This renovated motel is one of the great lodging secrets in North Carolina.

Smoky Mountain Vacation Hotel: Lakeview at Fontana
The deck overlooks Fontana Lake.
| Credit: Robbie Caponetto

You come to the Smoky Mountain region for the fresh air, for the racing rivers, for the gorgeous country roads, for the countless hiking and biking trails. You find the perfect base camp, central to the action. But once you check in to Lakeview at Fontana, you're tempted to skip it all and just relax.

That's understandable—this former 1950s motel offers plenty of reasons to linger: stylish suites, a cozy coffeehouse, a tiny spa, a yoga studio, and a deck with a view of Fontana Lake.

A cluster of small buildings set on 50 acres, the property has only 20 guestrooms—standard queens and cottages with up to three bedrooms. The decor begins with a fifties style, such as red Formica countertops in the kitchen, and adds touches of European hospitality. Overstuffed sofas, plush linens, and umbrella-topped cafe tables elevate this from a cabin weekend to something more indulgent.

Days begin at the small courtyard cafe where co-owner Tetia McMichaels treats her guests to a few extras. On cool mornings, the fireplace takes the edge off the early mountain air. French press coffee and a buffet of fruits, meats, and pastries fuel your outdoor fun.

Days end here, too, with complimentary wine, fruit, and cheese. That's your cue to head to the deck and toast your Smokies getaway.

Information for Your Stay: Lakeview at Fontana, or 800/742-6492. Open April to mid-November. Rates: $79 for a room, $159 for a suite, $199 for a three-bedroom cottage.