Nestled in a Winston-Salem neighborhood is a surprising spot for the sprawling grounds of Graylyn Estate, but that’s where the Google Maps concierge directed us to go. “Turn left,” she said, and we waited for a stream of cars to pass by before making our turn between two stately stone walls. Our view transitioned from traffic into lush, green lawns on either side as our Subaru ambled up to the entrance of the check-in castle. “Your destination is on the right,” Ms. Google informed us as a gentleman greeted our car to help us get acquainted with our home for the night.
The greeting room is bathed in light, with large windows framing a view of the gorgeous courtyard and garden. A kinght’s Armour overlooks the room centered by an intricately-carved antique table with a vase of fresh flowers. A stately stone fireplace anchors the room. Off to the right, a little bit hidden in a hallway, is the check in desk.
Temporarily suspended by the hominess grandeur and complete lack of “hotel” feeling, I transported back to reality that we had not just arrived at Downton Abby and that Mr. Carson was not downstairs directing the staff. After checking in, rather than giving us a xeroxed copy of a map with the route highlighted, we were escorted via minivan to our building. There is one, direct road to The Mews, our building, so our guide was completely unnecessary, but I point this out because that little detail takes the guesswork out of being a guest at Graylyn.
My husband walked with our daughter because she was simply over being in the car, and he arrived just a few minutes after we did by car.I did not get a picture of our bedroom because we unloaded our stuff before I could hit pause and make everyone wait for me to get photos for my blog. And, a room with piles of toys, clothes, and a bed converted into a diaper changing station just would not have showcased the aesthetic of the room properly. So, look at these pictures instead. Our room was decorated in an upscale contemporary style, appointed with clean lined furniture, pretty leather chair, and neutral color scheme.
We had an early dinner in the bar, which is located in the basement of the Manor House in a medievalish stone-walled cave with a fireplace and flat screen televisions, and down the hallway is a billiards room. Pimp. It would have been a far better experience had the band playing for a wedding that night not been awkwardly lounging in the seating area… But overall, they offer a great menu with both casual fare and fine dining. The main dining room is probably the better option for dinner. However, the bar is certainly an experience you won’t want to miss, and makes a superb location for a cocktail.
When you travel with kids but enjoy staying up past 8pm, most hotels will leave you in a pickle. Unintentionally, we were placed in the ideal location. The courtyard would have been perfect had the weather been a little warmer, instead we played cards in the warm living area directly across from our rooms, adjacent to the snack gift shop, open 24 hours a day. So, had we wanted to stay up past 9:30 and get a NC craft beer from the fridge or gourmet potato chips, it would have been an option. I brought a baby monitor to make sure no one robbed my baby while we played a riveting game of UNO with my six year old and their Grand-admirers. Don’t judge. She remained soundly asleep in the provided crib, which I did not have to set up, until she was awake around 3am, per usual, demanding MILK RIGHT NOW, WOMAN, NO DILLY-DALLYING. (I know you’re probably thinking, “If you stop nursing her, she’ll sleep through the night.” And you’re probably right, but she’s my last baby and I’m prolonging this until it skirts on the limits of weird.)
Here’s the best part about staying at Graylyn. Breakfast. Not one meal can compete with breakfast. Omelettes, cinnamon rolls, muffins, fruit, bacon, sausage, bacon, buttered toast, bacon, grits, crispy hash browns, bacon… Breakfast wins. And Graylyn serves up breakfast as you’d expect as a guest in an old manor home.
A full spread is provided in the clubhouse area with coffee and a cooler full of every drink you could possibly guzzle. That’s the perfect starter if you’re up earlier than perhaps you’d choose to be if left to your own snoozing devices, but if you have children who declare NOW! Is earlier rather than later, the fresh coffee and full spread is oh-so-welcome. The fancier brunch is served in the Manor House, with a room devoted to the buffet and a dedicated omelet chef.As we drove away towards the main road, and the estate faded behind us, we talked about the next time we would visit, because we certainly plan to return.
About Graylyn Estate
Graylyn Estate was constructed in the 1920s as a private residence and was later donated to Wake Forest University, which currently runs the property as a hotel and conference center. The website describes the history, “In 1925, Nathalie Lyons Gray purchased eighty-seven acres of pasture land and cornfields from R.J. Reynolds, Inc. Nathalie and her husband, Bowman, set out to build the home of their dreams. With nearly 60 rooms and 46,000 square feet, Graylyn had emerged as one of the largest private homes in North Carolina.”
Learn more at Graylyn.com