In an economic era with more ups and downs than an elevator, one thing remains constant: travelers who can't afford to vacation like Brangelina are continuing to watch their wallets. For this discerning group, who want value without sacrificing style, there are a number of properties around the country that offer excellent escapes. Our Top 10 list takes a look at the very best from coast to coast.
Los Angeles, CA
BLVD Hotel & Spa, Los Angeles
Sure, "the Valley" is the butt of many an L.A. joke. But it's also quietly developing its own cachet, as well as a small but notable collection of stylish hotels. Among them, BLVD Hotel & Spa is a steal of a deal. With room rates starting at roadside motel prices, this place offers a surprising degree of luxury. The décor leans toward retro and is done in cozy shades of blue and brown. The property is a small one, but it boasts a swimming pool, spa, café and bar serving drinks named after famous Los Angeles boulevards. Better yet, you can walk to Universal Studios, and although the beach is a bit of a haul, you're well-located for visiting Hollywood attractions and the ever-growing collection of boutiques, galleries and restaurants downtown. To get the most value out of this place, book a room with a view of the mountains -- one of the perks of staying in this part of town.
The Meritage Resort and Spa
This wine country resort offers everything one could hope for from a Napa property, and then some, including a private wedding chapel, Our Lady of the Grapes, and an underground cave that houses a full-service spa. Select guest rooms feature gorgeous vineyard views, and executive suites have full gourmet kitchens for intimate entertaining. But if you'd prefer to have the pros cater to you, head for Siena restaurant, where every dinner begins with a glass of Prosecco, and dishes blend Californian and Italian flavors. For recreation, guests can enjoy a wealth of activities right on the grounds, from swimming, bowling and bocce ball to vineyard hiking and lounging around the outdoor fireplaces. Best of all is access to the on-site Trinitas Tasting Room, which offers wine tastings in its atmospheric Estate Cave.
Ayres Hotel Anaheim
Anaheim has more than its share of budget hotels for families visiting Disneyland and business types attending conventions. Sadly, most offer somewhat generic fare. Because of this, Ayres Hotel Anaheim stands out. Deliberately done up in classic European décor, it features ivy, gas lanterns and a lobby with marble floors, oil paintings and a fireplace for chilly SoCal nights. Rooms and suites pair luxuries such as hand-crafted wooden beds and velvet drapes with practical niceties like flat-screen TVs, fridges and microwaves. Free perks add to the already good value: Wi-Fi, deluxe hot breakfast, weeknight evening reception and guest parking. There are meeting rooms, a pool and a fitness room on-site. Guests can walk to the Honda Center (across the street), Angel Stadium (next door) and The Grove of Anaheim (half a mile away), and Disneyland can be reached directly from the hotel via the Anaheim Resort Transit.
New York City
Andaz Wall Street
While this Lower Manhattan hotel doesn't fall into the backpack budget category, it does offer bang for the buck. Its lowest room rates rival much lesser properties, and include the items that tend to add up: Wi-Fi, local phone calls and unlimited in-room non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. Better yet, rooms start at 345 square feet, which means plenty of space in a city known for its cramped hotel rooms. Although this hotel can be grouped in the hip crowd, it resides under the Hyatt umbrella, which means you'll enjoy all the benefits of a well-oiled chain. On-site facilities include a gym, spa, meeting space and Wall & Water restaurant, whose farm-to-table menu sources ingredients from the Hudson Valley.
Hotel St. Augustine
South Beach has long attracted the jet set, but it's not necessary to spend big bucks to mingle with the pretty people here. The restored, 1937 Art Deco-style Hotel St. Augustine is one of the area's best-kept secrets among locals and return visitors alike. The 24 loft-style guest rooms are done up with white décor, designed to create the serene atmosphere of a spa. Each comes with complimentary Wi-Fi, maple wood furnishings and spacious bathrooms with spa cabins featuring steam and water massage systems. For added value, check the hotel's website for online specials and last minute deals. All rates include a generous complimentary breakfast.
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Boston - Downtown
In a superb Theater District location in downtown Boston, this unique chain hotel invites guests to relax in rooms inspired by feng shui principles. Amenities in each simple but tasteful accommodation include 37-inch flat-screen TVs and Suite Dreams by DoubleTree mattresses. For those who appreciate added value, freebies range from the warm chocolate chip cookies that greet you on arrival to complimentary access to the YMCA health club next door, which features an Olympic-size pool and weight rooms. For coffee on-the-go, there's a Starbucks on-site, and for casual dining, Wisteria Restaurant and Bar serves plenty of New England favorites.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Element Las Vegas Summerlin
Needless to say, if a hotel is good enough for President Obama, it's good enough for us. And if the place also happens to offer some of the best rates in town -- not to mention notable environmental policies -- better yet! When the Commander-in-Chief came to Las Vegas to give a speech on energy policy, he and his entourage took up the entire second floor of this hotel. Fifteen minutes from the madness of the Strip, it features more than just eco-friendly design and an electric vehicle charging station. Prices are low, and the stylish, natural light-filled guest rooms and suites come with kitchenettes or full kitchens. Freebies include wired and wireless high-speed Internet, Rise: Breakfast Bar (muffins, fruit, signature sandwiches and more) and an evening food and beverage reception. There's even an intimate pool area, offering a pleasant alternative to the megaresort scene.
Hotel Valley Ho
Cool history? Check. Hip style? Check. Easy on the pocketbook? Double-check. Located within walking distance of downtown Scottsdale's oh so desirable Old Town, the Hotel Valley Ho makes for a unique weekend retreat. Celebs such as Bing Crosby and Zsa Zsa Gabor once lingered around the pool at this 1956 property, which is the first midcentury-modern hotel to be recognized by Historic Hotels of America. As for what it has to offer today, guests will find VH Spa, ZuZu café and OH Pool with private cabanas aplenty. Contemporary guest rooms are housed in the original building and new tower, where two-bedroom suites feature living areas and full kitchens, for those who want to make Valley Ho their home away from home.
Magnolia Hotel Dallas
For travelers who need help finding their way, this hotel serves as a beacon -- literally! It's located within one of the city's most recognized buildings, on top of which soars "Pegasus the Flying Red Horse," whose neon outline lights up the night sky. Southern hospitality sets a gracious tone at this property, where freebies include a breakfast buffet, cookies and milk buffet, and evening reception with beer and wine. Among the accommodations, the historic rooms are the most desirable, showcasing original wood floors and doors with glass transoms. The hotel has a 24-hour fitness center and popular dining lounge, complete with a bar and billiards room. Numerous attractions within walking distance include the flagship Neiman Marcus store next door.
A stay at the Hotel Lombardy means that you can enjoy your very own Pennsylvania Avenue address, where quality service and refined style do the White House-adjacent location proud. Within walking distance (less than a mile) of the Lincoln Memorial, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the World Bank, this property offers traditionally styled accommodations in a historic 1920s-era building. Along with European fabrics, Oriental wool rugs and wet bar/dining areas, the uniquely decorated guest rooms and suites feature complimentary high-speed Internet access and turndown service. The house bistro, Café Lombardy, overlooks James Monroe Park. Additional perks include a cardio room and free passes to the seasonal pool at nearby Washington Plaza Hotel.
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