Time travel intrigue you? I experienced a touch of something mystical in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, checking in to The Inn at Christmas Place. Can travelers embrace this December holiday all year long?
Apparently so since the 145 rooms and suites stay booked. My first trip to this town seven miles from the entrance of Great Smoky Mountain National Park I could not find a room at The Inn, and this most recent visit I booked two nights of the four for which I hoped.
Hotel was full and I observed something remarkable: people who didn’t know one another gathered in lobbies and parlors, chatted around fireplaces, under lavish big wreaths and next to life-sized Santa figures.
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Cheerful gathering spots
All day and into the evening cheerful conversation abounds. Could the spirit of Christmas pervade? I don’t generally see that kind of lingering friendliness in hotel public spaces.
What Works for Families
Hallways are wide, the outdoor pool has a 95-foot figure-eight slide, stuffed Santas of every height are just right for taking selfies of all ages, elevators are prompt at The Inn at Christmas Place.
The Inn is a third-generation family-owned hotel and that sets a nice tone for visiting families. Don’t expect points added to your brand loyalty program but do expect $10 earned credit to apply another time for every $250.
Cribs are free, roll-aways extra, the fitness center offers basic free weights, treadmills and elliptical.
Santa is a regular visitor, a guitar-playing singing Santa whose manner welcoming middle-aged women as well as their grandkids exuded kindness.
The night I watched wide-hipped, giggling women eager to whisper their desires to Santa I knew I was in a gentle and transformational Inn.
Families could unpack here; closets are spacious and shelves and drawers more ample than most hotels.
What Doesn’t Work for Families
Keeping Santa secret. Building enthusiasm as Christmas approaches. Keeping the holiday decorations in the attic. Don’t make Christmas a retail event.
If philosophies like these dominate your view of Dec. 25, then you might find The Inn disconcerting.
Across the street is Christmas Place with 35,000 feet of retail space where collectibles bring visitors back for building specific family collections of Christmas scenes, from traditional Dickens to works by new artists.
No pets allowed if that is a concern for you when visiting Pigeon Forge.
Uniformed doormen greet arriving guests in rapid succession: the exterior door to the parking lot and the interior door separating the vestibule from the Christmas-decorated lobby. This big vestibule provides a nice touch on cold winter days or hot summer afternoons.
Encounter another doorman at breakfast—a hot and cold meal including omelet station, buffet bar of eggs, meats, grits, oatmeal, plus extensive pastries and fresh fruits.
Gracious greetings from the doorman enhanced my experience. I can recommend the veggie omelet.
Wi-Fi is easy to access with no extra charges and my room key gave me access to the indoor pool and hot tub, set in big windows overlooking the outdoor pool.
Tell the family you’ve gone to Germany or Switzerland because The Inn is Bavarian in design. The two-story glockenspiel cinches that illusion and it plays 14 hand-cast bronze bells every hour from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Santa, elves and Christmas carols are the main feature but the backstory is nice to tell the kids too; built of beech from the Black Forest, the glockenspiel was made by a family doing so for six generations, starting in 1842.
Christmas tableaux are everywhere so you might want to explore every floor to see how they vary. For sure the lower level where you find the included breakfast is a wandering place to discover yet more Christmas scenes.
While you’re at it, take note of framed art prints by area artists on every level, described in detail in the hotel services book in your room, and possible to purchase.
Notice too that you see no blue bins shouting “recycle” with their color and logo. That’s because Pigeon Forge and its neighboring communities have an extensive separating and recycling program in which The Inn participates.
The toilet paper’s green seal certified, the in-room drinking glasses and coffee cups are glass and china—not throwaways—the lights LED, and the thermostat adjusts with the flow of occupied spaces.
Landscape designs are fed by storm water runoff; there’s more green than that but for sure the details are the most I’ve ever seen in a hotel in-room services guide.
The Inn at Christmas Place is located on Pigeon Forge’s main parkway at Traffic Light. #2A. Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede is Light #8.
Rates can hover in the low to mid $100s and jump to $200 in peak spring and summer seasons or $300 for suites.