‘Greatest Hotels Ever’ Awards: And the Winners Are…

‘Greatest Hotels Ever’ Awards: And the Winners Are…

BY Fifty Grande Editors | March 13, 2024

In September of last year, when we asked our discerning readers to submit nominations for our first Greatest Hotels Ever awards, we were really asking: “What are the most notable hotel experiences in the U.S., ones with a bit of attitude, for under $350 a night?” We received a flood of submissions that were then vetted to arrive at the 50 in our inaugural list. In short, these are the hotels that our readers say are the best experiences you can find for under $350 a night, and we agree. You’ll find the unranked selections below, presented by region. If your fave is missing from the list, watch for the next chance to vote in the nominations coming later this year. 

The inaugural ‘Greatest Hotels Ever’ are:

  • The Asbury, Asbury Park, N.J.
  • The Dean Hotel, Providence, R.I.
  • Hotel Zena, Washington, D.C.
  • The Lincoln Hotel, Biddeford, Maine
  • Oak Bluffs Inn, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
  • The Schoolhouse Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
  • TWA Hotel, New York, N.Y.
  • The Verb, Boston, Mass.
  • Woodstock Inn and Resort, Woodstock, Vt.
  • 21c Museum Hotel, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Bottleworks Hotel, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • The Brown Hotel, Louisville, Ky.
  • Hotel Donaldson, Fargo, N.D.
  • Hotel Millwright, Amana, Iowa
  • Hotel on Phillips, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • The Junto, Columbus, Ohio
  • Kinn Guesthouse, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Magnolia Omaha, Omaha, Neb.
  • Palmer House, Chicago, Ill.
  • The Siren Hotel, Detroit, Mich.
  • Union Station Hotel, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Viceroy Hotel, Chicago, Ill.
  • Crazy Water Hotel, Mineral Wells, Texas
  • Emeline, Charleston, S.C. 
  • Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel, Round Top, Texas
  • Graduate Nashville, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Grand Bohemian Lodge, Greenville, S.C.
  • Hotel San José, Austin, Texas
  • Hotel Tupelo, Tupelo, Miss. 
  • Kimpton Overland Hotel Atlanta Airport, Atlanta, Ga.
  • The Pontchartrain Hotel, New Orleans, La.
  • The Reserve at Hot Springs, Hot Springs, Ark.
  • The Vendue, Charleston, S.C.
  • Ace Hotel Palm Springs, Palm Springs, Calif.
  • ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile, Kanab, Utah
  • The Eddy Taproom & Hotel, Golden, Colo. 
  • The Edgewater Hotel, Seattle, Wash.
  • Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish, Mont.
  • Hotel Chaco, Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Hotel Figueroa, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Hotel Max, Seattle, Wash.
  • Hotel McCoy, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Hotel Zetta, San Francisco, Calif.
  • McMenamins Kennedy School, Portland, Ore.
  • The Pearl Hotel, San Diego, Calif.
  • Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho
  • Urban Cowboy, Denver, Colo.
  • The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Wyoming Inn, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The Asbury, Asbury Park, N.J.

Interior look at The Asbury’s common spaces.

Built in a 1950s red brick building that once belonged to the Salvation Army and situated on the Jersey Shore, The Asbury was the first hotel to open in Asbury Park in almost 50 years when it debuted in 2016. For decades, developers have tried to revitalize the shoreline in this once-thriving resort town, and, with the Asbury’s opening in 2016, something has finally stuck. Some of the hotel’s success is due to its two rooftop lounges, which have killer ocean views, and to the affordable rooms that, though spare, emulate beach chic with light woods and checkerboard floors. But maybe more credit is owed to the hotel’s embrace of Asbury Park culture. Lobby and common areas have photos of carnival rides that swung atop the Asbury Park boardwalk in the 1920s; a mix of mismatched furniture add a playful touch, and there are always activities like poetry readings taking place. Soundbooth, the lobby bar, gives a nod to the city’s storied music past with vinyl records and cassette tapes, but there’s no on-site restaurant. Just a block from the boardwalk, guests are instead encouraged to explore Asbury Park’s local food scene. – Arundhati Kumar

The Dean Hotel, Providence, R.I.

Die-hard karaoke fans can belt out ’80s hits in the Boombox, the hotel’s basement karaoke bar.

The European-style Dean Hotel embodies downtown Providence’s slightly gritty, industrial charm. This 52-room boutique has everything from hostel-style bunks for friends traveling together on a budget to moody king-bed suites à la melancholic metropolitan honeymoon. Once a strip club and brothel, the Dean was remodeled in 2014 as part of an urban redevelopment project, yet kept some of the building’s original features, including the vintage cage elevator. In the lobby, grab a locally roasted caffeine boost at Bolt coffee bar, which was voted R.I.’s best coffee roaster in 2022 by Food & Wine. Die-hard karaoke fans can belt out ’80s hits in the Boombox, the hotel’s basement karaoke bar, where the red neon decor makes it seem forever some ungodly hour of the night. – Katherine James

Hotel Zena, Washington, D.C.

The portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the hotel’s lobby. Photo Credit: Mike Schwartz Photography.

If the first thing you think of when hearing the name Hotel Zena is “Xena: Warrior Princess,” you’re not too far off. There’s art celebrating strong women everywhere in the hotel. There’s a mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg made out of 20,000 hand-painted cotton tampons. Nearby is a wall with a mosaic of protest buttons bearing calls for gender equality. Another wall is papered with charcoal sketches of famous women. Covering the side of the building are huge murals of brightly painted women described as “warrior sentinels.” In addition to the art, the amenities lend themselves toward messages of feminism and inclusivity as well. In a space called the Z Shed, the hotel stocks Polaroid cameras, bikes, yoga mats and shirts emblazoned with sayings like “the future is fluid.” For the parents out there, they also offer a number of kids’ classes and activities from baking to an art-themed scavenger hunt. — Briana Brady

The Lincoln Hotel, Biddeford, Maine

Exterior view of The Lincoln Hotel.

A boutique hotel in a renovated mill, The Lincoln Hotel feels like the interior of an elegant mountain lodge was dropped into a classic brick building. What is not brick is dark and cool-toned, and fur blankets break up the crisp white bedding and modern, angular furniture. It is as cozy as it is sleek. Just south of Portland, Maine, the Lincoln Hotel sits in the former economic center of Biddeford on the coast of Maine. After a long day of touring lighthouses, you can retreat here to sit in front of your fireplace, have a drink at the hotel bar — which looks like it should be frequented by boat captains with champagne taste — or take in the churning sea from the hotel’s rooftop pool. Attached to the hotel is the Batson River Brewing and Distilling, an equally cozy and refined pub fit for the Maine coast. – Emily Frantz 

Oak Bluffs Inn, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Exterior shot of Oak Bluffs Inn.

Going to the Oak Bluffs Inn doesn’t just place you in Martha’s Vineyard, it makes you feel Martha’s Vineyard. The inn’s architecture seamlessly blends a traditional Victorian house with a wide turret reminiscent of a lighthouse: its top level is open to the air. There are wicker rockers on the porch, a shared patio and a garden between the main house and the carriage house. Because the inn is a converted home and carriage house, there are only 10 rooms, but each is unique, and some come with a private entrance or a sitting area. It’s the coziness of your mother’s living room with the soothing tones and soft light of a beach house.

In line with that familial feel, the owners of the inn, Rhonda and Erik Albert, make themselves personally available to guests. Their daily, homemade breakfast includes “one of Erik’s signature baked dishes,” and they will happily supply local recommendations, transportation and beach chairs if you need them (the beach is only a five-minute walk away). – Briana Brady

The Schoolhouse Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

The Schoolhouse Hotel’s lobby.

The Schoolhouse was originally constructed in 1912, one of the earliest high schools in West Virginia’s Greenbrier County. Later repurposed as a middle school, the last class of students walked its halls in 1993, and it was vacant for decades before the Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF) purchased the building in 2019. Today, The Schoolhouse Hotel is White Sulphur Springs’ first boutique and everything that goes with that — top-notch food, inviting rooftop bar, 30 unique guest rooms — but it’s exceptional in its approach to inclusive accommodations. Read about the hotel’s approach to hospitality in this issue. – Katherine James

TWA Hotel, New York, N.Y.

The sunken lounge at TWA Hotel.

There’s nothing people love more than sleeping at the airport. And at the TWA Hotel, that’s not even a joke. The TWA somehow makes visiting Kennedy Airport appealing, with a decor that feels somewhere between the 1960s and a distant dystopian future. Stark white walls and floors are covered in cherry red carpeting and upholstery, mimicking the interior of a 1960s air cabin: cocktail in hand, no seatbelt required. Beyond the entire hotel feeling like a first-class airplane — or a more ominous spacecraft in some ways — TWA rooms look out over the runway at JFK. It is not uncommon to slowly sip a drink in the open-concept lobby (once a flight center in 1962) or at the hotel’s popular poolside bar and watch planes take off and land over the course of an afternoon. TWA, in partnership with the New York Historical Society, also acts as a museum and documents the history of commercial air travel.  – Emily Frantz 

The Verb, Boston, Mass.

Exterior shot of the pool with lights of Fenway Park in the background.

Born from memories of the Fenway neighborhood’s buzzing musical landscape in the 1960s, The Verb hotel aims to bring out your inner rockstar. Each room puts you in a rebellious spirit with colored stained-glass windows, record turntables and a series of photographs of rock ‘n’ roll icons like The Who and Queen, while the on-site Japanese restaurant, Hojoko, adds in the pulsating energy of Japanese nightlife. Yet the true essence of The Verb awaits in the private backstage RVs. You heard that right: 10 of the rooms here are retrofitted trailers that look like they pulled off the highway in 1969 and have been at The Verb ever since. Celebrating legendary artists, such as Cass Elliot or Janis Joplin, each A-list trailer comes with rainfall showers, private patios, record players, rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and a wet bar to put you in the free love frame of mind. – Anna Montagner

Woodstock Inn and Resort, Woodstock, Vt.

Front view of the Woodstock Inn and Resort.

Located one state over from that Woodstock and with a far less chaotic reputation, the Woodstock Inn and Resort is a folksy, picturesque hotel in central Vermont. The stately resort is a hop, skip and jump away from the largest ski mountain in the Northeast, a national forest and the New Hampshire border, planting it firmly in idyllic New England town territory. Even with its mansion exterior and celebrity clientele, there is something comfortingly “grandma” about this resort. From thick floral curtains and checkered armchairs to embroidered pillows and jars of maple syrup shaped like maple leaves, the Woodstock Inn provides the essence of a well-to-do grandparent’s home without the burden of hanging out with your grandparents. Beyond swimming in the large indoor pool, snacking on free cookies during afternoon tea and playing chess in one of the property’s many nooks, the inn acts as a central point for leaf peeping and exploring the local village, boutique shops, farms and cafes. It doesn’t get much more New England than that. – Emily Frantz 

21c Museum Hotel, St. Louis, Mo

Gallery installation at 21c Museum Hotel in St. Louis. Photo by Adam Robb.

The newest 21c Museum Hotel only opened in August; however, “The Way Out West,” a three-story permanent installation occupying the lobby’s main stairwell, has already proven itself as St. Louis’ most iconic spot for a selfie. Sorry, Gateway Arch! Photo-printed wall coverings and carpets conceived by the design duo Fallen Fruit have become an irresistible backdrop where oversized cherubs tumbling across an acid landscape of flora and fauna camouflage slinging arrows and tomahawks among the dogwood. And if you turn around and take a deeper look, you’ll find even more subversive allusions to the city’s history. Read the full feature story about the hotel in this issue. — Adam Robb

Bottleworks Hotel, Indianapolis, Ind.

The hotel’s food hall vendors serve Latin, Pakistani and American cuisines.

Bottleworks Hotel was once the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world. After the closure of the plant in the ’60s, the building was jostled between various owners until 2016, when it was re-imagined as a beautiful Art Deco hotel smack in the middle of Indianapolis’s growing Bottleworks District. But the scent of soda remains, at least architecturally speaking. Midcentury plants could be much grander than the factories of today, and the ornate original details — including the terrazzo floors, ceramic tiles patterned after Coke bottles and sugarcane and the vintage white terra-cotta exteriors — were restored. Newer aspects memorialize the plant, too, like plaster details in the ceiling inspired by soda fizz and staircases made to look like soda fountains. One of its event spaces, The Lab, a jade green tiled room that gives Dakota Johnson’s green kitchen a run for its money, used to be a testing room for the newest Coke products. The previous factory garages are now a food hall, appropriately called The Garage, with vendors that serve Latin, Pakistani and American cuisines as well as wine and beer. – Sarah Cortina

The Brown Hotel, Louisville, Ky.

The famed Hot Brown sandwich.

Almost immediately after The Brown Hotel opened in 1923, the 294-room, Georgian Revival masterpiece became a high-society institution. The elite initially came for the design: stone-columned, multi-story common areas, row after row of claw-footed red couches and ceilings carved like a Florentine chapel. But it’s the parties that became legendary. During the 1920s, The Brown Hotel threw nightly dinner soirees for crowds of over a thousand. Opera singer Lily Pons famously let her pet lion cub roam free in her suite, and Victor Mature, then an aspiring actor working as an elevator operator at the hotel, was fired after he cut out of work early to attend a party on the rooftop. In 1926, under the demands of this debauchery, hotel chef Fred Schmidt invented the Hot Brown sandwich as a snack for drunken dancers after midnight. The super-hot, open-faced sandwich, made with turkey, bacon and a thin-but-amply-applied cheese sauce, was an upscale take on ham and eggs for this upscale crowd. This year, The Brown Hotel turns 100 and is still a rip-roaring good time. – Emily Carmichael

Hotel Donaldson, Fargo, N.D.

Room 10 at Hotel Donaldson.

Easily one of the coolest hotels in Fargo, N.D., each of the rooms at Hotel Donaldson spotlights the work of a different artist. The art varies from modern paintings with bold colors to blown glass to stark black-and-white photography, and each room is laid out with a gallery mindset. The walls and bedding are white, the lights are set on tracks and when there are pops of color, like the throw pillows on the bed or the squishy armchair in the sitting area, it corresponds to the room’s art. While not art, one of the rooms also has a huge infinity tub between the foot of the bed and the sitting area. 

The art isn’t just in the rooms. Throughout the hotel, you’ll find the work of over 60 artists from Fargo and the surrounding region. And while the inside of the hotel has been completely renovated and modernized, architecture fans will appreciate that the original exterior of the 1893 hotel has been maintained and restored. It’s no wonder the Hotel Donaldson has become a local hot spot. We hear the rooftop bar is the place to be during the summer months. – Briana Brady

Hotel Millwright, Amana, Iowa

Indigo Room fare.

During World War I, German U-boats were captured on the Eastern Seaboard carrying a curious liquid: indigo dye headed for — of all places — Iowa. More specifically, what is today Hotel Millwright. Hotel Millwright shares its long, redbrick building with Iowa’s last operational textile mill, once a major economic engine of the Amana Colonies, a centuries-old German community and now a popular day-trip destination. The hotel feels every bit its industrial past. Sloughed-off plaster reveals huge patches of brick, looms sit in the hallways and rusted machine parts still hang from the ceiling. Guest rooms are warehouse-sized, outfitted with black-and-white photography and linens made down the hall. Downstairs, the factory floor has become a whiskey bar appropriately called The Indigo Room (serving food too; see above), and, outside the grounds are lustrous and green. Hotel Millwright uses environmentally friendly permeable street pavers, stormwater runoff filtration and completely green electricity generated by an on-site methane digester. It’s all part of Amana Colonies’ larger eco-tourism initiative meant to keep this previous commune going for centuries more.  – Emily Carmichael 

Hotel on Phillips, Sioux Falls, S.D.

The hotel’s lobby and famed bank vault in the background.

Finally, a bank that won’t raise your blood pressure. Rather than wait on hold for hours trying to get your money, Hotel on Philips takes you straight to the vault. The Treasury, the hotel’s bar and lounge, is inside what was once the vault of Sioux Falls National Bank. When this building was originally constructed in 1918, it was the tallest building in Sioux Falls and some of the details still exist today. The terrazzo floors are the same ones that anxious bankers paced back in the day. Though the city has built taller buildings, the hotel retains a grand, moneyed feel aided by the original chandeliers hanging from the lobby’s high ceilings and the liberal use of leather, velvet and deeply hued colors throughout the 90 offices-turned-guest rooms. At the center of the lobby, all 16 tons of the original bank vault door are intact and as imposing as ever, lugged open to welcome Treasury patrons. Inside, the bar is as good as any low-lit Manhattan hot spot and has helped make Hotel on Philips a regional party destination in the Great Plains. – Emily Carmichael 

The Junto, Columbus, Ohio

The hotel’s rooftop bar, Brass Eye, serves lunch every Sunday.

The first phase of Columbus’ massive Franklinton development, The Junto wants to be a local watering hole where the conversation is as inspiring as the drinks are trendy. The Junto (pronounced “joon-tow”) gets its name from the salon-style get-togethers hosted by Ben Franklin back in the 1700s. This spirit shapes the hotel, starting with The Trade Room, its lobby-workspace. Leather couches, built-in bookshelves and a formidable bar frame the space in the hopes that locals and guests will grab a book or, better yet, chat in front of the central wood-burning fireplace. The Trade Room also hosts classes and talks on topics like “Neuroscience of Strategic Resiliency” and, on Fridays, live music. Whether this hotel can facilitate “mutual improvement” remains to be seen, but we like the communal spirit. Feeling reserved? Introverts will love the contemplative cool blue tones and bay window benches in each guest room. If all else fails, you can borrow sports equipment, bikes, cameras, skateboards and picnic kits at The Gear Garage and head outdoors to commune with just yourself. – Katherine James

Kinn Guesthouse, Milwaukee, Wis.

King corner room at the Kinn downtown.

This millennial re-imaging of the traditional hotel is the love child of Airbnb and WeWork — the concepts, not the companies. Kinn Guesthouse provides visitors with private rooms and access to shared communal kitchens and lounges. The check-in process is entirely self-guided, and service is contactless. Gone are the drab, corporate patterns and furniture of many modern hotels. Instead, Kinn’s rooms resemble real spaces someone actually lives in. That someone just so happens to have a highly curated retro-eclectic aesthetic. The hotel is focused on high-quality amenities, like a Pro Series range stove in the kitchen and Brooklinen sheets on the beds. It’s like you own a home right in downtown Milwaukee, except with roommates. Feeling gregarious? Strike up a conversation with fellow guests over the marble kitchen island, or keep to yourself. Outside their doors, Kinn’s two Milwaukee locations, one in downtown and one in the trendy neighborhood of Bay View, provide plenty of opportunities for nightlife and excitement. – Sébastien Luc Butler 

Magnolia Omaha, Omaha, Neb.

Exterior look at Magnolia Omaha.

Magnolia Omaha’s imposing outer facade and wrought-iron gate gives way to the marble floor, inlaid lights and arched emerald ceiling of its lobby. Gorgeous? Yes. Snooty? Not at all. Beyond its rooms, the hotel contains the Olive and Ira’s restaurant, as well as an open-air courtyard at its center, complete with seating and a fountain. With so many places to eat and socialize, Magnolia is made for people whose favorite part of a vacation is never leaving the hotel. For those wishing to leave its brick walls, the hotel’s location in Omaha’s Old Market District puts you at the doorstep of much of the city’s best attractions, including CHI Arena and the historic Orpheum Theater. – Sébastien Luc Butler 

Palmer House, Chicago, Ill.

Palmer House was originally built in 1870.

Chicago’s Loop holds loads of history, and much of it involves, in one way or another, Palmer House hotel. Originally built in 1870, then rebuilt after the 1871 Chicago fire, and rebuilt again in 1925. Its acclaimed Empire Room, a dining room turned entertainment supper club, has seen some of the biggest names of the past few generations, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Phyllis Diller and Tony Bennett. Despite its many reconstructions, the hotel is enormous and intricately designed with 1,641 rooms, ornate glass chandeliers and even a French painted fresco inspired by the Sistine Chapel. And if you want to really taste some of that Gilded Age glamor, try the famous Palmer House brownie. It’s still prepared using the original 19th-century recipe. – Sarah Cortina

The Siren Hotel, Detroit, Mich.

The Wurlitzer at Ash–Bar Detroit. Photo by Adam Robb.

The Siren has revitalized Detroit’s iconic Wurlitzer building, the century-old downtown skyscraper that once gave rhythm to juke joints, churches and movie houses since the days before talkies. Not only is the building reverberating again, inside is a feast for the senses. Look out your window — down on the Detroit Opera House, toward the roar in the stands at Comerica and the glow of Ford Field; they all fit in a single frame, they’re all steps away, and your lobby is their lobby, shared with out-of-towner Michigan fans rallying at the cafe among hungover bands after a night playing Masonic Temple or St. Andrew’s Hall. Read about The Siren Hotel’s restoration and rebirth in this issue. — Adam Robb

Union Station Hotel, St. Louis, Mo.

The massive cathedral ceiling in the hotel’s lobby.

Although it might be obvious from the name, walking into Union Station Hotel leaves no doubt that the building was originally a train station. Built in 1894 during the Gilded Age railroad boom, the main hall has stained-glass windows, gleaming wood railings where the entrances to the tracks used to be and a massive cathedral ceiling in white and teal where the hotel will sometimes project light shows. The atrium also serves as the hotel’s lobby and lounge area. You can take a seat at the bar, order a drink and pretend it’s the turn of the century and you’re about to catch the next train out west.

Beyond the architecture of the main hall, Union Station is a particularly appealing spot for families. The hotel houses the St. Louis Aquarium and offers a couple of kid-centric food options. There is the 1894 Cafe, which specializes in foods that debuted during the 1904 World Fair, and the Union Station Soda Fountain, an old-fashioned candy shop. – Briana Brady

Viceroy Hotel, Chicago, Ill.

Inside a Viceroy Hotel room overlooking Chicago’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood.

The Gold Coast of Chicago, right next to the shiny shops of Michigan Avenue, is the pinnacle of luxury in an often otherwise modest Midwest. Perhaps, then, it makes sense that this is where the Viceroy Hotel Group first dipped its toes into the — alright, very icy — Lake Michigan market. The Viceroy Hotel turned a brownstone building, previously home to the 1920s Cedar Hotel, into 180 sizable guest rooms full of gilded backsplashes, blue velvet curtains, crisp white sheets and floor-to-ceiling windows. On the top floor, the hotel has a seasonally open rooftop pool, the first on the Gold Coast. The wood-paneled patio, brick walls and lush greenery pair beautifully with the unobstructed views of beach waves and the glistening metropolis of downtown Chicago. – Sarah Cortina

Crazy Water Hotel, Mineral Wells, Texas

Austin star chef David Bull brought his Second Bar + Kitchen to Crazy Water.

In 1912, the Crazy Water Hotel was built and opened over a “crazy well.” Its waters are alleged to have cured whatever ailed a woman that the community knew as “a crazy old lady,” according to local legend. (Turns out the water was loaded with lithium.) There was an influx of visitors to the city during this time and they came to partake in the healing waters. They drank it, bathed in it, swam in it and enjoyed the benefits of water that’s high in sulfates and magnesium, which also act as a mild laxative. The luxury of the local spas, which were thought to be restorative, included the one in the basement of the Crazy Water Hotel that is being renovated and modernized. Read about the hotel’s unique history and unlikely path to a reopening in this issue. — Courtney E. Smith

Emeline, Charleston, S.C.

Emeline’s lobby.

Just off the main drag of Charleston, S.C., a soft pastel city lined with palm trees, there’s a chic boutique. Sophisticated and cute, the name Emeline suits the place: all this hotel needs is the biggest wide-brim hat you’ve ever seen and a bottle of chardonnay. Located just outside the French Quarter of Charleston, the hotel emulates the style of the city, with crisp white interiors set against warm wood and brick, sailboats and bronze touches sprinkled throughout. The building itself dates back to 1852, when it was initially home to the largest grocery business in the South. Now, it’s home to not only a modern hotel, but two restaurants and a coffee bar.  – Emily Frantz 

Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel, Round Top, Texas

Exterior shot of Flophouze accommodations.

Every hotel needs a niche, but Flophouze has the shipping container-turned-hotel market cornered. Their recycled steel containers are retrofitted with reclaimed wood from floor to ceiling and stylish furnishings from the local Round Top Antiques Fair. The antique show is something of a Texas icon, drawing hordes of collectors and treasure seekers to the tiny town of fewer than 100 people, which is otherwise surrounded by farmland. The result is that each container has unique design elements and sleeps between one and 10 people, depending on the layout. Most of the decor is available for purchase — imagine seeing a quirky, vintage cuckoo clock in your hotel room and buying it right off the wall — as are the containers themselves. And if you’re worried about roughing it in an old steel box, remember each unit comes with Wi-Fi, an outdoor firepit and shared access to a pool — which is, you guessed it, also a shipping container. – Jeremiah David Jenkins

Graduate Nashville, Nashville, Tenn.

The Graduate Nashville flexing Graduate style.

Imagine Barbie’s Dreamhouse, only with a Southern twist and Dolly Parton as the muse. This is Graduate Nashville in Nashville, Tenn.: a splash of pink elegance blended with Vanderbilt University-inspired decor and cowboy charm. Walking in, you might wonder if you’ve just rushed a very kooky sorority. The lobby, adorned with flower motifs, is where guests relax on loveseats done in the boldest patterns of the last half century arranged in tiers on an oversized staircase, or mingle with university students at the bar. Don’t miss the White Limozeen, a Dolly Parton-themed pool bar on the rooftop with pink-and-white poolside umbrellas and bed-sized loungers upholstered in their own loud pink hortensia print. Before you get too sunburned, you can sorority squat with a giant bust of the Backwoods Barbie herself. She’s memorialized in pink, of course. – Anna Montagner

Grand Bohemian Lodge, Greenville, S.C.

Grand Bohemian Lodge.

Picture Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. Now: replace what is pink and and turreted with Blue Ridge Mountain lodge charm, floor-to-ceiling windows and a multi-gabled roofline previously only found in “The Sims 2” expansion packs. Overlooking the rushing falls of the Reedy River, the Grand Bohemian Lodge merges eastern deciduous forest with jewel-tone, velvety opulence. At the Poseidon Spa (their naming certainly doesn’t lack ambition), feel your skin sparkle after some pretty cushy exfoliation treatments. And in the hotel art gallery, you can view rotating exhibits, as well as selections from owner and entrepreneur Richard Kessler’s private collection. Past shows have included textural portraits by Alice Colin and buoyant wool hangings by Meghan Shimek. So is the hotel bohemian or bourgeois? That’s the real question. – Katherine James

Hotel San José, Austin, Texas


In the mid-’90s, lawyer-turned-hotelier Liz Lambert bought a run-down motel in Austin, Texas, and slowly transformed it into her first boutique hotel: Hotel San José. An icon of the once-just-revitalized-now-extremely-swanky South Congress district, the hotel’s ivy-covered facade dreamily hides its smart and eclectic South Texas design. Simple light walls and clean-line furniture set the stage for funkadelic details, like block-print bed covers, cowhide rugs and rotary phones. In the courtyard, relax into a hip, cocktail-sipping version of yourself in the clear, bamboo-shaded pool. You’ll also be able to sample Austin’s incredible music scene without leaving the building — the hotel hosts concerts throughout the year, as well as the local fest South by San José. Borrow a typewriter or Polaroid camera from the front desk to document your sun-drenched Texas vacay. – Katherine James

Hotel Tupelo, Tupelo, Miss. 

Elvis is never far at Hotel Tupelo.

You might be stopping in Tupelo on your road trip between New Orleans and Nashville, or between Atlanta and Memphis. Or you might have set course for the Mississippi town on a rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimage. No matter what brought you here, if you’re spending the night in the town where Elvis was born, you should take advantage of the city’s first full-service boutique hotel. Hotel Tupelo has an airy feel with warm lighting and pops of blue and yellow. It’s the kind of atmosphere that lets you know that you can get a good cocktail there (at their in-house restaurant, Jobos). Elvis is ever-present, but tastefully so: a nylon cord sculpture in the lobby, musical notation wallpaper in the rooms, Elvis’s TCB tattoo etched on the mirror in the lobby bathroom and, yes, portraits of the king throughout the hotel. Maybe one of Hotel Tupelo’s most unique aspects is their partnership with Blue Delta Jeans, a Mississippi-based bespoke jeans company. While staying at the hotel, you can get fitted for and order a custom pair of denim jeans. The jeans don’t come cheap (retail value is $450) but when else are you going to get custom denim? – Briana Brady

Kimpton Overland Hotel Atlanta Airport, Atlanta, Ga.

Woman lounges at the hotel’s indoor pool.

Whatever headache you’ve gotten from being stuck overnight at the Atlanta airport is quick to be alleviated at the Kimpton Overland Hotel. Unlike most airport hotels — overly gray, boxy, reminiscent of a conference room — the Overland Hotel has panache. Visitors are met with herbal aromas and large rope swings hanging from the ceiling next to checkin. The hotel’s exterior, inspired by the Porsche headquarters it sits adjacent to, is a tic-tac-toe of smooth white tile and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Head to the rooftop bar to relax on a wicker chair with a dirty martini paired with a view of aircrafts soaring overhead and Porsche test driving their latest, sleekest and fastest convertibles. Plus, windows are triple-paned to block out jet engines, there’s 24/7 room service, and the room rate includes airport transportation. – Sarah Cortina

The Pontchartrain Hotel, New Orleans, La.

Interior shot of a room at The Pontchartrain Hotel.

The teeming, variegated garden of a city in Tennessee Williams plays and Kate Chopin novels, walk into The Pontchartrain Hotel and that New Orleans slaps you right in the face. Huge palm fronds line a green hallway closed in by darkened, gold-trimmed ceilings. At the far end, heavy velvet drapes pull back to reveal the lobby desk elevated regally on a platform. Venturing further feels like saying yes to a very good dare — and you should say yes. In its nearly 100 years, the Pontchartrain has midwifed New Orleans icons, the Saints football team and Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” among them. In 2016, The Pontchartrain, its power having waned, was renovated by a group that included Cooper Manning (he, Peyton and Eli are from New Orleans), creating the hotel’s moody, almost tropical aura. Though The Ponchartrain’s Caribbean Room was not reopened, the new restaurant, Jack Rose, supplies its own delicious Creole cuisine, enjoyed under a huge portrait of Lil Wayne. The biggest hit, however, is Hot Tin, a locally popular rooftop bar with high-backed wicker chairs, pink cocktails and a view of the Mississippi River so good you feel like you could swallow it whole. – Emily Carmichael 

The Reserve at Hot Springs, Hot Springs, Ark.

Inside a room at The Reserve at Hot Springs.

For a relatively new hotel, The Reserve is a clear winner. The Queen Anne-style mansion was originally built in 1890, and owners Mark and Rhonda McMurry have made sure to keep the Gilded Age spirit going strong while ensuring the boutique hotel offers modern amenities and playful luxury. The Reserve has 12 lovingly restored and decorated rooms — think East Coast Victorian with a twist — where mahogany four-poster beds sit just right among pastel walls and drapes. If you’re a wallpaper aficionado, each bathroom’s contrasting chinoiserie and subtle patterns (look up) will have you singing in the mod glass shower. In the two-story Enclave Suite, wood paneling and chandeliers bring to mind old National Park luxury. Mornings here begin with a three-course breakfast, surrounded by painter Randy Groden’s delicate floral mural. We love chef Josh Davis’ innovative dishes, including Greek yogurt with carrot marmalade, crème brûlée French toast and braised short rib hash. (Yes, that’s just breakfast.) The end of the day brings a special dessert waiting for you in the Butler’s Pantry, which you can enjoy next to the firepit or soaking in a bubble bath before bed. – Katherine James

The Vendue, Charleston, S.C.

Outside look of The Vendue.

At The Vendue in downtown Charleston, the focus, to put it mildly, is art. And here, the bolder the art, the better. The Vendue’s decor speaks to a more sophisticated version of your young, Hello itty-loving self: strong contrasts of red and white (down to the red velvet cookies and the white grand piano in the lobby), cutesy, gold-accented midcentury furniture and classy bulldog door knockers. On the daily art tour, take your time with the work displayed throughout the hotel’s common spaces, including Megan Aline’s forested and feminine silhouettes and Olivia Bonilla’s playful melting ice cream sundae sculptures. Each year, the hotel also hosts an artist-in-residence, whose working studio is open to tour for guests. – Katherine James

Ace Hotel Palm Springs, Palm Springs, Calif.

Ace Hotel Palm Springs’ pool.

If you drive east on Interstate 10, perhaps leaving Los Angeles or curving up and away from San Diego, the landscape of Southern California breaks open, the two-lane highway hugged loosely on either side by the San Jacinto Mountains. Palm Springs, one home of the Ace Hotel, is an overgrown oasis among them. The Ace Hotel Palm Springs in particular feels like an upscale motel, a long two-floor structure that is angled around the hotel pool. The white and cream exterior is as serene as its interior, which is less like a hotel and more like your coolest friend’s living room, complete with record players and Mexican blankets draped over low platform beds. As much as a getaway as it is a place in transit, the hotel’s restaurant, King’s Highway, emulates the kind of roadside diner often found between states in the West: red leather booths, long diner counters, a sea of hot sauce bottles on the tables. Events you would expect of a hotel with record players in the rooms occur year-round, including a surplus of jazz, dancing and curated sound nights in the underground hotel bar. – Emily Frantz 

Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Rooftop cabanas.

It’s not news but worth repeating over and over: Travel accounts for a chunk of the world’s carbon emissions. It’s around 8-11%, and 90% of travelers look for sustainable options when they’re planning trips. ‘Alohilani Resort, one of the many hotels along Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach, fully opened itself to those environmentally concerned bookings when it began rolling out its carbon neutral plan in 2022. Read more about the hotel and its path to being Hawaii’s first carbon-neutral resorts in our new issue.

Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile, Kanab, Utah

Best Friends Roadhouse front entrance.

The Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile sits on the Utah-Arizona border about halfway between Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon — an area known for its endless hiking options. For those outdoor enthusiasts who want their four-legged companions to join their adventures, Best Friends has a solution far better than car camping or stuffy motels: the entire hotel is built around pet-friendly stays. Rooms have trundle pet beds that slide out from beneath the light wood of human bed frames and little nooks in the walls for pets to curl up in. There’s a self-service pet-washing station for when your dog comes back dirty from your hike, and, along with coffee for you, the mercantile is stocked with dog goodies. Forgot a leash? You can pick one up there.

The Roadhouse and Mercantile is connected to Best Friends Animal Society, specifically their animal sanctuary located up the road. Best Friends was founded in the ’80s with a goal of turning all shelters into no-kill shelters. Society members get discounted stays at the hotel, and all guests are encouraged to take a free tour of the nearby sanctuary. – Briana Brady 

The Eddy Taproom & Hotel, Golden, Colo. 

Eddy Taproom & Hotel exterior.

Hiking the mountains with an IPA in hand is perhaps the Colorado dream; however, The Eddy Taproom & Hotel has already achieved it. Built around the connected taproom and rural rocky terrain outside of Denver, The Eddy describes itself as “the ultimate basecamp” for everything that the Rocky Mountains have to offer. While the city of Denver, Red Rocks and a litany of trailheads are all easily accessible, the hotel also runs “Eddy Experiences,” which range from distillery tours and tastings, guided hikes and rock climbing expeditions to alpaca encounters and movie nights. While the hotel’s interior is carefully curated around your typical log cabin aesthetics (flannel bedding, Adirondack chairs around firepits, string lights), this modern brick-front taproom really centers itself around leaving the property — so long as you come back for a seasonal drink at the end of the day. – Emily Frantz 

The Edgewater Hotel, Seattle, Wash.

The Edgewater’s Six Seven Lounge and views of Elliott Bay in Seattle.

While fishing from your room is not encouraged at The Edgewater Hotel, you would not be the first to do so — least of all the first to be banned from returning — or the most famous. Whether we’re talking about bass or bass, Edgewater’s history became inseparable from rock ‘n’ roll when the Beatles stayed there in 1964; the iconic photograph of the four men fishing out of their hotel window was taken here in Seattle. They were outdone in 1973 when Led Zeppelin was banned after reeling a few dozen mud sharks into their room from the water below and tossing out five TVs — presumably to make room for the sharks or more groupies. While some hotels are monuments to rock, The Edgewater actually housed and continues to house musicians, becoming a key player in local nightlife. The hotel is the only one that sits completely over Elliott Bay in Seattle; the cozy, flannel-clad, fireplace-laden interior and bay exterior create the illusion of a secluded, northern lakefront cabin, while retaining all the excitement of being planted in a city. – Emily Frantz 

Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish, Mont.

Exterior look at Grouse Mountain Lodge.

Nestled in Whitefish, Mont., around the corner from Glacier National Park, the Grouse Mountain Lodge is perfect for year-round mountain adventures. Camping in the wilderness, white-water rafting on the Flathead River, sailing, snowboarding, all kinds of skiing, fly fishing, even golf — it’s all here. In the winter, the lodge’s heavy stone walls, wood furniture, preponderance of antlers and gigantic fireplace create a warm refuge. From the large windows in the living room, you’ll get the glorious, snow-covered mountain views you traveled all the way to Montana to see (or ski), best enjoyed while sipping a whiskey ditch or hot toddy from Logan’s Bar and Grill. And if you happen to visit in spring or summer, you can take advantage of the nice weather and dine outdoors, watching a fiery sun lower below the pines, then finish your night by drinking around one of the hotel’s large stone fire pits under a starlit sky. – Anna Montagner

Hotel Chaco, Albuquerque, N.M.

Hotel Chaco’s Level 5 rooftop restaurant and lounge.

Hotel Chaco is an aesthetic achievement, the kind that seems only possible in the New Mexico desert. Its walls are soothing, the quiet sandstone facade only mildly interrupted by the thin slats and boxy cutouts of pueblo-style windows. The tall, earthen lobby feels wonderfully like the inside of a clay urn. Before designing the hotel, Gensler architects spent two days in Chaco Canyon, a Native American architectural site that contains 12 massive Chacoan Great Houses. Like the Chacoans, the architects considered the elements and aligned the hotel with the movement of the sun and moon. They made common areas circular to emulate Chacoan kivas, the ceiling wood-beamed and the doors low. Indigenous art is everywhere, including Navajo-made blankets in each of the 118 guest rooms. Level 5, the hotel’s exclusive rooftop restaurant and lounge, takes its name from the number of floors in a Great House, too. Top chefs rotate in and out of the kitchen at this mostly outdoor restaurant, changing the menu at their will, but, thankfully the views — nearly one entire edge of the Sandia Mountains — remain constant and spectacular. – Emily Carmichael 

Hotel Figueroa, Los Angeles, Calif.

Hotel Figueroa’s lobby.

Hotel Figueroa was women-run at a time when that didn’t happen, and its presence in Downtown L.A., in a neighborhood that has gone through enormous change over the past 30 years, still nods to a different time, a different L.A. Fun fact: Hotel Figueroa has been around longer (since 1926) than the collective ages of its three neighbors Crypto.com Arena (opened in 1999), L.A. Live (2007) and GRAMMY Museum (2008). The hotel’s rooms, lobby and Spanish colonial aesthetic were upgraded in a 2019 renovation, though the throwback vibes remain. Its heritage, as CNN put it, is “a story of ambitious women with a mission to empower each other…” Besides being run by the first woman hotel manager in the country, it was also the first founded, financed and created by women. It opened almost a century ago, and you can still get a room there today. Sit amid the local creatives and the out-of-town conventioneers in that gorgeous high-ceilinged lobby and take it all in. Hotel Figueroa’s existence is a reminder of the remarkable struggle some groups in America go through to achieve anything. — Chris M. Walsh 

Hotel Max, Seattle, Wash.

Lounging inside Hotel Max.

As soon as you step inside Seattle’s Hotel Max, you can’t miss the striking cherry red reception counter. A sculptural stack of drums by the artist Iván Navarro sits to one side, and a signed guitar by Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic hangs on one of the black walls. Covering the door of every guest room are massive photos of rockstars. By now, you’re probably starting to sense a theme: Hotel Max is a temple erected to grunge. The fifth floor, then, is perhaps the most sacred. It houses a tribute to Sub Pop Records, a local indie label home to Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Shins, Sleater-Kinney, Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes and more. There are cool photographs and plenty of records to listen to, but Hotel Max also has hundreds of art pieces interspersed throughout. Some are museum-quality work, too — like one of Andy Warhol’s iconic soup can pieces.  – Arundhati Kumar

Hotel McCoy, Tucson, Ariz.

Poolside at Hotel McCoy.

Uniquely rooted in community and art, the first Hotel McCoy in Tucson opened in 2018. As the hotel’s then-creative director, Nicole Dahl helped launch and expand the brand to three locations and had a broad purview overseeing brand, marketing, communications and ultimately, the guest experience. “Culture tends to only be available to guests at a higher price point,” she says. “Our mission was to create a boutique, independent, experiential hotel stay within that mid-budget range.” Dahl exited the day-to-day operations in early 2024 and moved to a creative advisor role. See the full Q&A in this issue, in which we talked to her about building a hotel brand, Hotel McCoy’s unique differentiation and more. — Chris M. Walsh

Hotel Zetta, San Francisco, Calif.

Inside the London-centric Cavalier.

Tech enthusiasts will nerd out at Hotel Zetta in SF’s SoMa district. Why? First: you’re in San Francisco, known for being the upper crust of Silicon Valley. Second: there’s an Alexa and a GLINK smartphone dock in every room. Third: you can rent a Nintendo Wii, Atari game console or Oculus headset from the front desk. Speaking of games, the aptly named Playroom rides the line between mod open office and fraternity basement (check out the pool table and shuffleboard), while in the lobby, you can toss soccer balls down a giant two-story Plinko board. Foodwise, the London-centric Cavalier brasserie serves a swanky fish and thrice-cooked fries (with minted peas, bien sȗr) between tufted leather booths and plaid wallpaper. If you’re visiting over a weekend, spend the evening at Marianne’s, a maximalist speakeasy. Hotel Zetta lives up to its promise as a retreat for business travelers who like a little sport on the side: while those rentable scooters were made for sightseeing, the zippy ergonomic desk chairs were definitely made for working. – Katherine James

The Pearl Hotel, San Diego, Calif.

San Diego’s The Pearl.

Walk around the pool of The Pearl Hotel in San Diego’s Point Loma neighborhood and you’d be forgiven for wondering why everyone around you isn’t sporting beehives, oversized sunglasses and Peter Pan collars. The oyster-shaped pool and its surrounding upper deck dotted with room doors and windows were designed in 1959. Even with a more recent renovation, the hotel has impeccably maintained a vintage atmosphere with shiny chrome details and clean geometric lines, making it seem almost plausible that you might find Elizabeth Taylor stretched out on a lounge chair. The rooms even have wooden box AM-FM radios with dials just itching to play the Beatles latest hit. While most guests will want to venture out to take a walk along the coast or explore nearby downtown San Diego, the hotel isn’t lacking for entertainment. Every week, the hotel sets up a big screen by the pool and hosts a “dive-in” movie night and has been known to put on local artist showcases. Fittingly, their open air restaurant by the pool also offers raw oysters. 

Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho

Exterior shot of Shore Lodge.

Located in western Idaho, this hotel shares more than just geographic proximity with the Great Northern Lodge from “Twin Peaks.” Inside and out, the Shore Lodge showcases wood, wood and even more wood. Sit on your wooden bed frame and watch logs burning in the fireplace beneath a wall covered in wallpaper resembling bark, as you set your drink on top of a polished wood stump. Shore Lodge is classic PNW kitsch mixed with super-contemporary amenities. There’s three fine-dining establishments, serving locally sourced meals, as well as The Cove, a spa with full massage services and saltwater immersion pools. If freshwater’s more your speed, the lodge is right on the shore of glacial Payette Lake, with a great view of the snow-capped mountains beyond. Shore Lodge holds concerts and food tastings, and the property includes hiking and mountain biking trails. In short, everything you could want as you inhale the mountain air as deeply as Agent Cooper and exclaim, “Those trees!” – Sébastien Luc Butler 

Urban Cowboy, Denver, Colo.

Double copper tubs at Urban Cowboy Denver. Photo via Urban Cowboy Hotels.

“A hotel isn’t just a place to sleep,” says hotelier and designer Lyon Porter from his New York design studio. “It’s the building, the lighting, the music. What you’re smelling, eating, drinking, and the people around you. That’s where the magic is.” This is the spirit Porter and his partner Jersey Banks have brought to the undeniably cool design of Urban Cowboy hotels, which began as a bed and breakfast in a Brooklyn townhouse. The line of unique properties has expanded to Nashville, the Catskills and now, Denver. See the full feature story on Urban Cowboy Denver in the current issue. — Matt Meltzer

The Venetian Resort, Las Vegas, Nev.

Let’s start with the obvious: the Venetian’s size. The behemoth resort’s 7,100 rooms crown it the largest hotel in America (push aside that it’s really two hotels meshed as one resort, but still). We could talk about the food, the 40 restaurants they tout as the most in one Las Vegas locale. Options run the gamut from fine dining at Mediterranean spot HaSalon and Japanese restaurant Wakuda to more familiar American fast-food fare like Chipotle and Fatburger. Though, maximalist design and abundant dining options are nothing new in Vegas, so what gives? The Venetian is on the inaugural Greatest Hotels Ever list due to Sphere, a behemoth spectacle on its own. The 18,600-seat arena opened in September and is an immersive, 4D look at what all live shows could be in the future. The specs include 160,000-square-foot screens in a spherical frame that’s 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide. To get a better feel, search “sphere las vegas” on TikTok to see people freaking out. Never has a music venue opening made a hotel more relevant. — Chris M. Walsh

Wyoming Inn, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Wyoming Inn’s lobby.

If there’s anything that encapsulates the vibe of the Wyoming Inn, it might be the elk-horn chandelier that hangs above a statuette of a cowboy riding a rearing horse in their lobby. Though the hotel has 69 rooms, it still feels like a large cabin in the mountains. Everything is in tones of mahogany and leather and stone, and the walls are decorated with large, colorful prints from nature and wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen. The hotel partners with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris to offer trips out into the Wyoming wilderness. The tours pick guests up at the hotel and sweep them off into the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone. You can also grab a free bike or take advantage of complimentary bus tickets to explore downtown Jackson Hole. – Briana Brady