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Blackberry Mountain hotel review: luxury wellness and adventure in the heart of Dolly Parton country

Simon Calder’s Travel

In a nutshell: Hidden in the rugged beauty of East Tennessee, this lodge-style hotel may be pricy but it offers an enchanting blend of luxury and adventure


The Great Smoky Mountains, East Tennessee side. You can drive there in three hours from Nashville on a good day, or make a pit stop at Dollywood – the country legend’s theme park in Pigeon Forge – for thrills, spills and good ol’ Southern comfort food. The mountains themselves are breathtaking, and the views from the front of the hotel stretch far above the surrounding forest and out to the peaks beyond.

The vibe

Think hunting lodge, but for hunters with exquisite taste and a passion for the finer things in life. Timber, slate and stone, with wooden beams, roaring fires and floor-to-ceiling windows. The extreme cosiness of the interiors would normally make venturing outside wholly unappealing. But with the Great Smokies on your doorstep and innumerable ways to explore them laid on by the hotel, getting outdoors is a must. Even if it is just for a dip in the heated infinity pool.

Blackberry Mountain, so cosy that you’ll be tempted to stay tucked up inside

(Blackberry Mountain)

The service

Attentive but not intrusive. In fact the highly personalised nature of the service and the impressive knowledge of the team was a highlight of our visit. Special mentions to Scott from the grounds team for his tour and history of the site; Alex from the Fire Tower restaurant for being infinitely accommodating and friendly; and Andy from the Valley cycling club, who essentially taught me how to mountain bike while identifying all the sounds of the forest.

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Bed and bath

The hotel has 23 stone cottages named after plants, 14 treehouses named after butterflies and moths, and 10 rental properties named after trees. Built using resources from the mountain, these properties blend naturally into the landscape, ensuring undisturbed views for hikers and bikers from nearby lookouts.

Our substantial stone cottage, Bittersweet, was built at treetop height, giving us an outstanding perspective above and across the green canopy. The way the cottage is laid out means that you can enjoy this view from the massive bathroom with a glass of wine in the bath – which I did, many times. Bonus points for the secret TV hidden behind a painting above the wood burner.

Treehouses make for…

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