Often I wonder why TripAdvisor reviews can be all over the map, with some folks thinking that a place is the best ever while others think it should be shut down at once. In the case of Graves Mountain Lodge, it seems to me that collectively, the many reviewers here have painted a very accurate picture of the place, which we visited last month for the first time (even though we had known of it for decades).
Graves Mountain Lodge indeed "is what it is," a homey, comfy, welcoming place with a gorgeous view from the hillside across to the mountains. Yes, the rooms at the top are like motel rooms, and they are too dark, but they're comfortable and clean. And yes, cell phone service is almost nonexistent but somehow we were able to get online from the top of the hill. Despite an unseasonably warm weekend we were unable to use the tennis courts -- which are advertised -- and it seemed to us apparent that no one had used them for a very long time.
The popular ideal of "family style" dining is that it means to share from a large common plate. But what "family style" really means is, "eat with strangers." There is nothing wrong with that; in fact, we enjoyed it. But don't come here you don't like talking to the couple or family next to you.
And Yes, the food is "old fashioned" -- but in the way that fish sticks are old-fashioned. I won't complain because of the MANY satisfied customers we met during our weekend stay, so I will just quibble a bit: the food is only "like your grandmother used to make" if your grandmother was a cook in a high school cafeteria that had to turn out 300 meals all at once. With a few notable exceptions, like the delicious apple butter and the marvelous dinner rolls and the fried chicken, the food is institutional. And that's OK, too: my wife doesn't care for canned green beans, but I'll eat every one in sight, and I did.
We share the view of more than one commenter that we wish we had come here 20 years ago. The place clearly has run down. However, once again, a certain run-down look is not uncommon in many parts of rural and agricultural America, and there are lots of reasons for that that have nothing to do with the hard working, well-intended people who live there. I just happen to think that the Graves family could make some investments in infrastructure that would spruce up the place without "upscaling" it, which of course would ruin its charm. A new ping pong table, more chairs in the lodge near the fire, better lighting in the rooms, some paint here and there.
Final advice: Don't be shy at the meal table! Graves prides itself on its "all you can eat policy," so it will seem incredible to regulars to learn that, at our first breakfast, several at our table left hungry! There was a combination of odd factors that, taken together, resulted in this amazing development -- among them shyness, a large number of big eaters, plates of eggs and bacon that were insufficient to feed the whole table, thereby (and naturally) resulting in everyone taking small shares to be polite, a young and seemingly inexperienced server, and, perhaps most important, the fact that several of us were first-timers who didn't really know the rules. After having figured this out later, the next morning I made sure to politely but firmly request refills to my satisfaction. These requests were met with a smile, and quickly! I did not mention my first experience to management, because I came to realize that I had no one but myself to blame: I bet $10 that I complained to the manager at the time, she would have sat me down at a table and fed me until they would have had to roll me up the hill. So I'm not complaining: Just speak up, silly!
- Also Known As:
- Graves Mountain Hotel
- Graves Mountain Hotel Syria
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- At Graves' Mountain Lodge, we specialize in good "old-fashioned" hospitality. Our family owned and operated mountain retreat is renowned for its delicious home-cooked food, family-friendly atmosphere, and surroundings unrivaled for natural beauty. There are varied styles of accommodations available, from motels to cottages to cabins. You'll find us nestled deep in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here you're invited to assume a leisurely pace as you enjoy some of life's simpler pleasures. ... more less