There’s something magical about the drowsy pace of a small town. Cary, North Carolina, is just 15 minutes from downtown Raleigh, yet worlds away. As I turn onto Academy Street, which cuts through the town’s 14-acre historic heart, I involuntarily exhale and feel my racing thoughts begin to slow.
I pass shops, cafés, churches, and Victorian homes along the walkable blocks, until I reach the Mayton Inn. On first sight, I would have sworn the inn’s columned red-brick façade had stood on Academy Street for decades. So it surprises me to learn that the only boutique hotel in Wake County was built from the ground up just 18 months ago.
“We wanted the inn to fit in with downtown Cary,” explains Deanna Crossman, who owns and operates the hotel with her husband, Colin. “And we built it to be here 100 years from now.” Fitted with green technologies, such as integrated energy-management systems in the rooms, as well as design details like 12-foot-high coffered ceilings, the Georgian-style edifice harmonizes with the picture-perfect charm of Cary’s revitalized historic district.
Turn left out of the inn, and it’s a short walk to the Cary Arts Center and the new downtown park with its eye-catching fountain. Turn right, and you can stroll the quiet couple of blocks to Ashworth Drugs, a 1950s-era pharmacy with an old-fashioned soda fountain. A block farther on Chatham Street, you’ll come to the new outpost of La Farm Bakery, the source of Mayton Inn’s bread. Stop by to sample the terrific loaves and pastries crafted by French master baker Lionel Vatinet.
The Crossmans, who also own The King’s Daughter Inn in Durham, designed the Mayton Inn with its own personality, which Deanna dubs “Southern casual” (her sequined flip-flops set the tone). Decked out with distinctive upholstered headboards and furnishings custom-made in High Point, North Carolina, each of the 45 individually decorated guest rooms has a mini-refrigerator, wet bar, and microwave. Robes, slippers, and ultra-soft sheets wrap guests in comfort.
A rainbow of hues colors the bedrooms, while the halls on the second and third floors radiate with chartreuse and turquoise respectively. “Cary needed something a bit more edgy,” notes Deanna. “There are no beige boxes here.”
Behind the inn stands a 1920s Arts and Crafts cottage that Deanna and Colin are renovating as their residence. The house, which belonged to Waverly Mayton, the inn’s namesake and Cary’s beloved former mayor in the 1930s, was moved to the spot from its original location a few blocks away.
A full breakfast in sunny Verandah restaurant, open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is included in the rate. Verandah eggs, plated with spicy Andouille red-eye sausage gravy, fried green tomatoes, wilted greens, and fingerling potatoes are how I choose to start my day. I only wish I could stick around for a happy-hour cocktail at the inn’s well-stocked Highball bar.
True to its Southern roots, the Mayton Inn’s gracious staff is always happy to help with everything from on-site spa appointments to complimentary valet service. “We offer the warmth and welcoming feel you don’t get in chain hotels,” Deanna says. It’s all part of Cary’s dreamy small-town spell.
The Mayton Inn, 301 S Academy St, Cary, NC. (919) 670-5000, maytoninn.com; rates start at $224/night