Grand views, butterflies and surf: Cool, cozy cottages in the South

When the speed and complexity of the 21st century begin to overload you and you need a break, you can't do much better than a cozy cottage for chillin' out and recharging. Sometimes neither a B&B nor a cabin will hit just the right note of privacy and sophistication you need. Cabins can sometimes be just a little too rustic, a little too plain. Sometimes they lack the elegance you might need as part of a particular recuperation from the maelstrom of modern living. And B&Bs, bless their cute, lacy little hearts, are sometimes a little too crowded and ornate to completely stretch out and relax in. Both types of getaway abodes can be just perfect at times but sometimes only a cottage will do.

As Ilaeka Bourne Villa, proprietor along with "Papa Phil" Bourne of Grandview Mountain Cottages, says, "Cottages combine many of the amenities of a B&B with the privacy of a cabin. They are charming and cozy, as if you are visiting a private country home, offering a quiet and relaxing getaway that pampers you in the countryside."

I can certainly attest to the charm of Grandview Mountain Cottages. My girlfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed the comfort, the view, the breakfast, the whirlpool tub, the hammock and pretty much everything when we spent some time at the Honeysuckle Cottage a few years ago. The Grandview site is on 145 acres of the Cumberland Plateau in Eastern Tennessee.

"The main comment I hear from my guests," attests Villa, "is that they feel like they are staying in a private country home with everything they need and things they didn't know they needed! They find the cottages cozy and charming with personality."

Butterfly Gap

Another family affair, Butterfly Gap is run by Mike and Becky Johnson, daughters Mandy Sitzlar and Laura Lockwood, and Laura's husband, Ryan. And an uncle, Gary Best of Gary Best & Associates Architects, was the architect for the strikingly distinctive cottages. Butterfly Gap is set on some 900 very secluded acres that are surprisingly situated only about eight miles from downtown Maryville, Tenn. There are hiking trails as well as a nice private 12-acre lake with a dock. The seven cottages are each distinctive but all feature kitchens and TVs, as well as some kind of patio, porch or deck. Some have fireplaces or wood stoves, some whirlpool tubs. Hot breakfast is delivered to all guests each morning. A really great feature of Butterfly Gap is that all but one of the guesthouses are one-bedrooms designed exclusively for adults. Another one my girlfriend and I loved. One special note: Don't trust your GPS to get you to Butterfly Gap. Follow the detailed instructions provided by the owners.

Butterfly Gap, 4366 Butterfly Gap Road, Maryville, Tenn., 865-984-6021,

Tybee Island Old Love

If your cottage daydream is pulling you toward the ocean rather than the mountains, to classic old-school instead of sleek modernity, there's a 1920's beach cottage on Tybee's original cottage row with a tin roof (with a little luck it'll rain one night while you're there!), bead board walls, pocket windows and a white picket-fenced yard – all less than 100 steps from the beach. Take a minute and reread that to truly soak it up. And it's all on a quiet, private road that's within walking distance of restaurants and shopping. Oh, yeah. And it's aquamarine blue. With lime green accents. Oh yeah!

Tybee Island Old Love Cottage, 9 N. Lovell Ave., Tybee Island, Ga., 912-704-4618,

Grandview Mountain Cottages

Grandview Mountain Cottages are exceptionally stylish and elegant abodes on the hilly terrain of East Tennessee. One really nice aspect of this particular cottage enterprise is that there are only two cottages and one off-the-grid glamping cabin, in case you're just not feeling "cottagey." That translates to magnificent unobstructed views of mountain peaks in the distance across a large, grassy field from the front while still enjoying nice wooded terrain behind and all around and about. Grandview is appropriately named. Each cottage has a private hot tub, romantic bedroom, a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, a gas grill and a hammock. The grounds offer hiking trails, spring-fed fishing pond and fire pits. The father-daughter owner/operator team of Phil and Ilaeka take good care of their guests and run their little vacation cottage "company" with great care. They live nearby in an 1800s farmhouse, where Phil bakes the delicious breads and artisan pizzas you'll get to enjoy. Their "Porch Store" also has farm honey, local eggs, hand-churned butter, homemade jams and other goodies. Plus, it's good to know they operate in a decidedly eco-friendly fashion.

Grandview Mountain Cottages, 2392 Possum Trot Road, Grandview, Tenn., 423-365-4412,

Georgia Peach

Another close-to-the-ocean cottage is located about four miles from the beach on St. Simon's Island in South Georgia. It's spacious, comfortable, loaded with art and overall quite contemporary, though its upstairs bedrooms are designed to hark back to the 1920s and 1940s respectively in the Al Capone Room and the Glenn Miller Room. The master bedroom has a king-size bed. Georgia Peach has a screened-in patio, electric-heated fireplace, full washer and dryer and a beautiful back yard. Two nice public parks are within easy walking distance. This place is ritzy but looks very comfortable!

Georgia Peach, Holly Street, St. Simons Island, Ga., 843-513-9184,

Magnolia Cottage

About eight miles southwest of downtown Asheville on Morris Road sits a good-looking upscale two-bedroom, two-bath stand-alone cottage that'll tickle most anybody pink. Magnolia Cottage features a gas fireplace, fully equipped kitchen, king-size beds with high-quality linens, and some superbly appointed bathrooms with two-person tubs, walk-in showers and heated tile floors. Want more? You got it. A back deck with a private hot tub, gas grill and a casual al fresco dining setup. Magnolia can handle up to six by using its La-Z-Boy sleeper sofa. These are reasonably priced luxury accommodations on the outskirts of arguably the funkiest city in the South with the ridges and rises of the Blue Ridge Mountains all around.

Asheville Cottages, 29 Asheville Cottages Lane, Asheville, N.C., 828-712-1789,

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