The Black Walnut
Asheville, North Carolina
Peter White is rocking contentedly on the front porch of The Black Walnut Inn, the bed and breakfast he has owned with his wife, Lori, for the past 13 years in Asheville’s historic Montford district. The pinot is flowing during afternoon tea and White is growing reflective.
“Like everything in my life,” he says, “this inn was a total accident.”
Before they redefined their brand of rustic luxury, blending cozy comforts with opulent antique design, the couple helmed the endearingly cash-only Old Stone Bakery in Martha’s Vineyard for 29 years, luring out-the-door crowds each summer.
But eventually they found themselves longing for a change. Though they had no experience running a bed and breakfast, they bought the eccentric 19th-century inn during a whirlwind three-day weekend in 2004.
Designed and built in 1899 by Richard Sharp Smith—the supervising architect for the Vanderbilts’ nearby Biltmore Estate—The Black Walnut Inn, with its sea-green shingles, diamond-paned windows and creaking wood floors, has hosted celebrities from comedian Abbi Jacobson to actor Sandra Bullock, who stayed here while filming 28 Days (the inn makes a cameo in the movie). Each week, the Whites attend estate sales to refresh their paintings, trinkets and fixtures; one room has a pink marble sink carved by the father of Asheville literary heavyweight Thomas Wolfe.
With only eight rooms—from Azalea to Walnut, each is named after flora that grows on the property—the hosts personally befriend visitors and curate activities. Every morning, guests are greeted with a three-course breakfast. In the late afternoon, wine and hors d’oeuvres appear.
“We treat everyone like a celebrity,” Lori says, “and if you’re famous, we’ll make you feel very anonymous.”
San Ysidro Ranch
Santa Barbara, CA
In the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, this lush 500-acre resort has been a hideaway for celebrities like JFK since 1893.
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, this B&B whips up traditional island cuisine with produce from their garden. PL expert Tory Burch loves the fish dishes.