Three buzzy Southern hotels offering first-class accommodations

A short list of the best new places to stay, including cliff-dweller treehouses, a historic bed and breakfast, and Dolly Parton’s tour bus


The Turtle Dome Treehouse

Photo courtesy of Red River Gorgeous Treehouses

Treehouse Lounge Net

Photo courtesy of Red River Gorgeous Treehouses

You Did What?!
Red River Gorgeous Treehouses

Shock your friends with photos of your stay in this “extreme cliff-dweller treehouse” suspended above Red River Gorge in Campton, Kentucky. The precariously perched 600-square-foot lodging has a cozy master suite, a bathroom with full plumbing, a kitchen, and a rooftop deck with (gulp!) killer views. It’s owned by Red River Gorgeous Treehouses, with rates starting at $445 a night.

Melanie Graham, Kristin Kitchen, and Metris Batts-Coley, hoteliers at Avent on Falls

Photo courtesy of Avent on Falls

Historic Hospitality
Avent on Falls 

Rocky Mount, North Carolina, might be best known as the city that birthed jazz legend Thelonious Monk, but it recently gave rise to a trio of new groundbreakers: Melanie Graham, Kristin Kitchen, and Metris Batts-Coley. Together, they run Avent on Falls, a bed and breakfast set in a restored 1901 mansion in the city’s historic district (rooms start at $129 a night). Black hoteliers are rare; three Black female hoteliers is practically unheard of. “Back in 1901, people of color weren’t able to enter places like Avent on Falls through the front door,” Graham says. “That’s why we have a mantra of lifting people up: We believe when we thrive, our people thrive.”

Interior of the Dolly Parton tour bus

Photo courtesy of The Dollywood Company

Roll Like Dolly
Dolly Suite 1986

For a cool $10K a night, Dolly Parton’s superfans can spend the night in her beloved tour bus. The RV was her home away from home from 2008 to 2022; it’s where she wrote “Backwoods Barbie” and 9 to 5: The Musical. Now, it’s permanently parked behind Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Retrofitted with a full-sized refrigerator, bathtub, and custom wig closet, it also features walls with hand-painted murals of some of Dolly’s favorite things, including crystal balls and old-time wagons. Two can sleep on the bus (Dolly had three bunks removed to make room for a closet that could hold her voluminous, bedazzled wardrobe), but the reservation also includes a room at the resort for four additional guests.


This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Southbound.