Image source: McMenamins Edgefield
While typically people travel for the destination, there are some hotels that are worth the trip in themselves. The following hotels are anything but standard, with rich histories, atypical offerings, educational experiences and the chance to immerse yourself in local culture. These are the types of properties where you want to explore the nearby towns but would be just as happy never leaving the grounds. Essentially, they give you a reason to travel. To help you plan your vacation, here are six US hotels worth the trip.
For those who want an upscale experience, The Broadmoor is a five-star resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that is much more than just your standard hotel. The property is essentially a city within a city, along with a golf course, a 43,000 square foot spa, salon and fitness center, a bowling alley, three swimming pools and a complimentary guest movie theater showing new releases. The Broadmoor is also home to 19 different restaurants and cafes - including the fine dining-and-dancing Penrose Room, open since 1961 - and 25 retail shops. And since the accommodation is surrounded by mountains and forest, it's the perfect gateway for having the type of outdoor adventure Colorado is known for whether its off-roading, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, trekking or white water rafting. In terms of accommodations, there is a wide range to choose from: rooms, suites, cottages, brownstones, pet-friendly spaces and, for those who want to experience the wilderness, a ranch, fishing camp and high elevation Cloud Camp.
If it's a rustic retreat that you're after, then the Whiteface Lodge located 4 hours from New York City is the perfect choice. Once you're there you'll never have to leave the property to experience the beauty of Lake Placid. In addition to lakeside beauty, the hotel also has a spa (the Four Handed Massage is heavenly), ice cream parlor, ice skating rink (seasonal), a bowling alley, hot tubs, heated indoor/outdoor pool, cooking courses, wine tastings, a movie theater with three daily showings, a lounge with live entertainment, game room (air hockey, anyone?), a Cigar & Cognac lean-to with over 25 libation choices, hiking trails and much more. Guests are also very close to other outdoor adventures like kayaking, skiing and dog sledding. The property offers only suites, so even in the lowest class you still have 700 square feet to work with, complete with kitchens, private patios and balconies, whirlpool tubs and heated floors. Don't leave without sampling a farm-to-fork meal; we recommend the Chef's Table in the innovative KANU Restaurant, where Chef David S. Haick creates atypical dishes like deconstructed desserts featuring carbonated ingredients, fruit carpaccios and special cuts of meat he works with local farmers to create.
For creative travelers and those looking for an inspiring stay, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa offers truly unique arts, health and wellness experiences you won't find in many other places. First of all, their Artist Cottage & Apothecary is a place where you can take mixed media, mandala, glass painting and other classes with an Artist in Residence, make you own bespoke essential oil blends, learn the art of herb distilling or just come on your own time to find your inner muse. Their spa is another highlight of a stay, particularly the Kuyam Treatment, which combines healing clays, inhalation therapy and Chumash Indian chanting with meditation. Further enhancing the experience is the area's landscape, renowned for its Pink Moment when the surrounding bluffs are transformed into a vibrant pink color with the setting sun (the main reason Ojai was chosen as Shangri-La in the film "Lost Horizon"). Here you'll also find an array of fun fitness classes, from the usual yoga and spin to the more atypical Drums Alive which incorporates drumsticks into the workout and the playful Body Hoops involving two-pound hula-hoops. An 18-hole golf course, resort shops, four pools (including an adults-only herb garden pool), geocaching and hiking trails are just a few other facets of the property that make it worth the trip.
Not far from Portland and at the edge of the outdoor adventure-filled Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area you'll find the 74-acre McMenamins Edgefield complex, a fun and funky – not to mention laid back and affordable – property that was once a historic poor farm, transformed into a hotel-music venue-winery-distillery-brewery-movie theater-pool hall-golf course (among other things). Sip a local Portland brew on a comfy couch in their pub theater, see a fashion show or catch a live music act in the Crystal Ballroom, go bar hopping without ever leaving the property, wander the organic gardens with your camera, see artwork crafted by the onsite potter or just relax in a rocking chair and sip a cup of their house-roasted coffee while watching the world go by. It's the type of place where you feel like you've gone back in time, with period furnishings in the rooms, which are also void of televisions and phones. Moreover, McMenamins Edgefield is the type of place where you can have an incredible experience without spending a fortune. For example, their happy hour menus feature small bites starting at $2, and most of the food keeps farm-to-fork in mind. Fun (non) fact: Some speculate that McMenamins Edgefield may also be haunted by a ghost from the property's days as a poor farm. For those who believe this, it only adds to the ambiance of the historic property.
Where to begin. The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel is inspired by the organic architectural designs of famous local architect Frank Lloyd Wright (the consulting architect for the property and the teacher of its head architect, Albert Chase McArthur). It's a historic property built in 1929. Make sure to have a drink in their authentic speakeasy which actually existed during Prohibition and still requires a password which you can find on Twitter weekly by searching #Speakeasy. There are eight swimming pools (the Catalina Pool was a favorite of Marilyn Monroe), a History Hallway showcasing photographs of every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover, a spa with natural and organic treatments, high tea service, beer dinners, winemakers dinners, tennis courts, al fresco moonlight yoga, two challenging golf courses, live entertainment and much more. For guests interested in learning about the property's past, History Tours are given on Saturday mornings.
If you're all about the experiences, Trevin Farms offers a unique farmstay experience where travelers can learn firsthand about local agricultural. Guests get to milk goats, gather eggs, bottle-feed and walk goats, learn the art of foraging, make their own cheese, dig up vegetables, eat farm-to-fork meals prepared by talented chefs (you can even pick your own veggies for it!), and star-gaze without light pollution. Another must-have experience onsite is a whimsical carriage ride where you'll not only enjoy an unobstructed view of the Green Mountains, but also a goodie basket including wine, homemade cheese, crackers and, in the fall, hot cocoa or apple cider. Offsite but nearby, guests can get active with hiking in the Moosalamoo Recreation Area, canoeing at Lake Hortonia, riding the ferry to New York, cruising on Lake Champlain, exploring neighboring farms, visiting beer and winemakers, go antiquing and much more. We recommend their Cheese Making Package, which includes two nights of accommodation, a cheese making class using milk from their own goats, one farm-to-fork dinner and breakfast each morning (including Vermont maple syrup and Vermont maple-cured bacon!) for $550.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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