Hotel Intel: Skyline Lodge

Hotel Intel: Skyline Lodge
Words by Jennifer Kornegay
Photos by Tim Lenz

The Vibe:

If you’re planning a visit to the Highlands-Cashiers area in North Carolina, you’re probably asking yourself, “Where should I stay?” These two mountain towns offer a wide array of options for spots to rest your head, ranging from elegant inns to historic camp-resort digs. But with a fresh take on the traditional “lodge” look, Skyline Lodge in Highlands stands apart.

It’s a relaxing retreat and a great base for exploring the area and all it offers, making this new kid on the block a smart answer to the aforementioned question.

Built in 1929, the main structure is original to the first version of Skyline and was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright student, while offshoots were added in the 1960s. It was renovated, reimagined and reopened last summer, and the polish put on this old gem really shines. Today’s Skyline nods to both eras while honoring its mountain setting too, with a retro yet contemporary style that pulls in and plays well with the surrounding scenery. Sleek, mid-century modern furnishings marry hand-carved granite fireplaces, warm wood and a color palette pulled from nature, and a few pops of bright hues add interest.

It elevates the old-school motor inn to new heights, matching the lofty altitude that creates a key piece of its allure: a mountain view. This fetching feature can be enjoyed from window-side tables in its onsite restaurant, Oak Steakhouse, on its back patio, and from an expansive deck with lounge chairs and a fire pit, the perfect place for a cocktail. Out front is another spot begging guests to sit, sip and chill: a grass courtyard lit by the golden glow of string lights. The prevailing attitude throughout Skyline is as cool as the environs: it’s upscale without any upturned noses. 

The Neighborhood:

Sitting right over the Georgia/North Carolina state line in the Nantahala National Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Highlands’ perch at 4,100 feet above sea level creates some awe-inspiring views. Its forests, peaks and gurgling mountain streams—and the life thriving within—provide plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking, fly-fishing, paddling and more. Throw in some extraordinary dining experiences and stellar shopping, and you’ve got the perfect escape. 

Your Room Key:

Some spaces just feel right and raise the level of your entire experience. That’s what’s awaiting you behind the door of your room at Skyline Lodge. Each is casually chic and comfy, with a sense of history that’s grounding and uplifting. Balconies (and in few rooms, patios) beckon you outside and let fresh mountain air in. Lighting, linens and furnishings are clean-lined and minimalist, giving the design the attention its due. Bathrooms are simple but stunning too, with heated tile floors. Amenities include free wifi and in-room coffee and tea. 

That Special Something:

Just as there are lots of hotels to choose from in the area, there are many standout restaurants. Skyline’s Oak Steakhouse easily earns a spot on that list with its expertly prepared certified angus beef in multiple cuts and sizes. Steaks are, of course, the main players here, but supporting acts like lobster cannelloni; heirloom tomato salad with fig jam; pan-seared local trout; pecorino truffle fries; and the smash burger should not be overlooked. 

Skyline also offers a steady schedule of enticing culinary events featuring favorite Southern chefs, often cooking and serving alfresco in the Lodge’s large pavilion.