Southern Hospitality at Its Finest at This Jaw-Dropping Property in the Great Smoky Mountains

Within luxury travel circles, whether that be agents, journalists, or just those that know their way around a five-star property, there have been few hotel openings in the last decade more eagerly anticipated than that of Blackberry Mountain. The sister resort to the universally beloved, culinary paradise of Blackberry Farm, the 75-room property opened in 2019 as its (slightly) healthier, more wellness-focused foil. Expectations were so high that the hotel was actually one of only four properties in history to land the coveted Relais & Châteaux designation before even opening.

Nearly four years later, the Mountain, as those in the know may refer to it, has weathered the pandemic and has quickly risen to be one of the most desirable—and hardest to book—luxury properties in the United States. And while its reputation before opening may have ridden the coattails of big sister the Farm, Blackberry Mountain has since distinguished itself as a singular place for unique wellness programming, superb farm-to-table cuisine, high-design accommodations, and the exceptional service that put the Farm on the map back in 1976.

And, since your meals and some of your activities are included in the nightly rate, a visit to Blackberry Mountain doesn’t just encompass a night in one of the fluffy, four-poster beds. Instead, each day is a proper experience: You can start with breakfast at Three Sisters that includes impossibly soft and towering buttermilk biscuits served with—naturally—blackberry jam, and end with a dip in the steamy outdoor hot tub while sipping champagne and watching the sun slip behind the majestic peaks of the Smoky Mountains.

In between first bites and last sips, however, the 5,200 acres of serene wood, lush green valley, and miles of hiking trails are your playground. You can opt for a low-key day of breakfast in your room at either your indoor or outdoor fireplace, followed by a two-hour pottery class, and then a deeply meditative sound bath session. Or, you can wake up early and catch the daily, hour-long hike before breakfast, which takes you by rushing waterfalls and fertile valleys, before depositing you at Three Sisters ready to devour a tall stack of sweet potato pancakes and country ham. After a quick digestion break, you can hop into a sweaty, seriously hard HIIT class with one of the Mountain’s super knowledgeable instructors, and then grab some friends for a sky-high climb at the Arbor Adventure at the on-site ropes course. For either of these scenarios, however, we recommend ending your day with the superb tasting menu at Three Sisters; the experience rivals that of Michelin-starred restaurants in New York or Los Angeles. Dishes like the seed-crusted mountain trout are a shining example of the perfect marriage between Southern traditional flavors and fine dining techniques.

And, of course, you could do none of these things at all; it is quite tempting to sip your coffee from your private terrace and watch the mist burn off the Smokies as the sun slowly rises over the ridge. And from there, it’s just a few steps to your heated bathroom floor and giant soaking tub.

Regardless of what you choose to do or not do, the friendly and thoughtful staff is there to help make each of your days on the property memorable and easy. From rescuing us in a golf cart when we got lost on our way to the ropes climb, to dashing over in the hail to make sure our fire was roaring for an indoor s’mores session, any request here is handled smoothly and astonishingly fast. And more than one employee told me how often the staff ends up hanging around the property after their day is done; the zen and quiet of the mountain landscape has a way of making everyone feel more centered and happy.

At nearly $1,600 a night even during the low season, an affordable property this is not. But there are few places that offer such a wealth of both stimulating and rejuvenating activities, cozy accommodations, and a high level of service like Blackberry Mountain. And of course, there’s the biscuits.

Top Takeaways:

Location: Walland, Tennessee

The vibe: High-end, farmhouse chic for the decor; think blond wood and floor-to-ceiling windows opening out onto views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Service-wise, it’s incredibly discreet but high-touch; you’ll never wait long on any request, from an extra pillow to a helping hand with lighting your in-room fireplace.

Rating: Five-star

Our favorite thing about the hotel: Using our personal golf cart to explore the property’s 5,200 acres of secluded woods and rolling valleys.

Food and drink: Light, seasonal fare at Firetower; elegant, four-course tasting menus at Three Sisters; inventive cocktails and casual meals at Sycamore (open seasonally).

Amenities: Heated outdoor pool and hot tub, full gym, group fitness classes, Nest. spa, Recovery Lab, art classes, ropes course, horseback riding … the list is nearly endless.

Any neighborhood recs?: To be perfectly honest, you won’t leave once you get here. But you can pair your trip with a visit to their sister property, Blackberry Farm.

Rooms: 75 rooms, including 10 rental homes

Pricing: Rates start at $1,595 per night and include your meals

Nearest Airport: McGhee Tyson Airport just outside of Knoxville, about a 45-minute drive away

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