Tucked quietly in a beautiful sanctuary in Cary, North Carolina, The Umstead Hotel And Spa is one of the most unassuming best resorts in America. In a way, it’s a chameleon. It can adapt as the type of property you need it to be. Intimate wedding? Check. Corporate retreat? Check. Couples romantic getaway? Check. Solo vacation? Check…. and check out our Umstead Hotel Review.

After staying in over 680 luxury hotels and resorts in the past 15 years, Travelbinger checked into this hidden gem of a property. Check out our Umstead Hotel And Spa Review.

Review: The Umstead Hotel And Spa

The Umstead Hotel and Spa

The Umstead Hotel And Spa is both a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel since 2008, which means its kept up its legacy for over a decade. This in itself shows the staff have pride in where they work and will go above and beyond for guests. It also proves The Umstead is a force of its own. Travelers can expect top-notch service, excellent rooms, wonderful amenities and compelling art.

The hotel was also included as U.S News & World Report Best Hotels in the USA in 2012, and it’s been named to that list ever year since.


What’s interesting about The Umstead is that it’s not in a populated city. It’s located between Raleigh and Durham within its own oasis. It’s a destination resort for the drive-market, but also for travelers who add it to trips to Raleigh and Durham.

The lake at Umstead

The best luggage we’ve used for years is Samsonite. It’s reliable, durable and affordable. Check out the new collection on Amazon.

It’s location also make it quite popular for locals, as well as destination events. Due to its off-the-radar intimate location and stunning scenery, weddings, staycations, wellness retreats, family vacations and corporate retreats are popular here. It’s also a magnet to foodies thanks to its signature restaurant Herons, one of only 64 Forbes Five Star restaurants in the world, which we’ll discuss later in our Umstead Hotel and Spa Review.

The “vibe”

The lobby

The 12-acre, lake front property is serene and low-key, and it blends effortlessly into the natural setting. Umstead is the type of luxury hotel that feels like its in its own sanctuary. Travelers feel worlds away. The surroundings are so lush and verdant, with a big open blue sky above, I felt that I was in a painting. Why exactly is this important? It feels like a resort, not a hotel. A self-contained oasis of a resort, NOT a hotel.

Umstead guestroom balcony

The best views are from the guest rooms. Due to the shape of the building, it feels like you’re being cradled (or hugged) into the special oasis before you, and with the fountain within the lake anchoring the scene, you’ll find tranquility right away.

Umstead one-bedroom suite

The staff is buttoned up and professional, and the guests are highbrow.


The Umstead is extremely pet friendly. In fact, I brought Ruby, and she was obsessed with the sprawling garden and the forest backyard unfurled. The lake is surrounded by a bridged walkway, which was perfect for taking walks with her every morning.

The guestrooms

Cozy bed!

I stayed in the one-bedroom lakeview balcony suite. The decor is understated and elegant. I felt that the simplicity truly let the views and atmosphere of the resort shine. This suite is large. It was almost too much space for a solo visitor like me, but perfect for couples.

As part of this Umstead Hotel And Spa review, I must say that most every room faces the lake and fountain, and these are the rooms you should book.

Umstead one-bedroom balcony suite

The suite had a wrap-around balcony with front and center views of the lake, as well as the manicured garden and the outdoor pool.

Huge suite

The bed was extremely comfortable. The bathroom had both shower and bath and high-quality toiletries.

The amenities

The pool was a social hotspot

Umstead offers scenic nature walks, an outdoor pool (the weekend I visited it was 99 degrees!), it’s award-winning spa (which was unfortunately closed due to renovations during my visit) and plenty of dining outlets, including a busy bar.

The bar

The hotel truly is an unexpected gem. After staying in top, five-star properties across the world in my career, I can be transparent and say it’s hard to impress me.

Umstead impressed me.

All Zodiac Signs: 2023 Year Ahead Horoscope And Tarot Forecast


As you would expect for a resort of this caliber, the dining experience at Heron’s is top-notch. Chef Devereaux Greene is responsible for the wonderful and memorable meals through thoughtful creations inspired by the area’s essence in nature.

Umstead has a two-acre farm where the culinary team can pull ingredients.

Menu at Heron’s at Umstead

Heron’s serves elevated and innovative American cuisine (think lamb with barbecue chicory, carrot, garlic pine nut puree, meyer lemon jus).

Heron’s at Umstead Hotel review

Expect a top-notch, unforgettable meal with service like clockwork.

Room service from 5-star chef! Umstead Hotel review

I highly recommend ordering room service. There’s nothing like dining on a true, quality meal in the comfort of your robe.


As part of the Umstead Hotel And Spa Review, I added various video clips. You can also check out Travelbinger’s Youtube channel for shorts on my stay here.

Pool at Umstead hotel

At the end of the day, I rate a resort based on whether I would return myself rather than would I recommend it to a friend. I would do both. Umstead Hotel is a wonderful hidden gem that can be anything you want it to be, and that’s the beauty of it. It feels like it come straight from a fairy tale — but in a random location in North Carolina.

Book The Umstead Hotel And Spa here.

Travelbinger is proud to be a publisher with Google News and Apple News

Review: Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve

Expert review: Nouhaus Ergo3D Ergonomic Office Chair for remote working

Cozy Earth sheets review: are they really the world’s softest sheets?

6 best airlines to fly economy class

The best luggage we’ve used for years is Samsonite. It’s reliable, durable and affordable. Check out the new collection on Amazon.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please do! I’m a one-man team for this website, so any help is sincerely appreciated.

Travelbinger is now on YouTube! Subscribe here for exclusive travel tips and advice from founder Jimmy Im.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Travelbinger is a one-man team. Please help by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for any support by clicking the link below.

+ posts

Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

One thought on “Review: The Umstead Hotel And Spa

  1. I like how you have incorporated videos into the review and the pool looks delightful. The Umstead hotel sounds like the perfect location for any purpose of trip ! Hope you have an amazing day and feel free to check out any of my hotel reviews also 🙂

Leave a Reply