The best travel tips are always from friends, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite hotels. I sometimes plan trips around where I’d like to stay, and though I’m devoted to airbnb lately, these are a few hotels where you should stay if you ever get the chance.
The hotels on this list meet all my criteria for a perfect visit — the bedrooms are prettier and more comfortable than the one I have at home, the common areas are nice enough that I like to hang out there, there’s somewhere to soak (a deep bathtub, a hot tub, a heated pool), good coffee is available first thing in the morning, and the people who work there go out of their way to be kind.
Most of them are in California, because I love road trips, but there are a couple bonus places here too:
boon hotel + spa
If you’re heading to the Russian River Wine country, this is the most relaxing, fun place to stay. Modern accommodations hidden in a redwood forest, a central heated pool and hot tub with an honor bar, and most of the fourteen rooms have private patios. The owner Krista is a chef, she owns two restaurants in town as well, so the coffee and breakfast delivered to your door in the morning is always seasonal and delicious.
San Louis Obispo, California
I can’t do this place justice, you must go and bring as many friends as you can convince. The Madonna Inn has been around since the 1950s; it’s the halfway point for a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and was built by a couple with a vision. This hotel is one of my favorite places anywhere, so kitschy it transcends and circles back to art. Each room has its own very distinct theme, so choose carefully from the list of photos on the site (Irish Hills is one of my favorites). The dining room, and everything in it, is pink, and there are hand-to-heaven dinosaur bones in the boulders that form the fireplace. The food is terrific, as are the cocktails, which you can enjoy in the bar, or floating in the epic heated pool overlooking the valley. There’s a live swing band every Saturday night, and I adore it. Go here. You must go.
Los Angeles, California
I stayed here by happenstance because I wanted to be close to a friend. The lush colors and quirky interior felt like Buenos Aires to me, and it turns out the owner is an Argentine. There’s a great, small restaurant on site, and when I was there the Eggslut food truck pulled up in the mornings for coffee and breakfast. (Is that still a thing? Not sure.) The hotel room was cozy and quiet, and my room felt personal, like I was staying with a good friend.
Ace Hotel, Portland
The Ace Hotels are now officially a chain with seven hotels all over the world, but their second property in Portland is still my favorite. The rooms are spacious and bright, with big windows that still open, and many have deep claw footed tubs. Downstairs, you can work in the library overlooking the lobby, there’s strong wifi throughout. The lobby is attached to a Stumptown coffee shop, so grab a cup and settle in with their solid selection of reading material. The hotel restaurant has a bar with bartenders who know what they’re doing, and I do not say that lightly. There’s a vintage photobooth, and twee bikes you can borrow, but the overall feeling is laid back. If you love the Ace aesthetic as much as I do, their sister property in Palm Springs is also dreamy.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I should note that I’ve never stayed at Home Hotel, but spent a lot of time with traveling companions who did, and visited often when I lived in Argentina for a month. It feels just like home should, a relief from the city outside. There are cross stitch samplers in the elevators, greenery all around, and everything is set up to be simple and comfortable. Great food and drinks on site, but they also have a visitor’s guide that outlines all the management’s favorite places in town. By the time I discovered it, I’d spent weeks finding most of the places that were already on their list. Even if you aren’t staying at Home (it’s pricey), it’s worth swinging by for a drink or a snack and asking for a guide.
If you’ve ever stayed somewhere that felt just right, please tell so I can add it to my list of places to try, which is right here: travel | unique hotels.
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