An Inside Look At The Carolina Inn, The "Living Room" Of The University Of North Carolina

It was the middle of finals week at The University of North Carolina during my stay at The Carolina Inn, a Destination Hotel, a fact that became immediately apparent at the sight of students tucked into luxe armchairs in quiet sections of the inn with notes in hand and sitting on the front porch with their laptops amid other guests.

A historic hotel built in 1924 by a UNC alumnus and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the inn is informally known as the university's living room, and it's easy to see why. With multiple meeting spaces for alumni events and tailgates, plus impeccably decorated ballrooms and quaint courtyards for weddings and other special events, the inn is a central gathering place for the UNC community and Chapel Hill as a whole.

Classically elegant and luxurious, The Carolina Inn's dining program reflects the sophisticated setting. Crossroads Chapel Hill, the inn's signature restaurant that is newly helmed by chef Brandon Sharp (previously of Michelin-starred Solbar at Solage Calistoga Resort and Spa) is one of only three restaurants in North Carolina to be given a Forbes Four Star Service Award.

A North Carolina native and UNC alum, chef Sharp crafts modern American dishes with Southern influences at Crossroads. Seasonal menus highlighting locally sourced ingredients change on a weekly basis, with new additions presented alongside signature plates. Menu offerings cull inspiration from around the world, with current starters including a fragrant coconut lemongrass soup (jasmine rice, sugar snap peas, tiny herbs) and blistered local pole beans (Castelvetrano olives, Calabrian chiles, garlic breadcrumbs, romesco).

Back for its 15th season, The Carolina Inn's "Fridays on the Front Porch" brings hotel guests and members of the community together for live music and food truck grub. Celebrating the end of the work week every Friday through October 13, a lineup of local bands provides entertainment for this popular event.

Guests can partake in the classic Southern tradition of afternoon tea, available from 2:30PM–4:30PM Thursday through Sunday. A seasonal selection of teas are paired with finger sandwiches, sweet bites (like macarons and chocolate dipped strawberries), and warm scones served with fresh lemon curd, English Devonshire cream, and jam. It's a relaxing way to spend an afternoon and embodies a Destination Hotels signature, to reflect the best of what a property's location has to offer.

Centrally located and a quick walk from historic Franklin Street and its boutiques, coffee shops, and eateries, The Carolina Inn also offers a complimentary shuttle to locations within a 3-mile radius. You can head to Merritt's Store & Grill, a Chapel Hill institution that has been serving its famous BLTs since 1929; TOPO, the only distillery in the South to be certified organic and fully local; or Southern Season, a gourmet grocery store with a large selection of local food and beer.