Retro-Chic Revival at the Skyview Los Alamos 

Posted on Jan 10 by Leslie Dinaberg

The Skyview Courtyard was a former asphalt car park before being remodeled into a gathering spot featuring fire pits and native gardens. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The Skyview Courtyard was a former asphalt car park before being
remodeled into a gathering spot featuring fire pits and native gardens. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

By Leslie Dinaberg

On the hilltop overlooking the quaint western town of Los Alamos sits a midcentury modern gem of a new hotel—the Skyview Los Alamos. This boutique, 33-room property—including two spacious suites and 16 deluxe rooms with private decks with outdoor showers and fire pits—opened last spring, somehow managing to maintain the historic 1950’s motel vibe, while infusing it with equal helpings of modern conveniences and hipster coolness.

“We were inspired by the western roots of Los Alamos, the midcentury architecture of the motel, and our love of travel,” explains Kimberly Walker, managing partner and co-owner of Skyview Los Alamos.

“Skyview was built in 1959 and changed hands quite a few times over the years,” says Walker. “At one point, locals used to be able to swim in the pool for 25 cents! We’ve heard many people say the Beatles stayed in room 33 at some point.”

The Midcentury golden starbust door welcomes visitors to Norman, the excellent onsite restaurant. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The Midcentury golden starbust door welcomes visitors to Norman, the excellent onsite restaurant. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Like many others (myself included), Walker had driven past the motel for years and wondered what it was. “We always saw the motel sign going, ‘oh, what is that on the hill?’ But we fell in love with Los Alamos, the food, the wine and the people. When the motel went up for sale, we moved on it quickly. We purchased the property in 2016 and spent two years renovating the motel, sprucing up the grounds, updating the design and restoring its midcentury architecture. We also turned the former asphalt car park into communal native gardens with fire pits to create space for guests to relax and gather,” she explains.

The attention to detail is incredible. Guests are greeted with a cup of locally sourced Dart Coffee or a glass of local wine (and soon the 2.5-acre onsite Skyview Vineyards will yield their own Pinot Noir, overseen by winemaker Mikey Guigni of Scar of the Sea Wines).

Each room’s carefully crafted decor reflects both the location’s western heritage and modern luxury elements. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Each room’s carefully crafted decor reflects both the location’s western heritage and modern luxury elements. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Each room is its own bespoke design, with thoughtfully sourced and unique décor, including flat panel televisions, down duvets, leather club chairs and marble-clad bathrooms with hand-painted tiles and farm sinks, as well as luxury amenities such as locally made Fable Soap products in the bathroom and Abba-Zabba candy, Good Zebra munchies and Casamigos Tequila in the mini-bar.

“We completely designed the property ourselves,” says Walker. “My partner, Mike Kyle, oversaw the architectural design and I oversaw the interior design. This is our second project together as a design team—the first was Granada Hotel & Bistro in San Luis Obispo. As with the property in SLO, we let the building’s location and heritage guide the process. We’re proud and excited to have brought it back to its 1950’s glory.”

Each room’s carefully crafted decor reflects both the location’s western heritage and modern luxury elements. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

Another peek at the room’s interior, with elements of both the location’s western heritage and modern luxuries. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

A large part of that glory is the restoration of the original 1950’s era pool, with the iconic neon “Motel” sign casting its glow over water that changes color from green to silver to purple and two shades of blue, with the help of an app. The ownership group, known as Nomada Hotel Group, took care to retain many of the motel’s original elements, like the quirky cactus columns in the porte-cochere, and the actual room keys instead of key cards. A fleet of Linus bikes offers a nostalgic way to explore the downtown area of Los Alamos—which is rapidly becoming a haven for foodies—as well as the surrounding wineries
and vineyards.

Forest green doors with a midcentury golden starburst beckon guests to pay a visit to Norman—the excellent full-service bar and restaurant named with a wink to Psycho’s Norman Bates. Norman is well worth the drive on its own, and serves local wines, herb-infused cocktails and farm-fresh fare (think shareable plates and lots of salads, fish and house-smoked meats) both poolside and in the retro-chic reinvented dining room.

A restored vision of the iconic 1950s era pool and neon sign. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

A restored vision of the iconic 1950s era pool and neon sign. Photo courtesy Skyview Los Alamos.

The dog-friendly property is a great spot for a romantic getaway but would also be a fun place to gather with a group of friends for a special occasion or just a weekend hangout.

SKYVIEW LOS ALAMOS, 9150 US-101, LOS ALAMOS,

805/344-0104, SKYVIEWLOSALAMOS.COM.

Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

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