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Hotel Love: Chapel Hill’s The Carolina Inn

Built in 1924, this gorgeous hotel, known for its distinctive blend of antebellum, Georgian and neoclassical style architecture, was designed by award-winning architect Arthur C. Nash. It’s an award-winning hotel, which has maintained its AAA Four Diamond status for the last twenty years. It’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Carolina Inn is the perfect place to stay if you want to step moderately back in time, without sacrificing any of the modern comforts you’ve come to expect from a luxury hotel. Plus, the proceeds from the hotel support the North Carolina Collection at the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina!

[Tap the sliding images at the top to see more of The Carolina Inn]

Getting There: The hotel is located right in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina. On the grounds of the UNC, Chapel Hill campus, which currently owns the hotel. Chapel Hill itself is about twenty minutes from the nearest airport, RDU, and an hour from the Greensboro airport. If you’re flying in from out of state, you’ll have to rent a car or hop a shuttle to get to town, but there’s plenty to do within walking distance once you’re there.

Your Experience: The curb appeal of this hotel is hard to deny. It gives the impression of a gorgeous old mansion set back among the trees, not a small feat for being so close to downtown. The interior of the hotel continues this feeling of old world elegance, from the fresh flower arrangements in the lobby to the antique looking wood furniture in the rooms.

For me, the real star of the show was the restaurant. I got the chance to sample the new tasting menu and it was a truly phenomenal experience. The Grilled Flatiron of Masami Ranch Beef  and Mafioso Chocolate Cake were my favorite of the Autumn tasting menu and new items are added each season. The chef did a great job of applying his Michelin Star experience to the locally sourced ingredients and the staff helped create the type of experience you’d expect from a fine dining restaurant in New York, but with the warmth and charm that’s typical of the south.

How to Stay: Booking a room on the hotels’ website is a straightforward process. During the slow season the hotel even runs some reasonable specials and has rates as low as $180 per night. However, because of it’s affiliation with the University rooms fill up quickly around graduation and other University sponsored events, making things more difficult and more expensive. It’s best to avoid dates around graduation in May and Parent’s Week in October if you can.

Where to Eat: The Inn recently hired Executive Chef Brandon Sharp, a seven-time Michelin Star recipient, to run the property’s restaurant, Crossroads Chapel Hill. The restaurant recently announced a new signature tasting menu, a six-course meal with optional wine parings, which will change seasonally. They will also be expanding their regular menu offerings to reflect the fine dining experience of their new chef.

If fine dining isn’t really your thing, there’s no shortage of delicious, low key options available in downtown Chapel Hill.

Pros & Cons:


  • Rooms fill up fast around UNC events. If you’re from out of town the timing can feel a little mystifying.
  • During the high season rooms can get a little pricey, as much as $350, depending on the room type and time of year.
  • Getting to the hotel can take a little prior planning, as the nearest airport is twenty minutes away.


  • The beauty of the hotel makes it a great place for a romantic getaway or dinner.
  • Just steps from downtown, the location is tucked away enough to maintain a quiet elegance, even in the middle of a college town.
  • Off-season rates and special offers are often surprisingly reasonable for a historic hotel, with $180 being the average room rate.

[Tap the sliding images at the top to see more of The Carolina Inn]

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