Skip to content

COVID-19 Travel Updates: Learn about our recent changes >

  • Update: Face coverings are required in public areas at all hotels in the Americas. Learn more
  •  

    COVID-19 Travel Updates: Learn about our recent changes >

    • Update: Face coverings are required in public areas at all hotels in the Americas. Learn more
    • Our Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment focusing on safety and wellbeing
    • Enhanced cancellation flexibility for existing reservations and future travel
    Close
    TheCarolinaInn_Entrance_FrontEntrance_B&W

    History

    Historical Timeline

    The Carolina Inn has a long and distinguished history as the hotel of choice for visitors to Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina and the Research Triangle Park area.

    More than 200 years ago, a small Episcopal chapel called New Hope Chapel on the Hill stood at a crossroads near the future site of the nation’s first state university. The town of Chapel Hill derived its name from that church in the woods, and the place where it stood has remained a crossroads of activity.

    A succession of boarding houses and small hotels occupied the spot before wealthy businessman John Sprunt Hill, an 1889 graduate of the University of North Carolina, bought the property and spent $200,000 to build The Carolina Inn. It opened in 1924 with 52 guest rooms. Eleven years later, Mr. Hill and his family gave the Inn to the University to serve as “a cheerful inn for visitors, a town hall for the state, and a home for returning sons and daughters of the alma mater.” The first major expansion of the Inn, in 1939, added 42 guest rooms and a cafeteria. In the late 1960s, the Inn was renovated and enlarged again. A ballroom, a new cafeteria and 45 guest rooms were added, and the main entrance and lobby were moved from the east to the west side of the building.

    The Inn underwent a massive, $16.5 million makeover and expansion in 1994. The addition of a 55-room wing brought the total number of guest rooms and suites to 184. After being closed for 10 months, the Inn reopened in the fall of 1995. The furnishing and redecoration of the newly refurbished Inn was completed in 1996. The Inn celebrated its 75th Anniversary in December 1999 and was added to The National Register of Historic Places just prior to the celebration.

    Beginning in 2010 through 2011, the hotel completely upgraded all of the guest rooms with modern amenities and went to great lengths to maintain its 1920s character and ambiance. It was at this time artwork throughout the Inn was installed that celebrates notable alumni and faculty from UNC’s storied past. Meeting rooms, public spaces, gift shop, lobby and Crossroads Chapel Hill were also renovated during this time. 

    Through the decades, The Carolina Inn has provided comfortable lodging and great food for myriad guests. Millions more have visited the Inn for business meetings and academic conferences and for balls, banquets and celebrations. Among those who have enjoyed the Inn’s hospitality are some of the century’s most prominent figures from the worlds of government, business, sports, entertainment and the arts. It’s a long list that included Eleanor Roosevelt, Rose Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Thomas Wolfe, Eudora Welty, Gloria Steinem, Margaret Truman, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Yogi Berra and Jack Nicklaus.

    Today, The Carolina Inn continues its tradition of offering gracious hospitality to guests -- both famous and not-so-famous -- from across North Carolina and the nation and from around the world.

     

    Make Our Destination Yours

    Make A Reservation

    Modify/Cancel Reservation Best Rate Guarantee

    Crossroads crafts a dining experience unique to Chapel Hill. Share a meal or cocktail with friends and family in the historic setting of The Carolina Inn. With its distinctly Southern soul and North Carolina Spirit, this award-winning restaurant and bar infuses your experience with energy, great food and a comforting sense of place.

    Dining