Fitness Review of The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC

The Carolina Inn is a luxury resort on the campus of University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Its a gorgeous property with newly-renovated rooms and great service. It’s a part of Hyatt’s Destination brand of hotels, so depending on your World Of Hyatt membership tier, you may be eligible to get credit and receive benefits while staying there. Established in 1924, the hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places. While historical hotels are great places to stay, they don’t always provide the amenities a fitness-minded traveler hopes for. So I had set my expectations low when I arrived at the Carolina Inn.

Carolina Inn’s fitness center

The hotel’s fitness center is located on the first floor just past the front desk. It’s in a very small room and is crowded with equipment. Towels and cleaning wipes are provided. I think that there are usually complimentary bottles of water, but when I was there I only saw one sitting there on the cabinet. I hope it was OK for me to help myself to it! Therefore, you might want to bring your own water. In the middle of the fitness center is a punching bag with the logos of UNC’s rivals, Duke and NC State on it. It’s a cute touch, but I doubt it gets much use.

If you want to get your heart rate up, there are three treadmills, two ellipticals, and a recumbent bike along the right wall. They appeared to be in good working order. Along the opposite wall is a collection of strength equipment. There are a few pin-selected weight machines: a combination leg curl / extension machine and a “multi-press” machine that has an adjustable bench for chest press, incline press, and seated overhead press. There’s also a cable weightlifting setup that includes a pull up bar, but the ceiling is too low. There’s a warning sign posted so I’m sure someone must have made the mistake of trying to use it.

How I found the dumbbell area on my first visit. Note the Carolina Blue fingernail next to the dumbbell by the bench.

There’s an adjustable bench and a set of dumbbells in 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, and 25 lbs. There’s a single 30 lbs dumbbell which has lost its mate, unfortunately. I would have liked to use them for my Romanian deadlifts, but I settled for the 25 lbs pair of dumbbells. To round out the collection of exercise equipment, there are a pair of exercise balls and a set of medicine balls in various weights.

The two times I visited the fitness center, it was in a state of disarray: towels strewn about, unracked weights, and even a false fingernail on the ground (in Carolina Blue, naturally). During my stay, I visited twice early in the morning and found myself sharing the room with one other person on just one occasion. Like the rest of the hotel, the gym is a nice space with interesting architectural details; it’s a little more interesting than a typical plain hotel gym.

Fitness in the area

Since The Carolina Inn is on UNC’s campus, it’s an absolutely gorgeous place to run. I did a 3-lap loop totaling 5.25 miles, but don’t follow my path. Find your own way around campus… it’s hard to go wrong and you’ll have fun exploring. You can also walk to a nearby indoor cycling studio called pūrvelo, which is a local chain. If you’ve got a car, there’s an Orangetheory Fitness about 10 minutes away. And there’s a great selection of Nike and Champion fitness apparel at UNC’s bookstore, a short walk from the Carolina Inn.

Again, I had set my expectations low while staying at The Carolina Inn, but despite its flaws, the hotel fared better than I hoped. The fitness center didn’t have all the weightlifting equipment I usually like to use, but I got by just fine. It’s an interesting albeit small space, and they still squeeze a variety of useful equipment in there. Luckily, the Carolina Inn’s fantastic location on UNC’s campus makes up for that shortfall.

I'm a technophile, maker of things, ITP'er, producer, skeptic, runner, swimmer, peanut butter fiend, photographer, cinematographer and blogger.