Asheville, North Carolina, is a cycling destination town. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in mainland North America east of the Mississippi River. The smooth road to the top makes for a very challenging climb from the Blue Ridge Parkway with stunning views. If off-road is your thing, nearby Pisgah National Forest offers more than 300 miles of trails.
Having spent time at the Hyatt in downtown Asheville and also at several Air B&B’s in the surrounding area, by far and away the best accommodations were at the Applewood Manor Inn Bed and Breakfast, a place tailor-made for cyclists by cyclists.
Originally built in 1912, Stephen Collins and his wife Robin purchased this six-suite New England Style Colonial Revival building in 2019, and have been making improvements — adding a surrounding exterior second-story porch, a premier kitchen, and more — to it since.
Collins loves entertaining and immersing his friends and guests in complete experiences, so renting a space or running a restaurant was just not quite up to what Collins envisions. With Applewood Manor Inn, Collins can shape guests’ experience to their needs, matched with his vision of an amazing North Carolina experience.
Of course, bikes are part of this experience, and 3T is the official bike that guests can use if they opt to not bring their own. Rides with 2018 USA national champion Jonny Brown can be arranged. And Collins’ Applewood also offers services like ride planning, on-ride guides and ride support/follow vehicles, coaching, mechanic services, and even bike assembly/break-down for those who bring their own bikes.
The main floor features a dining room that accommodates 12, two sitting rooms, and the kitchen. Robin, an experienced professional interior designer has added touches of color among the many pieces of furniture which were acquired from 1stDibs, an online marketplace for vintage, antique and contemporary furniture, and home décor items.
One of the two first-floor sitting rooms features several chairs and small tables and is excellent for taking meals or snacks when the dining room is crowded. This room opens into a second sitting room which has two very deep and comfortable sofas with a low, padded table between. This room is my favorite of the common rooms—the sofas are excellent when having a cup of coffee or a pint of beer with a newspaper to read or a friend to chat with.
A wide main stair leads to the second-floor landing where the suite entrances are. Each suite, with a different name, has a different theme. I’m most familiar with the Northern Spy room after spending five nights in it. The name is a bit misleading, however as the room gets the morning sun. This is not an issue, as the window treatments keep the room plenty dark. The in-room environmental controls are very effective at keeping the room comfortable.
What Applewood Manor has to offer
Suites at the Applewood Manor Inn also feature a premier Duxiana bed — a feature of which Collins is highly proud given the nearly $20,000/bed cost — and to be sure, certainly enhances the sleeping experience. Each suite also has a TV, a small fridge to keep bidons cold, a Nespresso machine, and a cozy bathroom. Each suite has its own personality, something which Collins worked hard to achieve.
Of course, nearly everything at the Applewood Manor Inn B&B could not happen without the efforts of the Collins family. The operations of the B&B are very much in the capable hands of the live-in innkeeper and leader of guest services, Crystal Starre.
Collins plans more significant improvements to the B&B, with the completion of a second-story wrap-around porch and pro kitchen during 2021, and then landscaping and other exterior improvements in the following year. The B&B is already set to host events, but Collins is sure that the improvements will make hosting events, and the overall experience for visitors even more enjoyable.