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The Cumberland Inn - Treasure in the Kentucky Mountains

Get Pampered at the Cumberland Inn in Kentucky

By Linda Aksomitis

There's lots to discover in Kentucky -- with Williamsburg's Cumberland Inn one of its best treasures. After a day of horseback riding through one of the most challenging trails in the Daniel Boone National forest, I was more than ready for an evening of pampering. Opening the door into the Cumberland Inn I knew I was in the right place!

The lobby spread into an enormous area reminiscent of a Louisiana plantation home. The white marble floor reflected the golden globes of the light fixtures, while the two winding staircases met above me in a vast open area on the second level. There was just so much to explore.

One of the key features of the breath-taking foyer was the gold chandelier, which illuminated the fresco-painted dome of angels. Called the "children of the dome," the work of art was painted by Wayne Taylor, a Cumberland College Alumnus. Created in loving memory of their small sons, Drew and Jeremiah Smith, Luther and Rosemary Smith commissioned the painting, and had it dedicated on June 11, 1994.

Twin fireplaces on each end of the wide expanse invited guests to sit on the comfortable couches, relax and share the day's stories. Golden oak floors and stairs complemented the white and gold décor, creating a jovial mood that spread throughout the hotel. It was one certainly shared by the friendly staff.

The Cumberland Inn's mission is indeed a lot more comprehensive than to provide guests with a "memorable experience," "great food," and "first class service." Built with private gifts from friends of Cumberland College, it provides work opportunities for up to 100 students through the College's workstudy program.

Friendly young college faces smiled at me throughout the hotel, from the desk clerks and room staff, to the waitresses and chef's assistants. The energy and enthusiasm of youth spreads through every aspect of a visit to the Cumberland Inn, making it impossible to find a glum face among the guests.

Of course, after a day in the saddle, I was ready to explore my room and its amenities. The bathroom was fully equipped with everything I'd need to soak my aching muscles and revive myself to meet friends for dinner. While the king-sized bed tempted me to crawl between the sheets for just a few minutes, it was time for dinner and I had to hurry.

The Athenaeum Restaurant possessed the same ambience as the rest of the hotel -- piano music drifted between the tables and the fireplace created a cozy feeling. Beautiful leather-bound books lined shelves along the wall, making me wish I had time to check out the authors. Ah, but food was truly the key thing on my mind.

My meal was delicious, from the fresh green asparagus to the cornbread crusted trout. It there's one thing I've come to appreciate traveling in the Southern US, it's the many uses for corn. The Athenaeum also served one of my favorite desserts: (not that I have many that couldn't fall into that class) a cheescake with strawberry sauce.

Our group was so impressed with the wonderful food that we convinced the kitchen staff to come out to complement them. Much to our surprise, the senior chef was accompanied by half a dozen young male college students, all wearing the traditional chef hat. Our waitresses, also deserving of congratulations, received many thanks too.

After dinner I had time to explore the Cumberland Inn before retiring. One of the Inn's biggest attractions was the Cumberland Inn Museum. The Carl Williams Cross Collection was extremely interesting. It consisted of over 7000 different religious crosses, collected over a 30 year period. Rev. Robert Williams, of Louisville dedicated his collection to the memory of his son Carl, a Cumberland College graduate.

Then, always ready to get into the Christmas spirit, I visited Blair's Christmas Land in the museum. This magical display lets Cumberland Inn visitors enjoy Christmas all year round, with its skiing bears, elves, tiny villages and dolls from around the world. Jim and Rocky Blair, of Williamsburg, donated the animated collection.

With hundreds of specimens ranging from the tiny short-tailed shrew to the gigantic polar bear, the Henkelmann Life Science Collection is incredible. It contains hundreds of specimens of animals procured by Henry and Mary Henkelmann on expeditions from Africa to the Arctic. The Dehoney collection, compiled by Dr. Wayne Dehoney who ministered around the world, contains African animal trophies, artefacts and stories from numerous tribes. Plus the museum houses the only Ray Harm Print Gallery in Kentucky, including everything from his Cardinal to the Bluebird on Dogwood.

After exploring the museum I had to spend some time examining the many different artefacts that filled the large waiting area on the second level. Leaning on the balcony overlooking the foyer I found myself in awe of the Cumberland College project that provided so many students with such valuable work experience and me with a great stay. Indeed, the guest message in the rooms summed it all up: "Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people and not solely a money making organization, we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof."


Cumberland Inn ReservationsFront Desk, & General Information
1-800-315-0286 /

For more to do in the area, see the adventure article:

For more information on visiting Cumberland Gap:
Southern & Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association:

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