You will still have to have a certain level of fitness and will have to be able to carry some weight, because you will have to hike in to many of these inns. The difference is that you will not have to carry the extra weight of a tent. Some of the inns also provide meals which means you will save on carrying the weight of food. For special dietary needs, you will have to contact the inn to determine if they can accommodate your needs. You may not be allowed to take alcohol, so find out what the rules are regarding that.
For many inns it is necessary to make reservations ahead of time. Not all inns take pets; so if you want to take your dog, ask about their pet policy. Also ask if they provide linens and towels. You may find that some inns provide hot showers while others do not have running water. So, ask everyone in your group what amenities they will want as a minimum requirement. Some inns prefer that you do not use electronic devices like cell phones and may prohibit the use of it in the common areas of the inn. Cell phone reception may be a problem.
Most inns welcome kids and some even have some board games and books available to keep them busy. If your kids prefer to sleep with you in your room when they are in an unknown environment, check if the rooms are big enough and if this will be possible. Staying at a hiking inn is a great way to introduce kids to hiking and all the fun adventures associated with outdoor activities.
Allowing enough time for the distance you have to hike to the inn is essential. There may be a cut off time for you to leave from where you check in. This is done for safety reasons to ensure that you reach the inn before dark.
Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park, Montana is an example of an inn that provides both shelter and meals. You can reach this inn from different trails, so plan ahead to decide how much time you want to spend on the trail. Make sure you bring a flashlight since Sperry Chalet has no electricity. If you are looking forward to reading a book at night, bring a headlamp or a reading light that can clip onto your book.
If you are hiking in Tennessee, you can stay in the Charit Creek Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Here you will also find meals as well as shelter. Remember that you will still need to take snacks and water to keep you from getting hungry and dehydrated on the trail.
If you want to stay multiple nights so that you can do day hikes from the inn, bring the regular gear you will need for hikes like bug repellent, sunscreen and a first aid kit. If the weather report warns of stormy weather, you may want to take a bivy sack or portable hammock that would provide shelter without adding too much weight during your day hike.