Drive Coast to Coast
T+L presents a guide to the best hotels, restaurants, outdoor adventures, and cultural fixes from Seattle to Shenandoah. Drive the whole thing or simply a leg of it. It's time to hit the road.
For spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, and for plenty of other reasons—many of them man-made, thank you very much—the fantasy of a coast-to-coast road trip endures. Want to make it a reality?
From West to East (With Apologies to the Midwest) The Ultimate Road Trip
SEATTLE Start by taking in the panoramic view from the Space Needle's observation deck, then shift your focus to the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park (opening in late October) for both skyline views and plein air art. Your indoor retreat: the Inn at the Market (800/446-4484; www.innatthemarket.com; doubles from $270), set in the middle of Pike Place Market. Seattle to Portland: 170 miles
PORTLAND, OREG. Stay at the Heathman Hotel (800/551-0011; www.heathmanhotel.com; doubles from $209), where original Warhols adorn the walls. Don't miss the thin-crust Neapolitan pizza at newcomer Nostrana (503/ 234-2427; dinner for two $30). Mini-detour: Strike east along Highway 30 (one of the nation's oldest scenic highways) for views of the Columbia River Gorge. Portland to Gold Beach: 320 miles
GOLD BEACH, OREG. Take Highway 101 down the sleepy southern coast to Gold Beach. Work out your fly-casting arm at the Tu Tú Tun Lodge (800/864-6357; www.tututun.com; doubles from $195), trying your luck in the Rogue River. Gold Beach to Mendocino: 280 miles
MENDOCINO, CALIF. The towering conifers in Redwood National Park give way to the more diminutive charms of Mendocino: rock pools, secluded beaches, and an artists' community. The white clapboard Heritage House (Little River; 800/235-5885; www.heritagehouseinn.com; doubles from $199), 10 minutes out of town, is the place to shack up. Mendocino to Healdsburg: 90 miles
HEALDSBURG, CALIF. The emphasis shifts from redwoods to oak barrels in wine country. The Hotel Healdsburg (707/431-2800; www.hotelhealdsburg.com; doubles from $400), in Sonoma, is an object lesson in polished tranquillity. And the perfect complement to a vineyard-hopping day?Dinner at newcomer Cyrus (707/433-3311; dinner for two $58). Healdsburg to San Francisco: 70 miles
SAN FRANCISCO Here's the neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide: sleep in Union Square at the Hotel Des Arts (415/956-3232; www.sfhoteldesarts.com; doubles from $59), where rooms are decorated by local artists; for Bay views, stroll through Pacific Heights; hit the museums in SoMa; and sidle up to the counter at Swan Oyster Depot (415/673-1101; lunch for $45) in Polk Gulch for a half-dozen local Miyagis. San Francisco to Big Sur: 150 miles
BIG SUR The Pacific Coast's craggy cliffs and coves make this stretch of Highway 1 a dramatic drive, but you can do even better: Take it all in from an aerie at the Post Ranch Inn (800/ 527-2200; www.postranchinn.com; doubles from $550). Big Sur to Los Angeles: 310 miles
LOS ANGELES If you're ready for your close-up, book a room at the celeb-filled Chateau Marmont (323/656-1010; www.chateaumarmont.com; doubles from $335)—the hotel's renovated bar is sure to be rife with star sightings. A meal at A.O.C. (323/653-6359; dinner for two $80), in La Brea, is a must. Los Angeles to Las Vegas: 270 miles
LAS VEGAS It's not a road trip without a night in Las Vegas. Check into the Bellagio (702/ 693-7111; www.bellagiolasvegas.com; doubles from $169), the quintessential Vegas hotel. Your checklist: poker at the Wynn Las Vegas casino, dinner at Joël Robuchon at The Mansion (877/880-0880; dinner for two $370), in the MGM Grand, and drinks at The Hotel's Mix Lounge. Las Vegas to St. George: 120 miles
ZION AND BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, UTAH It's stop-and-go in southern Utah: hike or bike between full-body treatments at the Red Mountain Spa (800/407-3002; www.redmountainspa.com; doubles from $299), in St. George, but save your (camera) trigger finger for the deep desert bowls and towering rock walls of Zion and Bryce Canyon. St. George to Zion: 40 miles; Zion to Bryce Canyon: 80 miles; Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon: 280 miles
GRAND CANYON Hook up with Rivers & Oceans (800/473-4576; www.rivers-oceans.com; $290 per person) to book the only one-day white-water-rafting tour of the canyon—and a 10-minute helicopter ride with stunning views. Grand Canyon to Telluride: 350 miles
THE COLORADO ROCKIES AND DENVER Make a pit stop in Telluride, Colorado, to adjust to the thinning air, then hit the high-altitude glamour of Aspen's Little Nell (970/920-4600; www.thelittlenell.com; doubles from $685). Hike the ski slopes by day, and at night, feast on updated Italian food at D19 (970/925-6019; dinner for two $50). Afterward, drop by the Mile High City for a few days' rest. Telluride to Aspen: 280 miles; Aspen to Denver: 160 miles; Denver to Taos: 320 miles
TAOS AND SANTA FE, N.M. Ready for some spiritual tuning?Check into the holistic spa at El Monte Sagrado (505/758-3502; www.elmontesagrado.com; doubles from $245), outside of Taos. Next, Santa Fe and the adobe-style Inn of the Anasazi (505/988-3030; www.innoftheanasazi.com; doubles from $325) beckon. Between visiting galleries, squeeze in a red- chile enchilada at the Shed (505/982-9030; lunch for two $20). Santa Fe to Marfa: 530 miles
MARFA, TEX., AND BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK Marfa's burgeoning gallery scene is a welcome respite from the great big empty of west Texas. Dip south into Big Bend National Park for a boat ride on the Rio Grande and a night at the 28,000-acre Lajitas resort (432/424-5000; www.lajitas.com; doubles from $245). With velvet comforters and cowhide rugs, it's a sybarite's fantasy of the Old West. Marfa to Lajitas: 110 miles; Lajitas to San Antonio: 440 miles
SAN ANTONIO, AUSTIN, AND THE HILL COUNTRY Don't forget the Alamo in San Antonio, then roll up your sleeves for ribs and live music at Stubb's BBQ (512/480-8341; dinner for two $35), in Austin. A drive through the surrounding Hill Country is a must. San Antonio to Austin: 150 miles; Austin to Houston: 165 miles
HOUSTON Get an eyeful at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Menil Collection, then deposit yourself at the Hotel Icon (713/224-4266; www.hotelicon.com; doubles from $225), in a converted 1911 bank building. Houston to New Orleans: 350 miles
NEW ORLEANS Celebrate the Big Easy's return with innovative flavors—maple-cured pork belly, lemon-thyme ice cream—at Bayona (504/525-4455; dinner for two $75) and a classic martini at the Bombay Club (504/586-0972). Spend the night in the French Quarter at the Hotel Maison de Ville (504/561-5858; www.maisondeville.com; doubles from $109). New Orleans to Clarksdale: 380 miles
THE BLUES HIGHWAY (NEW ORLEANS TO MEMPHIS) Dawdle and sip sweet tea at the antebellum estates outside of New Orleans, then cruise north on the Blues Highway (Route 61) to Clarksdale, Mississippi, and the Delta Blues Museum. In Memphis, don't miss a plate of ribs at Rendezvous (901/523-2746; dinner for two $50). Clarksdale to Memphis: 80 miles; Memphis to Nashville: 210 miles
NASHVILLE AND KNOXVILLE, TENN. Pitch-perfect Nashville: a trip to the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum followed by pecan pie at the Pie Wagon (615/256-5893; lunch for two $20). Take in the Great Smoky Mountains from a rocking chair at Blackberry Farm (865/984-8166; www.blackberryfarm.com; doubles from $545), in Walland, just outside of Knoxville. Nashville to Knoxville: 180 miles; Knoxville to Asheville: 115 miles
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA Wend through the Southern Appalachians into Asheville, where you can find artists, artisans, and even the occasional retired general (William Westmoreland has been spotted here). Visit the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, east of the city, and the Biltmore Estate, George Vanderbilt's 19th-century stateside château. Asheville to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia: 290 miles
ALLEGHENY MOUNTAINS The Federal-style Greenbrier Resort (304/536-1110; www.greenbrier.com; doubles from $389), in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is a classic American resort: decorated with Dorothy Draper's riotous interiors, packed with activities, and set against the backdrop of the Alleghenies. Save time for a tour of the secret Cold Warera bunker, built to house members of Congress, below the resort. White Sulphur Springs to Washington, Virginia: 170 miles
SHENANDOAH VALLEY The showstopping meals of chef-owner Patrick O'Connell draw guests from all over the world to the Inn at Little Washington (540/6753800; www.theinnatlittlewashington.com; doubles from $395), in Washington, Virginia. Leave time to explore Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate in Charlottesville and the nearby wineries, such as Barboursville Vineyards, which also has a lovely inn. Washington, Virginia, to Washington, D.C.: 70 miles
WASHINGTON, D.C. Embrace your inner politico. The first stop is the newly renovated National Portrait Gallery. Come evening, the dining room at Citronelle (202/625-2150; dinner for two $190) fills with senators and K-Street lobbyists (not at the same table). Stay at the historic Willard InterContinental (202/628-9100; www.intercontinental.com; doubles from $269). Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia: 140 miles
PHILADELPHIA The National Constitution Center on Independence Mall is worth an afternoon, although foodies may want to head straight to Reading Terminal Market for a hot Amish pretzel. Don't miss the post-Impressionist paintings at the Barnes Foundation, a private gallery in the suburb of Merion. Philadelphia to New York City: 100 miles
NEW YORK CITY Check into the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park (212/344-0800; www.ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $425), which has Statue of Liberty views and valet parking. Stroll up the renovated Hudson River Park before hitting the galleries in Chelsea. Forget Fifth Avenue—Bleecker Street has all the shopping you need. And dinner?Sant Ambroeus (212/604-9254; dinner for two $130) serves up Milanese risotti in the West Village. New York City to Lenox, Massachusetts: 160 miles
THE BERKSHIRES Your base for the mountains: the Wheatleigh (413/637-0610; www.wheatleigh.com; doubles from $525), in Lenox, Massachusetts, an Italianate country house with one of New England's best restaurants. Save time for antiquing in Sheffield and Stockbridge. Lenox to Boston: 130 miles
BOSTON Watch rowers ply the Charles River and check into the XV Beacon (877/982-3226; www.xvbeacon.com; doubles from $475). Then get your claws on a lobster roll at B&G Oysters, in the South End (617/423-0550; dinner for two $90). Boston to Portland: 110 miles
SOUTHERN MAINE COAST Book a waterfront cottage at the White Barn Inn & Spa (207/967-2321; www.whitebarninn.com; doubles from $350), in Kennebunkport. Portland's Fore Street (207/775-2717; dinner for two $72) sticks to local ingredients, so you can enjoy a fresh catch at the end of your long haul.
The creation of famed Boston chef Barbara Lynch, known for such establishments as No. 9 Park and Sportello, B&G Oysters has become the go-to destination for seafood in Boston’s South End. The subterranean eatery boasts an open kitchen surrounded by a white marble bar and a stone walled patio that’s open during summer months. Diners gather to sample 12 varieties of oysters from both the East and West Coasts, as well as classics dishes like the lobster roll. Wine Director Cat Silirie carefully selected the 70-bottle wine list to compliment the flavors of the bivalves (think champagne, Chablis and muscadet).
Inspired by the eponymous Milanese café established in the 1930’s, Sant Ambroeus serves authentic Italian fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At this West Village offshoot of the Upper East Side original, the dim interior is furnished with rich wood paneling, a Murano glass chandelier, large booths upholstered with Etro fabric, and candlelit tables after sundown. During the day, however, the sidewalk tables—which provide excellent people-watching—are often in higher demand. The menu includes cappuccino and cornetti (Italian croissants) for breakfast; prosciutto and Swiss cheese panini for lunch; and at dinnertime, filet mignon carpaccio followed by veal Milanese.
Step into the Bombay Club in the Prince Conti Hotel and you nearly expect to hear the murmur of British accents during the live music breaks. The interior’s rich hunter greens and handsome woodwork are complemented by artwork, leather wingback chairs, and candlelight. Nothing is conservative about chef Ricky Cheramie's Nouveau Creole menu, though, which counts pan-fried Gulf drum with Lyonnaise potato, eggplant stuffed shrimp Creole, and free range chicken with chevre and bacon risotto among patrons’ favorites. Order a cocktail from Cheryl Charming unique menu, which features drinks that were en vogue as far back as the 1860s. Feeling romantic? Enjoy your food and beverage with your significant other in a semi-private booth or in the courtyard.
Pizza at Nostrana—a casual space with vaulted, dark-wood ceilings—is served in the traditional Italian style: uncut and dished out with heavy metal scissors for DIY slicing. Six time James Beard-nominated chef Cathy Whims uses mozzarella made daily and an 800-degree wood-burning oven from Tuscany for her pizzas. Crowd pleasers include the Granchio Pizza topped with dungeness crab, scallions, crème fraîche, chives, paprika butter, arugula as well as the Polpettine pizza with beef meatballs, tomato, olives, ricotta, provolone, red onion and oregano.
Possibly one of Hollywood’s most iconic hotels, the Chateau has been the hideaway for celebrities and the entertainment elite since it officially proclaimed itself a hotel in the 1930s—the property was initially built as apartments and bungalows. Since then, it’s been the spot where stars retreat and cut loose (sometimes too freely, as was the case with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan). Expect to do some star gazing by the pool, but be aware that it’s not the most kid-friendly of destinations.
Sonoma Valley dining doesn’t get any finer than it does here, at this two-Michelin-starred restaurant set in Healdsburg’s Hotel Le Mars. The dining room—where the vaulted ceilings glow with golden light and where natty servers proffer selections from the caviar cart, cheese cart, and truffle humidor—encourages dressing up; and the sublime multicourse tasting menus from chef Douglas Keane (formerly of Restaurant Gary Danko) invite lingering. Look for dishes like Wagyu strip loin with leeks and Japanese winter squash; roasted lobster in a tamarind-ponzu sauce; and pumpkin tagliarini with truffled Pecorino. And opt for the pairings, especially if the 750-plus labels on the wine list make you dizzy. Reservations are required.
Hotel des Arts
The hostel style of the Hotel des Arts does not draw customers with its luxury or amenities; instead, people come for the location and avant-garde art. No matter what is on your agenda, the hotel's Bust Street location is steps away from Chinatown, North Beach, Union Square, and the financial district. The lobby serves as a gallery for contemporary artists; a recent show included Brazilian artists such as Regis Silva and Vera Costa. Out of the 51 rooms, 36 are "painted" rooms, which have been completed by local artists. The Jet Martinez room is filled with lapis lazuli blue and gold-leaf plants, while whimsical fairy-like creatures populate the Kelly Tunstall room. Even the courtyard's murals are filled with pudgy birds and scaly flowers.
Swan Oyster Depot
In business since 1912, this Nob Hill neighborhood joint is essentially a seafood diner. Just over a dozen can squeeze onto the stools of its old school, marble, fish bar, so there's often a line out the door at lunch. Once seated, expect the freshest seafood, from crab, clam chowder, and seafood salad to the restaurant's signature oysters. Need help choosing between miyagi, kumamoto, and Olympias? Feel free to ask the knowledgeable and friendly staff for advice.
The Shed opened in 1953 and has been family-run by three generations; as such, it has become an institution in Santa Fe dining. Located on Palace Avenue, just blocks from the plaza, the 1692 adobe hacienda is divided into nine unique rooms filled with Rivera-style artwork and accents of red, blue, and yellow. Locals come to the Shed for the red chile, which is made from daily ground local chiles. Options include the number five enchilade plate: two rolled enchiladas of blue corn tortillas filled with cheddar, topped with red chile, and served with pinto beans, posole, and garlic bread.
Hailed by Food and Wine as among the "best of the best," Executive Chef Susan Spicer has done wonders at Bayona. This French Quarter cottage offers an upscale dining experience in three distinct rooms: a bright main room painted red and decorated with fresh flowers and original artwork; the Dyer Room, which features a Mediterranean-inspired trompe l’oeil by artist Joel Dyer; and the Bayona Room, which offers a picture window. The cuisine somehow defies definition and classification, moving effortlessly across the culinary spectrum between American and Mediterranean. The peppered lamb loin with goat cheese and Zinfandel sauce is a perennial favorite.
The name, which stands for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (the French system regulating the quality of local wines and cheeses), clues foodies and oenophiles to this restaurant’s focus: wines, shareable small plates, and top-notch cheeses and charcuterie. Chef and co-owner Suzanne Goin (of Lucques fame) has conceived a menu of small plates that draws on the finest local produce: pork rillettes are served with pickled onions, and arroz negro with squid arrives with a big dollop of garlicky saffron aioli. The eclectic cheese selection regularly includes such obscurities as Estrella la Peral, a blue from Asturias, and Hooligan, from Colchester, Connecticut; a variety of artisanal cured meats and sausages are always available. As accompaniment, more than 50 international and California wines are offered by the glass.
Turns out, all flavors of music—rock, pop, hip-hop, alt country—pair well with Stubb's famous Texas-style barbecue. On the outside stage, everyone from Joan Jett to John Legend to the Old 97s have played a tune under those big and bright Texas stars. Sunday mornings are served up with a Gospel Brunch, featuring the best of gospel and an ample buffet complete with both barbecue and breakfast fixings.
Sagestone Spa & Salon
Red Mountain Spa has added 12 residential villas (from $540,000) to its 55-acre crimson desert setting for those who find a week of pampering is just not enough. Owners get access to the resort's full range of amenities, from programs (new this year: tai chi on the rocks) to the dining room's healthy food, and — of course — the spa's 62 treatments.
Hotel Maison de Ville
This historic, 18th-century French Quarter property was an exclusive retreat in the 1950s and 1960s, with Liz Taylor among the A-list patrons. After a period of neglect, it's back at the top of its game, reopening in 2012 with refurbished period rooms in the main building and modern cottages around the beautiful courtyard. Each room has its own character, with a couple of balconies over Toulouse Street, or the spacious luxury of the Tennessee Williams (also a regular guest back in the day) Suite. The owners have tastefully bought back the heady days of the hotel's celebrity heyday with accessible flair.
Aspen's singular ski-in/ski-out property is also its most glamorous address. It doesn't hurt that almost every single guest is swathed in Loro Piana cashmere and Prada skiwear, many carrying designer dogs to match their duds (the in-room pet dining menu and dog beds make it perfect for pet-porting travelers). The 92 spacious rooms, recently touched up by designer Holly Hunt, blend classic Aspen touches with a residential warmth. Rooms feature gas fireplaces, plasma TVs, and marble bathrooms. As cozy-chic as the rooms are, you may prefer being seen at the new bar, Element 47, sipping a Silver Lining (Colorado vodka and blood orange puree topped with an edible silver Aspen leaf) while weighing the virtues of hedge funds.
Inn at the Market
Incredible Elliott Bay and Puget Sound vistas are the draw at this 70-room hotel (which, yes, sits right next to the famous Pike Place Market). The best way to enjoy them: sipping coffee or a cocktail from a teak lounge chair on the fifth-floor deck. Afterward, you can retire to your room—where the streamlined furnishings, upholstered headboards, and fabrics in soothing taupe and blue tones don’t quite measure up to the natural beauty outside. More impressive is the impeccable collection of Pacific Northwestern art that’s displayed in the lobby, including woven baskets and ceramic pieces decorated with tribal designs. Despite its busy location, the inn has a cloistered entrance in an ivy-covered courtyard that makes it feel secluded.
White Barn Inn
It’s no surprise that Maine’s top-rated Relais & Châteaux hotel is located in the toniest summer community of them all—Kennebunkport—and just two minutes as the gull flies from the Bush family compound on Walker’s Point. Since its opening in 1973, a lot of noise has been made of this sophisticated 19th-century inn compound—with its clapboard 26-room main house, three outlying riverfront cottages, and two 1820s barns. Intimacy, rather than grandeur, is evoked by the property’s elegant flower-lined walkways and secret gardens, hand-painted furniture, sleek marble baths, and sleigh beds perfect for curling up on a cool Maine night. The centerpiece—its famed white barn with wide-plank floors and soaring exposed beams—is the inn’s restaurant, renown for its Maine-inspired American and European dishes. To literally be transported, try a coastal cruise on True Blue, the inn’s private yacht.
The Willard InterContinental has been a DC institution and icon of luxury since 1850. Here you’ll find a Red Door Spa, doctor on call, private limousine services, and the old-school Red Robin & Scotch Bar (which has served politicos for more than 100 years)—all located just adjacent to the White House and National Mall.
Post Ranch Inn
The hotel opened in 1992 and is made up entirely of small buildings set on a ridge high above the Pacific. In 2008 Post Ranch added 10 new sculptural structures, spiraling Pacific Suites, cantilevered Peak Houses, and Richard Serra-esque Cliff houses clad in torques of rusted steel. Staying in a Pacific Suite, wherever you stand you are exposed to the ocean and the sky but unseen by other guests. Even the tiled bath, big enough for two, has a commanding vista, and a floor-to-ceiling window that opens to let in Pacific breezes. The walls are paneled in redwood salvaged from old wine barrels and sheet metal art adorns the bathroom. Sierra Mar, the hotel restaurant will pack you a lunch to take down the Pacific Coast Highway in a Lexus convertible that guests can borrow for free. The mini-bar is complimentary, so take advantage on your balcony overlooking the ocean.
No guests under 18.
Brought back into the spotlight in Fifty Shades of Grey, this classically-styled Italianate property is attached to the Concert Hall. With Art Deco interiors, the standard rooms are on the smallish side and have a quaint feel. Insiders tip; as for a room ending in 06 or 1 as they're the Deluxe Kings and offer substantially more space.
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
Set at the southern tip of Manhattan, this Ritz Carlton may be the only hotel in the city where you'll wake to the morning cries of seagulls. These simpler pleasures—light, quiet, views of the Statue of Liberty and passing ships—are the real reasons to stay here; the customary Ritz-Carlton crystal-and-marble formality isn't much in evidence. The 298 lemon-yellow and sea-green rooms—all with Frette linens and Asprey bath products—start at a spacious 425 square feet; those with harbor views have window telescopes. Abstract works by New York artists hang on walls throughout the hotel, while gently curving hallways and Art Deco touches allude to the cruise liners that once called at the adjoining harbor.
About 25 minutes from Knoxville, Blackberry is like a south of the Mason-Dixon Line edition of a Currier & Ives print: ribbons of white fences, a pond stocked with catfish, and houses constructed from Tennessee fieldstone. Set on 4,200 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry’s 62 rooms—spread throughout the main house, three guesthouses, and 20 cottages—are done in a plush Anglo-American idiom, complete with fringed swags and decorative pillows in fancy fabrics. Regulation rockers are soldiered onto the front lawn for the day’s Big Moment: sundown with tumblers of Hirsch 20-year-old bourbon.
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
Travelers have long been drawn to this remote valley in the Allegheny Mountains, seeking the curative powers of the white sulphur springs discovered by the Shawnee. It’s there, in rural West Virginia, that travelers also find the Greenbrier, one of America’s most legendary resorts, which dates back to 1778 and features interior designer Dorothy Draper’s familiar floral patterns and baroque plaster pediments. Now, after a $65 million renovation, the 6,500-acre property is once again decked to the nines; the resort boasts seven restaurants, four golf courses, a spa and equestrian center, and as of 2010, a casino complex designed by Carleton Varney, with 37 table games and 320 slot machines. The 710 rooms all have custom pillow-top mattresses and newspaper delivery.
Inn at Little Washington
It’s not often that an 18-room inn located in a tiny town like Washington, Virginia becomes a destination in its own right, but that’s certainly the case with the Inn at Little Washington. Every detail at the sumptuous property is incredibly fine-tuned, from the cashmere bed throws and silk-fringed lampshades to the 17th-century wooden floors reclaimed from a French chateau. The property star is chef and owner Patrick O’Connell, a James Beard Award Winner who sourced local ingredients (including items from his own orchard and on-site farm) 30 years before it became popular to do so; even the wine menu includes a number of hand-selected Virginia bottles.
Bellagio Hotel and Casino
Most know the Bellagio for its public spaces—those fountains performing nightly, the Conservatory with its over-the-top revolving floral displays (don’t miss the Chinese New Year exhibit), and the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts. In 2015, Bellagio completed the $165-million-renovation of its nearly 4,000 rooms, a four-year project that culimated in the remodeling of more than 400 suites in its main tower, which overlooks the fountains.
Though modern, rural minimalism may be a hallmark of the new Berkshires, elegance and luxury abound at Wheatleigh, the elegant country-house hotel.
The 132-room boutique hotel occupies the city's first tall building, the 12-story, neo-classical 1911 Union National Bank, and the original steel and brass vault doors hang imposingly behind the front desk. The size of the lobby is evident in dramatic 30-foot columns that rise to intricately carved ceilings, still pristine. Modern furniture surrounds a central round bar that's lively with the business travelers this downtown hotel attracts during the week. Period touches continue throughout the property, where the average size of the guest rooms is 400 square feet. A pass-through window connects the modern-furnished bedroom and subway-tiled bathroom, and original millwork is evident on the guest room floors. For big spenders, the lavish three-story penthouse suite boasts a 600-square-foot patio.
Healdsburg’s historic downtown got a big dose of modern chic when this hotel opened in 2002, right on the main square. The property has a sophisticated, W-ish aesthetic, with common areas (a cavernous, firelit lobby lounge, a glassed-in breakfast atrium, a sleek outdoor pool) that feel luxe and decidedly angular. The 55 guest rooms are more inviting, with sunny yellow walls, polished pecan floors, and teak furnishings warming up the otherwise spare décor (the goose-down duvets and Frette linens help, too). Celebrity chef Charlie Palmer runs the excellent on-site restaurant, Dry Creek Kitchen; be sure to nab a dinner reservation when you book your room. For a more hands-on experience, sign up for any of several one-day cooking classes at nearby Relish Culinary School—they run the gamut from pickling and cheesemaking to mushroom-foraging.
El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa
The elaborate eco-conscious (recycled concrete, sustainable water-purification) spa has 84 guest rooms and suites with elaborate Moroccan tile work, engraved wood panels, private hot tubs, and kiva-style fireplaces. The Rejuvenation Center draws on another local resource: intuitive healers. Like Sedona, Arizona, Taos is an 'energy center,' so this four-room spa specializes in transformative services like Life-Reading Massage and Reiki. Sure, there are straightforward facials and manicures for skeptics.
Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa
This John Wayne movie set of a resort, complete with tumbleweeds and horses tied to hitching posts, is on 27,000 acres of desert and mountains near Big Bend National Park, in far southwest Texas. Two hundred miles from the nearest town, Lajitas is nearly self-sufficient, with a general store, spa, restaurant, and saloon to go along with the 101 rooms and villas. For the full cowhide, antler, and log-beam experience, book the Cavalry Post or Officers’ Quarters rooms. The feather in the resort’s Stetson is the new championship golf course, which opened in September 2010.
Tu Tu'tun Lodge
Fronting the Rogue River and flanked by old-growth rain forests, with an emphasis on genial service.