Graylyn International Conference Center, Winston-Salem – Hotel Review

By Eva Leonard on 11 June 2012
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A 25-minute drive from Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport and a few minutes from downtown Winston-Salem, the Graylyn International Conference Center was originally built in 1932 as the 46,000-square-foot estate of Nathalie Lyons Gray and Bowman Gray, Sr., who would become chairman of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

The Gray family donated the estate to Wake Forest University’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine in 1946, and it was operated as the college’s psychiatric hospital facility until 1959.

Graylyn has undergone various renovations and restorations since then, and it became an international conference center in 1984.

After passing through its gates and following a short road through well-manicured grounds, I pulled into the driveway and checked in at the Manor House, where the Graylyn’s lobby and front desk are located. Returning to my car, I followed a friendly staff member who drove a golf cart, escorting me along a gently curving road through the 55-acre grounds, to the Mews.

Formerly a farm and the stables for the Gray family estate, the Mews completed an extensive renovation in April, and now comprises 35 guest rooms and suites. It also has its own private fitness center, business center, meeting space, dining room, and lounge.


My two-story suite in the Mews was a welcome sight after a five-hour drive from Atlanta. (They call it a suite. I call it a house, and one I could easily call home.)

I pulled into the large walled, cobblestone courtyard to unload my bags, and then parked in an area to the side of the French cottage-inspired guest rooms. Anchored by a fountain in its center, and flanked by guest rooms and suites, the courtyard exuded a sense of privacy and tranquility.

While the Graylyn’s lobby in the Manor House was traditionally furnished, and the Mews’ exterior evoked a Normandy castle in style, my suite was modern and plush, with dark wood furnishings and floors, faux fur pillows, earth tones, and nature-inspired artwork.

On the ground floor, a large kitchenette and a living area with sofa, chairs, coffee table and flat-screen TV gave the suite an intimate, residential feel. The minibar was well stocked with soft drinks and juices.

Up a flight of wooden stairs, an alcove bedroom with king-size bed, desk, desk chair, easy chair, and flat-screen TV, evoked a European atelier. Both the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom, and the ground-floor guest bathroom featured showers with floors inlaid with smooth stones.

My only wish was that the suite’s glass-paned front door had had blinds, a shade, or a curtain for privacy. As a New Yorker accustomed to multiple deadbolts, that omission, together with the door’s single lock, gave me pause.

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