America's Best Affordable Hotels

  • The Palazzo, Las Vegas

    Photo: Courtesy of The Palazzo

    1 of 22

    Your next hotel stay doesn’t have to break the bank, thanks to T+L’s list of the best affordable hotels.

    From March 2011 By

    What would the perfect hotel stay in Charleston, SC, include? How about a white-gloved doorman welcoming you into an antebellum mansion, where you can relax in period-style rooms furnished with four-poster beds? The Planters Inn in Charleston delivers this experience—and best of all, it’s not as expensive as it seems.

    With its central location and overflowing southern charm, it’s no surprise that Planters Inn is a favorite of travelers. But its affordable rates have catapulted the 64-room property to No. 6 on the list of America’s Best Affordable Hotels, as voted by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards Survey. (Vote now in this year’s survey!) And all the winning hotels deliver stellar service, luxurious amenities, and rates of $250 a night or less.

    So where can you find the highest concentration of these affordable gems? Las Vegas, of course: five of the top 20 properties are located on the Las Vegas Strip. Stay at The Palazzo (No. 4), a smart choice for those who love to shop, as Barneys department store is located on the ground floor. Or choose Encore at Wynn (No. 16); you can enjoy the sun’s rays from an oversize lounge chair at the 60,000-square-foot beach club, or even while playing blackjack (the tables abut floor-to-ceiling windows).

    It’s easy to find travel deals in Las Vegas. Sin City is still absorbing more than 6,000 hotel rooms added by the opening of CityCenter and the Cosmopolitan. This saturation of hotel options, along with higher gas prices, will keep the city’s room rates down, according to a recent report by Moody’s Investors Service. So if you’re looking to save money, head to the desert: Las Vegas will be a great value for travelers straight through the hot summer months.

    For those who prefer history to hedonism, there’s The Greenbrier (No. 17), in West Virginia. This quintessential American retreat in the Allegheny Mountains was the setting of a Cold War fallout shelter for the House of Representatives and the Senate; the bunker is now open to tours. Meanwhile, Dorothy Draper interiors still draw design aficionados, and active types love the property’s adventure zone, bowling lanes, and indoor ice rink. And it’s all just $249 a night.

    But what’s America’s Best Affordable Hotel? Read on for the winner.

  • Topnotch at Stowe Resort & Spa

    Photo: Courtesy of Topnotch Resort and Spa

    2 of 22

    No. 20 Topnotch at Stowe Resort & Spa, VT

    Opened in 1959 as the first full resort at Stowe, Topnotch secured a choice location at the base of Vermont’s tallest peak, enclosed by maples and pines. The après-ski gets as much attention as the actual schussing here—and a hot-stone massage in the 30,000-square-foot megaspa is most welcome after a day on the slopes. But winter isn’t the only time worthy of a visit. In the summer or in leaf-peeping season, you can hike the hillside trails and shop for cheese and crafts in the white-steepled town.

  • The Venetian

    Photo: Courtesy of The Venetian

    3 of 22

    No. 19 The Venetian, Las Vegas

    The most painstakingly detailed of the themed casino resorts, the Venetian is a condensed version of its namesake city and features some of the largest rooms on the Strip, averaging 700 square feet with sunken living rooms and marble baths. Bypass rooms in the newer—but darker—Venezia tower, which opened in 2003, for the renovated suites in the main tower, and be sure to pick up masterful pastries and sticky buns at Bouchon Bakery, near the Phantom of the Opera theater lobby.

  • Sofitel Chicago Water Tower

    Photo: Courtesy of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower

    4 of 22

    No. 18 Sofitel Chicago Water Tower

    Paris flirts with the Midwest at Sofitel’s North American flagship property. The 32-floor glass prism, Parisian-inspired restaurant (Café des Architectes), and sleek staircase in the lobby all create an understated elegance. With paneled maple walls, king-size feather beds, burgundy carpet, and bamboo textiles, the 415 rooms may sound imposing, but actually provide a comfortable, light-filled respite after a day of shopping.

  • The Greenbrier

    Photo: Courtesy of The Greenbrier

    5 of 22

    No. 17 The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV

    This iconic American resort in the Allegheny Mountains, dates back to 1913. It’s renowned for its Dorothy Draper interiors and numerous recreational offerings (bowling, croquet). The property was recently renovated and a new restaurant and casino complex, designed by Carleton Varney, was added. Book one of the deluxe rooms that were recently refurbished, for their magnificent marble bathrooms and soaking tubs.

  • Encore Wynn

    Photo: Courtesy of Encore Wynn Las Vegas

    6 of 22

    No. 16 Encore Wynn, Las Vegas

    The newest resort in Steve Wynn's collection is less Las Vegas glam and more luxurious desert oasis. Case in point: the sunny casino has glass walls that look out onto verdant gardens and pools.

  • Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas

    Photo: Larry Hanna

    7 of 22

    No. 15 Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas

    The first hotel to open in Vegas without a casino, the Four Seasons is arguably still the best of this growing breed. The property’s location at the south end of the Strip means it’s already removed from much of the city’s chaos—but the sense of sanctuary is reinforced by the hotel’s hushed marble entrance, relatively painless check-in (so much quicker than at the hotel-casinos), and garden-surrounded pool.

  • Raphael Hotel

    Photo: Courtesy of Raphael Hotel

    8 of 22

    No. 14 Raphael Hotel, Kansas City

    Midwestern fashionistas, take note: This grand 1920’s European-style property overlooks Country Club Plaza, the first outdoor suburban shopping center in the U.S. Rooms are designed in seven styles—including city view and suites—and the Chaz Restaurant and Lounge is known for its lamb entrée, served with white bean puree and mint gremolata.

  • Windsor Court

    Photo: Courtesy of Windsor Court Hotel

    9 of 22

    No. 13 Windsor Court, New Orleans

    Although this 324-room residence rises above the Central Business District, the Windsor is not just about work. With jazz bands wailing in the Polo Club Lounge and museum-worthy sculptures, painting, and tapestries lining the lobby and halls, the hotel is easy on the ears, the eyes, and, thanks to the elegant Grill Room, the stomach. The gracious, helpful staff is as sweet as the city’s famous pecan pralines.

  • Bellagio

    Photo: Courtesy of MGM Resorts International

    10 of 22

    No. 12 The Bellagio, Las Vegas

    Everyone knows The Bellagio’s dancing fountains, but this mid-Strip extravaganza also has a palatial 55,000-square-foot spa, 14 restaurants, and botanical gardens. For an additional $50 per night, stay in a standard deluxe room, which has lake views and also overlooks the Strip.

  • The Nines

    Photo: Courtesy of The Nines

    11 of 22

    No. 11 The Nines, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland, OR

    Portland, Oregon, is already known for its heavyweight green hotels, but when The Nines (as in “dressed to the…”) opened in 2008, it raised the bar. The 331-room LEED Silver–certified hotel, on the top floors of the Meier & Frank building (a former department store), recycled 90 percent of its construction debris; the on-site steak house uses only local ingredients.

  • 21C Museum Hotel

    Photo: Courtesy of 21C Museum Hotel

    12 of 22

    No. 10 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville

    Louisville’s 21c ranks as a bona fide cultural institution, not just a hotel with art. Designed by New York architect Deborah Berke, the 91-room property houses a $10 million collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and video installations by living artists (hence the hotel’s name, a reference to the 21st century). Most of the art comes from the personal collection of owner and philanthropist Steve Wilson and his wife, Laura Lee Brown.

  • Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

    Photo: Courtesy of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

    13 of 22

    No. 9 Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, FL

    It’s a hotel for the sporty type: The 26 rooms at the Summer House were just refurbished, but the golf-and-tennis center remains the top attraction. For views of the ocean, pool, and playground, book room 292 in the Atlantic House’s second-floor corner. Surf lessons, available for $20, give you an hour of one-on-one with a resort instructor and two hours with the board.

  • Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa

    Photo: Courtesy of Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa

    14 of 22

    No. 8 Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club, & Spa, Mobile, AL

    The look is old-guard traditional at the 405-room resort on 550 acres overlooking Mobile Bay; the new pool, tennis, and fitness center fronts a private lake. Be sure to borrow one of the resort’s free bikes and ride past the giant live oaks and Southern mansions surrounding the resort.

  • Wynn Las Vegas

    Photo: Courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas

    15 of 22

    No. 7 Wynn Las Vegas

    With a casino floor flooded with natural light, a botanical theme, and a collection of restaurants with rising celebrity chefs like Alex Stratta and David Walzog, Wynn Las Vegas has single-handedly redefined the standard of luxury in the Las Vegas casino hotel. Elements borrowed from the natural world—including a 140-foot forested mountain and wall of water—have been manufactured to sequester the hotel away from the Strip and conceal the spaceship-shaped Fashion Show Mall across the street. The smallest rooms are a capacious 620 square feet.

  • Planters Inn

    Photo: Courtesy of Planters Inn

    16 of 22

    No. 6 Planters Inn, Charleston

    All 64 rooms have crown moldings and four-poster beds at this Charleston hotel, set within a peaceful 19th-century building and modern addition. For the best views, book Plantation Kings, which are roomy and have views of the Meeting and Market Streets historic district. And be sure to dine al fresco in the Peninsula Grill's garden courtyard.

  • Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

    Photo: Peter Vitale

    17 of 22

    No 5. Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

    Conveniently located downtown, near the Gateway Arch, the 200-room hotel with streamlined interiors occupies floors 9–19 of a tower, which gives each guestroom unobstructed views of the city.

  • The Palazzo

    Photo: Courtesy of The Palazzo

    18 of 22

    No. 4 The Palazzo, Las Vegas

    Over-the-top room décor (multiple flat-screen TV’s, sunken living rooms, and mini-bars stocked with everything from champagne to La Belge Chocolatier desserts) belies the eco-friendly construction of this LEED-certified all-suite property. With a two-story fountain gushing in its entry, the 3,066 room high-rise resort is a memorable new arrival to the hotel scene. Be sure to make an appointment at the property’s sprawling Canyon Ranch spa.

  • Inn of the Anasazi, A Rosewood Hotel

    Photo: Courtesy of Inn of the Anasazi, a Rosewood Hotel

    19 of 22

    No. 3 Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, A Rosewood Hotel, Santa Fe

    Celebs and other A-listers tend to choose this fashionable boutique hotel, which sits discreetly across the street from the Palace of the Governors. The inn puts a cushy face on traditional New Mexican design: its 58 rooms, with their earthy sandstone walls and traditional latilla-and-viga ceilings (thick beams crossed with narrow, rough-hewn sticks), are airy and sleek, and decorated with beautiful handwoven rugs and paintings by acclaimed local artists. All have kiva-shaped gas fireplaces (indispensable on those nippy high-desert nights).

  • Sofitel Lafayette Square Washington D.C.

    Photo: Courtesy of Sofitel

    20 of 22

    No. 2 Sofitel Lafayette Square, Washington D.C.

    The 237 Art Deco-inspired rooms, buff and brown with red-velvet accents, are creatively lit, and hung with original paintings, and black-and-white architectural photos of Washington. Corner rooms 14 and 26 have windows on two sides flooding the space with light, and the hotel’s iCi Bistro serves French country cuisine prepared by chef Olivier Perret.

  • Woodlands Resort and Inn

    Photo: Courtesy of Woodlands Inn

    21 of 22

    No. 1 Woodlands Resort and Inn, Summerville, SC

    This Lowcountry, neo-Georgian mansion from 1906 is a bastion of Southern hospitality. Don’t miss the many on-site culinary events that spotlight local farmers, chefs, and artisans, such as demonstrations by local painters that culminate with a champagne brunch. The flower-filled town of Summerville is worth exploring (don’t miss Azalea Park), and Charleston is just a short drive away.

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  • The Palazzo, Las Vegas

    What would the perfect hotel stay in Charleston, SC, include? How about a white-gloved doorman welcoming you into an antebellum mansion, where you can relax in period-style rooms furnished with four-poster beds? The Planters Inn in Charleston delivers this experience—and best of all, it’s not as expensive as it seems.

    With its central location and overflowing southern charm, it’s no surprise that Planters Inn is a favorite of travelers. But its affordable rates have catapulted the 64-room property to No. 6 on the list of America’s Best Affordable Hotels, as voted by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards Survey. (Vote now in this year’s survey!) And all the winning hotels deliver stellar service, luxurious amenities, and rates of $250 a night or less.

    So where can you find the highest concentration of these affordable gems? Las Vegas, of course: five of the top 20 properties are located on the Las Vegas Strip. Stay at The Palazzo (No. 4), a smart choice for those who love to shop, as Barneys department store is located on the ground floor. Or choose Encore at Wynn (No. 16); you can enjoy the sun’s rays from an oversize lounge chair at the 60,000-square-foot beach club, or even while playing blackjack (the tables abut floor-to-ceiling windows).

    It’s easy to find travel deals in Las Vegas. Sin City is still absorbing more than 6,000 hotel rooms added by the opening of CityCenter and the Cosmopolitan. This saturation of hotel options, along with higher gas prices, will keep the city’s room rates down, according to a recent report by Moody’s Investors Service. So if you’re looking to save money, head to the desert: Las Vegas will be a great value for travelers straight through the hot summer months.

    For those who prefer history to hedonism, there’s The Greenbrier (No. 17), in West Virginia. This quintessential American retreat in the Allegheny Mountains was the setting of a Cold War fallout shelter for the House of Representatives and the Senate; the bunker is now open to tours. Meanwhile, Dorothy Draper interiors still draw design aficionados, and active types love the property’s adventure zone, bowling lanes, and indoor ice rink. And it’s all just $249 a night.

    But what’s America’s Best Affordable Hotel? Read on for the winner.

  • Topnotch at Stowe Resort & Spa

    No. 20 Topnotch at Stowe Resort & Spa, VT

    Opened in 1959 as the first full resort at Stowe, Topnotch secured a choice location at the base of Vermont’s tallest peak, enclosed by maples and pines. The après-ski gets as much attention as the actual schussing here—and a hot-stone massage in the 30,000-square-foot megaspa is most welcome after a day on the slopes. But winter isn’t the only time worthy of a visit. In the summer or in leaf-peeping season, you can hike the hillside trails and shop for cheese and crafts in the white-steepled town.

  • The Venetian

    No. 19 The Venetian, Las Vegas

    The most painstakingly detailed of the themed casino resorts, the Venetian is a condensed version of its namesake city and features some of the largest rooms on the Strip, averaging 700 square feet with sunken living rooms and marble baths. Bypass rooms in the newer—but darker—Venezia tower, which opened in 2003, for the renovated suites in the main tower, and be sure to pick up masterful pastries and sticky buns at Bouchon Bakery, near the Phantom of the Opera theater lobby.

  • Sofitel Chicago Water Tower

    No. 18 Sofitel Chicago Water Tower

    Paris flirts with the Midwest at Sofitel’s North American flagship property. The 32-floor glass prism, Parisian-inspired restaurant (Café des Architectes), and sleek staircase in the lobby all create an understated elegance. With paneled maple walls, king-size feather beds, burgundy carpet, and bamboo textiles, the 415 rooms may sound imposing, but actually provide a comfortable, light-filled respite after a day of shopping.

  • The Greenbrier

    No. 17 The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV

    This iconic American resort in the Allegheny Mountains, dates back to 1913. It’s renowned for its Dorothy Draper interiors and numerous recreational offerings (bowling, croquet). The property was recently renovated and a new restaurant and casino complex, designed by Carleton Varney, was added. Book one of the deluxe rooms that were recently refurbished, for their magnificent marble bathrooms and soaking tubs.

  • Encore Wynn

    No. 16 Encore Wynn, Las Vegas

    The newest resort in Steve Wynn's collection is less Las Vegas glam and more luxurious desert oasis. Case in point: the sunny casino has glass walls that look out onto verdant gardens and pools.

  • Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas

    No. 15 Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas

    The first hotel to open in Vegas without a casino, the Four Seasons is arguably still the best of this growing breed. The property’s location at the south end of the Strip means it’s already removed from much of the city’s chaos—but the sense of sanctuary is reinforced by the hotel’s hushed marble entrance, relatively painless check-in (so much quicker than at the hotel-casinos), and garden-surrounded pool.

  • Raphael Hotel

    No. 14 Raphael Hotel, Kansas City

    Midwestern fashionistas, take note: This grand 1920’s European-style property overlooks Country Club Plaza, the first outdoor suburban shopping center in the U.S. Rooms are designed in seven styles—including city view and suites—and the Chaz Restaurant and Lounge is known for its lamb entrée, served with white bean puree and mint gremolata.

  • Windsor Court

    No. 13 Windsor Court, New Orleans

    Although this 324-room residence rises above the Central Business District, the Windsor is not just about work. With jazz bands wailing in the Polo Club Lounge and museum-worthy sculptures, painting, and tapestries lining the lobby and halls, the hotel is easy on the ears, the eyes, and, thanks to the elegant Grill Room, the stomach. The gracious, helpful staff is as sweet as the city’s famous pecan pralines.

  • Bellagio

    No. 12 The Bellagio, Las Vegas

    Everyone knows The Bellagio’s dancing fountains, but this mid-Strip extravaganza also has a palatial 55,000-square-foot spa, 14 restaurants, and botanical gardens. For an additional $50 per night, stay in a standard deluxe room, which has lake views and also overlooks the Strip.

  • The Nines

    No. 11 The Nines, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland, OR

    Portland, Oregon, is already known for its heavyweight green hotels, but when The Nines (as in “dressed to the…”) opened in 2008, it raised the bar. The 331-room LEED Silver–certified hotel, on the top floors of the Meier & Frank building (a former department store), recycled 90 percent of its construction debris; the on-site steak house uses only local ingredients.

  • 21C Museum Hotel

    No. 10 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville

    Louisville’s 21c ranks as a bona fide cultural institution, not just a hotel with art. Designed by New York architect Deborah Berke, the 91-room property houses a $10 million collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and video installations by living artists (hence the hotel’s name, a reference to the 21st century). Most of the art comes from the personal collection of owner and philanthropist Steve Wilson and his wife, Laura Lee Brown.

  • Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

    No. 9 Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, FL

    It’s a hotel for the sporty type: The 26 rooms at the Summer House were just refurbished, but the golf-and-tennis center remains the top attraction. For views of the ocean, pool, and playground, book room 292 in the Atlantic House’s second-floor corner. Surf lessons, available for $20, give you an hour of one-on-one with a resort instructor and two hours with the board.

  • Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa

    No. 8 Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club, & Spa, Mobile, AL

    The look is old-guard traditional at the 405-room resort on 550 acres overlooking Mobile Bay; the new pool, tennis, and fitness center fronts a private lake. Be sure to borrow one of the resort’s free bikes and ride past the giant live oaks and Southern mansions surrounding the resort.

  • Wynn Las Vegas

    No. 7 Wynn Las Vegas

    With a casino floor flooded with natural light, a botanical theme, and a collection of restaurants with rising celebrity chefs like Alex Stratta and David Walzog, Wynn Las Vegas has single-handedly redefined the standard of luxury in the Las Vegas casino hotel. Elements borrowed from the natural world—including a 140-foot forested mountain and wall of water—have been manufactured to sequester the hotel away from the Strip and conceal the spaceship-shaped Fashion Show Mall across the street. The smallest rooms are a capacious 620 square feet.

  • Planters Inn

    No. 6 Planters Inn, Charleston

    All 64 rooms have crown moldings and four-poster beds at this Charleston hotel, set within a peaceful 19th-century building and modern addition. For the best views, book Plantation Kings, which are roomy and have views of the Meeting and Market Streets historic district. And be sure to dine al fresco in the Peninsula Grill's garden courtyard.

  • Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

    No 5. Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

    Conveniently located downtown, near the Gateway Arch, the 200-room hotel with streamlined interiors occupies floors 9–19 of a tower, which gives each guestroom unobstructed views of the city.

  • The Palazzo

    No. 4 The Palazzo, Las Vegas

    Over-the-top room décor (multiple flat-screen TV’s, sunken living rooms, and mini-bars stocked with everything from champagne to La Belge Chocolatier desserts) belies the eco-friendly construction of this LEED-certified all-suite property. With a two-story fountain gushing in its entry, the 3,066 room high-rise resort is a memorable new arrival to the hotel scene. Be sure to make an appointment at the property’s sprawling Canyon Ranch spa.

  • Inn of the Anasazi, A Rosewood Hotel

    No. 3 Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, A Rosewood Hotel, Santa Fe

    Celebs and other A-listers tend to choose this fashionable boutique hotel, which sits discreetly across the street from the Palace of the Governors. The inn puts a cushy face on traditional New Mexican design: its 58 rooms, with their earthy sandstone walls and traditional latilla-and-viga ceilings (thick beams crossed with narrow, rough-hewn sticks), are airy and sleek, and decorated with beautiful handwoven rugs and paintings by acclaimed local artists. All have kiva-shaped gas fireplaces (indispensable on those nippy high-desert nights).

  • Sofitel Lafayette Square Washington D.C.

    No. 2 Sofitel Lafayette Square, Washington D.C.

    The 237 Art Deco-inspired rooms, buff and brown with red-velvet accents, are creatively lit, and hung with original paintings, and black-and-white architectural photos of Washington. Corner rooms 14 and 26 have windows on two sides flooding the space with light, and the hotel’s iCi Bistro serves French country cuisine prepared by chef Olivier Perret.

  • Woodlands Resort and Inn

    No. 1 Woodlands Resort and Inn, Summerville, SC

    This Lowcountry, neo-Georgian mansion from 1906 is a bastion of Southern hospitality. Don’t miss the many on-site culinary events that spotlight local farmers, chefs, and artisans, such as demonstrations by local painters that culminate with a champagne brunch. The flower-filled town of Summerville is worth exploring (don’t miss Azalea Park), and Charleston is just a short drive away.

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