All good hotels tend to lead people to do things they wouldn’t necessarily do at home. So said luxury hotelier Andre Balazs. Is that what makes a good hotel? Somewhere you can take a break from yourself? Or is it somewhere with a stunning lobby? Or a beautiful spa? With a champagne bar or a decadent room?
Here at Fifty States One Day Towers, we long for a certain kind of place. It’s not luxury we’re after; rather charm. Be it a hotel with a resident kitten, a window onto nature or thoughtful touches from the host, we have loved sleeping in a jail cell, seeing ducks splash in an atrium fountain and lusted at in-room pastel-coloured smeg fridges. But, over halfway into our quest to visit and spend at least a night in each and every American state we’ve managed to whittle our list of the favourite places we’ve rested our heads down to ten. And here they are:
10 – Hotel Monaco, Portland
Staying here on our honeymoon meant the Kimpton showered us with upgrades and freebies. We enjoyed: a welcome hamper, bottles of wine and champagne on the house, a free upgrade to a huge and comfy suite, playing computer games and meeting cool guests in the lobby during the traditional Kimpton Happy Hour with more free booze and snacks. The hotel was dog-friendly so we met pugnacious Pugs and great Great Danes. It was a blast. The hotel was beautiful and the staff exceptionally friendly and happy. And seriously we can’t tell you how drunk (very) we got that night. What a hotel.
9 – Inn On The Millstream, Woodstock
Nestled amongst pine trees and a babbling stream in the Catskills and a short walk to the tie-dyed epicenter of the planet: Woodstock, the Inn on the Millstream was a beautiful and charming retreat. This place has the absolute best homemade Granola we’ve ever eaten, a slightly pudgy cat and hammocks amongst the gardens to while away the hours. Listening to the rain beat down outside as we watched old movies in our sweet little room was bliss.
8 – Sayre Mansion, Bethlehem
It probably helped Sayre Mansion’s case that prior to arriving here we had spent four lumpy, bumpy, noisy crampt nights at the delightfully retro-naff Americana Hotel in Washington DC. To misquote Margaret Thatcher “Where there was discord, the Sayre Mansion brought harmony, where there was despair, they brought hope.” They also provided the fluffiest towels, the most spacious bathroom, the biggest bed, the most indulgent home-cooked hearty breakfast. All within a historic mansion. Delightful.
7 – Ace Hotel, Seattle
In a former maritime workers’ hotel in Belltown, hipster’s favourite Ace started their first-ever hotel here in 1999. All about unfussy luxury: loft ceilings, hardwood floors, art made by their friends – Hannah had to strain every sinew not to instagram the entire hotel from floor to ceiling over our two-night stay. Our Deluxe room had bare bricks, big windows, potted succulents, a double-shower and the breakfast room had a waffle iron and glass coffee mugs. It’s the little things sometimes.
6 – Crystal Cottage, Rock Cottage Gardens, Eureka Springs
The Crystal Cottage might be the very best definition of charming we can find. Within our cosy cottage there was a huge bed you had to leap to get on top of, a Jacuzzi, a gas log fireplace, his-n-her bathrobes, bathsalts and candlelight. In the fridge we found chocolate dipped strawberries and little bottles of fizzy wine. It was chintzy, pink and unashamedly romantic. Breakfast was epic and the hosts were two of the sweetest people we could hope to meet. This place could warm even the most cynical heart.
5 – Shack Up Inn, Clarksdale
“The Ritz we ain’t” so declare the Shack Up Inn: a bluesy, junk-filled plantation that’s more of a bed’n’beer. It was unforgettable experiencing the Hopson Plantation, located only three miles from the legendary Crossroads, Highways 49 and 61, in Clarksdale. The Shack Up Inn comprises renovated shotgun shacks, the newly renovated bins in the Cotton Gin and the Juke Joint Chapel. Their corrugated tin roofs and Mississippi cypress walls conjure visions of a bygone era and the spirits of Sam Cooke, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Son House and Elmore James. We befriended the dog – Guinness – here, drank fine beer and strummed (badly) a guitar on our porch. Before watching the Mississippi sunset and heading out to eat barbecue and listen to the blues. Never has a place got a hold of our soul so hard.
4 – Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim
‘Crying: Acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon’ so says meat-loving, Government-hating Ron Swanson. And although Hannah cries at everything (even adverts) tough-guy Josh got a bit emotional when confronted with the two billion year-old canyon. And who wouldn’t. It’s stunning. Watching the sun rise and set upon it is a profound experience. And the North Rim’s Lodge provide solitude, talks on condors and rugged, handsome cabins. Our cabin was basic, but with a huge fireplace, rocking chairs on the porch and a view of the canyon. The bar served mean salted caramel White Russians and the air was so fresh and so clean. What a place to be at one with nature.
3 – Whispering Pines Tree-house, Amish Country Lodging, Ohio
We loved climbing trees when we were little. Looking down on the world from up amongst the leaves and branches. And a chance to experience the arbor-thrill of a night in a tree house with a Jacuzzi was almost too much to bear. Located in the rolling hills, farms and cotton fields of Ohio, the Amish Tree-house we stayed in was divine. Everything was beautifully crafted from wood, the views were quietly spectacular and upon arrival we were greeted by the sweetest, friendliest lil cat we named Nancy. Berlin – where the treehouse is located – is a town with huge small-town-Americana vibes. And after a dinner of fried chicken steaks and grape jelly pies, we drank a beer on the porch and watched crummy tv from the comfort of the Jacuzzi. A Jacuzzi in a tree-house. Consider our minds blown.
2 – The View Hotel, Monument Valley
If you’re going to call your hotel ‘The View’ well then the view had better be OK, right? Well this view, the view of Monument Valley is more than alright, it might be the best view we’ve ever seen and will ever see from a hotel window. A panorama of the giant “mittens” – a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft above the valley floor – the colours of the rock changing and their shadows dancing as the sun rises and sets. Wide skies, Navajo food and décor, dessert heat. This place is magical.
1 – Dog Bark Park, Cottonwood
It just had to be. Our stay at the Dog Bark Park was easily the happiest night of our lives. Idaho’s Dog Bark Park Inn, a bed & breakfast guesthouse inside the World’s Biggest Beagle, is the loving creation of married chainsaw artists Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. The pair built 30-foot-high ‘Sweet Willy’ in 1997, funded through sales of miniature dog carvings. Here we played boardgames, laughed, drank beer and enjoyed tasty treats, like home-baked biscuits, shaped like doggy bones. Dennis and Frances were an honour to meet as was Sprocket their gorgeous real-life dog. The lawn was dotted with more chain-saw art and we just had to buy a miniature Sweet Willy to take home. This is easily the most joy-filled place we’ve ever stayed. A surreal and happy roadside attraction.
Have you stayed in any of these hotels? What makes a hotel perfect for you? Are there any hotels in the USA that you think we simply have to visit one day? Let us know below!