High atop Little Round Top in the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee is a magical place called Gracehill. It's a Bed & Breakfast that is elegant in all of its appointments and breathtaking in its location. This three story building was built with as much care and attention to detail as Kathy, the Innkeeper, gives to her table settings and gardens. Each level of the house affords her guests with the opportunity to gaze out over the valley to the mountains beyond. Sunrise is peaceful and slowly turns the mountains a pale pink before the sun crests the mountains to the east. Clouds hug the valley below and the feeling you get from being above the clouds is heavenly. Every bedroom is decorated luxuriously with artifacts, antiques and art that can't help but fascinate Gracehill's guests. The gardens around the house blend beautifully into the forests beyond and are accented with stunning stonework, relaxing fountains, and are constructed to bloom throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Despite having come to the Smokies to explore, a guest at Gracehill doesn't want to leave given its comfort and beauty.
Breakfast is a very special event and Kathy excels at it's presentation. A different china pattern and place setting is used everyday, each one striking and unique. Depending on the season, breakfast could be served in front of the fire in the kitchen, in the splendid dining room, or, in warm weather, out on the veranda. Kathy greets you with a good cup of coffee and juice, introduces guests to one another, and then presents the first course which is usually a cooked fruit dish, like poached pears or baked apples filled with cinnamon and nuts. The second, and last course, is typically an egg dish like baked eggs with peppers and sausage, or an egg enchilada. It's all delicious but you will want to hike the hills afterwards.
Our favorite time of day at Gracehill was sunset. All of the verandas face west so you can't miss this astounding daily event. Whether the mountains and valley are wrapped in clouds creating a dusk of blue hues, the like of which you will never have seen, or the mountains and valley are dark silhouettes set against a fire orange sky, the sun setting at Gracehill is a glorious and joyful event, and you'll find yourself whispering to your companion out of reverence for the beauty that you've just witnessed.
We've done our best to convey the essence of Gracehill as we saw it in early spring. We're looking forward to returning when the mountains are green with leaves and the gardens are bursting with color.
Photos and Slide Show ©2011 Claudia Ward & Peter Tooker
Music: Mountain Theme by Bruce Rowland from the soundtrack of The Man from Snowy River