Next time the mountains call, answer with a stay at the chic and cozy lodge.
In addition to its abundance of scenic mountain splendor, the Highlands-Cashiers, North Carolina, area has no shortage of stellar accommodation options, ranging from traditional luxury inns to refined rustic cabin and cottage designs.
With its mountain view (an appealing feature more “in-town” properties lack) and its happy marriage of different-era aesthetics, Skyline Lodge is a recent and refreshing addition to the list.
Originally built in 1929 as a classic motor inn, the now-chic boutique property was reimagined and reopened in summer 2021. The inspiration for the current iteration came from the property’s past. The main building is original to the first Skyline and was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright student (and the famed architect’s influence shows), while offshoots were added in the 1960s. The recent refurb preserved details apropos for a mountain getaway, like the massive stone fireplace in the main building, which is now the property’s onsite restaurant and bar. The vibe is chic and serene with a touch of whimsy throughout, thanks to the Lodge’s bear mascot that appears on “do not disturb” door hangers and other branding.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a greenspace that’s semi-enclosed by the resort’s U-shaped building arrangement. The lush grassy lawn is an undisguised filled-in pool (a hold-over from the hotel’s last life) and is dotted with firepits and a mix of wooden Adirondack and ’50s-style metal bucket chairs, all grouped for gathering and illuminated by the glow of Edison bulb string lights overhead. Other outdoor spaces include a deck on a plateau out back complete with a firepit, and two patios—all facing that coveted Blue Ridge vista.
Pumpkin-orange doors pop from wood paneled walls, and railings painted the same rich hue as nearby towering hemlocks lead to its 40 guest rooms. Inside each, many aspects are throwbacks to the mid-century modern era, when these structures were built. Platform beds, low-slung benches, and clean-lined chairs are minimalist but still comfy. Linens and upholstery blend bold mixes of polka dots, plaids and ikat, playing foil to otherwise sparse and mono-chromatic décor. Bright white bathrooms decked out with shiny, slick penny tile floors and chunky, rougher wall tiles are lovely but take a backseat to the Grown Alchemist bath products that permeate the space with their earthy, woodsy scents. Some rooms also contain stacked stone fireplaces, another blending of sleek style and the property’s Appalachian surroundings. The usual suspects in amenities are on hand too: flat screen TVs, free high-speed wi-fi, complimentary onsite parking, and in-room coffee and tea.
Behind the Skyline’s revitalization is a Charleston-based restaurant group, which partly explains why such an intimate property has put so much emphasis on offering guests a top-notch dining and cocktail program by way of the swank Oak Steakhouse, and its sister eatery (open for lunch), Butler’s. At Oak, starters including indulgent smoked trout rillettes warm diners up for entrees like venison wellington or a seasonal risotto. But the stars here are the perfectly prepared certified Angus beef steaks: juicy filets, dry-aged ribeyes, and a massive 32-ounce wet-aged porterhouse. Add a hearty side (or two) for the table: pecorino-dusted truffle fries, “drunken” mushrooms with caramelized onions, and bacon- filled mac and cheese. But be sure to save space for a slice of sorghum caramel cake (topped with crunchy popped sorghum) or decadent eight- layer chocolate cake.
Spending a little time soaking in clean mountain air is never a bad idea. And just off property, the area is packed with options for fun and outdoor adventure. Multiple trails lead up to stunning summits and down to glittering waterfalls. Anglers of all abilities can enjoy fabulous fly-fishing in rushing mountain streams. Soar through the air on a zipline or float down a river on an inner tube. Strolling and shopping on and around Highlands’ charming Main Street is also a must.
And when the day is done, head back to Skyline Lodge, where a roaring fire, a creative cocktail, and a cozy room await you to put the perfect finishing touch on your relaxing mountain escape.
(470 Skyline Lodge Rd., Highlands, NC, 828-526-4008; skyline-lodge.com)
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