Dig Destinations - Skyline Lodge, Highlands, NC

The new “Dig Destinations” series showcases drive-to destinations from Asheville, NC.

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First stop: Skyline Lodge in Highlands, North Carolina

We used to spend a lot of time up in Highlands, NC but had not been back in about 5 years. How had we never known about this old motor lodge perched on Flat Top Mountain only 3 miles from downtown? Well, likely because this 40 room lodge that was built nearly a century ago had fallen into disrepair; that is, until being purchased during the pandemic and undergoing a major Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired renovation. We’ve never experienced anything like it, ever. Fun fact: Howard Randall, the original owner, commissioned a working student and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright, Arthur Kelsey, to design the building in 1930. When you see the use of native granite, hand-cut cedar shakes, and chestnut wood you’ll feel the influence! 

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“The renovation leaned heavily into a mid-twentieth century aesthetic that will evoke an era of gentile manners, proper cocktails and thick steaks, and a touch of glamor,” according to the owners at Indigo Road Hospitality Group. Yes. We dig this. Cool 50s cocktail jazz plays through the outdoor speakers as you sip your gin Gimlet under the stars and festive party lights. The old cement pool that was in the middle of the property, surrounded by rooms, was filled in, and is now a very friendly place to hang out with your partner or group, and to get social with other guests. Staying at the Skyline Lodge could also be a perfect place for those who prefer to travel solo, while still enjoying getting to know fellow travelers.


We loved that the remodel was super mindful to keep to the unmistakable mid-century look and feel from the color palette, to the luxurious linens, to the artwork. The new tile in the bathrooms is lovely, too (and many floors are heated!)! The furniture is both mid-century modern and comfortable. 

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The kind folks at the Skyline Lodge really love dogs and will welcome them if under a certain weight. The property is very conducive to walking your dog whether you prefer to walk on pavement down Skyline Lodge Road or in the woods. The lodge sits on 50 acres of hardwoods and old growth conifers. You can also hop in your car to access long hikes, creeks, and waterfalls which are prolific in the Highlands area and perfect for dog adventures. We finished our day by stopping by the Highland Nature Center and took MoJo, our chocolate Lab, on the easy Lindenwood Lake Loop trail with many brand new boardwalks. This is a gorgeous place with Rhododendron canopies, winding creeks, bogs, wild flowers galore, wildlife and much more. 


After a day of hiking and exploring waterfalls our private balcony was the perfect place to sip afternoon wine. All of the balconies are covered, which makes it a stellar place to watch the rain gently fall. We loved listening to the sounds of the rushing river in the valley deep below, with worn out MoJo, snoring softly beside us after a day of hiking. While many of the rooms have a private balcony, we happened to stay in the “Frank Lloyd Wright Suite” that had not one, but two balconies, as well as a separate living area with a pullout sofa bed.

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The vibe of a hotel/motel bar is often like a book cover that should give you a feel for what the rest of the place is all about. This is definitely the case at the Skyline Lodge! In the very center of the two wings of rooms sits the 3000 square foot event space with wraparound terraces. What you first see when you walk in the front doors is the bar backed with endless glass framing the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. These windows are west-facing for the perfect spot to catch the sunset at the high top tables or the large comfy chairs by the fireplaces. The cocktail menu showcased both traditional drinks and Skyline-inspired specialities. They also have an expansive wine list to pair with your steaks because the bar is attached to, you guessed it, a steakhouse. More about that below.

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The Skyline Lodge accommodations would be fabulous even without a restaurant on site. But when the renovation was happening, a big consideration was focused on the dining experience for guests, locals, and other visitors to Highlands. They went for it and opened the Oak Steakhouse which happens to be the only steakhouse in Highlands which serves certified Angus beef and locally sourced produce from area farms. Let us tell you that steaks are only the beginning. We also enjoyed Oysters Rockefeller, scallops with couscous, ricotta manicotti with arugula pesto, and Venison Wellington (pictured above), and capped it off with a fluffy chocolate soufflé. EVERYthing was fantastic. We took an aperitif to go and rolled ourselves outside to sit by the firepit before turning in for the night in our cozy room. We slept like babies in our king-sized bed with the sliding door open listening to the white noise of the river. 

(Foodie alert: Scroll down for a peek at the Under the Stars, On the Rocks Guest Chef lineup!)

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We love the vibe that the element of fire adds to the Skyline Lodge. There are two huge wood-burning fireplaces of hand-carved, locally quarried granite on either side of the entry to the bar in the Oak Steakhouse. Because Highlands sits at over a 4000 foot elevation, it can get chilly, even on summer nights, which lends opportunity for fires year round. There are also fire pits in the courtyard which friendly staff keep stoked throughout the evening. Many of the rooms have non-burning fireplaces built with local stones which adds an ambiance to your room.

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 You know when brunch starts out with a basket of house-made chocolate croissants and cheese danishes, with a side of stuffed eggs sprinkled with bacon and chives, that it’s gonna be quite the experience! The Oak Steakhouse has its own pastry chef, Chef Anne White, which explains the over the top Venison Wellington we had the night before. We also enjoyed spicy Bloody Mary’s with a bacon garnish while taking in the panoramic mountain views all around us. We could have stopped there, but why? Next up was mountain trout with gouda grits and the chicken fried steak on biscuits with a sunnyside up egg. We then took a morning nap before checking out and hitting one more hike on the way back to Asheville. 

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When to Go: Upcoming Guest Chef Series

We are thinking that you'll be thrilled to go to Skyline Lodge at any time of year, BUT, for the foodies out there you definitely may want to make your reservations during one of the upcoming monthly "Under the Stars, On the Rocks"  Guest Chef Series where renown Southeastern Chefs including David BancroftBrandon Carter, Jeremiah Langhorne, Vivian Howard, Mashama Bailey & Trevor Elliot, Ryan Prewitt and Joe Kindred will take turns hosting a four course dinner with drinks on the gorgeous Oak Steakhouse pavilion with breath-taking views! Click here and scroll down to "Upcoming Events."


If you’re looking to get away for a lodging experience that takes you back to mid-century vibes, surrounded by nature with friendly staff, amazing food, and cozy accommodations, reserve your room (grab your pup) and Dig this Destination:  The Skyline Lodge

Located at 470 Skyline Lodge Road, Highlands, NC 28741

(only 72 miles from Asheville) Call 828-526-4008


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