B&B Getaway in Blue Ridge Mountains

Are you dreaming of a quick escape to a place within driving distance where you can have a change of scenery and still keep social distance? Do you want to breathe cool fresh air, stare at rolling hills from your balcony, or cool down in a waterfall?

Located only 1.5 hours from the city of Atlanta, are the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the 550 miles long Appalachian Mountain range. There are lots of hiking areas, waterfalls, wineries, and produce farms in the area, which has also recently been nicknamed as the “New Napa Valley.” There are over 40 boutique wineries in the area, and a charming downtown Blue Ridge, with restaurants, shops, art galleries, and even a scenic train. To take advantage of all that North Georgia has to offer, plan to stay a couple of nights in the area.

Where to Stay

blue ridge b&b
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway takes people to Toccoa River and into the Chattahoochee National Forest

There are many chain motels in the countryside, but if you want to have a memorable weekend getaway, stay at family-run Overlook Inn at Chatsworth.

blue ridge b&b
Private suite at The Overlook Inn

Unlike most inns around, The Overlook Inn is an actual home that is built with 6 independent suites, each equipped with a fireplace, as well as a hot tub or jacuzzi. Every suite is named after a hiking trail in the area, and has a distinct character. There is a Council Room (great room) that serves as a family/ dining room where you can chat with the innkeepers, meet other guests, or simply cozy up in a corner with a good book. The log cabin style decor is accented by modern touches, an upright piano, and a collection of books from around the world.

Feel at Home

Innkeepers Bill & Nicole call themselves the “yin and yang” team

Innkeepers – Nicole and Bill purchased the property in January 2020. The couple took a break from their corporate work to start something of their own. Bill had lived in the UK and had fond memories of English style B&B’s, while Nicole enjoyed gardening, decorating, and meeting people. She had always dreamt of owning a B&B someday. Since they started their new lives, the pandemic hit the travel industry, but they saw this as an opportunity to ease into the business. Now, they feel they work harder than ever, but it doesn’t feel like it as they are doing something they are passionate about.

Nicole and Bill have added their own touches to the guest experience at The Overlook Inn. Rooms are deeply cleaned and an amenity basket with bathrobes, soaps and fresh baked cookies make for an inviting welcome. Bill, who doubles as a handyman, chef and receptionist, presents a personalized breakfast menu to accommodate special diets and prepare fresh meals with a lot of love. Three-course breakfast options may include Bill’s decadent french toast with local berries and whipped cream, Nicole’s famous spinach quiche, or new menu items that change every week.

Food to Enjoy

blue ridge b&b
Nicole serves wine and cheese to individual guests

There’s also a daily wine and cheese happy hour from 5-6pm, where guests can enjoy a glass of wine and locally sourced cheeses, while lounging in the Council Room. This is a wonderful opportunity to just chill and enjoy the mountain views from the large windows, and you may even spot some bears or a wild turkey! Walk over across the street to The Overlook point, a popular spot to watch the sunset.

Once the sun is down, you can continue to stay in and have an intimate dinner at the Inn. The Fireside for Two 3-course dinner accompanied by a bottle of wine is only $79 and well worth the ambiance, service and food! Start off with toasted rosemary bread and North Georgia Mountain caviar (vegetarian). Then have grilled chicken, BBQ burger, or a pecan wood smoked trout for entree, with a few homemade sides. Dessert changes daily, but if you’re lucky, you may get to try the decadent deep dish chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream!

Other Activities to Do

Lookout deck at Fort Mountain State Park

The Overlook Inn is located halfway between Ellijay and Chatsworth, 2 miles from Fort Mountain State Park, a historic area that was once home to Cherokee Indians, with a manmade beach, lake, campground, and walking trails. Make sure to hike up to see the stone tower and lookout deck. Situated in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Fort Mountain State Park offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Row after row of endless greenery at Chateau Meichtry

On your way back, hike up the Amicalola Falls, stop by for a glass of wine and live music at Chateau Meichtry, and stock up on farm fresh fruits and vegetables from Nature’s Creek Farm. Depending on the season, you can also find apple orchards, sunflower farms or blueberry farms that are open.

To keep guests safe, Bill and Nicole wear masks when cooking and serving food, have tables spaced out and take reservations for breakfast and dinner, to allow for social distancing. A trip to The Overlook Inn is a quiet escape to a slower pace, far removed from the bustle of city life, but convenient for weekend getaways from Atlanta or Chattanooga. With the breath-taking views of the Blue Ridge, you will come as guests and leave as friends!

My First Airbnb Experience in Naples

In recent years, staying at people’s homes while traveling has become somewhat mainstream. Back in the 1960’s in India, my grandmother started the local chapter for Servas, a travel exchange program designed for people to further global peace. While growing up in Chandigarh, I was able to interact with guests from all over the world who came to stay with us while traveling through India. No money was exchanged with these strangers; they would bring gifts and we would offer them our home, food and local tours. It was a wonderful experience for me to be able to see the world through their eyes.
Through my adulthood, I have hosted and stayed through Servas and Couch Surfing. During a recent visit to Naples, Italy, I decided to give Airbnb a try. Getting to use the discounts I found on sites like PromoCodeWatch.com made this stay even more exciting, as I knew that I had saved myself a lot of money, money that I could use to treat myself.
Airbnb works a bit differently as homeowners do list their places officially on the website (with pictures, prices, services, etc), and bookings and payments are accepted through the site. You can browse through the listings, see the actual location on a map, photos of your room and read guest comments.
20160526_130757-1
I picked B&B LA TERRAZZA (‘O CAFÉ) in Naples for 3 nights at $90/ night. Though a 3-star hotel would cost just a few bucks more, I decided it would be a better experience to stay at an authentic Napoli home with locals than at a hotel since I was traveling by myself.

The place was actually better than described. The B&B was off a busy street in an apartment building. The owners, Valentina and Dario communicated with me prior to my arrival (through text and Airbnb chat) giving me directions and buzzing me in to the building once I got there. There was plenty of security with keys and cameras. The 4 bedroom/ 4 bath apartment was located on the 5th floor of an old building that had been renovated. Though it was off a busy commercial street, the apartment was fairly quiet. There was a small elevator and you needed a key to start it. A unique feature I had not seen before.

The apartment itself was very spacious. Rooms were located along a long hallway. There was a reception desk where Dario checked his bookings, and a common kitchen where Valentina cooked meals. The couple usually hung out in the vast patio which backed up to one of the historic churches of Naples. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed in the last earthquake and hasn’t been renovated since. Nevertheless, it was beautiful to look at the ruins.

Airbnb in NaplesMy room was huge with high ceilings and a spacious private bathroom. There was an air conditioner (needed in 90F Italian summer), a king size bed, a couch, desk and chairs. The WiFi was fast enough to stream movies. I felt like I was staying at one of the Italian aristocrat homes built in this area during the 16th century, only everything was renovated and modernized.

airnbn napoliThe place was centrally located, only 10 minutes walking distances from the train station, port and historic city center. During my visit, I never had to take any transportation as I could just walk everywhere.

Valentina and Dario, in their heavy Italian accent, planned by itinerary once I got there. Valentina spoke excellent English. She mapped the places I wanted to see and recommended a few restaurants (including her parent’s pizza place down the street, which was excellent). I frequently sought their advice as I had been warned that Naples is not the safest places for a woman to be traveling alone. Valentina, being a native Napoletana, told me which streets to stay off at what times of the day, better roads to take for scenic views, and how to navigate the busy train stations.

Airbnb in NaplesThe couple use to own a restaurant too, but since Valentina discovered she had celiac disease, she really didn’t want to be making pizza and pasta all day. I don’t blame her! Only in February this year, they opened La Terrazzo Bed and Breakfast after selling their restaurant. Now, they have 5 rooms on 2 floors of the building. They live in one and rent out the other rooms. I highly recommend La Terrazza for anyone who wants to have a comfortable yet authentic Napoli experience.

Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is in more than 34,000 cities across 191 countries. The 2 million+ listings include single rooms, villas, wedding venues, yurts, tree houses, beach homes, and even windmills and castles! If you haven’t yet checked out Airbnb yet, click here to join and receive $25 in travel credit.

PS – This is NOT a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Notable Alternative to Hotels in Nice

When considering lodging along the French Riviera one might think of high priced fancy hotels that only the rich and famous can afford. What if there were lodging facilities with more space than the average European hotel room: offering a nice bed, complimentary WiFi, free parking, and free breakfast in a more intimate yet traditional setting?  Does having an authentic French experience by staying in a Niçoise home and catching a glimpse of the life of the locals peak your interests?

If this sounds like the experience of your dreams, then strongly consider staying at a bed and breakfast in Nice.  Unlike the hotels that line Promenade des Anglais, the major street along the coast of Nice, these properties are found in residential areas.  Most of the bed and breakfasts in this region are not located in the city but in the countryside, and many are older homes.

Just 2.5 kilometers outside Nice’s city center exists a secluded and charming estate surrounded by an abundance of aromatic flowers. Le Castel Enchanté, run by Alberto and his family, is an authentic French B&B. It sits high atop a hill at the end of a lengthy, narrow winding private road. The road is just narrow enough to fit one car, a true French experience.

Castel Enchante driveway

 

Entering the doorway of Le Castel Enchanté, has the feeling of being welcomed into a private home where your visit is excitedly anticipated. Alberto exclaims, “Bonjour madam,” with a big smile.  There is no formal check-in, just a quaint verification of identity and on to tour the estate. The building of Le Castel Enchanté has an old-time feel with modern day amenities as it was built in the 1850’s but restored over time.  The establishment was originally built as a hotel and named “Castel Enchanté” meaning enchanted castle.  In the 1960’s the hotel, which had its own restaurant, was downsized and later transformed into a smaller bed and breakfast by 1980.  The historical facility has been under the current owner Alberto’s care for just over a year and is thriving.  Its rustic feel and homely appeal delight visitors from all over the world.

Alberto at castel enchante Nice

Alberto carries the bags and escorts guests to their assigned accommodation, then gives a quick walk through of the chamber.  Each of the five rooms at Le Castel Enchanté has its own personality and name.  The room, Nemuphar is a soft salmon color with large windows facilitating great views and natural light. The wood furniture is of a rich hue and appears to be antique. Floor to ceiling french doors open into a second smaller room that has a single bed, full length mirror and ample space.  The suite is charming and easily accommodates a family of three.

Castel Enchante Room Nice

The suite has all the basic amenities a person would require. The floor of the bathroom is tiled in an ultramarine blue color.  The oversized bath towels are plush with high thread count and work well with the overall scheme. Shelving in the bathroom creates ample space to place toiletries, and the temperature of the shower water does not disappoint. Sufficient seating, wardrobe, coffee maker, iron, a mini fridge, and free WiFi bring together the essential necessities ensuring relaxation and comfort.  Before leaving, Alberto explains all about breakfast.

The remainder of the establishment is comprised of Alberto’s personal living space and common guest areas.  Breakfast is served in a semi-formal dining room in front of a fireplace reminiscent of home and a coziness that ignites emotions of being a member of the family.  During the colder months breakfast is served indoors but guests can enjoy cool Mediterranean breezes and views of Nice from the gardens while dining alfresco in the summertime.

Castel Enchante Terrace

Additional outdoor spaces on the property include patios and a swimming pool.  Loungers, benches, and chairs are abundant and allow the stunning nature and city views to be relished while relaxing. Many of the herbs and fruits that grow on the grounds make their way to the morning marmalades and juices. Fragrant flowers, towering trees, and creeping vines fashion an illusion that the bed and breakfast is no longer in a residential community but completely cut off and secluded, creating a sanctuary for your retreat.

Residential Area Nice, France

Le Castel Enchanté is a bed and breakfast for seekers of an authentic French experience in Nice, France.  Alberto’s attention to customer service and comfort during a stay at the Castel will be a delightful diversion from the sea of hotels in the touristy city center of Nice.

When visiting Le Castel Enchanté a car is strongly recommended.  February to March is a very quiet period.  In April there is a Lemon festival.  May rings in the Grand Prix race and international tennis matches in Monaco with many people staying in Nice.

~ By Kaylah Burks, an athlete, who enjoys traveling the world while staying health conscious.  Follow her on Instagram @jadenlie

Book your stay at Le Castel Enchante now with TripAdvisor

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 11.52.27 PM