Haven. Sanctuary. Refuge. These words give an idea of what awaits in a Southern country inn.

Whitestone Country Inn
Credit: John O'Hagan

Located 35 minutes from Knoxville, Whitestone Country Inn feels as though it's a million miles from the hustle and flow of traffic, work, and worry. Secluded on 360 acres, the estate sits surrounded by a wildlife and waterfowl refuge on Watts Bar Lake.

"We call it a sanctuary for the soul," says owner Paul Cowell. It is a spot to relax, breathe, and just be. Twenty-two rooms in five structures feature pampering amenities, from steam showers, spa tubs, TV/DVD, fireplace, phone, and wireless Internet. And the beds, oh my. Specially made for the inn by a local company, the mattresses prove so addictive that Paul often receives orders from guests who want to take that rockaby baby-quality sleep home with them.

A small chapel plays host to 100 weddings a year, officiated by Paul, an interdenominational minister. Beautiful Belgian horses take guests on carriage rides. Hammocks swing lazily, tucked among the trees. Boats and canoes sit ready for guests to explore the lake. Dinner is served every night at 6:30, and Paul says the blessing. "People say it makes them feel at home," he says. And it truly does, or rather a wishful thinking version of what the ideal home could be.

aking up early at Whitestone is a must for one reason: the spectacular sunrise over Watts Bar Lake. A fireplace takes away the last of the early-morning chill, as does the home-cooked breakfast that awaits at the Farmhouse.

Paul says one of the best compliments about Whitestone came from a weary businessman. "He was sitting alone at dinner, watching the full moon over the lake, with mist hovering above. He said, ‘It's magic out there. It's Brigadoon, isn't it?' "

Thankfully, it's not Brigadoon, the mythical Scottish town that, according to the musical, supposedly appears only every 100 years. Whitestone welcomes guests 365 days a year, and that's something to sing about.

More Information:
Whitestone Country Inn, Kingston, Tennessee
(865) 376-0113, or 1-888-247-2464. Rates: start at $150 and include breakfast.