While North Carolina’s High Hampton Inn certainly doesn’t qualify as new, its recent renovation and reopening have secured it as the newest item on my personal bucket list of must-visit Southern hotels. Here’s a taste of the goodness High Hampton Inn has to offer — the old, the new, and what’s coming next.
The historic High Hampton Inn has been a popular destination for Southern vacations since it opened in 1933, hosting families from one generation to the next. Situated in the mountain town of Cashiers, North Carolina, it’s easy to see why travelers have long visited this magical place. The 1,400-acre property offers visitors majestic views, abundant nature, and cozy rooms amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains.
So, how do you take such a beloved, storied property and bring it into the present day, without sacrificing the rustic character that made it so special? That’s the challenge that was met by the property’s newest owners — a group that includes the Arlington Family Offices, Daniel Communities, and the folks behind the famed Blackberry Farm.
“The charm of the historic inn and cottages is unmatched. From the bark siding to the wormy chestnut wood paneling to the stone fireplaces, these buildings have character that is not found in modern buildings,” says Scott Greene, High Hampton’s General Manager. “However, the addition of air conditioning as well as larger guest rooms, including bigger bathrooms and soaking tubs, have elevated the rustic camp-like feel to meet the comfort expectations of today’s travelers.”
Though now equipped with modern amenities (like air conditioning!), guests can still expect the charm of an occasional creaky floorboard or distant voice traveling down the hallway. And as a nod to High Hampton’s mission as a true retreat, guest rooms still don’t have televisions. The interior design has been elevated to new heights of stylish comfort, and the culinary team is creating all kinds of buzz. And, thanks to those new HVAC units, High Hampton will now be open year-round, instead of seasonally as it historically has been. This means the team is excited to offer a magical lineup of holiday programming for the first time ever. (More on that later!)
While the updated rooms are stunning, High Hampton’s charm extends well past the rustic elegance of its interiors. “This is a place that you can truly enjoy by doing as much or as little as you like. The rockers on every porch, as well as the Adirondack chairs and lawn beds, provide great opportunities for enjoying a good read or just time relaxing while taking in the spectacular views of Rock Mountain, Chimney Top Mountain, and Whiteside Mountain,” says Scott. “For those looking for a more active day, there are so many opportunities for amazing outdoor recreation, from golf and tennis to pickleball, croquet, hiking, swimming in the lake or pool, and kayaking.”
High Hampton is perfectly situated for both outdoor adventure and relaxation, but now it’s also positioned as a premier food and beverage destination, boasting two restaurants at their inn — The Dining Room and The Tavern — plus three more restaurants at the adjacent recreational Club at High Hampton, which is accessible to both club members and guests of the inn. The culinary program at High Hampton Inn is under the leadership of Chef Scott Franqueza, Chef Zachary Chancey, and Pastry Chef April Franqueza. According to Chef Scott Franqueza, the PM Executive Chef, guests can expect to see “classic American cuisine featuring great local ingredients sourced from farmers, purveyors, and producers around the South.”
Local ingredients will play as much of a role in your stay at High Hampton as the landscape. “I am most excited to showcase the beautiful range of apples that this area of North Carolina produces! Local apples will be featured in our breads, pastries, cakes, pies, and other sweets,” says Pastry Chef April Franqueza. “I’ve already been making lots of apple butter to get us through the winter, and I’ve also been adding it to my Apple Spice Cake that’s featured on The Dining Room’s dessert menu. I’m looking forward to spending some time out in an orchard picking apples as the weather here continues to cool off.”
As mentioned, the ability to be open year-round and enjoy the transition from fall to winter is an exciting new prospect for High Hampton! The HH team is already furiously planning for the holiday season, with activities like cookie decorating, gingerbread house workshops, cocktail classes, carolers, and more. And the icing on the cake (or the cookie, as the case may be) will be a gorgeous array of holiday decor in High Hampton’s updated style of rustic elegance — thousands of feet of strung-up lights, floating docks on the lake ferrying displays of trees and gifts, giant nutcrackers positioned to welcome guests to the property, and lush holiday garland for days.
Beyond updated interiors and a stellar food and beverage lineup, guests can expect elevated takes on existing traditions — though some are promised to remain unchanged, like HH’s two resident miniature donkeys, Ed and Fred (how cute is that?!).
For me, High Hampton is a no-brainer addition to my bucket list of Southern resort stays. Come for the scenery, the quiet, and the impressive cuisine … and maybe stay for the donkeys.
All photography provided by High Hampton Inn.
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