Asheville: Beer friendly, dog friendly, and a great hotel — the new Lucky Vacation Spots winner

Rusty and I at New Belgium brewery.

Hard for me to say it, but I’ve found a vacation spot that is as dog-friendly as my beloved Folly Beach, and perhaps, even takes the crown.

Asheville, North Carolina is well-known as a haven for beer lovers. There are dozens of world-class breweries within walking distance of downtown hotels, which is important because plenty of those tasty beers have higher-than-you’d-expect alcohol content. What makes Asheville special is how many of these fun places make full accommodations for visitors like Rusty. We spent an entire Monday evening at Catawba Brewing open mic event listening to music, eating from a food truck, and making friends — both two and four-legged kind. Some bars even had doggy door flaps on their doors so that if the door was shut, the dog could still go out! How cool is that! We’ve been reading some Electronic Dog Door Reviews as we’re thinking of getting one now we’ve seen some in action. (Unfortunately, on Wednesday, Rusty was relegated to a back section of the bar). So we moved on to Twin Leaf Brewery and had just as much at another open mic there. Asheville is teeming with musical talent.

If you’ve never done it, do it now. Take your dog to the bar with you. It’ll restore your faith in humanity. As I’ve noted before, you’ll talk with dozens of folks you’d never meet otherwise.

Rusty was welcomed at plenty of other spots too. We hung out at a bookstore, the Asheville Park Book Exchange, which was great for a hot day. We went to the Dog Door, basically a welcome center for pets.

Best of all, we had a fantastic stay at the Aloft Hotel, right downtown. I’ll be a bit more effusive here than I would normally, but the staff at Aloft deserves it. For starters, we were greeted at the front desk by Cookie, a 5-year-old Shit-Tzu who was up for adoption. Cookie wasn’t immediately happy to have Rusty steal her attention and expressed her opinions clearly, but by the end of our stay, she seemed to tolerate him.


Aloft employees tell me that the hotel *always* has a dog up for adoption in the lobby, and as of my visit, 106 dogs had found their forever home at the hotel. That’s just great.

Meanwhile, nothing says, “We’re glad you are your pet are here” like having a pet at the front desk. Aloft also hands you a dog bed and some biscuits when you arrive. Rusty was welcome in the bar, on the terrace; there was even a small dog run.

But most important, every hotel worker we met was sweet and friendly to Rusty. He had a belly of biscuits each night, and was excited every morning to see who was down the hall, checking in on guest rooms. (It was often Erica or Shawntane; both are now permanent Rusty friends, as is Alina, who took care of Cookie and the front desk overnights, and took care of filling Rusty’s belly with cookies, too.). It’s obvious when a workplace concentrates on hiring warm, friendly employees and gives them the freedom to work that way; Aloft’s model is a success.

Go to Asheville for the beer. Hang out for the dogs.

Learn about other dog-friendly destinations at my Lucky Vacation Spots series.

Catawba Brewing


Buxton Hall BBQ


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Marriott Hotels

About Bob Sullivan 1445 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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