Innkeeper Insider with Steve & Karen Wilson - The Lion and The Rose B&B


Compiled by Lisa D. Smith & Nancy J. Reid

Have you ever thought of being an innkeeper? Well, you’re not alone. The world of innkeeping is seeing an upsurge of new owners and innkeepers, often couples or families who have left the corporate grind behind and stepped into the world of hospitality. With a fresh burst of enthusiasm, a dedicated work ethic, and a passion for their community, all that attention to detail they once gave to their previous careers is now being used to create the ultimate lodging experience for their guests. At the same time, today’s travelers want their getaway to be unique and authentic, even transformative. Many want their accommodations to provide a friendly, and socially and environmentally conscious atmosphere, and of course be clean and comfortable. Quite frankly, we all want some good old-fashioned customer service where the hosts truly care. This is where independent lodging establishments shine.  On top of that, there’s usually a fascinating story tied to the place.

Over the last couple of years, we have visited and stayed in over 30 Bed & Breakfast Inns across America. We loved it! As full-time travelers, we also pet and housesit. So, when Steve and Karen Wilson, owners of The Lion and Rose the Bed & Breakfast thought we would be able to handle taking care of their guests, inn, and fur babies for three nights … we rose to the challenge. Was it hard work? Yes. Were the guests nice? They were Amazing! Was it a great experience? Absolutely! Did we learn new skills? Yes, yes, and yes!


Located in the heart of the Montford Historic District in Asheville, North Carolina, The Lion and the Rose is a stunning 1898 Queen Anne/Georgian style inn that has been restored to its original splendor, evoking the classic architecture of the times, and earning the privilege of being the first stop on Asheville’s historic trolley tours. With original leaded and stained-glass windows, period antiques, four fireplaces, and a golden tiger oak foyer and staircase, The Lion and the Rose lets you experience the opulence of a bygone era, but with modern amenities for a comfortable and unique experience. Five beautifully appointed guest rooms invite you to enjoy the romance, privacy, and enchantment that can only be found in such homes rich in history and character. More at

Take a listen to our Big Blend Radio conversation with Steve & Karen “Mr. & Mrs. Wild of Asheville,” where we share our 3-day innkeeping experience and discuss their decision to become innkeepers, and what their day-to-day life is like. Plus, chat about the 10 innkeeper insider questions that they answered below. Listen in the YouTube player above, or download the podcast on Spreaker, PodBean, or SoundCloud.

What led you to become owners of a B&B?
Our first stay in a B&B was our wedding night. We absolutely loved the experience and we continued staying in B&Bs from that point forward. Along our travels, there have been a few amazing innkeepers that became part of our inspiration for choosing this path.

What attributes do you have that make you a good fit for being a successful innkeeper?
We both have always been a jack of all trades, great at multi-tasking and very social and friendly with everyone we cross paths with.

Who or what inspires you?
Our guests inspire us to continue our love of travel. We are inspired by nature and wildlife and that is how we got our nickname of “Mr. and Mrs. Wild.”

Describe your ideal clients.
People who love travel, appreciate nature and a bonus for those who are animal lovers. We love to connect with guests that are passionate about some of our favorite interests.

What is your biggest pet peeve in regards to running an inn?
Probably that some people don’t understand it is more difficult than they think. Most never see all the back of house chores and the not-so-fun things that are the backbone of the business. Wish it was as easy as just serving breakfast and social time.

What personal changes have you had to make in order to build your B&B business and new innkeeping career?
The work-life balance can be difficult. We have to be more spontaneous with our downtime. We like to make plans to enjoy a night out or a little time to ourselves but it doesn’t always work out as planned.

What do you consider your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge would probably be trying to make sure every guest has a memorable stay. We try our best to make sure everyone has a wonderful time but it’s still hard to accept that we won’t please everyone.

If you could invite any three people (alive or passed on) to your breakfast table who would they be?
We both say no clue, lol.
(Note from Nancy & Lisa: Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview podcast for the answers)

If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?
Karen: I love my job but for a day, I would love to be a safari guide. That would be a perfect day for me…exploring nature, observing wildlife, taking photos, and sharing the experience with fellow travelers and animal lovers. Perfect day!
Steve:  Pro Bass Fisherman

What is the most important tip you would pass on to another person just getting started in the world of innkeeping?
Like our families taught us, treat people how you want to be treated. We believe warm hospitality should come from the heart and everything else will fall into place with a little practice.

Having stayed at The Lion and The Rose as guests and then as inn sitters, we can tell you that Steve and Karen are wonderful hosts and that their inn is impeccably clean and comfortable, it’s in a great location to explore all of Asheville’s highlights and attractions, and the beer and breakfasts are delicious. If you love pups like we do, ask to meet their greeters Ozzy and Oreo.  


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