The Umstead: Hotel as Art Gallery

While celebrating the 50th Birthday of two dear friends, I had the very good fortune to spend time at The Umstead Hotel  and Spa in Cary (near Raleigh) North Carolina.  While not an overnight guest, I had the opportunity to enjoy the natural landscape,  a delicious brunch and to realize the peace, serenity and absolute luxury that guests enjoy.

According to Our State: North Carolina Magazine, the Umstead was built on land that used to be part of the William B. Umstead State Park.  “The hotel is a reflection of the surrounding serenity with a limestone exterior that rises up from naturally landscaped earth. Off the terrace, a shaded boardwalk invites visitors to linger around a pond fringed with blue flag iris and a grove of young cypress. Inside, sleek wood paneling, stone floors, and walls of windows pull nature indoors” (

The Umstead also boasts an extensive art collection.  I wandered the interior of the hotel, stopping time and time again to enjoy the paintings, sculptures and photographs, all a reflection of the natural world.  I had not thought of writing about the experience from the perspective of art (hey – I was here for a party!), but I wish I’d taken more time with the camera.  As I stopped to photograph some of the pieces, I thought about how I don’t know much about art but I do know what catches my eye.


The flower arrangements were stunning!


And even the presentation of the table and food were beautiful to see.


A stroll along the walking paths took us through the trees and alongside a pond.  The hotel boasts it’s sustainability and I loved that over 50% of the food products for Herons, the in hotel restaurant, and over 30% of the food products for the entire property come from local North Carolina purveyors (  We watched as one of the chefs selected herbs for the days meals.

What an absolute treat it was to spend a few hours at The Umstead.  I kept joking with my friends that I understood why people wanted to be rich … I would have loved to spend a few days, rather than just a few hours, here.

Even the trees put on a show for us.

3 thoughts on “The Umstead: Hotel as Art Gallery

  1. Not too shabby! Why DIDN’T you stay at the Umstead? OK, I’m guessing Greenbrier-like prices.
    I’ll keep it in mind for my 50th.

    • Even though the prices are consistent with what you pay at a luxury hotel, I would absolutely stay here for a special occasion. I felt completely pampered and the employees seemed so content. I stopped to talk with the bell boy (I’m probably wrong on the title … and he was indeed a young man) and he said he’d been there for 3 years and “they take good care of us”.

  2. You really captured the rich colors- both indoors and outdoors-beautiful. Thanks for being part of a great weekend. We had a great time!

Because Boomdee dared me: Lay a little sugar on me :-)

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