You go toward it, even in small ways and on bad days. Two and a half hours down the coast, driving through my college town and the sweet haunt of Santa Barbara, all the way through yellowing hills to Los Alamos, I hope that I’m going toward one of my best days. Pulling up the winding driveway of Skyview Los Alamos, an old renovated roadside motel — that they say The Beatles once stayed at — all I can see of it now is a place that is perfectly in line with everything I want to be. It has history, yes, but each detail has been reimagined to work for the current moment, to be functional yet beautiful, and to anticipate any needs before they arise. Isn’t that the finest form of hospitality, anticipating needs before someone even has to ask?
Meeting a friend for what I thought would be a brief get-out-of-town day trip, the lull of the nearby quaint little strip of Los Alamos and the Skyview property itself convinced me to stay over for the night, indulging in local wine tastings and the hotel’s still-open, heated pool. With just 33 rooms spread out on a one-level outdoor strip — no overbearing lobby, elevators, or long, gilded hallways here — Skyview manages to feel more like an outdoor resort than a luxury hotel, though it clearly has elements of both once you head indoors. The rooms might be renovations of a 1950s aesthetic, but every detail is in place, from sleek showers and tiled fireplaces to an oversized farmhouse sink in the bathroom and even a small little private patio out back. There’s and outdoor shower back there, too, if that’s your thing.
High ceilings, wood paneling, and rustic furniture round out the room decor, along with a king bed so plush I barely noticed I was sharing it with my friend… or maybe that was because of the wine tasting. Either way, this is one of the most comfortable and thoughtfully-designed hotel rooms I’ve stayed in all year, and it was very Instagram-friendly, even if we were too engrossed in our many conversations to do any photo shoots. If you go on a weeknight like we did, it’s not uncommon to find a suite with a king bed for under $200 a night, and the feel of being out in the middle of nowhere after weeks on end, indoors in LA, is worth every penny and all the gas money.
The on-site restaurant, Norman, has obviously had to alter their scope due to the pandemic (as most restaurants have), but even taking a peek inside at the wood beams, bright plush chairs, and starry light fixtures will give you a sense of what dining there might be like. And though the beautiful indoor space might be closed out of necessity to keep guests safe, the outdoor dining is still going strong. And it’s almost better to sit and while away the hours on this sunstruck patio with California favorites like carnitas tacos, beet hummus and avocado toast. Perched on top of a working vineyard, the hotel also offers excellent wine selections along with a full cocktail menu, plenty of beer, and lots of non-alcoholic options as well.
With incredible views of the surrounding countryside, the dining experience could not be better. But if you’re feeling more cautious, room service is always an option, and the hotel recently shifted their complimentary breakfast to be delivered to your doorstep around sunrise as a further precaution. Not only that, but when you’re laying around at the pool, there’s food and beverage service out there as well. The pool might be smaller as it’s an update of the original vintage structure, but it does offer enough space to steer clear of other guests, or provides a place to lay in the sun and soak up some much-needed vitamin D and positive vibes.
Between the vintage charm, excellent hospitality, and the stylish rooms, Skyview more than lives up to its dreamy name, and my unexpected stay offered a bright spot in a dismal year. The common outdoor areas of the hotel illustrated how sharing space with strangers used to be a simple pleasure we’ll one day be able to return to, and the peacefulness of the private rooms helped me remember that being in a and beautifully organized space — even for a night — is just as important for my mental health as it is for any aesthetic concerns. All of the hotel guests and staff wore masks or kept their distance, and it’s clear that pandemic protocol was a priority. But even these careful regulations could never overtake the free spirit of the place. Skyview was a welcome reminder of the life I want to lead, and it’s just a few hours away whenever I need another glimpse. Even if this year so often feels like it’s not the life any of us want, small beginnings and tiny trips can be an act of reclamation.