It’s full of restaurants, shops, and galleries, and it’s a great place for hunting antiques since it has more than 500 independent dealers. Biltmore Village is especially great during the spring and the winter while it hosts the Biltmore Blooms festival and the Christmas festival.
Also, don’t forget to visit the beautiful All Souls Cathedral. That being said, Southern Asheville is the most expensive and posh part of the city.
Finding cheap accommodation is practically impossible. If you’ve come to Asheville on a budget, stay in some of the other neighborhoods and come to visit Biltmore Estate and Biltmore village only once or twice.
Things to Do
- Go on a tour through Bitmore castle, which is full of beautiful furniture and art. Also, make sure not to miss the grand Banquet Hall with its 70-foot high ceiling and the Biltmore library with its 10,000 books collection.
- Take a stroll around the estate, on foot or while riding a horse. The gardens are an absolute marvel, but the bridge on the Bass Pond is a work of art — it was featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans.
- Have a night out at the Biltmore winery. The Vanderbilt collection of vines is rich and full of variety, and it’ll make you feel like you’re in Paris.
- Go shopping and antique hunting in Biltmore Village. When you start feeling tired, sit and have lunch or dinner in one of its countless restaurants.
Where to Eat
- Red Stag Grill offers a bohemian combination of European and American food, a variety of cocktails and wine, with everything based on the concept of “comfort food.” Red Stag Grill also offers a private room experience.
- Corner Kitchen is set in the romantic Biltmore Village and offers both brunch and dinner rich with protein. Also has a great cocktail list, which goes great with the Bitmore sunset.
- Biltmore Winery, located near the Biltmore Estate, offers the best of Vanderbilt’s vines, with a variety of charcuterie and truffles.
South Asheville Budget Hotels
- The Residences at Biltmore, located in Biltmore village, has an outdoor pool, hot tub, free Wi-Fi, and a great location, with all the memorials close by.
- Clarion Inn’s biggest strength is its location because it’s about one kilometer away from Asheville Airport and a 20 minutes ride from Biltmore Estate. The rooms have satellite TV, a refrigerator, and a desk.
South Asheville Mid-Range Hotels
- Village Hotel, located in in Antler Hill Village, is close to a famous winery. The guests can also enjoy a workout at the gym and a swim at the pool.
- Hilton Garden Inn, part of the famous chain of Hilton Hotels, is six kilometers from the Biltmore Estate. The hotel has a restaurant and a 24-hour-open front desk.
South Asheville Luxury Hotels
- The Inn, located on the historic ground of the Biltmore estate offers rooms with classically-inspired furnishings, a gym, a pool, and the best location available in this region.
- Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds are luxuriously furnished cabins with a hot tub, individual patio, and children’s playground. The location is great for hiking and fishing, 12 kilometers from the central location of the area, Biltmore Estate.
3. North Asheville
When you get tired of the expensive shops, ornamental architecture, and the general feeling of poshness that the downtown and Biltmore offer, switch to the other side of Asheville — go north.
Just a few miles up from the center of the city, North Asheville is in some ways their complete opposite. Quiet, full of trees, picturesque parks, local history, and restaurants, it offers a range of experiences much less intense than the other parts of the city but equally captivating.
The first area you should visit in North Asheville is Montford, the historic district. There’s plenty to see here since most of this neighborhood is full of different historically important buildings (mostly houses and residences) built between 1890 and 1920.
You can either walk the tour or take the LaZoom Comedy Bus Tour. The Riverside Cemetery is quite a big deal, especially for the lover of literature, since both Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry are buried here — a great place for a literary pilgrimage.
Finally, Montford holds the longest-running Shakespeare festival in North Carolina, so if you’re there during the summer, try not to miss that. After Montford, don’t miss Weaverville, a typical small American town that got incorporated in Asheville at the beginning of the 20th century.
It’s a great example of “slow living,” full of coffee and breakfast places decorated by local artisans. Also, there’s the historically important Dry Ridge Historical Museum, documenting the life of the early settlers.
Finally, don’t miss Woodfin with its unusual shops and nice restaurants. It’s a small place but full of life. You have to visit the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, but you also cannot miss the Thyme in the Garden in Woodfin, which serves both as a botanical garden and a shop.
For those who look for more dynamism, speed, and high-voltage adventure, North Asheville may be a bit bland or boring. It’s also more down-to-earth than its classier counterparts. But if you love a slow-tempo atmosphere, the North is the place for you.
Things to Do
- Visit the Botanical Gardens at Asheville — a 10-acre space, which is non-profit, independent, and dedicated to preserving and promoting the plants from the Southern Appalachians.
- Go to Miya Gallery in Weaverville, which offers a variety of arts and crafts from local artists, but also artifacts from the historical traditions of this part of America.
- Montford is a great place for you if you’re a fan of architecture, especially Victorian, Queen Anne, Neoclassical, and Colonial Revival styles.
- If you’re a nature lover, visit both the Asheville Botanical Gardens in North Asheville and Thyme in the Garden at Thyme in Woodfin. If you want to buy something, Thyme is the perfect place to do that.
Where to Eat
- Family Pizzeria – North is one of the two places that Family Pizzeria — an old school, New York Style pizza — has in Asheville. Besides the pizzas, they serve a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, and calzone.
- Bone and Broth, just a few steps from downtown, located at the entrance of Asheville, serves steaks and burgers in a cozy atmosphere. Also, there’s a great cocktail list available.
- City Bakery serves one of the best sandwiches, salads, soups, and pastries in the whole of Asheville, as well as different desserts like cakes and cookies.
North Asheville Budget Hotels
- Albemarle Inn, located in a Greek Revival building, offers a famous three-course breakfast. It has magnificent gardens you can stroll through and a beautiful fireplace inside, perfect for reading a book or just chilling out.
- Log Cabin Motor Court is also placed in a historic building from the 1930s. It offers cozy rooms with flat-screen TVs. It’s around nine kilometers away from downtown but closer to most places in North Asheville.
North Asheville Mid-Range Hotels
- Beaufort House Inn is a great bed and breakfast which serves a traditional American Breakfast, air-conditioned rooms, a beautiful garden, and free Wi-Fi.
- Princess Anne Boutique Hotel & Breakfast is another historic hotel from North Asheville, which serves gourmet breakfast but also offers afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres.
North Asheville Luxury Hotels
- 1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage, as the name suggests, is a historical place as well as a hotel. All the rooms are individually decorated, it has a beautiful garden, and breakfast is served in an especially decorated room on carved English tables.
- Chestnut Street Inn is another hotel that is also a historical monument, this time from 1905 and the Colonial Revival. Breakfasts are usually composed of Monte Cristo sandwiches, waffles, and southern biscuits with gravy. Every room is individually decorated, and the hotel offers massages for its visitors.
4. West Asheville
If you go a little from the west of downtown and you realize you’ve crossed the beautiful and mighty French Broad River, you’ve already set foot in West Asheville. There are two words that best describe this part of the city, and those are Nature and Art.
The native Ashevillians say that it’s the place “where anything goes, and everyone is welcome,” no less because the famous River Arts District is part of this neighborhood.
Also, the prices of accommodation are quite lower, so the welcoming slogan is not just tourist bait — it’s literally true. If you’re an artist and not just an art fan, this is the place for you. River Arts Districts (also known as “RAD”) is known as the creative center of Asheville.
It’s the most colorful part of the town, full of murals and decorations, and the place of residence for more than 270 working artists. Here, you can visit studios, talk with artists, and try different art forms and mediums.
There’s even a place for your kids to try to paint or sculpt something — the policy of RAD is that everyone can be an artist. Basically, it’s a great place to have an art adventure! The Asheville Arts Experience is a great website where you can find anything that interests you about this district.
If you’re more of a nature type, West Asheville is a place for you too. All of the outdoor activities are connected to the French Broad River (which, incidentally, is one of the oldest rivers in the world!). You can go canoeing, ride a bike or walk next to it, or just have a picnic with a magnificent view in front of you.
There’s the Amboy Road, also called the “Adventure Corridor,” the Carrier Park, which is the city’s largest park, and the French Broad River Dog Park if you want to bring your best friend. For more organized activities, visit the Asheville Outdoor Center and see what’s on schedule.
The western part of Asheville is the most “hip” and versatile part of the town, and it is completely opposite from the posh downtown and Biltmore. However, it’s also considerably different from the calm and quiet North.
It’s versatile, it’s different, and for some people, that may come as too much. Moreover, if you’re looking for luxury accommodation, the western part of Asheville is not a place for you.
Things to Do
- You can have an art adventure. If you were always a fan of art but never had the courage to do something on your own, go to the River Arts District, talk to some real artists, and start your career!
- Have an outdoor adventure. Everything near the French Broad River is made for activities, no matter if it’s paddling, canoeing, cycling, hiking, or rock climbing.
- West Asheville is great for a night out. Salvage Station (next to the river) and Isis Music bring great performers, The Odditorium has burlesque and drag shows, and Alley Cat is a fun place for doing karaoke.
- You can just take the day off, make some sandwiches and buy a bottle of wine and have a picnic. The French Broad River offers a magnificent view with a glass of wine in your hand.
Where to Eat
- 12 Bones Smokehouse offers different types of smoked meats. Their policy is to do everything with simple ingredients and a lot of care. It’s a great place for a family dinner or lunch
- Green Tea: Sushi and Japanese Restaurant offers probably the best sushi in Asheville. There are a lot of options, such as Wasabi or Zen Sushi. They have a newly renovated restaurant with a great bar.
- Grey Eagle Taqueria, located in Asheville’s Grey Eagle Music Hall, is a traditional Latin-American cuisine with a variety of tacos, but it also serves vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian dishes.
West Asheville Budget Hotels
- The Asheville Inn offers a 24-hour available front desk, free Wi-Fi throughout the property, air-conditioned rooms, and flat-screen TVs. A great place if you’ve come to Asheville on a budget.
- Comfort Inn Asheville is especially suitable for business travelers due to three things: the location, the lightning-fast wireless, and the working desk available in every room. The Inn also serves great breakfast.
West Asheville Mid-Range Hotels
- Comfort Suites Outlet Center offers free parking, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a breakfast buffet. Every room has a sitting and a sleeping area, channel TVs, and a microwave available.
- Country Inn & Suites is great both for business conferences and for couples. There’s a business center on the site for individual business travelers and groups and a gym to break a sweat after work. But also some rooms with spa baths and sofa beds, making them especially comfortable.
West Asheville Luxury Hotels
- Crowne Plaza Resort Asheville guests will have access to a racquet club, both salt-water and heated outdoor pools, golf courts, tennis courts, a gym, and childcare services. The hotel’s restaurant cooks a great combination of American and Appalachian cuisine.
- Holiday Inn Asheville can be considered the only luxury hotel in West Asheville. The hotel features a nice restaurant, a bar, an indoor pool, and a spa.
5. East Asheville
East Asheville is a great place in itself, full of antique shops, restaurants, and accommodation options. It’s also a starting point for exploring the wider area near (or not so near) Asheville, such as the farming community of Fairview and one of America’s most famous scenic drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway.
If you want to stay or visit East Asheville and all its riches, it’s best done with a car. Having said that, there are a few important things to see in East Asheville before you start driving to its outskirts.
Maybe the biggest attraction is the WNC Nature Center, a place that serves to educate and connect people with the plants and animals of this Southern Appalachian Mountain region.
It’s home to more than 60 species, such as black bears, gray and red wolves, otters, cougars, two red pandas, and an Eastern Hellbender — a type of huge salamander. After the Nature Center, you should visit the Folk Art Center, which is the seat of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and represents the crafts and arts of Southern Appalachia.
It has a great collection of artifacts, but it’s also important for one more thing: the same building hosts both the Folk Center and one of the primary access points to Blue Ridge Parkway.
Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile road that waves around the sublime Blue Ridge Mountains. Close to Asheville, the road offers one of the best views and hiking trails in all of America, so it’s an activity you have to do if you have a car.
But the Blue Ridge Parkway is also great for other things like cycling, hiking, and picnicking. If you’re a fan of farmers and farming tourism, just outside of Asheville is Fairview, the bucolic farming community.
Its beauty is in the serene hills, mountaintops, and the community of farmers, all of them living in harmony with the nature that surrounds them. East Asheville is the most rural and outdoorsy of all the Asheville neighborhoods.
People who like outdoor activities and adore nature and farm life will definitely love it. But, if you live for the hustle and bustle of the city and the variety of shops and luxury hotels, you won’t find any of that here.
Things to Do
- Learn about the local plants and animals in WNC Nature Center and see some beautiful bears, wolves, and otters.
- If you’re an art and crafts type, go to Southern Highland Craft Guild and look at jewelry, pottery, ironworks, prints, and glass made by the members of the guild themselves.
- Visit Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview and buy fresh beef or pork, pasture-raised chicken, as well as homemade sausages, pate, and hams.
- Go driving, picnicking, cycling, or hiking somewhere around the huge Blue Ridge Parkway and just enjoy the view.
Where to Eat
- RendezVous is a classical French Bistrot that serves dishes made from ingredients from local farms. A quiet place, away from downtown, full of flavor and Frenchness.
- Creekside Taphouse serves products from Hickory Nut Gap and specializes in brews, burgers, and wings. The place has a big playground area and is dog friendly.
- India Garden is a traditional Indian restaurant with a rich and varied menu with an impressive list of appetizers.
East Asheville Budget Hotels
- The Beaucatcher, a Boutique Motel serves complimentary breakfast and offers rooms fleet screen cable TVs, refrigerators, and free Wi-Fi.
- Econo Lodge Biltmore is a cheap and reliable place with rooms that have cable TV and a welcoming front desk.
East Asheville Mid-Range Hotels
- Comfort Inn Asheville offers breakfast and has a heated outdoor pool, and although it is located in East Asheville, it’s 10 minutes from downtown.
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson has traditionally decorated rooms, an indoor pool, and a gym. Guests can make their own waffles during breakfast using a common waffle machine.
So, Where Should You Stay in Asheville, NC?
If you’ve followed to the end of this article, let’s recap the most attractive areas of Asheville so you can clearly see which one suits you the best.
The downtown is the best for the hardcore city dwellers: great for learning about the city’s history and the best part of town for shopping. There’s also accommodation of every type, but mostly mid-range and luxury.
The southern parts of Asheville are dominated by the larger-than-life Biltmore estate and its trusted sidekick, the Biltmore village. It’s posh, it’s expensive, it’s like Versailles, and it’s beautiful, but it’s really hard to find where to sleep if you’re on a budget.
North Asheville is calm and quiet, full of trees and lawns, and suited for people interested in architecture and history. Here you can attend a Shakespeare festival and visit the botanical garden. It’s nice, cozy, and cultured, almost too much for some people.
Just across the river in the west is the most versatile and colorful part of Asheville, mostly due to the River Arts District. It’s best for both the artist and the arts and crafts lover, but also for nature and outdoor freaks who like hiking, canoeing, and generally spending time outside.
The eastern part of Asheville is for the farmers, the drivers, the walkers, and the hikers. There you can find the farms of Fairview, Blue Ridge Parkway, a folk center, and an animal center, but you won’t find luxury accommodation.
Regardless of the place you stay, Asheville, North Carolina has something for every person and every budget. Just be sure to stay long enough to soak in all the sights — you’ll be glad you did!