If there’s a single hotel brand we’ve appreciated more than any other, it’s Kimpton. We loved them even before they became part of the IHG family and while there’s been some friction with the merger, Kimpton has managed to keep most of what made it different intact. Their hotels are all unique and offer things that other places don’t. Kimpton hotels offer a nightly wine reception and all of their hotels are extremely pet friendly.
We’ve stayed at two Chicago properties, The Kimpton Gray and Kimpton Hotel Allegro. Both of these hotels inhabit buildings that were something else in a former life. The Allegro was a hotel that had seen better days and the Gray previously was a bank’s main office.
When we looked for hotels in Asheville, NC, one property stood out when looking for somewhere to use an IHG free night certificate. The Kimpton Hotel Arras, which opened in 2019, normally charges 50,000 IHG points for an award night. However, I still had one uncapped free night from my IHG credit card. I used that free night certificate and paid with points for a second night.
Built in 1965, the 18-story Northwestern Bank building is the tallest in Asheville. It was later called the BB&T building but in 2019 was re-developed as the Kimpton Arras.
A few days before our stay, I called the hotel for two reasons. I wanted to make sure that our two separate reservations were linked, because I didn’t want to have to move rooms. Secondly, with COVID-19 still being a thing, we’re not thrilled about taking an elevator in a high-rise hotel. Sure, I could not have booked here, but I read that other guests have requested lower floors and were provided the key to the stairwell.
The call was handled expertly by the front desk agent. She informed me that the hotel proactively handles guests with bookended reservations and all we’d need to do is go to the desk to get new keys. When I asked about a low floor, she apologized that the hotel had experienced some external damage from the recent hurricane and work crews would be repairing the lower floors during our stay. However, if we were concerned because of COVID, all of their elevators only accept one party at a time and they have four for the hotel that only go to the assigned floor.
We’d make due and I appreciated that she knew why I was asking without telling her.
We arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon. We pulled up to the valet parking, where the staff greeted us and asked if we’d need a luggage cart, which we definitely did. It was up to us to unpack because there were no bell services due to COVID.
Like most Kimpton hotels, the lobby was striking and filled with local art. Because of 2020, there were also plexiglass barriers in front of both stations. We walked up to one and were greeted warmly by the agent. After giving our name, he thanked us for being IHG Platinum members. He commented that there was a note on our reservation that we wanted a lower floor due to COVID. Even though repairs were planned, he could give us a room on the third floor and provide us a key to the stairs. We’d just have to keep the shades closed during the day unless we didn’t care about a worker on a scaffold looking into our room 🙂
We appreciated the extra steps the hotel took on our behalf. We took a pass on the stairs key because going two floors on an elevator isn’t that bad. I was really impressed that the hotel noted our request and did their best to meet it.
Getting off the elevator on the third floor, it was a quick walk to our room.
The decor of the room matched the lobby and the hallway. Unlike the throwback vibes from our previous Kimpton hotels, the one was modern while still rustic.
The room featured a huge king-sized bed and a chair with an ottoman.
The workspace had a comfortable office chair and space to work with plenty of outlets. On the wall was a massive flat-screen TV.
The bathroom has a sink with plenty of space for toiletries for two. We were both amused that the Kimpton brand still features toiletries that sound like Thanksgiving dinner.
The shower was large and had a glass wall with a curtain that was shared with the bedroom. We’ve had this before at a W Hotel and I just don’t understand the appeal.
In all, it was an amazing room for a two-night stay. When we got to the hotel, I remembered about the Kimpton Secret Word. At certain times of the year, Kimpton offers special perks if you say the secret word to the front desk. I couldn’t tell if that was still happening, but it never hurts to ask. I went down to the desk and spoke to the agent who checked us in. Unfortunately, he said that no offers were going on, but then he reached into the drawer and pulled out a card for $20 off drinks at the hotel bar. SCORE! We took advantage of those on our second night before heading to dinner.
Can you tell by now that Sharon likes her bubbly and I’m a huge fan of Old Fashioneds.
The public spaces of the hotel are as stylish as the rooms. There are a bar/lounge/bites area and a sit-down restaurant. We had our drinks at the bar (which was almost empty when we visited), and I ordered to-go coffee and pastries from the restaurant the morning we were leaving the hotel. We didn’t eat here because there were so many good choices within walking distance of the hotel.
The hotel did also have a well-stocked gym with nice views that was open.
Our only problem during our stay was that the weather turned cold just as we arrived into town. Despite us turning up the temperature in the room, the heat never went on. We set it up to 75 but the room was still in the mid-60-degree range. Sharon tried every trick she knew to hack/override the thermostat (click here for a bunch of them), but without knowing the brand name (Note from Sharon: how rude to not include it!), she was kind of at a loss. She went down to the front desk to ask if they could do anything. They said that engineering had left for the day so there was nothing they could do. However, to compensate for the inconvenience, they’d comp our valet parking charge for the stay. Considering that they were charging $27 a night for parking, this was quite a savings and we just bundled up for the night and stayed under the covers.
I can’t say enough good things about the Kimpton Arras. It’s in a great location and less than a 10-minute drive to the entrance to the Biltmore Estate. Of course, since it’s downtown, you also get all that’s included, like sirens, traffic noise and homeless people staying in the square a block from the hotel. Such is the price you pay for staying in the city.
The staff of the hotel was the most impressive thing about the stay. From the valet parking staff to the front desk and the bar and restaurant, everyone was wonderful. They remembered us and our questions and interactions. After picking up a bottle of wine at the Biltmore Winery, I stopped at the desk and asked if they had wine openers. The desk agent said “Of course we do.” and pulled a high-quality opener from the drawer. When I saw her the next evening, before returning the opener, she asked, “How was the wine last night?”
Sure, paying $250+ or 50,000 IHG points isn’t cheap. However, sometimes it’s worth it to splurge and since we were staying in a cabin and Fairfield Inns for the rest of the trip, this was our one chance to treat ourselves.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary