When it comes to Southern mountain towns, Alabama isn’t always first to come to mind. While places like Asheville, North Carolina; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; and the Blue Ridge mountains snatch up the vast majority of visitors each year, the tiny northeast Alabama town of Mentone (with a population of just over 300) may be the South’s best-kept secret. At least that’s what Colleen Duffley and Steve Carpenter thought when they purchased a cabin on Mentone’s Little River in 2020.
“It was really just kind of a getaway place from 30A because it’s changed a lot and is now tourist heaven,” Duffley says. Duffley, who is an accomplished cycler, trained for the ’92 and ’96 Olympics by biking from Birmingham to Mentone and always thought Mentone was a neat town. When she came across Mentone again while looking for mountain property in the Chattanooga area, she knew that it was the place.
After buying the cabin, Duffley and Carpenter began spending more and more of their time in Mentone. Duffley, a commercial advertising and editorial photographer, often documented the beauty of their surroundings on social media. Soon friends and acquaintances began inquiring about their new second home. One day, they were riding their bikes into Mentone’s quaint downtown when they stumbled upon an old church lodge.
“Lo and behold there was a ‘For Sale’ sign laying down, and we kind of both looked at each other like ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’” Duffley remembers.
What they were thinking turned out to be a six-room bed and breakfast called Andiamo Lodge. The endeavor, which unfolded through the pandemic and opened in January, combines both Duffley’s and Carpenter’s talents and experiences. Carpenter’s experience as chef-owner of several 30A restaurants and Duffley’s talents in creative direction, aesthetics, and design, combined with their shared love for hospitality has resulted in a luxury stay unlike anything else in the Mentone area.
Tucked into the dense Alabama forest, Andiamo is designed to feel like you’re staying at a friend’s mountain cabin—if your friend was a professional designer with magazine-worthy interiors.
“Andiamo is curated not decorated,” Duffley says. “Things were found everywhere, from the world’s largest yard sales to antique stores, but it’s come together quite beautifully. We call it rustic luxe.”
The main living room is a mix of warm-toned furniture, cozy throws, exposed beams, wide-planked wood floors, and eclectic art. A stone fireplace anchors the space, while a custom bar housed in an antique wardrobe provides spirits for guests to enjoy when evening rolls around.
Each of Andiamo’s six rooms is designed a little differently, but all feature the same rustic luxe appeal, plus a working stone fireplace, light-and-bright bathroom, and high-end touches like Peacock Alley and Redland Cotton linens and gourmet chocolates for turndown service.