It’s hard to define what makes a hotel feel cozy, though it helps when the properties are off-the-beaten path, serve regional fare (sometimes plucked straight from the grounds), and run by innkeepers with genuine hospitality.
The best inns and small lodges in the country are completely reinventing the idea of a bed-and-breakfast (though you’ll get the best of both). Whether they’re a stone’s throw away from a bustling city or hidden in the backwoods, the nine properties on our list are intimate, and full of regional character. Guests feel cared for—not served—and often mistake these hotels for second-homes, or the abode of a distant, but much-loved family member. You have no qualms about kicking off your shoes and wandering downstairs for a glass of wine in your bathrobe.
Of course, that’s not to say that the inns and lodges that topped the 2015 World’s Best Awards list in the United States aren’t upscale or updated. Camden Harbour Inn in Maine, for example, is a Relais & Châteaux property with flat-screen televisions and iPod docking stations. But what makes an evening at the inn so memorable is sipping a glass of welcome Prosecco on your private deck and watching the sunset over Penobscot Bay as your fireplace warms your room.
And at an independent, boutique property—like the lauded Inn at Little Washington—service is so intuitive the staff practically tidies your room before you’ve stepped outside. “That omniscient hospitality,” reader Tanya Spaulding told Travel + Leisure about her stay at the Virginia wine-country inn, “is a feature rarely—if ever—found in the larger hotels.”
Whether you’re traveling to the highlands off the Pacific Coast, or bedding down in one of historic Newport, Rhode Island’s 19th-century mansions-turned-luxury hotels, attentive, accommodating staff can make the difference between feeling like a paying visitor and a cherished guest.
One World’s Best survey-taker said that during a stay at New York’s classic Lake Placid Lodge, “every single employee took the time to help me, and get to know me, during my stay.” Another called the service “exceptional, but not overbearing.”
With a fire crackling in the background—and the smell of fresh-baked pastries greeting you every morning—daily life can seem light-years away while you still, somehow, feel perfectly at home. That’s what America’s most embracing inns and small lodges have to offer travelers. Read on for the best-of-the-best.