The Best Hotels
What could be more American than staying in a repurposed Coca-Cola factory? America’s finest hotels often come out of taking a good thing and making it even better: Think haunted houses turned boutique hotels, basic motels converted to luxury lodges, and camping tents enhanced with canvas roofs and stone walls and stacked with both amenities like air conditioning and underfloor heating. America loves an upgrade.
Brooklyn, New York
Once a dilapidated mansion the neighborhood called “the haunted house,” this 1860s Italianate villa was restored to elegance in 1995 by Glenn Pogue and Monique Greenwood, who have since opened four additional hotels. Their first, Akwaaba Mansion, located in historic Stuyvesant Heights, is a huge house nestled in a quiet tree-lined community in an area bursting with culture.
The property’s four unique guest rooms include private bathrooms. From Jumping the Broom Suite to Black Memorabilia Suite, each room has a distinct personality. Original details such as 14-foot ceilings, ornate fireplaces, ornamental gaslight fixtures, and intricate parquet wood floors make Akwaaba a true historic gem. Wander the floors of the mansion, and you’ll appreciate the exquisite details of the décor blending antiques with Afrocentric chic. Feel right at home by enjoying afternoon tea and refreshments on the sun porch, savoring a hearty Southern breakfast in the dining room, taking a nap under a regal chestnut tree in the secluded garden, getting lost in a novel in the guest library, or by making friends with other visitors in the game room. The chaos and thrill of Manhattan is only 15 minutes away by subway or car should you be inclined to see that other borough.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
In the heart of Oklahoma City’s 38th Street Preservation neighborhood, Bradford House is a delightful study in contrasts. It’s also fresh off a four-year restoration, inspired by the owners’ boutique-hotel stays around the globe. Enter the 1912 all-white mansion—the former home of Renaissance Man William L. Bradford: a cattleman, traveling salesman for school supplies, and county clerk—and pops of color emerge in common areas and the 36 spacious ensuite rooms, split between the historic home and a modern guesthouse, like turquoise-hued walls and pumpkin-orange drapes. Beds are layered with high-thread-count Italian sheets.
Traveling in a group? Some rooms connect to bunk-bed suites, perfect for the little ones. Baths feature mod luxuries such as a black-and-orange marble sink and green soaking tub. The owners’ love for design shows in vintage furnishings and lightings sourced on buying trips to Italy and France, including Parisian flea markets. Brunch, afternoon tea, and dinner menus—as well as drinks—from the bar and eatery can be enjoyed on the wraparound porch or café-like indoor setting. (Locals love the seasonal pastas.) Wake up to flaky croissants from the in-house Quincy Bake Shop and coffee roasted by EÔTÉ Coffee Roasters.
With original terrazzo flooring, colorful wall tiles, and a stunning original Art Deco stairwell, Bottleworks Hotel is the renovated remains of what was once the largest Coca-Cola bottling company in the United States. Bits and pieces of soda pop history are visible around the hotel, with sparkling and still water fountains, framed photographs and newspaper clippings dating back to the 1940s, and even a wall exhibit of hanging vintage cameras. The hotel rooms, however, maintain a decidedly modern edge—spacious, with high-end highlights like the marble bathrooms. The photobooth and decked-out gym also give hotel guests space to play.
What’s on the outside is just as important as what’s on the inside when it comes to this boutique hotel. From the adjoining pan-Asian restaurant, Modita, to the adult arcade (booze + 40-odd pinball machines) located just a few steps away, the hotel is part of the larger Bottleworks district experience. Clustered around Bottleworks Hotel are gourmet food options, small business shopping, and entertainment. The Garage Food Hall offers craft beer and a diverse range of eateries, while Good Neighbor’s local wares give you an excuse to re-up your wardrobe.
Camp Sarika by Amangiri
Kane County, Utah
For the best of both worlds—wild, rugged beauty and pure pampering—base camp in one of Camp Sarika by Amangiri’s 10 luxury one-bedroom tents (the smallest is 1,000 square feet) at this 600-acre, year-round expanse, open since summer of 2020. Guides help build your dream itinerary at three local national parks: Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon. These canvas-roofed, stone-walled tents spare no luxuries. Many boast private plunge pools and all flaunt private terraces—with breathtaking canyon views—plus amenities like air conditioning, underfloor heating, rain showers or a soaking tub in the bath, and separate sleeping and living areas.
Two-bedroom tents appeal to families (stocked with telescopes, for stargazing; and fire pits, for s’mores) to further spread out. Bored in your tent and craving community? Meander into the restaurant, pool, and lounge area to mingle—activities include evening storytelling and stargazing over the fire. The property’s trail system is a convenient spot to hike without going far and massages at the 25,000-square-foot spa are a nice treat. Another reason to pack athletic wear is guided outdoor yoga: think sun salutations with Navajo National Monument views. Guests also receive access to dining options at Amangiri, five miles away.
Palm Beach, Florida
In Florida’s most mega-moneyed coastal town—or rather, “the island,” as locals call Palm Beach—The Chesterfield blends timeless Florida glamour (it’s a thing in these tony parts, where industrialist Henry Flagler extended his railroad empire in the 19th century) with English gentility. You’re three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and the island’s beautiful public beach at this 1920s Mediterranean-Revival style hotel, surrounded by residential streets lined with towering royal palms, flowering bougainvillea and frangipani, and immense private estates.
The Chesterfield’s 42 rooms (some on the snug side) and 11 suites are each indulgently and individually decorated, some with rich fabric wallpapers that take on candy-cane stripes, European-style floral prints, or subtle tropical tones. Spend your days nibbling scones, seasonal sandwiches, and macarons in the antique-filled library during the hotel’s legendary English Tea service or just relax under a canopy of tropical trees at the sparkling courtyard pool. Come evening, The Chesterfield’s famous Leopard Lounge draws a largely local crowd for live music at a dimly-lit bar that will make you feel like you’re in a scene in a novel, so eclectic is the mix of Palm Beachers (and their hangers-on) with the ambiance of hand-painted ceilings and old-world glamour.
Dive Palm Springs
Palm Springs, California
There may be no more perfect pandemic hotel in all of America than Dive Palm Springs, a small boutique converted from dive motel into this chic, Cote-d’Azur-inspired, adults-only luxury escape in the middle of a blazing desert. Eleven rooms wrap around a retro-tastic pool and perma-green gardens, which is always surprising in this arid town. Between a max guest count of 22 (give or take) and the spread-out digs, there’s enough privacy to adequately maintain social distancing in any communal space. And these rooms! Why, you’ll be transported 6,000 miles to Saint-Tropez, courtesy of Christian Lacroix wallpaper, rattan furniture, and an endless loop of Francois Hardy music pleasantly wafting in from outside. Some of the rooms come with record players and a happy mixture of Miles Davis and Patsy Cline LPs.
Though dinner is not served, a small kitchen (manned by a delightful fella named Kevin) prepares modest, but enticing fare—and one of the best damn ham-and-cheese omelets found in all the world’s deserts—and a mean Aperol Spritz to boot.
Vieques, Puerto Rico
In the Caribbean’s Greater Antilles, you’ll find an island (often overlooked by travelers) where you can decompress and connect with nature and your specific place in the world. Finca Victoria, located on one of Puerto Rico’s surrounding islands, Vieques, is a bed and breakfast botanica-based hotel curated explicitly for the type of traveler who wants to embrace a more mindful and meditative way of being.
Each of the property’s seven rooms invokes a tree-house aesthetic, with towering accommodations that give tree-line views of a lush tropical forest or the nearby Atlantic ocean. Almost all rooms have outdoor showers, flowing hammocks, and exquisitely-designed indoor-outdoor living areas containing locally-sourced vintage furniture. Each pet-friendly room also has thoughtful wood paneling lending the space a most-becoming Swiss Family Robinson vibe. What makes this hacienda truly unique, however, is its extensive wellness programming. Choose from three to 21-day retreats that include herbal medicines and body therapies or opt for the Ayurvedic cleanse of Panchakarma offering, a cleansing of both mind and body through yoga, herbal medication, and meals designed to facilitate easy digestion.
The Fields of Michigan
South Haven, Michigan
Just five miles inland from Lake Michigan’s western shore, The Fields of Michigan is next-level glamping. Irene Wood debuted the 19-tent property in 2019, on a 30-acre former blueberry farm, and the well-traveled Michigan-born owner doesn’t apologize for the lack of WiFi but does take pride in the spa’s 60-minute massages (tucked into a private cabin painted black).
The décor, Anthro-meets-summer camp, has couples rushing to book wedding ceremonies and receptions. Canvas tents on platforms are bookable between Memorial Day and November 1 only—and so coveted that dates open up the previous season, often selling out. Design details in each—which feature en-suite private baths, wood-burning stoves, and electric fireplaces—include a vintage trunk at the foot of the bed and blue-and-white shibori pillows. A bistro-table set outside the tent flap is perfect for morning coffee (your own coffee maker’s inside). Dash into the Canteen for a snack or drink and be sure to stop by the cocktail bar for farm-to-glass cocktails.
Hotel Peter & Paul
New Orleans, Lousiana
Built in 1860, by acclaimed architect Henry Howard, the original St. Peter and Paul Church––as well as the adjoining school, convent, and rectory buildings––served the colorful Marigny neighborhood in worship and education for more than 150 years. The grounds and all buildings were saved from slow decay, transformed, and reopened as Hotel Peter & Paul in the spring of 2018.
The painstaking, four-year restoration culminated in 71 beautiful, unique rooms, with a design by ASH NYC. A feeling of serenity comes via touches like cast-iron clawfoot tubs, private balconies, gingham-covered antique armchairs, Baroque chandeliers, marble sinks, and canopied Queen beds.
The design teams saved as much as possible from the original structures, including cypress wood moldings, stained-glass windows, wainscoted corridors, and marble fireplaces in the communal areas. And, today, Hotel Peter & Paul retains a strong local business, as well, thanks to the anchor of The Elysian––the property’s awarded food and beverage concept. The best way to experience it is, without a doubt, Elysian’s weekend Church Brunch, served inside the towering, former sanctuary. Acoustic three-piece bands send notes soaring to the cathedral ceilings, as vermouth cocktails and French omelets arrive at antique, wooden tables.
Hotel Saint Cecilia
Hotel Saint Cecilia is fittingly perched at the epicenter of Austin’s alternative creative scene—a skip off Music Lane and you’ve merrily danced on what, at first, appears to be a residential bungalow. Come on in and instead discover a boutique experience with artistic tendencies and amenities that are open exclusively for overnight guests and club members. This means you can take any dip in the heated lap pool, cocktail in the lounge and patio, or browse the library’s wares—like rockstar royalty.
Cecilia is, after all, named after the patron saint of music and poetry. The property encompasses just 20 rooms (including six new garden suites added this year), each decked out with handmade organic Hästens beds and bedding, and bathrooms with Grown Alchemist pamper products and custom kimono bathrobes. Each room is designed in bespoke fashion, with a nod to the hotel’s favorite artists of all time. Think The Stones, Anne Sexton, and Bill Burroughs. Guests even have Gibson guitars, vintage LPs, and music biographies at their disposal, in order to further soundtrack the journey.
The Ivy Hotel
Tucked away on an unassuming city block, you’ll be in awe of what’s awaiting you just behind the doors of this luxurious mansion hotel. Inside there’s an eclectic medley of elegant meets vintage, dark wood with light, classic checkered floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows—all of which feel impeccably and intentionally designed. One pass through the yellow-tiled archways reveals walls adorned with bookshelves and fireplaces, and every room seems to tell a story from its historic 18th century past.
Many of the 17 rooms and suites exude a certain regal charm with their grand canopied beds, ceilings with boldly opulent chandeliers, clawfoot tubs, and French limestone flooring. Let mornings unfold in the hotel’s private garden, book a body ritual treatment at The Spa at the Ivy, or enjoy seasonally crafted plates inspired by French dining at Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay at Magdalena, where fresh seafood unsurprisingly plays a prominent role. When you’re ready to explore, the culture of historic Mt.Vernon will keep you busy: world-class museums (see: The Walters Art Museum), cozy neighborhood bars (try Sugarvale), airy green spaces (Mt. Vernon Place Park is easy to love), and famous theaters like The Lyric Opera House are just outside the door.
Chicago’s most stylish new hotel opening since the pandemic glamorously transforms one of the city’s most iconic Art Deco landmarks. The Carbide & Carbon Building pops in the city’s skyline with its 24-karat golden champagne bottle cap design. Plus, Pendry Chicago’s prime location is within walking distance of the Windy City’s top tourist attractions, including Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, and Michigan Avenue shopping. For the first time ever, the building’s rooftop is open to the public as an intimate bar, with plush velvet banquettes encased in glass windows and a small open-air terrace.
Rooms are well-appointed with a minimalist modern touch—lighter and brighter than the hotel’s previous iteration, they’re now replete with cream carpeting, gauzy curtains, and white walls accented with black-and-white photos. Ground-floor restaurant Venteux is a highlight, led by executive chef/partner Donald Young, whose French technique and training is impeccable. His whole dry-aged duck, French onion soup and Grand Marnier soufflé with foie gras and black sesame are the best iterations of these French classics in the city.
Post House Inn
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Just across Charleston Harbor in Mount Pleasant’s historic Old Village, Post House Inn offers seven sophisticated rooms in the capital’s most charming suburb. Romantics will recognize the neighborhood from The Notebook while others will appreciate the inn’s tasteful nods to the past, like archival wallpaper and antique accents dressing the recently modernized second- and third-floor accommodations, still clad in classic Charleston chic. The ground floor is home to Post House Restaurant, open daily for dinner and serving brunch on weekends. Classic cocktails—try the Manhattan or French 75—are rarely a bad addition.
Serving seasonal American dishes with a focus on local ingredients, along with some perfected standbys such as the backbar cheeseburger, it’s popular among Charleston locals who have no shortage of worthwhile restaurants to choose from. Throughout the property’s updated interiors you’ll find the walls decked in pieces by area artists such as Wayway Allen and Shannon Wood, while Post House’s primary outdoor space is home to a courtyard of tables flanked by red-and-white-striped fabric shades in a bid to offer a bit of relief from the blazing southern sun. Dine al fresco here, or simply enjoy the coastal air with an evening drink from the genteel bar inside.
The Roxy Hotel
New York City
This 201-room corner hotel in TriBeCa offers a unique stay that marries nostalgia with old New York vibes. From The Roxy Hotel’s façade—inspired by vintage movie theater marquees—to its subterranean club, The Django, reminiscent of a Parisian jazz bar, it is The Roxy’s dining and nightlife that sets it apart. To be sure, Art Deco-styled guest rooms are perfectly appointed, with Frette bathrobes and Smeg mini-fridges, but the real attraction is on the other side.
This is apparent upon entering when you wander into The Roxy Bar, where you can pair champagne with appetizers while listening to live jazz performances from New York musicians. Directly next to The Roxy Bar is The Oyster Bar, where you can munch on locally-caught seafood (like mussels, oysters, and crabs) from nearby Narragansett Bay in New Jersey. Downstairs, discover a single-screen theater showing foreign and independent films in the context of art deco grandeur. For cinephiles, it’s a must-visit—cocktails and popcorn are optional. Weekly jazz and blues performances draw tourists and locals alike to The Django. While The Roxy is a nightlife destination in its own right, booking a stay at this dog-friendly hotel puts you within walking distance of some of New York’s best attractions.
The Russell Nashville
There are boutique hotels, and then there’s The Russell Nashville: a boutique hotel in a 115-year-old church, the property blends historic architecture with modern, design-forward sensibilities.
Inside the East Nashville hotel—in the coolest neighborhood in what might just be the coolest city in America—there are bright pops of color and individually decorated rooms that preserve some of the church’s historic details, like church pews repurposed as headboards and original stained glass.
The Russell’s 23 guest rooms range from cozy interior king rooms to a two-story tower suite that sleeps six and makes excellent use of the church’s bell tower. The affordability factor is the result of a forward-thinking mentality: Instead of the traditional check-in at reception, the hotel prefers to rely on technology by emailing guests a check-in code and donating to local homeless shelters. While this translates to fewer on-site amenities—there’s no restaurant or room service—the hotel is a mere block from some of the city’s best eateries and bars.
Santa Monica Proper Hotel
Santa Monica, California
Discerning travelers looking for full-city immersion with an immaculately designed edge ought to look no further than the Proper Hotel brand. At the sunny Santa Monica iteration, the Proper team goes to lengths to bring the ocean to your door and the city to your senses. A highlight of the property is the rooftop, featuring a lap-worthy pool, inimitable views of the Pacific Ocean, and overhanging palm trees for when you need a moment in the shade. Poolside is the hotel’s aptly-named main restaurant offering up breezy California cuisine with a melange of fresh seafood, market produce, and loads of sharable small plates.
Sunday DJ sessions and morning yoga classes by the pool help further ease you into the west side’s laid-back ethos, while inside, the Kelly Wearstler-designed space oozes bohemian chic style with an effortlessly cool lobby. Giant L.A.-inspired art installations and cozy couches complete the interior’s rustic yet contemporary aesthetic. Many of the 271 rooms boast balconies, and all come with Aesop products, Apple TVs, and floor-to-ceiling windows. To help guests feel like locals, this pet-friendly boutique also provides free bikes that can take you to the beach and other Santa Monica highlights like the famous pier and farmers market just a few short blocks away.
The Siren Hotel
The aptly named The Siren Hotel lures people into the sultry heart of the city of Detroit. With a Wes Anderson-esque appeal, the decor is visually stunning yet playful. Touches like the hand-loomed blankets and colorful terrazzo tiling in the bathroom ensure every room feels special, though a range of room options make for affordable stays. Although traditional guest rooms feature two full-sized beds anchoring the space, The Siren Hotel also offers rooms with bunk beds, appealing to visitors hungry for sleepover camp nostalgia or to friends traveling in groups. The hotel restaurant, Karl’s, a classic diner, brings nostalgia in spades with an old-school jukebox, paper placemats, and classic milkshakes. Expertly crafted cocktails can be had here as well, and these feel just at home amid the deep green and orange-toned furniture marking the retro, cool space. The property’s real jewel, however, is The Candy Bar—but you’ll need a reservation to snag a spot at this swanky drinking hole.
Inclusivity is the name of the game here, thanks in part to a multilingual staff (current languages spoken: English, Spanish, and Bengali). Dedication to the arts, an ongoing part of the Motor City’s renaissance, is demonstrated with the property’s commitment to emerging artists, many of whom reside at the hotel for weeks at a time as part of an artist residency program.
The Surfsand Resort
Cannon Beach, Oregon
A cross between an adult summer camp and a beach resort, Surfsand is situated on Oregon’s coast in Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is best known for Haystack Rock—a natural sea stack formation that has been featured in films such as the 1980s cult classic, The Goonies. Originally opened in 1977, The Surfsand Resort is ideally located in front of Haystack Rock, mere steps from Cannon Beach and within walking distance of the town’s main street. Surfsand has all the amenities you would expect from a beachfront resort, such as an indoor pool, stellar on-premise restaurant, spa, and gym, but it is their weekly activities that truly make a stay at Surfsand special.
Upon check-in (most rooms face the ocean; all feature locally roasted Sleepy Monk Coffee), you’re handed a list of optional activities, including nightly group bonfires, weekend ice cream socials, and daily fresh cookies in the lobby. Surfsand’s restaurant, The Wayfarer, is one of the best in town and doubles as the hotel’s in-room dining menu. This means you can enjoy the freshest seafood (I recommend the Wayfarer clam bake) from the comfort of your balcony, in full view of Haystack Rock. A cool $50 supplement to the booking gets you a private bonfire, including a complete s’mores kit and additional logs.
North Adams, Massachusetts
A country escape that’s easy on the budget, that’s also chic and within a three-hour drive from New York or Boston? TOURISTS delivers on all fronts. Both upscale and understated, the 48-room motor lodge sits like a breath of fresh air in the rolling hills of the Berkshires.
A stay here puts you within easy reach of the area’s renowned cultural offerings, including the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), The Clark Art Institute, plus a myriad of galleries and artist studios. Rooms are Scandinavian in their simplicity with white and raw woods, letting the lush nature outside the windows do the talking. Step directly onto woodland trails or venture to nearby Mt. Greylock State Reservation, curl up with a book in your own picture window, or dip into the heated outdoor pool. Later on, snack on burrata with a glass of natural wine in hand at the on-site restaurant, The Airport Rooms, or chill by the communal fire pits, enjoying all the makings of a relaxing getaway.
Urban Cowboy Lodge
The Catskills, New York
Leave city life and cell phone service behind when you check into the Urban Cowboy Lodge in Upstate New York, where the forests and rolling mountains of Big Indian Wilderness proffer a serene setting for reconnecting with nature. Rooms, suites, a freestanding cabin, and standalone chalet at this secluded luxury retreat have been reimagined in a maximalist western-chic aesthetic, complete with antler chandeliers, bold hand-printed wallpaper, and clawfoot bathtubs—three come with outdoor cedar soaking tubs, but all feature private decks and Pendleton robes.
Minibars are stocked with local goodies and bathrooms with botanical-based products by Khus+Khus and Detox Babe. Big on community, the property encourages guests to become fast friends over Reggae Bingo and Connect Four in the Den and radio hour in the Parlor. At Public House, a veg-forward dining program and whole animal butchery get the wood-fired treatment with dishes best served family-style. A fifteen-minute drive from Belleayre Mountain, skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing abound in winter while hiking trails, nature swims, forest bathing, fishing, and local breweries are major draws during warmer months. Back on property, sweat it out in the Estonian sauna or cozy up beside one of the outdoor fire pits toasting s’mores, sipping cocktails, and sharing stories under the stars.