Travel

Inside Highlands, North Carolina’s Cozy New Inn

Southern Appalachia meets the British countryside at Highlander Mountain House  

Although worldly in its nature, Highlands, North Carolina’s newest hotel feels right at home on the town’s main thoroughfare. “The whole concept is the English country house hotels found in the Cotswolds, transposed into Southern Appalachia,” says the owner, Jason Reeves, who has spent most of the last year transforming the rambling 1885 lodge—previously home to the Main Street Inn—into the eclectic and charming Highlander Mountain House. The eighteen-room inn doubles as an art gallery, interspersing art from the Cherokee Nation, midcentury-modern lighting that evokes Black Mountain College—an experimental arts school near Asheville that produced the likes of Elaine de Kooning and Cy Twombly—two Sally Mann originals, several works by Josef Albers, and colorful European wallpaper. “But we also wanted to take it back to earth,” Reeves says of his mission to get guests outside during their stay (they can check out complimentary bicycles, fly rods, and other gear at the front desk). “We want to tap into a more elemental side of the mountains and get people back into the woods with fishing and hiking and horseback riding, then have them come back and relax by the fire.” Indeed, after a day exploring, the two wood-burning fireplaces in the Ruffed Grouse, the inn’s downstairs tavern and lounge, beckon—as do the Appalachian trout, wild boar ragout, and the Old Pal cocktail served at the custom white oak bar.

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The Highlander Mountain House on Main Street. 

photo: Maggie Braucher

In a guest room, art includes an original photograph by Sally Mann and Scalamandré wallpaper. 

photo: Maggie Braucher

A guest room in the main house is adorned with Pierre Frey wallpaper and a custom velvet headboard. 

photo: Maggie Braucher

Downstairs, the bar mimics a country pub in the Cotswolds.

photo: Maggie Braucher

The Ruffed Grouse, the inn’s tavern.

photo: Maggie Braucher

A cozy seat in the Ruffed Grouse. 

photo: Maggie Braucher

Eclectic accents in the Highlander’s dining room include a midcentury chandelier and a wall of Victorian taxidermy.  

photo: Maggie Braucher

A view from the lobby lounge into the Ruffed Grouse dining room shows one of the hotel’s two wood-burning fireplaces.

photo: Maggie Braucher