With its industrial chic vibe, downtown Asheville’s Foundry Hotel transports guests to a foregone era of America’s Industrial Revolution through the Roaring Twenties.
Once the Asheville Foundry & Supply Company, which supplied steel to local landmarks including the Biltmore Estate, The Foundry Hotel’s carefully preserved details—beams, staircases, even an ancient elevator shaft—are an appropriate backdrop for inventive cocktails, live music, and a carpe diem spirit that infuse a luxe sensibility.
Our room was in building C, the former wood shop. To reach it, we traversed the full length of The Foundry’s loft-style Workshop Lounge, where massive industrial windows streamed sunlight (and later, moonlight) onto rich velvet furnishings and exposed brick walls. A mixologist was gearing up for his weekend crowd. We noticed a broad selection of whiskeys and gins, a nod to the era.
We slipped into our room using one of the hotel’s five different keys, each a playing card celebrating a titan of early American industry: Carnegie, Astor, Rockefeller, Morgan, and Vanderbilt. The spoils? A fabulous bed and luxurious bathroom tendered tony sanctuary, but curiosity lured us quickly back to the inviting Workshop Lounge.
Lounge manager Jeremy Martin, a 19-year industry veteran, entertains bar patrons with tales of how classic Prohibition-era cocktails earned their names, while effortlessly crafting sublime adult beverages worth the drive to Asheville. His addictive fig derby, for example, is built upon a pour of fig-infused bourbon. Martin is a showman, trapping smoke from ignited wood chips beneath a highball glass, involving as many senses as possible in each beverage experience.
Martin reveals, “Thursday nights, we have a 10-piece orchestra in the lounge,” alluding to musical host Russ Wilson and his Foundry Orchestra. “They play ’20s, ’30s and Big Band swing, from 6 until 9pm, and the place is usually packed.” Elegant Thursday evenings offer a time-capsule experience, transporting attendees back 100 years.
Guests can navigate the hallways of the hotel campus’s connected buildings or cross a lushly manicured lawn to reach the original foundry building, which now holds lauded restaurant Benne on Eagle. Fronting Eagle Street, this cozy three-meals-a-day eatery is helmed by none other than John Fleer, of Rhubarb fame. Inventive flavor profiles and local ingredients herald the passing seasons on Benne’s menu. Fleer, a five-time James Beard finalist, shoots and scores big with his dinner menu’s oxtail entrée.
The Foundry is part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, a group of unique hotels promising “memorable experiences based on local discovery.” Asheville historian, artist, and poet Dewayne Barton and other locals make good on Hilton’s promise, offering private tours of The Foundry buildings and beyond, while celebrating the history of The Block neighborhood. The North Carolina Arboretum conducts interactive botany lessons in the courtyard, and guests can take a class to make local wildflower bouquets.
Only steps from the hustle and bustle of popular Biltmore Street, The Foundry is walking distance to anything you want to see or do in downtown Asheville. Staff will also ferry you across the hills of downtown or to any River Arts District point of interest (brewery, anyone?)—in the hotel’s own Tesla—on a first come, first served basis. A dedicated Bowtie Butler is even on hand for grooms needing sartorial assistance on their big day.
Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theater is only a five-minute walk from The Foundry; ditto for The Orange Peel. If your idea of a great weekend is exploring Asheville on foot, The Foundry Hotel is among the hippest of home bases.
The Foundry Hotel, 51 S Market St, Asheville, NC, (828) 552-8545, foundryasheville.com