the rustic lobby with huge stone fireplace, antler lighting, and fine artwork
How do you celebrate a 70th birthday?  After all this doesn’t happen every day and truthfully only once in a lifetime, if one is fortunate enough to live for seven decades!  I wanted to do something special for my husband, Mr. M. and P. (meat and potatoes man) for this occasion and really hit a winner that I just had to share with you.  Recently we earned a complimentary stay at one of Marriott’s Autograph Collection hotels, including free valet service.  For the reservation dates that were available to select from and at a location that was within driving distance, we chose to stay at the majestic Tudor-styled Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, just a short 2 hour drive from home.   
This is not your average hotel!  
If you are familiar with Asheville, North Carolina in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, than you know that it is a very eclectic, Bohemian, artsy, pseudo-modern-hippy mountain city.  There are even bumper stickers that state “Help Keep Asheville Weird”!  Home to Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate country mansion, Asheville is not only a travel destination, but a retirement dream for many people.
Six years ago an opportunity to live in the Tar Heel state crossed my path as I was offered a faculty position at UNC-Asheville.  But the cost of living and lack of fairly flat(ter) land compelled me to accept a position at USC in South Carolina instead.  We knew that we could always drive to Asheville to visit and avoid paying so much to live there and still have our acreage . . . which is fairly difficult to have in the mountains, unless you’re wanting apple orchards.    
Since we’ve visited the Biltmore several times, that wasn’t part of this weekend’s plans . . . we just wanted to relax, dine out and to simply CHILL!  Mission accomplished in this very unusually, but beautifully decorated hotel.
This unique boutique hotel is a 4-star award recognized hotel for 2013 and is listed as one of the top 200 best U.S. hotels by Travel + Leisure.   This unorthodox hotel is also designated as one of the top U.S. luxury hotels by Conde Nast Traveler.  So Asheville’s Grand Bohemian Hotel, at only 4 years old, is a highly regarded hotel to experience.
Now I’m not a big fan of the color purple and never have been.  But the funkiness and regality of purple just suits this place — in small doses thank you very much!
the front registration desk where you are seated to check-in, instead of standing up!
To describe this hotel’s old-world interiors as ‘electic’ is really an understatement.  The juxtaposition of ‘rustic’ with ‘rich and luxurious’ elements makes this space visually amazing:  velvet against stone, cut crystal next to preserved wildlife, crimson reds and rich purples combined with muted shades of brown, and added in are original pieces of fine artwork in every corner including the private spa treatment rooms!
If minimalism is your cup of tea, then this hotel is not going to tickle your pickle!
the subtle dark interior of the registration desk area
We almost felt as if we were in an old European castle or hunting lodge!
stone archways in the main lobby with glimmering crystal chandeliers
sculptures in stone and tile alcoves
bronze ceilings with antler chandeliers
a beautiful table cut out of what must have been a large piece of timber
flanked on both sides with original oil paintings
front entrance to lobby and art exhibit room
fine art eye candy is at every turn amidst Bavarian-inspired paneled walls
(many with price tags in the thousands of dollars)
detailed wood carvings, 
everything is embellished
wooden inlays on columns
an unusual interior of a fireside chair
the women’s powder room — notice the aged, dark mirrors!
and behind a red velvet curtain!
But our room is not ready for check-in until 4:00 
(one of the latest hotel check-in times that we’ve ever encountered!)
Sooooo . . . 
why not enjoy some hot apple cider concoctions in the cocktail lounge?
Still dark, but surrounded by warm red accents to further the Bohemian theme
After checking into our room with beautiful soft jazz playing
 and a bottle of red wine uncorked and waiting to be enjoyed, 
we unpack, sit back and just chill for a bit.  

Thank goodness, the guest rooms’ decor was more soothing with grey-blues and tans to give one’s eyes a break from the near-over-stimulation of the lobby!

for the most part, minimalism is the dominant theme in the guest rooms,
while still maintaining a ‘woodsy’, rustic with luxury tone
the vanity in the bathroom
this is the one decor element that I would love to have in my home:
a sculpted glass shower door with aged brass door handle in the shape of a piece of wood.
Simple and beautiful!
Burned-out velvet window treatments over wooden shutters for privacy.
Later in the evening, we headed down to the hotel eatery 
for dinner at the The Red Stag Grill that specializes in wild game 
such as elk, trout, bison, venison, duck,
and other interesting items on the menu.  
The restaurant was booked solid so I’m glad that I made reservations earlier!
Dining in this space literally felt as if you were transported back in time!
For my husband’s birthday, we were seated in the small, intimate Black Forest Wine Room 
with only four tables for privacy and special attention.
It really lives up to it’s description of “old hunting lodge combined with modern-chic sensibility.”
The chandeliers were made of twigs, and the walls were filled with wine bottles,
artwork and a softly designed red glass background.
Inside the dark and romantic wine room,
 Bill reads the illuminated wine list.
I love this technology!
From the main menu,
I chose the Truffle-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with Balsamic Reduction
Haricots Verts, Mashed Potatoes and Arugula
It was heavenly!
Of course, my husband ordered a filet and what else? 
 You guessed it . . . a baked potato.
Hey, he’s a stable kind of guy!
Never orders fish and too traditional to order anything ‘different’.
Opposites do indeed attract!
As I said, the lighting was very subdued in the wine room
and with the red glass-art walls and red candle vases,
it goes without saying that this photo is very tinted on the red-ish side.
It was the best I could do with my camera!
After our sublime Bo-Ho dinner, we head up to our room to watch a movie.
But the foodie experience continued the next morning for . . . 
breakfast in the Red Stag Grill’s sumptuous main dining room . . . where more reds blend with soothing tan velvet;
in this room the lighting was enhanced with red-tinted twigs
and soft tan leather with tree limb chandeliers

Breakfast was simply excellent with perfectly prepared, fresh, free-range eggs,
I know that there are a lot of other runny egg yolk lovers reading this too!
and then a new treat:  the most outrageously rich and creamy blue cheese grits
and the most perfectly, golden-brown
farm-house style potatoes that I have ever tasted!
Even the open kitchen was beautiful!
Then it was off to the Poseidon Spa for a massage!
the art in the treatment rooms are part of the hotel owner’s personal collection
which is rotated among the hotel locations monthly (the Kessler Collection Hotels)
hot stones with soothing music awaited my sore muscles from a nice work-out in the hotel’s gym.  Ahhhh!
But that’s not all!
On this particular weekend every year around Valentine’s Day (we were surprised to learn), 
the hotel hosts a Heart and Soul showcase 
in the lobby where the work of a Canadian jewelry artist is featured.  
For her appearance, the hotel provided a complimentary array of tasty small bites for guests of her exhibit.
Mimosas awaiting and welcoming guests at the front door
(I had two, thank you!)
An assortment of savory and sweet canapés to delight the senses
A little apple tart, egg salad crostini, and open-faced chicken salad sammie
alongside my Mimosa (of course)
After leaving the lovely art-jewelry show (with a few trinkets)
it’s time to hail our horse and buggy . . . er I mean, our car.
This way please, through the door to the valet
let’s just sit a minute on this sculpted marble bench while the valet brings us our car
and exit the hotel past more statuary and red velvet curtains
Back to reality and work on Monday.
But what a fun and unusual lodging experience!