It’s that time of year when the night air cools, pumpkins appear on doorsteps and apples are ripe for the picking — sure signs that leaf-peeping season is on the horizon. If you’re hoping to spend a weekend marveling at fall foliage but haven’t yet booked a place to stay, the time is now. To help you on your way, here are five new properties for autumn adventures, including a pair of boutique hotels in Asheville, N.C., amid the Blue Ridge Mountains; a former textile mill turned hotel in Southern Maine; a reopened haven in Yellowstone National Park; and a luxury hotel in Boston that makes for a pampered departure point for New England road trips.
Opening on Oct. 12, this playful boutique hotel is in a 1920s warehouse that was once a breakfast cereal factory. It’s about a 15-minute drive to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and just seven minutes or so to the thousands of acres of gardens and grounds at the Biltmore Estate, the vast country home built by George Vanderbilt. (Leaf-peeping tips can be found at Blueridgeparkway.org, while fall experiences at Biltmore are at Biltmore.com.) The hotel is in the city’s River Arts District, which means that when you’re not admiring autumn’s colors, you can easily stop into the studios and galleries of numerous local artists, as well as spots to eat and drink along the French Broad River.
The hotel’s public spaces and 70 rooms and suites take their inspiration from the district’s creative spirit, as well as its industrial past, with exposed brick walls, concrete pillars and street art. Before exploring the area’s trails and breathtaking views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, stop into Afterglow to fuel up with coffee and housemade bread and pastries. Drop by again in the afternoon or evening for cocktails and light bites. Or head up to the Roof for cocktails, food, music and views of the river. For heartier fare there’s the Golden Hour restaurant from Jacob Sessoms, a chef and restaurateur, which offers Southern flavors with an emphasis on local ingredients. Prices from $239 a night.
Built in the late 1800s as a private residence, this boutique hotel has a couple of sister Blind Tiger properties in beloved East Coast autumn destinations: Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vt. The North Carolina location opened in June in Asheville’s Chestnut Hills neighborhood with 14 rooms, including a cottage with a kitchen, double-sided fireplace and private porch. The property retains a lived-in feeling. It’s decorated with vintage, antique and handmade pieces. Common spaces, including a parlor, solarium, living room and barroom, are meant to be used as extensions of the guest rooms. And at any time of day or night you can grab items from the pantry, which is stocked with free snacks, cold brew and cocktail fixings. Each room has its own style and is “hosted,” as the hotel puts it, by an Asheville local who has left a welcome letter with their recommendations, such as where to eat and where they might go on a day off. Picnic blankets and baskets are available to borrow. And outside you can enjoy gardens with koi ponds.
Even though the hotel is in a residential neighborhood, you can still walk to the restaurants, bars and boutiques of downtown Asheville, or take a short drive to the Biltmore Estate or to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center to soak up the mountain views and learn about the history of the parkway, which connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. Prices from $249 a night.
Also worth noting: On Oct. 17, Lark Hotels, the hotel development and management company that operates the Radical and Blind Tiger Asheville, is planning to open yet another boutique hotel in Asheville — the 20-room Zelda Dearest, named for the writer and painter Zelda Fitzgerald, in the South Slope district, about a five-minute drive from the Radical. Prices from $319 a night.
Take a fall drive from Kennebunkport in Southern Maine toward Portland, and right off Route 1 you’ll find Biddeford and the Biddeford-Saco Mills Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Here, former textile mills have been transformed into restaurants like Elda (which, according to The New York Times, seems “like a restaurant that belonged on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, or at least in Portland’s bustling restaurant scene”) as well as gathering places like the striking 33-room boutique Lincoln Hotel, set in an old mill that’s been around since the 1850s. Industrial elements — including original wooden beams, exposed brick walls (which have been restored) and a long, wide hallway with high ceilings that visitors use to get to and from shared spaces — help you picture what the place might have looked like when it was a working mill.
On offer these days are a fitness center, which includes a spin studio, and inviting places to eat and drink. And though it’s not sunbathing season, you can still head to the rooftop pool area for views of the surrounding trees. Before hitting the nearby trails, stop by Spinning Jenny’s for coffee, pastries and grab-and-go food. For beer and pub fare there’s Batson River Brewing and Distilling. And if you’re in the mood for a cocktail, you need only visit the lobby bar. When you eventually retire to your room you’ll discover high ceilings, a mini-fridge and a gas fireplace for those brisk autumn evenings. Prices from $249 a night, though rates can be as low as $199 a night in October.
If you’re hoping to indulge in luxury retail therapy on Newbury Street or at the Copley Place shopping center in between your foliage day trips, you can check into the first Raffles Hotel & Residences in North America by the hospitality brand that was founded in Singapore in 1887. Located in a new 35-story building in Back Bay, near Copley Square and Trinity Church, a National Historic Landmark building, the hotel opened in September with 147 rooms and suites. The three-floor lobby, or Sky Lobby, begins on the 17th floor, which is also where you’ll find the Raffles Writer’s Lounge, a nod to the space frequented by authors at the flagship Raffles Singapore, and a place where you can unwind, read a book, bring in a coffee, tea or other beverage from the nearby Long Bar & Terrace and, of course, write.
Boston is not far from autumnal destinations like the Merrimack Valley, the coastal village of Essex and Plymouth County, known for its cranberry farms and Plymouth Rock. Wherever you choose to explore, when you return to the hotel you can tuck into dishes inspired by Portuguese cuisine at Amar by the chef George Mendes, who became known for serving up Portuguese flavors at restaurants such as Aldea and Lupulo in New York City. For cocktails and city views there’s Long Bar & Terrace (which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner), as well as Speakeasy, a bar that offers bites, cocktails and low and nonalcoholic drinks. And if you haven’t gotten enough exercise rambling through nearby villages or around the city (where the parks are worth an autumn stroll in their own right), there’s a gym. Prices from $1,300 a night.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
Shuttered last year after record rain and flooding in the nation’s oldest national park, this 198-room property reopened in July. If you choose to stay in this part of Yellowstone, you’ll be in the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District, near plenty of trails, including the Mammoth Hot Springs Trails and Bunsen Peak Trail, which takes it’s name from the German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (perhaps best known for the Bunsen burner). In addition to seeing vibrant foliage, you might spy elk outside the hotel. You’re also near the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, eye-popping travertine terraces formed from limestone, and Fort Yellowstone, where you can check out buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the U.S. Army was overseeing the park.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins mostly dates to the 1930s, though it has some guest rooms that are from 1913. (All of the rooms are accessible by elevators; accommodations that are compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act are also available.) Opt for a suite and the hotel says you’ll have the only in-park rooms with satellite television as well as a refrigerator with free soft drinks and snacks, a coffee maker, safe and, importantly, heat. Chances are you’ll work up an appetite exploring Yellowstone, and when you do, you can recharge with dinner at the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room. Too busy wandering the trails to linger over a meal? Try the Mammoth Hotel Terrace Grill where you can grab coffee, burgers, sandwiches and salads. For a spot to savor a drink at the end of the day, settle into a seat at the Mammoth Hotel Map Room Bar, named for its large wood map of the United States as it was in 1936.
The hotel, which is operated by the Xanterra Travel Collection, a park and resort management company, is open until Oct. 22, after which it will close briefly before reopening again on Dec. 15. If you can’t make it this autumn, consider a stay during the winter season, when there are fewer visitors. You can ski, snowshoe and tour favorite spots like the Old Faithful Geyser. Prices from $250 a night.