Inn evokes best summer memories

As I was slowly lulled to consciousness by the cool mountain breeze drifting across my face, I snuggled deeper in my soft pile of bedding. My first thought was, “Is that bacon I smell?” Much to my delight, it was.

I felt like a kid again waking to the comforting smells of my mother in the kitchen. In fact, a stay at the 86-year-old High Hampton Inn, in Cashiers, brought back some of the best memories from summers in my childhood – delicious meals were prepared for me, most of my day was spent outdoors, and the biggest decision of my day was whether I wanted chocolate or strawberry ice cream.

There are plenty of ways to spend your time here: swimming in the 350-acre mountain lake, hiking the various trails, golfing, playing tennis, fishing, enjoying spa treatments or just settin' a spell in an old rocker on the front porch. If you're looking for flat-screen TVs, room service and bath butlers, look elsewhere. There are no TVs in the rooms, all meals are served buffet-style in the large dining room, and guests are expected to dress for dinner, with jackets required for men.

Speaking of the food, we found it vastly improved from a visit here a few years ago. We dined on entrees such as rainbow trout, fried chicken, herb-crusted prime rib and sides that include locally grown vegetables. The friendly waitstaff, mostly international college students, stand ready to bring you coffee, tea or your alcoholic beverage of choice.

Generations of families return here year after year to enjoy this rustic mountain resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. Families can gather to play games together in the evenings, while couples and other groups adjourn to the bar downstairs, which is a lively spot with live entertainment and a beautifully landscaped outdoor terrace.

The inn offers several options for accommodations – guest rooms and suites in the main lodge, additional rooms closer to the lake, cottages or rental homes. For a truly romantic getaway, try the Honeymoon Cottage, set away from the main action on its own private lake.

High Hampton Inn is open April-November; rates start at $177 per night for a single room, and $244 for a double. Rates include three meals a day.