Townsend, TN, Gracehill

Arrington’s Bed and Breakfast Journal’s Inn Traveler
Text pages 124-127 from article, winter 2003, by Sharon Sweetser Pound

One glance into the guest book at Gracehill in Townsend, Tennessee hints at this bed and breakfast’s distinct character. Comments include “a magical place,” “a wonderful refuge,” “couldn’t resist one more night,” “a little piece of heaven,” and “where we renew our spirits and restore our souls.

Gracehill is tucked into the top of Little Round Top Mountain at an elevation of 2500 feet on 11 acres that border the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The inn’s 360-degree view over the national park and the foothills that surround it is inspiring and ever- changing.

The most popular spot is the covered veranda that faces west, reports Kathy Janke, innkeeper. On warm mornings, she usually serves breakfast on this deck overlooking wispy clouds in the valleys and miles upon miles of mountains.

Gracehill recently won Arrington’s Bed and Breakfast Journal’s 2003 Book of Lists award for the “B&B/Inn with the most scenic view.” The B&B received an award in the “B&B/Inn with the best mountain view” category in 2002.

June Barnett and her husband recently visited Gracehill after what she calls a particularly stressful year. They hiked in the national park, they dined on the veranda, and they particularly enjoyed the formal rose garden with dozens of varieties in bloom during their stay. June Barnett says that one evening on the veranda, with a glass of wine, “and by bedtime I was a new person.”

“Gracehill was just perfect for what we needed,” Barnett recalls. “On some vacations, we want to be busy. Gracehill, with its beautiful scenery and serenity, was the ideal place to come and relax, to reflect, and spend uninterrupted time together.

Barnett says that Janke’s attention to detail was evident throughout their visit. “Even my husband noticed that the dishes at breakfast were different every day,” she offers as an example. “It was like a fairy had come in and made everything right, it was so unobtrusive,” she recalls.

Gracehill opened in the fall of 2000, after Janke’s three-year search for the perfect property. Her goal, she says, was to build “something that looks like it grew out of the ground.”

Outside, the B&B features acres of natural landscaping, gardens in front and back, waterfalls and ponds, tumbled marble patios, walkways, cedar shake siding and massive, stacked stone walls.

Inside, the B&B features three well appointed bedrooms with an eclectic mix of antiques, floor to ceiling windows, an elegant living room with a massive fireplace, a cozy morning room for breakfast by a roaring fire, and the enormous kitchen for serving up breakfast treats lovingly prepared for each guest.

Every morning, Janke’s serves up a three-course breakfast complete with juice, freshly ground coffee and an assortment of teas. She easily accommodates all dietary restrictions, and she often lets her guests choose from many gourmet and homestyle selections.

The typical fare includes fresh pastries like her famous raspberry and white chocolate coffee cake and fresh fruit like baked pears or stuffed apples. Her mouth-watering entrees carry intriguing titles like peach puff pancakes, brunch enchiladas, apple pork teatime pie, and bountiful tomato harvest quiche.

Janke and her mother, Marilyn, are careful to identify their guests’ individual needs while also respecting many guests’ strong desire for solitude and simple peace and quiet. For those that want suggestions about things to do in the area, they’ll direct them to various trails in the Smokies, to day outings in Gatlinburg and Townsend, and to some of the areas finest restaurants, like the Foothills Milling Company just a few miles a away.

Some guests enjoy following the ridgeline just behind Gracehill to hook up with the national park’s Roundtop Trail.

Whether exploring the mountains or simply sitting back and enjoying the view, guests at Gracehill say they are lucky to have discovered this bed-and-breakfast atop the mountains.

Dan Cherry said his wife, Rhea, had very high expectations for their visit. “She found it was even better than she expected,” he says, recalling how they took their meals on the deck and enjoyed the hot tub on the downstairs deck at night.

“I’ve traveled a lot, and this place ranks at the top,” he asserts, noting that he expects to return and possibly add a few more thoughts to the Gracehill’s guestbook.
Gracehill, 866-448-3070, www.gracehillbandb.com.