Three stunning hotels across the Southeast worth checking into

A short list of the best new places to stay


Wood-burning fireplaces in Sanctuary’s Tree Forts

Photo courtesy of the Sanctuary Treehouse Resort

Sanctuary Treehouse Resort
Sevierville, Tennessee
Picture the treehouse of your childhood fantasies combined with the hotel of your grown-up dreams. That’s the idea behind the Sanctuary Treehouse Resort, opening this fall in the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. Spanning 40 acres, it’s the largest resort of its kind in the world. Sanctuary’s Tree Forts have wood-burning fireplaces and spiral slides (groups may reserve forts connected by drawbridge), while Luxe treehouses come with copper clawfoot tubs and outdoor daybeds.

Yurt villages at Nicewonder

Photo courtesy of Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards

Inn at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards
Bristol, Virginia
For those who want to live off the land and still live large, there’s a new yurt village at the Inn at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol, Virginia. Situated amid a farm, garden, pastures, and a working vineyard, the yurts (small, round dwellings) come with luxe amenities like plush robes, rain showerheads, locally curated snacks, and complimentary Nicewonder wine. “When guests walk in, they always say, ‘Whoa, I didn’t expect this!’” says Mara Bouvier, Nicewonder’s general manager. “Most yurt experiences are just glamping tents. Ours offer all the finishes of the inn, but you’re surrounded by nature.”

Billiards hall at the Gibson Inn

Photo by Alicia Osborne photography

Gibson Inn
Apalachicola, Florida
Plenty of hotels have pools—and a growing number now have pool. At the Gibson Inn in Apalachicola, Florida, new owners have transformed a once-dingy banquet room into a polished billiards hall, complete with a giant taxidermy alligator. The Aloft Asheville Downtown lets guests play a round of pool while taking in city views from its top-floor lounge. And at the Respite Bed & Breakfast in Paducah, Kentucky, there’s a single pool table hidden behind a secret door, allowing guests to “talk chalk” in total privacy.

Off the Chopping Block
A crop of newly reopened hotels almost didn’t make it. In Saluda, North Carolina, the circa-1880 Saluda Inn was this close to being condemned before new owners swooped in and renovated it from top to bottom. Over in Pensacola, Florida, the city’s list of endangered buildings long included Lily Hall, a 1928 Baptist church lodging house that has been transformed into a funky boutique hotel with a speak-easy. There’s also the Historic Magnolia House, a Green Book hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina, that once welcomed the likes of Ray Charles and Jackie Robinson; after years of abandonment, a local resident purchased it to save it from demolition. It reopened last May to national acclaim.


This article appears in the Fall/Winter 2022 issue of Southbound.