One of a kind
Alabama: GunRunner Boutique Hotel, Florence
Alabama’s first boutique hotel, the GunRunner is located in the heart of Florence and is one of the best small town boutique hotels in the South. With a unique concept of luxurious anonymity, there’s no check-in desk, no interruptions by housekeeping and rooms can only be booked online. Named after the pawn shop that occupied the building years ago, the hotel has 10 distinct suites that are all individually appointed and named after a person or a place significant to the area.
Alaska: Sheldon Chalet, Denali National Park
Hidden far away in Alaska’s Denali National Park, this luxurious mountain chalet is just 10 miles (16km) from the summit of Denali. Located 6,000 feet (1,828m) above sea level, the chalet is truly a once-in-a-lifetime-experience that’s totally unique. A minimum stay of three nights is required and it includes a helicopter ride to the chalet as well as food, drink and activities. You’ll have to email the Sheldon Family, who run the chalet, directly to enquire about a stay here.
Arizona: The View Hotel, Monument Valley
As the name suggests, this place is all about the view. The first-ever hotel to be built on Navajo Tribal Park land, it’s owned by Navajo people and was designed to blend in with its sacred setting. There’ll be no squabbling over rooms at The View: every bedroom has a private balcony with jaw-dropping views of Monument Valley’s vivid colored sandstone rock formations known as the Mittens. The hotel is temporarily closed and is expected to reopen on 5 March 2021.
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Arkansas: 21c Museum Hotel, Bentonville
With a few properties scattered across the country, this unique part-museum-part-hotel in Bentonville is unlike any other hotel you’ll have stayed at before. With artwork displayed throughout, the hotel has a modern yet cozy feel of an intimate art gallery and the on-site restaurant The Hive offers modern takes on beloved classics, like deviled eggs.
California: Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo
Forget tranquil, subtle, peaceful vacations: for a full-on, over-the-top escape, head to California’s Madonna Inn, which is almost entirely Barbie-pink. With several differently themed rooms (including Madonna Suite, Love Nest and Everything Nice among others), pink tennis courts, a colorful gift shop and plenty of picture-perfect food on offer, this is a place to escape mundane everyday life. Face coverings are required in all common areas.
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Colorado: The Little Nell, Aspen
The most sought-after hotel in all of Colorado, The Little Nell has a steamy rooftop surprise up its sleeve as well. With panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and a bubbling hot tub, it truly is the perfect way to rest your aching ski legs. Currently, the hotel is also running several tempting offers, including special rates for Colorado residents.
Connecticut: Winvian Farm, Morris
Comprised of the original farmhouse from 1775, a 19th-century addition and another 21st-century extension, the Winvian Farm is a luxury retreat set within 113 acres of farmland and forests. With individually designed cottages, an excellent farm-to-table restaurant and a spa set in the fragrant gardens, a stay here is truly relaxing. Just two hours away from New York or Boston, the unique retreat promises lots of restorative nature walks and cozy evenings snuggled up by the fireplace.
Delaware: The Brick Hotel on the Circle, Georgetown
Stay in a slice of American history at The Brick Hotel in Georgetown. Known as the Union Hotel during the Civil War era, this was once a popular hangout for soldiers and is now one of the state’s only remaining buildings from around that time. Lovingly restored with plenty of original features, including the 19th-century staircase, staying at the charming guesthouse is like stepping back in time.
Florida: Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Miami Beach
A stroll through the opulent Faena Hotel Miami Beach is like a walk through a top art gallery. The lobby, nicknamed The Cathedral, has palatial gold and velvet furniture, impressive murals and gold-leaf-covered columns. Art aficionados should head straight for the hotel’s pool and beach area where Damien Hirst’s striking sculpture Gone But Not Forgotten – a 3,000-year-old gilded woolly mammoth skeleton – casually overlooks the vacationers. The hotel was set to reopen on 29 October 2020.
Georgia: The Cloister at Sea Island, Sea Island
Sitting on a five-mile-long (8km) island off the coast of Georgia, this stunning hotel is where Southern hospitality and Mediterranean-style design meet. Guests can enjoy a fine-dining experience in the Georgian Room restaurant, feasting on delicacies such as grilled octopus and truffle soup, before relaxing in the Georgian Room lounge in front of a roaring fire with a glass of vintage port in hand – the hotel has an extensive list to choose from. The hotel is currently asking guests to wear face coverings in most common areas.
Hawaii: Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Many who travel to Hawaii come to see the otherworldly Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and nowhere is closer to the action than Volcano House almost right on the rim of Kīlauea. Although the hotel is temporarily closed, we simply couldn’t leave it off the list due to its truly unique location. Typically, guests can enjoy stunning views of the caldera, amazing Hawaiian food and exhilarating hikes through a rainforest to the volcano.
Idaho: Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood
You can’t miss Dog Bark Park Inn – just look for the enormous beagle. Inside this 12 foot-tall (3.6m) canine you’ll find a (no surprises here) dog-themed room. As you might have guessed the inn’s owners are huge dog fans and also run an artists’ studio where you can buy cute canine carvings crafted by chainsaw. This hotel certainly brings a whole new meaning to being in the doghouse…
Illinois: Palmer House Hilton, Chicago
This opulent Chicago landmark was built as a gift from business magnate Potter Palmer to his bride Bertha Honoré to mark their wedding in 1871. The original building burned down 13 days later during the Great Chicago Fire, but Palmer rebuilt it and reopened the hotel in 1873. Today, it’s Chicago’s most charming spot and it’s worth stopping by the elegant lobby adorned by ceiling frescoes and gold Tiffany chandeliers even if you’re not staying the night.
Indiana: Crowne Plaza Indianapolis, Indianapolis
For a chain hotel, this Crowne Plaza in Indianapolis is surprisingly unique. Located within Indianapolis’ old train station, it has rooms in old train carriages still positioned on the tracks while the station’s Grand Hall has been converted into a stunning venue space normally used for weddings and events. Built in 1888, the 100-year-old building has gone through two renovations that have preserved as much of the original features as possible.
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Iowa: Hotel Julien Dubuque, Dubuque
The incredible history of Hotel Julien Dubuque can be traced as far back as 1839, when the first lodging house opened on this site. The current hotel building was completed in 1915 and allegedly served as a hiding place for notorious mobster Al Capone when things got complicated in Chicago. The hotel has retained its historic charm which it has combined with modern and luxurious amenities.
Kansas: Midland Railroad Hotel & Restaurant, Wilson
There really isn’t much the Midland Railroad Hotel hasn’t seen in its time. Opened in 1899, it was a popular stop along the Union Pacific Railroad between Kansas City and Denver; during the Great Depression the hotel’s third floor was turned into a chicken coop in order to serve dinner guests; and although it continued operating over the next decades, it closed in 1978. The historic building fell into disrepair until it was bought by the Wilson Foundation in 1997 who restored it to its former 1920s glory.
Kentucky: The Kentucky Castle, Versailles
Located in the aptly named Versailles, The Kentucky Castle features 10 luxury rooms and suites where guests can really live like royalty. The on-site farm-to-table restaurant features lots of elevated Kentucky cuisine staples while the spa offers romantic honeymoon or anniversary packages. If you’re happy to properly splurge, the Presidential Suite is located in a spacious corner turret with an additional sitting room and a private terrace. The hotel has rigorous COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place.
Louisiana: Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans
Narrowing down the most unique hotel in Louisiana, especially in New Orleans, is no mean feat but it’s the French Quarter’s iconic Hotel Monteleone that’s been among the best places to have a drink in the Bourbon Street area for a very long time. Opened by Sicilian immigrant Antonio Monteleone in 1886, the hotel is still owned by the family today. Writers like Capote and Hemingway used to hide out here while writing and taking an occasional break (or two) at the legendary Carousel Bar which is, as the name implies, a carousel – unfortunately, it has temporarily closed.
Maine: The Westin Portland Harborview, Portland
The Westin Portland Harborview was the largest hotel in New England when it opened in 1927 as the 369-room Eastland Park Hotel. It has gone down in history as the place that didn’t let Eleanor Roosevelt stay there with her dog and later became famous for Ozzy Osbourne tossing pool furniture off the rooftop. The hotel fell into disrepair until 2011 when it underwent a $50 million renovation project. There are enhanced cleaning protocols in place and face coverings are required in all indoor public areas.
Maryland: Admiral Fell Inn, Baltimore
On a cobbled street corner in Fell’s Point, once a major shipbuilding area and Baltimore’s oldest waterfront community, the Admiral Fell Inn is made up of seven adjoining buildings. One of these buildings used to be a boarding house for sailors before it expanded into a Seaman’s YMCA in the late 1920s before eventually closing in the 1970s. The hotel began to resemble its current shape in 1985, when the building was opened once more, and a 38-room inn was created. Finally, in 1996, upgrades transformed the space into a beautiful boutique hotel.
Massachusetts: The Liberty Hotel, Boston
It’s a lavish hotel today, but in its former incarnation The Liberty was known as The Charles Street Jail and was home to some of Boston’s most notorious criminals. Previous inmates include James Michael Curley, Boston’s ex-mayor who was imprisoned in 1904 for fraud, and even activist Malcolm X. Today, you’re more likely to spot showbiz stars in the corridors – Meg Ryan and Eva Mendes are both said to have stayed at The Liberty. The building has been carefully restored, allowing the historical detail to take center stage.
Michigan: Detroit Marriott, Detroit
Second tallest hotel in the USA, the Detroit Marriott is 727 feet (221m) tall, with more than 1,300 rooms across 73 floors featuring fabulous views of the city or of the Detroit River. When you’re not admiring the view from your room, head to the patio for a cocktail or, if you’re keen to explore the city from closer up, the hotel’s downtown location makes it explore the city’s top sights on foot. Face coverings must be worn in all indoor common areas.
Minnesota: Hewing Hotel, Minneapolis
Hewing Hotel, named after the cutting wood found in Minnesota’s forests, is all about style – think recycled wooden floors, custom-made furniture and trendy accessories. Located in Minneapolis’ hip North Loop with its boutique stores, cocktail bars, independent restaurants and craft breweries, the hotel has a unique feature in the form of giant raindrops hanging in the central atrium. Although most are silver, you’ll be able to spot a few purple ones in tribute to Prince, who was born in Minneapolis.
Mississippi: White House Hotel, Biloxi
Not a nod to the presidential home but to its founder’s name, White House Hotel was established by Cora White, the wife of Gulf Coast lawyer and later judge Walter White, as she started accepting boarders in their home in Biloxi in the 1890s. Business was good so the Whites bought the house next door and joined the two together to create a lobby, a dining room and a ballroom in 1910. Recently restored thanks to the two White sons, the hotel has regained its former glory and a stay here does feel a bit presidential.
Missouri: St Louis Union Station Hotel
The dramatic proportions of the lobby at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel will certainly leave you in awe. With gold leaf detailing, sweeping archways and impossibly high ceilings, the lobby comes to life each night, when it hosts a 3D light show. There’s an exciting show nightly, where flying birds, an aquarium scene and other animations are projected across the historic lobby, as well as photos of the former station and its passengers.
Montana: The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough
Known as a wilderness sanctuary, The Resort at Paws Up is set on the grounds of an active 37,000-acre cattle ranch. Guests can pick between two accommodation options – a luxe tent complete with an en-suite bathroom and wooden floors or one of the comfortable private homes. You can explore the rolling hills of Blackfoot Valley with more than 100 miles (161km) of trails either on foot or on horseback. And as the resort itself says, social distancing here is measured in acres, not feet…
Nebraska: Magnolia Hotel, Omaha
It may be part of a small chain but Magnolia Hotel in Omaha is still a seriously classy joint with plenty of character. Built in 1923, the hotel is modeled on the Bargello Palace in Florence, Italy, and has a stunning interior courtyard which earned the building a slot on the National Register of Historic Places. If you can manage to drag yourself away from its charms, you’ll find plenty to do in the historic Old Market neighborhood just steps from the hotel.
Nevada: Circus Circus, Las Vegas
We couldn’t have a list of unusual hotels without an outlandish place to stay in Sin City. As well as circus performances, the aptly named Circus Circus has an indoor theme park called the Adventuredome. Here you’ll find the Canyon Blaster, the only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster in the world.
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New Hampshire: Adventure Suites, North Conway
Adventure Suites in North Conway is home to 18 fabulously kitsch-themed suites including a haunted castle and a mansion from ancient Rome. The Love Shack is a 1970s-style suite complete with a two-person hot tub and a disco ball while film buffs can book themselves into a suite that’s a private movie theater.
New Jersey: EnVue, Weehawken
A sleek and modern hotel, EnVue’s best feature that sets it apart from all the other New Jersey hotels is definitely its location. Book one of the riverside rooms and you’ll be treated to a panorama of midtown Manhattan unfolding in front of you as you enjoy your chic quarters. The whole hotel keeps to a monochrome color palette and the minimalist decor with a few accent pieces makes it feel ultra-luxe. Guests are required to wear face coverings in all indoor common areas.
New Mexico: The Inn of Five Graces, Santa Fe
Recognized as one of the best hotels in the world, The Five Graces is situated right in the heart of Santa Fe’s historic district. The traditional adobe-style hotel is furnished with an eclectic mix of East Indian and Tibetan furnishings, providing guests with opulent surroundings. All rooms and suites have traditional kiva fireplaces with some featuring private balconies or secluded patios while the ultra-luxe private two-bedroom Luminaria Villa is a chance to live like royalty.
New York: Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz
Like something out of a fairy tale, the Mohonk Mountain House sits on the shore of the picturesque Lake Mohonk in upstate New York. Surrounded by expansive woodlands, the Victorian castle-like hotel offers guided hikes as well as a changing roster of activities that include tours of the greenhouse and the gardens, meditation and yoga sessions and rock climbing. Although most of Mohonk’s recreational venues are open, there are extra health and safety procedures in place.
North Carolina: The Inn On Biltmore Estate, Asheville
When George Vanderbilt designed his stunning Asheville estate in 1889, he wanted to open an inn that would overlook the splendor of the grounds. It never happened in his lifetime and it wasn’t until 2001 when The Inn On Biltmore Estate was opened, alongside the moderately priced Village Hotel and the Cottage – the only lodging here that dates back to Vanderbilt’s time. Enhanced health and safety policies are in place.
North Dakota: Hotel Donaldson, Fargo
Throughout its history, Hotel Donaldson has been a beacon of change in the city. After a fire ravaged most of Fargo, the hotel was one of the first buildings to reopen in 1893. Then, after decades of disrepair, the restoration of it revitalized the then-neglected Downtown. The opening of the hotel sparked the area’s revival and now the 17-room boutique hotel, with each room designed by a local artist, is a destination in itself.
Ohio: Golden Lamb, Lebanon
The oldest continuously-run business in the state of Ohio, the Golden Lamb is a presidential favorite, having housed 12 of the former US presidents. It began as a simple tavern in 1803, providing a resting spot for travelers on their way from Cincinnati to the old National Road (now US-40). It offered simple rooms and stiff drinks, a tradition that hasn’t changed much since it first opened. Face coverings are required in all public areas.
Oklahoma: Skirvin Hilton Hotel, Oklahoma City
Not many hotels have been blamed for losing a basketball game, but the Skirvin’s claim to fame seems to be the ability to affect the outcome of the games. Both New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls have famously blamed the hotel for their loses, citing the hauntings as the reason. Other guests have corroborated the story, reporting objects randomly moving, doors slamming shut and hearing strange sounds outside their rooms and in the entryways. Currently, there are enhanced health and safety policies in place.
Oregon: Timberline Lodge, Government Camp
If the exterior of Timberline Lodge seems familiar, it’s probably because Stanley Kubrick used it as a stand-in for exterior shots of the notorious Overlook Hotel in his film The Shining. Built on Mount Hood’s highest driveable location from 1936 to 1938, the Timberline Lodge is a popular spot with skiers and snowboarders. The hotel has comfy rooms and a spa that have reopened with special guidelines in place.
Pennsylvania: The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia
Housed in the former Girard Bank, the dramatic architecture of The Ritz-Carlton is definitely the most unique setting for a night’s sleep in Pennsylvania. The marble walls and columns are complemented by a neutral color scheme that matches the natural swirls of the stone. All the materials used inside ooze old-world glam – think bronze elevators, gilt chandeliers and wrought-iron railings. There are specific COVID-19 guidelines in place.
Rhode Island: Ocean House, Westerly
The charming New England town of Watch Hill served as the Hamptons of its day, and this Grand Victorian house hotel was brought thoroughly up-to-date in 2014 following a change of ownership, while retaining original features such as the stone fireplace and reception desk. With a sprawling lawn, expansive sea views and a vintage feel, Ocean House offers a proper escape from the day-to-day life.
South Carolina: French Quarter Inn, Charleston
It’s no surprise the elegant French Quarter Inn was named the best hotel in the US in 2019. Tucked away in a quieter and calmer area of Charleston’s City Market, the hotel’s guests have specifically praised the Deluxe Corner Terrace King room that boasts views of the St Philip’s Church steeple. There are extra health and safety protocols in place at the hotel.
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South Dakota: Martin Mason Hotel, Deadwood
Deadwood was an infamous vice and gambling town after the 1870s Gold Rush, when the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane roamed the streets. The Martin Mason Hotel, with its antique furnishings and lavish 1898 ballroom, recreates the atmosphere of the town in its 19th-century heyday. Get into the spirit with a flutter in the Wooden Nickel Casino on the ground floor of the hotel.
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Tennessee: The Peabody, Memphis
A true Southern classic, The Peabody first opened in 1869 but was moved to a newer building at its present location in 1925. Although the hotel itself is incredibly luxurious and stunning, it’s a unique tradition started in the 1930s that draws in visitors. The hotel is home to a small team of ducks that arrive at the hotel’s lobby fountain via a red carpet for a splash around twice a day. The Duck March, as it’s known, is currently only open to hotel guests on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Texas: Kimber Modern Boutique Hotel, Austin
While Texas likes everything bigger and better, Kimber Hotel is a total opposite. The contemporary hotel looks more like a private home from the outside while on the inside it’s all clean lines, modern furnishings, neutral colors and chic accessories. Built under a canopy of oak trees, it feels like a true escape within the busy city and offers its guest a calming, no-frills environment. The seven guest rooms are all beautifully decorated with floor-to-ceiling windows letting in plenty of natural light.
Utah: Amangiri, Canyon Point
Surrounded by the Mars-like environment of Utah, the Amangiri resort offers extreme luxury in a spectacular and secluded setting. Thousands of square miles of untouched scenery stretch around the resort while inside you can expect seriously high-spec suites, a spa with desert views and an aquamarine pool that curves around a towering rock escarpment.
Vermont: Twin Farms, Barnard
Once home to the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Sinclair Lewis, Twin Farms today is an all-inclusive countryside retreat tucked away in the trees on 300 forested acres. City dwellers can recharge their batteries at one of the 10 cottages at this 5-star Relais & Châteaux property, enjoy the daily changing tasting menu in the 18th-century farmhouse that has been transformed into a candle-lit restaurant or make the most of the surrounding wilderness and enjoy a personalized Champagne picnic experience in the meadows.
Virginia: The Lodge at Primland, Meadows of Dan
This 12,000-acre escape in southern Virginia is where to go to disappear from the world. Immerse yourself in nature by staying at one of the adults-only treehouses built high in the oak trees or pick a two-story cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows. During the day there’s a part of the Old Appalachian Trail to hike or a golf course to enjoy, and once the sun sets, head to the on-site observatory dome for stargazing. Day visits without a lodging reservation are currently suspended.
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Washington: Salish Lodge & Spa, Snoqualmie
Although the Salish Lodge & Spa is only a 30-minute drive from Seattle, it feels like a world away. The resort benefits from a totally unique location at the top of the breathtaking Snoqualmie Falls and is surrounded by beautiful evergreen forests and many hiking trails. The resort offers 86 guest rooms that all feature fireplaces and oversized spa tubs for a relaxing break. Face coverings are required in all common areas.
West Virginia: The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs
Often called the America’s resort, The Greenbrier has been welcoming guests since 1778. A popular destination for luxury travelers looking to take to the natural hot springs, the historic hotel hasn’t lost its appeal at all. Located in a scenic mountain setting in southern West Virginia, the accommodation ranges from guest room to signature suites and state homes for private events. You won’t want to miss the afternoon tea here – complimentary tea, sweet treats and cookies are served at 4:15pm precisely as it has been for more than 200 years.
Wisconsin: Hotel Metro, Milwaukee
A much-loved Milwaukee legend, walking into Hotel Metro is like stepping into a time machine. The Art Moderne-inspired hotel imitates the 1930s style so impeccably, you won’t believe it was opened in 1998 (even though the building itself was built and designed at the start of the 20th century). All 63 suites feature luxurious amenities like deep soaking or whirlpool tubs and plush beds. The hotel is also notable for its Travel Green Wisconsin certificate thanks to its ongoing eco-friendly initiatives.
Wyoming: Irma Hotel, Cody
Get a taste of the old Wild West at the iconic Irma Hotel in Cody. This place was built by none other than Buffalo Bill in 1902 who named it after his daughter. You can stay in his personal suite, but the highlight of the hotel is the gorgeous cherrywood bar, which was a gift from Queen Victoria. Today, it’s famous for its prime rib buffet. The hotel and restaurant have just reopened.
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