Last Updated on June 2, 2023
I was drawn to Raleigh by its history and Southern charm. As one of the nation’s oldest capitals, this North Carolina city boasts stately Victorian homes, parks with shady oaks and iconic barbecue restaurants. I came to soak up the glamour of the past, so what better way than by staying at a historic boutique hotel?
Heights House sits perched on a hilltop overlooking downtown Raleigh. Originally known as Montfort Hall, this Italianate-style mansion was completed in 1860 for wealthy businessman William Montfort Boylan. Over the years, the mansion changed hands many times, undergoing various remodeling, and eventually falling into disrepair.
In 2018, Sarah and Jeff Shepherd bought the historic property and spent three years transforming it into the Heights House Raleigh boutique hotel. They vowed to honor the history of the mansion by preserving many of its original features. Wood floors, brass finishes, sparkling chandeliers and works from local artists combine to give this nine-room boutique hotel a luxurious European feel.
The combination of historic architecture and modern amenities makes this refurbished landmark a memorable place to stay.
Accommodations at Heights House
Upon checking in to Heights House Raleigh, I climbed the spiral staircase to my room, a complimentary glass of bubbly in hand. From the second-floor rotunda, you can lean over the railing and peek down into the foyer. Look up and you’ll see a brightly colored cupola with one of the first stained-glass skylights in Raleigh.
My Historic King room featured a fireplace and arched windows overlooking the grounds. Gleaming wood floors, a glass chandelier and vintage rugs paid homage to its storied past, while fluffy down duvets and a Samsung Frame TV added a few modern touches.
The Honeymoon Suite features two fireplaces, a clawfoot tub and separate seating area. With such luxury, it’s easy to see why this property is popular with wedding parties. In addition to the historic rooms, the hotel has two standard rooms furnished in an elegant, modern style.
The “Not so Common” Common Areas
I was almost reluctant to leave the hotel during my stay because I wanted to soak in the charm of this lovingly restored property. The front door opens to the soaring foyer, where four white Italianate pillars lead the way to the front desk.
Just to the right of the front door, the Parlor serves as the hotel’s bar, offering craft cocktails and snacks. The menu is cleverly concealed in antique books on the mantle.
Pocket doors lead from the Parlor to the Drawing Room, the heart of Heights House Raleigh. Here you’ll find many original features, from the ceiling’s crown molding to the elaborate woodwork of the floors.
The small table by the arched windows was just the right size for my laptop. When I finished my work, I made myself an espresso from the dining room and moved to one of the gray wool sofas to relaxingly linger with a magazine.
Just off the dining room is the library, its shelves filled with hand-selected books and pieces of art by local artisans.
Decorative tiles and furnishings in gold, white and warm earthy tones create a fascinating ambience. Even the door handles are special – ornately decorated brass knobs which are unlocked with old fashioned keys. These details combine to make an exquisite property rivaling a European luxury inn.
It’s no surprise that in 2022, Travel & Leisure magazine named Heights House as one of the top new hotels in the world.
Settle into a chair on the front porch with a drink from the parlor. Chess and checkers sets are available from the library, and you’re welcome to use the piano in the downstairs lounge.
The expansive lawn invites guests to relax in Adirondack chairs under a shady oak or make use of the welcoming firepit in the evening. Much to the delight of the fireside folks, smores are available too.
Continental breakfast is included in your stay at Heights House Raleigh and features local pastries, fruit, and cold cuts. I especially enjoyed the 24/7 beverage station, which meant I could come down at 6am and make myself a cappuccino with house made flavored syrups. Complimentary flavored sparkling water was a treat as well.
There’s no fitness center on-site, but complimentary passes are available to a gym within walking distance, as well as bikes available to borrow at no charge.
Onsite massages can be arranged, or guests can unwind with a picnic for two with a bottle of wine to enjoy on the grounds.
Heights House Hotel is Perfect for Local Sightseeing
Visitors can easily explore the Boylan Heights neighborhood on foot from the hotel, admiring the Victorian homes lining the streets. Rebus Works Café is right across the street; stroll five minutes to Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing for craft brews and stunning views from the patio.
Boulted Bread is less than a quarter of a mile away offering tempting morning pastries. Morgan Street Food Hall, the North Carolina Museum of History and shops and restaurants are reachable in 15 to 30 minutes by foot, making the hotel a pedestrian friendly choice.
Many times, a hotel is just a place to sleep, but my stay at Heights House was a highlight of my time in Raleigh. After a full day of sightseeing, returning to the hotel was like coming home to an elegant mansion.
Warm lights glowed from the windows and music wafted out the front door, welcoming me back. A little bag of chocolates was hung on my door, wishing me sweet dreams. It was magical, and I honestly can’t wait to return.
Good to know: Guests 18 and over are welcome at Heights House Raleigh. An ADA compliant room on the main floor is accessible by a lift from the back door. Arriving through the main entrance and accessing the second floor does involves stairs.