My wife, Sheila and I have been visiting the Buckhorn Inn nearly every year in the Fall since 1996 and in the Summer season a few times as well. John and Lee Mellor have created the perfect sanctuary for us hikers after a vigorous day on the trails of the adjacent Smoky Mountains, or those who simply want to "get away from it all" far from the big city. Tastefully decorated and spacious guest rooms, as well as an extensive library, large sitting rooms, and a lengthy patio with a sweeping view of nearby Mount LeConte (elev. 6,800 ft.) in the main building, adjacent cottages with fireplaces, kitchenettes and ample living rooms and porches for those who want a bit more seclusion and quietude away from the main building, and three houses (Webb Mountain, Bebb and Lindsay) with multiple bedrooms and full kitchens for larger groups or families should satisfy any traveler's special housing needs. Then there are the meals! Fabulous filling and tasty breakfasts (specialty omelets, pancakes, french toast, cereals, fresh fruit and home-baked breads, bisquits and pastries fortify even the most dedicated trecherman who must face the day (or trail) ahead. Fresh-baked cookies, brownies or pastries await returning guests in the afternnoon, along with coffee, tea selections and soft drinks. In the evening, the best dinner in Sevier County is served at the Inn. A four-course repast of soup, salad, entree and dessert rewards guests at the end of their day. Each soup selection sets the tone for the excellent courses ahead: tasty, imaginative and tantalizing. Entrees such as tenderloin of beef with bordelaise sauce, tandoori salmon with tsatsiki sauce, chicken breast with fontina and proscuitto, Smoky Mountain trout with pecan brown butter, Gulf flounder with Provencal sauce and leg of lamb with garlic lemon and fresh herbs demonstrate the range of cooking skills and imaginative touches that make Chefs Bob and Frank long-time favorites of Inn guests. After the meal's crowning glory, a sinful dessert such as tiramisu toffe trifle pie (a verbal as well as a calorific mouthful!), one is ready for a good night's sleep on one of the Inn's delightfully restful beds. Of course, there are plenty of diversions other than hiking and shopping in nearby Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The Inn has its own pond and resident swans who love to be photographed; there is a labrynth to help clear the mind; and a nature walk through the extensive grounds is educational (many plants and trees are labeled) as well as a visual cascade of colors during Fall foliage season and good physical exercise along the ups and downs of the trail's terrain. More sedentary pursuits await in the Inn's extensive library and film file. Holding this experience together is the warm, sincere and caring hospitality of John and Lee. They may greet and serve you when you check in, pour your coffee at breakfast or your wine at dinner (bring your own, no corkage fee, or select from their own list) , cook some meals on occasion, or honor your special request, whatever it may be. These two lovely people (both formerly university professors) could write the book on hospitality. All in all, the Inn is the quintessential role model for a country inn, and it is a true value, given the quality of accommodations, meals, setting and service (the excellent staff are agents of Lee and John's warmth, sincerity and thoughtfulness; you are treated, without pretense, the way a guest wants to be treated). You will end your visit, surely, by making advance reservations (an excellent idea since they are often booked a year in advance) for the NEXT TIME . . . which nev er comes soon enough for my wife and me!
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