Low-key luxury

Cuisine Travel

December 1, 2020

An early 20th-century home in Asheville provides a tranquil escape from the busy-ness of life.

by Blake Miller 

As the iron gates open slowly, the gravel gently crunches under the weight of the car tires. Around the back of the stately, red-brick building with glowing gas lanterns sits a pile of perfectly stacked cords of firewood and an inviting Kelly green lawn bordering an English garden. The crisp, cool air of western North Carolina’s most famous mountain town smells of the freshly built fire roaring in the oversized outdoor fireplace. The Bunn House is quiet and welcoming, a respite from everyday life.

Bunn House Photo Shoot

The circa-1905 inn is located in up-and-coming north Asheville and is the one-time home to brick manufacturer and contractor Albert Bunn and his family. The manse is the antithesis to Asheville’s most popular, bustling accommodations, the Biltmore Estate and nearby Omni Grove Park Inn. With just six rooms and no on-site dining or concierge, the boutique inn sets itself apart with its simplicity and attention to detail — not to mention its location within walking distance of downtown yet removed from the hustle and bustle. 

The home was purchased in 2013 by a couple who spent two years restoring the property. Much of the century-old home was left intact, including notable architectural details such as exposed brick walls and original hardwood flooring. The inn’s interiors are a delicate balance between old and new, with traditional details from the early 20th century complemented by modern finishes and styling. The result: a historic inn that provides the luxurious feel of a modern-day hotel without the overcrowded feel of a multiroom resort.

It’s all about the details at the Bunn House. Heated bathroom floors and the sweet scent of L’Occitane bath products in the steam shower are a gentle reminder that being on property means it’s time to relax and unwind. The all-white, premium Frette linens pop against the home’s exposed brick walls, while contemporary lighting and furnishings balance the traditional lines of the space. Each room has a terrace or balcony overlooking the 1.3-acre property — one of the area’s largest privately owned greenspaces — with its perfectly manicured boxwoods, gravel walkways and wrought-iron fencing. No two rooms are alike, each offering a modern warmth that only a smaller, boutique inn such as this could create.

Though there’s no on-site restaurant, nearby Metro Wines delivers to Bunn House guests for a $5 fee. A spiral staircase leads to a rooftop terrace, where guests can enjoy 360-degree views of the city. The hotel provides heavy, wool blankets and cushions to make pre-dinner cocktails on the terrace cozy. Down below, delicate twinkle lights illuminate the yard, where a small fountain and wooden tables invite guests to gather, relax and enjoy the crackling fire.

photographs of Jettie Rae’s Oyster House by Mark Warner

Asheville is full of great restaurants, and one of the newest is Jettie Rae’s Oyster House. Chef owner and restaurateur Eric Scheffer, who also owns Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian, is behind the seafood concept that opened in July. Jettie Rae’s, a short walk of just a couple of blocks from the Bunn House, lives up to its tagline of “good food, done well.” Fresh seafood sourced from the Carolina coast is overnighted six days a week, ensuring every clam, oyster, fish and octopus is at its freshest when served. A tray of oysters is a must order: Choose a variety and indulge in the brininess of each one while enjoying a glass of chardonnay or local craft beer. SP

Learn more at bunnhouse.com.

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