The Coolest Hotel in Every State (and DC)

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Like many things, the word “unique” really exists on a spectrum. On one end, there’s the “unique” you use when your sister wears an, um, interesting outfit, or when a stranger gets up on stage and gives quite the performance at a slam poetry night your friend dragged you to.

On the other—and dare we say, better—end of that spectrum are the 51 hotels, inns, and lodges on this list, arguably the most interesting and exciting stays the US has to offer. Some you’ll need to head underwater or underground to reach; some are essentially bougie summer camps; others are straight-up helicopters. But every last one of them are unique in a way you’ll happily write home about. Here are the coolest hotels in America.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park
The Lodge at Gulf State Park

Alabama

The Lodge at Gulf State Park
Gulf Shores
If you know—or think you know—anything about the Gulf Coast, it probably has something to do with Floribama, alligators, or spring break madness. Or all three at once. But lo and behold: this genuinely eco-friendly hotel perched smack dab between Lake Shelby and the Gulf of Mexico has none of the above. Instead, you’ll be surrounded by the quiet confines of Gulf State Park, where you can catch white sand beaches, blue-green ocean, 28 miles of trails, and nine different ecosystems—all of which the hotel has gone out of its way to respect and protect. Out here, our green travelers can (and should!) participate in everything from sea turtle talks and guided bike tours to sea oat planting and beach clean up projects.

Ultima Thule Lodge
Ultima Thule Lodge

Alaska

Ultima Thule Lodge
Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve
It’s Alaska, so you know we’re not gonna tell you about some swanky joint in Anchorage with a killer brunch buffet. No, we’re gonna tell you about this luxury lodge that’s 100 miles from the nearest road, and only accessible by private plane. Here, you’ll sit in the middle of the largest swath of protected land on the planet; you'll hike, fish, and boat while your hosts spend the day cooking an epic meal that you’ll eat in a dining room full of oversized chairs, before retreating to your private, hillside cabin.

Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court
Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court

Arizona

Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court 
Bisbee, AZ
A lot of hotels will claim to “transport you back to another time”, but as soon as you flip on the TV and Love Island comes on, you become painfully aware it's still the 2020s. Not so at this vintage trailer park in one of Arizona's coolest small towns, where not only have they adorned every trailer in perfect 1950s kitsch, but the radios only play music from that era, the TVs are black and white, and there’s nothing to read but words printed on old newspaper rife with cigarette ads. But don’t let the ads fool you; the only 21st-century advent at Shady Dell is a strict non-smoking policy.

Beckham Creek Cave Lodge
Beckham Creek Cave Lodge

Arkansas

Beckham Creek Cave Lodge
Parthenon
Don’t try to sound all “back-to-nature” when you tell friends you’re unleashing your inner caveman by staying in this lodge built into a real cave in the Ozarks. The place is actually a full-on house complete with Jacuzzi, five master bedrooms, satellite TV, and, oh yeah, a heliport. That's one big cave. Obviously, Beckham Creek's a popular spot for weddings, events, and celebrities who don’t want anyone to know they’re in Arkansas.

Madonna Inn
Madonna Inn

California

Madonna Inn
San Luis Obispo
This is not just the quirkiest, most colorful, most chaotic hotel in California, but almost certainly in the entire country. Named not for the 80s singer, but for its founders, Alex and Phyllis Madonna, every single room of this ultra-eclectic inn—from the dining area and the pool to all 110 suites—has a different theme: Caveman, Desert Sands, Fabulous 50s, Jungle RockHarvard Square, Carin, Love Nest, Victorian Gardens…we’ll stop there. Be sure to check out the famous men’s restroom on the first floor, complete with its very own waterfall.

The Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel

Colorado

The Stanley Hotel
Estes Park
Colorado's got plenty of luxurious mountain resorts, but there's only one so awesome it inspired Stephen King to write 200,000 words about it. This spot (named for the same guy who founded Stanley Steamer) is the hotel from The Shining, and while you might not run into a bartender who tells you to kill your family, there are enough rumored ghost stories in this place to make it a bonafide haunted landmark.

Winvian Farm
Winvian Farm

Connecticut

Winvian
Litchfield Hills
Try not to get the theme from Airwolf stuck in your head (because it will, GOD it will) when you check into this 118-acre resort in rural Connecticut, because of all their 18 themed cottages, the one you’re 100% going to stay in is the fully-restored 1968 Sea King Pelican HH3F helicopter. If somehow that’s not your thing, there’s also a log cabin, a treehouse, a greenhouse, and even something called the “secret society”.

Dogfish Inn
Dogfish Inn

Delaware

Dogfish Inn
Lewes
Have beer, will travel—that’s the mantra behind this one-of-a-kind coastal escape from the sudsy pioneers at Delaware’s world-famous Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The retro-styled lodging features bright and beachy guest rooms and suites outfitted with mini-fridges jam-packed with locally sourced treats as well as all the tasty IPAs, lagers, and sours you can drink. Common areas also err on the boozy side, with a rustic patio fit for afternoon refreshments and a cozy lobby lounge centered around a roaring fireplace.

Eaton DC
Eaton DC

Washington DC

Eaton DC
The first American offshoot from Hong Kong’s Langham Hotels heir Katherin Lo, this downtown complex is specifically geared toward inciting progressive organizing and social change. Everything from the ample food and drink offerings—don’t miss in-house speakeasy Allegory, barman Deke Dunne’s inviting tribute to Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges complete with D.C. artist Erik Thor Sandberg’s haunting Alice in Wonderland-inspired wall murals—to the gorgeous and provocative art displays, curated library, and working radio station dedicated to broadcasting intellectual ponderings lean hard into the art-meets-politics theme. Upstairs, sexy guest rooms showcasing warm tones, mid-century modern furnishings, and handmade textiles provide ample respite between rabble rousing sessions.

Jules' Undersea Lodge
Neale Haynes/Shutterstock

Florida

Jules' Undersea Lodge 
Key Largo, FL
In a state where the highest point may well be an offramp at Yeehaw Junction, exceptional views are hard to come by—which is why your best bet isn't up, but down. As in 30 feet below the surface of the water inside the world's very first underwater hotel The two-bedroom, one-bath hotel lets you literally sleep with the fishes (and dolphins!), as well as dive all day without ever having to surface.

Hotel Clermont
Hotel Clermont

Georgia

Hotel Clermont
Atlanta
If you’ve heard of the Clermont, it’s probably thanks to the structure’s notorious basement strip club. The down-and-dirty, absolutely zero-frills establishment held court beneath the neon-lit 1920s-era red brick SRO long after its residents trickled out of their good-as-condemned rooms, transforming into a punk rock hotspot for many a late night shenanigans and a particularly memorable beer can-crushing dancer.

Today, the main portion of the property has undergone a 180-degree makeover, blossoming into a sleek 94-room boutique hotel that appears to have leaped straight out of the ‘Gram. A reputable restaurant has joined the party, as has Art Deco-style decor and eye-catching vintage touches. And don’t worry—once you’re done lounging atop the sparkling rooftop, you can still descend into the (admittedly slightly more polished) depths for a taste of said beer can-crushing action.

Hana-Maui Resort
Hana-Maui Resort

Hawaii

Hana-Maui Resort
This resort on the remote eastern tip of Maui proves that life can be about the journey and the destination. If you opt not to fly into Hana’s microscopic airport, the Hana Highway is a 52-mile, two-lane road that winds over 59 bridges through the Hawaiian rainforest before arriving at this 70-room compound on a hill overlooking Kaihalulu Bay. While each cottage comes with a whirlpool spa, the place is a throwback—so don’t expect TV or air conditioning.

The Big Idaho Potato Hotel
Photo by Tiana Attride for Thrillist

Idaho

The Big Idaho® Potato Hotel
Eagle
In most cases, we’d try to avoid selecting something so stereotypical but…come on. Built inside the 28-foot long, 6-ton shell of a giant potato originally built to honor the Idaho Potato Company’s 75th anniversary, this spud is perhaps the most excellent example of upcycling we’ve ever seen. After a year on tour, the potato was planted in a field just outside Boise, where it now overlooks the Owyhee Mountains. Along with the airy interior bedroom, you can also look forward to the rental’s luxe outhouse, which includes a whirlpool tub, a fireplace, and a skylight.

Camp Aramoni
Photo courtesy of Matt Haas

Illinois

Camp Aramoni
Tonica
Ever wished you could go back to your peaceful summer camp days, minus the lukewarm juice boxes and sciatica-inducing cots? Apparently, you’re not alone. 96 acres of pastoral bliss await grown-up campers at this brand new central Illinois hideaway near Starved Rock State Park, and what it lacks in arts and crafts stations it more than makes up for with a boatload of adult-worthy amenities.

Expect 11 spacious glamping cabins, fields of wildflowers, a cocktail bar housed inside of a 1971 Airstream, and lodge-style dining overseen by Chicago’s own Cleetus Friedman (Theatre on the Lake, City Provisions). The best part? It’s only 90 miles from Chi-town, making it the perfect weekend getaway.

Crowne Plaza Union Station
Crowne Plaza Indianapolis-Dwtn-Union Stn

Indiana

Crowne Plaza Union Station
Indianapolis
The Crowne Plaza that took over Indianapolis' once sleepy Historic Union Station might not look like much at first glance, but make your way past the registration desk and into the large, atrium-like center and you’ll quickly realize this ain’t your grandad’s Midwestern chain hotel. Life-sized, eerily white sculptures lurk in the corners, depicting travelers in old-fashioned dress, some hawking newspapers, some clutching bags or the hands of small children, apparently waiting for their train to come in.

Skip the standard 250+ guest rooms and reserve a few nights inside a decommissioned railcar for the full, tripped-out experience. The cars sit idle on real-deal tracks traversing the building’s interior, and come with all the standard amenities—including, thankfully, updated bathrooms.

The Black Hawk Hotel
The Black Hawk Hotel

Iowa

The Blackhawk Hotel
Cedar Falls
Not to be confused with the Hotel Blackhawk (which, apparently, also exists) in Davenport, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Hawkeye state has been open since the 1850s. In addition to historic rooms with exposed brick walls and antique furnishings, they’ll also offer private cottages and a modernized “mod” motor inn behind the property. Also, there's a lobby martini lounge called the Stuffed Olive.

The Eldridge Hotel
The Eldridge Hotel

Kansas

Eldridge Hotel
Lawrence
Here’s one for our history buffs: Once upon a time (a.k.a. in 1855), this site was first built as temporary lodging for new settlers to Kansas awaiting the construction of their new homes and was originally called the Free State Hotel, a name chosen to support Kansas joining the Union as a free state.

Years later, infamous criminal Clyde Barrow—yes, of Bonnie and Clyde fame—allegedly used the Eldridge as a stakeout point before committing the first bank robbery of his career across the street at the then-First National Bank of Lawerence. On top of all that, the ghost of Colonel Shalor Eldridge supposedly haunts the hotel, specifically room 506. All that being said, there’s plenty to write home about here.

21c Museum Hotel Louisville
21c Museum Hotel Louisville

Kentucky

21c Museum Hotel
Louisville
Sure, there are “art hotels,” bright and airy places that favor Pop Art prints or abstract sculpture over tacky Thomas Kinkade knockoffs. And then there’s the 21c, a growing collection of boutique ventures focused on turning historical buildings in second-tier American cities into bonafide modern art museums that happen to also house plush guest rooms and quality dining outposts.

We’re talking multiple galleries lined with top-notch exhibitions—think Nick Cave, Josephine Taylor, Michael Eastman, Carrie Mae Weems—plus additional commissioned work strewn throughout the lobby, bathrooms, exterior, and on-site bar and restaurant heavy hitter, Proof on Main. The 91 guest rooms follow suit, marked with original works that vary from subtle to all-encompassing—i.e. Asleep in the Cyclone, a vibrant immersive art installation that will have you buzzing ‘til the wee hours

Jazz Quarters
New Orleans Jazz Quarters, The French Quarter's Most Unique Creole Hotel

Louisiana

Jazz Quarters
New Orleans
While picking the coolest hotel in New Orleans is next to impossible, this French Quarter spot stands out: nestled behind Palmettos has eight separate cottages all themed after different jazz legends, like Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick, and Trombone Shorty. If you’re not in the mood to use the in-cottage kitchen, a gratis full breakfast is served daily in their dining room, and you can relax afterward in their sunny courtyard, a surprisingly quiet patio in the middle of the bustling French Quarter.

Asticou Inn & Restaurant
Asticou Inn & Restaurant

Maine

Asticou Inn
Northeast Harbour
This grand old New England hotel sits at the base of Eliot Mountain right outside of Maine’s best-known natural attraction, Acadia National Park, and boasts a spacious 31-room main lodge, turn-of-the-century charm, and seaside cottages where, presumably, Angela Lansbury would hide while trying to solve the murder.

Inn at Perry Cabin
Inn at Perry Cabin

Maryland

Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond
St. Michaels
Instantly recognizable from its role in Wedding Crashers, this Victorian manor house (which originally dates back to the 19th century) is a tranquil waterfront resort on Maryland's Eastern Shore where you can actually boat up to the hotel. And yes, docking space is free for guests (as is the helipad). In addition to crashing weddings—of which they host many, as you can imagine—guests can also enjoy the spa or fireside drinks in the pub.

TOURISTS Welcome
TOURISTS Welcome

Massachusetts

Tourists
North Adams
Surrounded by 80 acres of forest on the banks of the Hoosic River in the Berkshires, the semi-new (built in 2018) Tourists Hotel is a lot like summer camp…you know, if summer camp included luxury lodging, an enormous cocktail and natural wine program, a heated saltwater pool, and dinner reservations. There’s also a souvenir shop, nearby hiking trails, and daily craft classes covering everything from candle-making to sculpting and foraging, all of which do ring slightly more true to the classic offerings of sleep-away camp. (Personally, this writer would pick all that over the itchy A-frame tents at her former Girl Scout Camp in a heartbeat.)
 

Grand Hotel
Grand Hotel

Michigan

Grand Hotel 
Mackinac Island
Despite the fact that poor Detroit is the punchline to everyone’s favorite "miserable city" joke, Michigan as a state is beautiful. In summer, anyway. Which is why this 386-room mega-resort where no two rooms are the same is only open from May to October. Accessible by ferry on an island where the preferred mode of transport is horse-drawn carriage (in fact, cars are prohibited), the Grand Hotel offers five-course meals served on the world’s largest front porch.

Northern Rail Traincar Inn
Northern Rail Traincar Inn

Minnesota

Northern Rail Traincar Inn 
Two Harbors
Even if you don't actually need to hitch a ride doesn't mean you can't hop aboard the train travel trend. This hotel near Lake Superior just over half an hour from Duluth has 17 rooms built in renovated boxcars, each with a different theme like Victorian, Safari, and Lighthouse. Surrounded by the Minnesota wilderness, you'll also have access to hiking trails, waterfalls, and winter sports like snowshoeing and skiing should you choose to visit during the state's roughest—albeit beautiful!—colder months.

The Shack Up Inn
The Shack Up Inn

Mississippi

The Shack Up Inn
Clarksdale
If walking in the footsteps of music legends like Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Pinetop Perkins—the list goes on—sounds like your ideal weekend, shack up at the Shack Up Inn in the Mississippi Delta, where blues music was born. Along with staying in their restored shacks, you can also grab a beer at the hotel’s Juke Joint Chapel, enjoy live music at the Ground Zero Blues Club, and take part in singer/songwriter workshops and guitar and bass lessons during your stay.

Big Cedar Lodge
Big Cedar Lodge

Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge
Branson
If you’re going to go to Branson, you might as well go big—and there are few area hotels bigger than this sprawling mountain resort. Perched in the Ozarks overlooking scenic Table Rock Lake, this award-winning family vacation hub doesn’t disappoint, with housing options running the gamut from woodsy cabins and safari-style tents to stately lodges and cabins fit for a small army. Between the comfy digs and plethora of onsite activities (pro golf course, massive spa, shooting range, pickleball and volleyball courts, canoeing and kayak facilities, infinity pools and hot tubs, private beach, fire pits, shuffleboard, and a damn lazy river, for crying out loud), you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason to leave the property. But, in the event you do, we’ve got you covered.

Triple Creek Ranch
Triple Creek Ranch, A Montana Hideaway

Montana

Triple Creek Ranch 
Darby
When you hear the words “all-inclusive resort,” you typically think of pounding way-too-many sugary drinks on the beach and eating from endless buffet tables. Or, if you’re at this all-inclusive resort, ranked among the best in the world, you'll find fly fishing, horseback riding, archery, cattle drives, golf, rafting, skiing, and sipping fine wine at a gourmet restaurant by the side of a mountain. You know, 'cause it's Montana.

Hotel Deco
Hotel Deco

Nebraska

Hotel Deco XV
Omaha
Though the words “modern luxury” and “Nebraska” aren’t exactly synonymous, this 89-room, ultra-mod hotel next to the Old Market section of town pretty much accounts for all of Omaha’s art-deco architecture. It’s one of only two AAA four-diamond properties in the entire state, and in addition to having Omaha’s best bourbon bar in the lobby, hotel staff will also drive you to the Huskers game in one of their Mercedes sedans, if that's how you roll.

The Clown Motel
Photo courtesy of Hame Anand

Nevada

The Clown Motel
Tonopah
Now, traditionally, you might believe that the best vacations are those on which you’re unlikely to be watched constantly by several hundred leering clown eyes. However, you would be wrong. At Nevada’s Clown Motel, where you’ll find a collection of more than 2,000 clown figurines, rooms themed after horror films like Friday the 13th, and more than a few haunted suites. The owner (who prefers to go by “CEO of the Clown Motel”) also reports regularly hearing footsteps and whispers at night, signs of ghosts he believes likely wander in from the cemetery next door. All those who have seen It may steer clear, but for the uninitiated…welcome.

Rye Motor Inn + Swim Shop
Rye Motor Inn + Swim Shop

New Hampshire

Rye Motor Inn & Swim Shop
Rye
There are few hospitality trends we love more than the return (and refurb) of the retro motel—and this adults only spot on the ocean in tktk is a prime example of why. More apartment than hotel, the Rye Motor Inn offers up fully-furnished suites that look like they were pulled straight from the 1950s, complete with bright color schemes, SMEG kitchen appliances….and, uh, Wi-Fi, which of course everybody had back then. Steps from the ocean, the inn also sits just minutes from Portsmouth and features an enormous pool and common space.

Beach Plum Farm
Beach Plum Farm

New Jersey

Beach Plum Farm
Cape May
So long as the Beach Plum Farm exists, we will never, ever, ever give up on cottagecore. Planted just minutes from the ocean in Cape May, Jersey’s southernmost beach town, visitors to this working farm can spend a weekend living in a cottage of their very own, feed pigs and chickens, take classes on archery and gardening, learn how to harvest fresh produce, and sit down to dine on fresh meals that they, themselves, will get to take from farm to table. Go, embrace the pastoral life, pretend you’re in Little House on the Prairie…and then reward yourself for a hard day’s work with a dip in their pool.

Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm

New Mexico

Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
Albuquerque
When New Mexico comes to mind, it rarely conjures images of verdant, floral fields—but as usual, this state so often associated with UFOs and Breaking Bad has yet another unexpected trick up its sleeve. At Los Poblano Historic Inn, the Land of Enchantment sheds its usual clothing for a look that more closely resembles the French countryside, replacing dusty desert roads with row after row of fragrant lavender plants. Check into one of their Field Rooms—luxury suites set amongst the gently-swaying, aromatherapeutic flowers—for the best night’s sleep of your life.

The Pines
@catskillpines

New York

The Pines
Phoenicia
Run by a former touring musician and housed in one of Phoenicia’s oldest buildings, this restaurant-slash-bar-slash-inn feels a little more like coming home to somebody’s perfectly cozy wooden cabin, complete with a screened-in porch, expansive backyard, two bars, and a menu serving up enough hearty dishes to keep you full and dazed for an entire weekend’s stay.

Oddly enough, one of the most impressive features of the joint is the bathrooms: the walls leading to both and the interiors were hand-illustrated in Sharpie by artist Will Lytle of Thorneater Comics, whose style feels like something out of a dark fairytale à la the Brothers Grimm. (Whether that kind of thing puts you at ease while you take care of business is purely up to you.) Grab your entire friend group and rent their breezy and low-key lodge, located above the main restaurant, for a few nights.

The Longleaf Hotel
The Longleaf Hotel

North Carolina

The Longleaf Hotel and Lounge
Raleigh
Named after the unofficial tree of the Old North State (at least according to the North Carolina State Toast), the Longleaf Hotel was originally a motel in the 1960s—a fact the remodelers didn’t shy away from when it was renovated in 2019 to revive the building’s long-concealed mid-century modern details. (We know how the people love those.) (It’s us. We’re “the people.”) Check into one of their rooms, which come stocked with local art, snacks, and coffee, or stop by for drinks in the Longleaf Lounge, where the hotel hosts regular events like drag brunches, bingo nights, and live music.

Hotel Donaldson
Hotel Donaldson

North Dakota

The Hotel Donaldson 
Fargo
We’re talking about the coolest hotel in North Dakota. Which is kinda like talking about the smartest person in Florida. So you gotta adjust your standards. And while most lodging in North Dakota involves some kind of number in the name, this artsy, historic downtown spot has a rooftop hot tub for those chilly winter nights, a rooftop bar and martini lounge, art-inspired rooms, and a restaurant that serves all locally-raised food.

The Mohicans Treehouse Resort and Wedding Venue
The Mohicans Treehouse Resort and Wedding Venue

Ohio

The Mohicans Treehouse Hotel
Glenmont
If the wilds of northeastern Ohio have never crossed your mind as a fantastic getaway destination, you clearly haven’t had the pleasure of kicking back in one of the Mohicans’ elevated home-away-from-homes. The ever-evolving network of treehouses and freeshanding cabins practically oozes whimsy, from a sky-high vintage Airstream-turned-luxury suite to the Brew Haus, a stained glass- and beer-centric structure that got its start on Discovery Channel's hit Tree House Masters. Pick your poison from the dozen or so sustainably designed concepts dotting the hilly, backwoods landscape, equipped with all the standards plus perks like kitchenettes, outdoor showers, firepits, and—yes—central heat and air conditioning.

Price Tower
Price Tower

Oklahoma

Inn at Price Tower
Bartlesville
Little known fact: Revered architect Frank Lloyd Wright, known for the kind of functional, low-slung design that drove the Mid-century Modern era, counts just a single skyscraper among his vast portfolio. Meet the Price Tower, a little slice of retro paradise in the heart of Oklahoma. Painstakingly remodeled in 2003 to respect its creator’s original vision, the building’s top seven floors house gorgeous guest rooms decorated to complement Wright’s signature cantilevered design while a lavish public art center beckons from below. Tours are available and the Copper Restaurant and Bar—currently relegated to the ground floor while its normal penthouse perch gets a face lift—is tailor made for the kind of three-martini lunch that would surely make Don Draper proud.
 

McMenamins Kennedy School
McMenamins Kennedy School

Oregon

The Kennedy School
Portland
When you were younger, did you ever have one of those dreams where you realized you were at school in your underwear? Well, waking up in the comfy beds here is the best case scenario version of that. Built inside a former elementary school, this magical stay is a part of McMenamins, a series of hotels, brewpubs, restaurants, and more that transforms historic but out-of-use buildings like schools and farms into eccentric new creations. In this particular hotel, workbooks were repurposed into wallpaper, certain rooms have literary themes, and what was formerly teacher’s lounge now hosts a heated outdoor pool (the breakroom that our country’s educators actually deserve). Catch us after school in the Detention Bar.

Wm. Mulherin's Sons
Wm. Mulherin's Sons

Pennsylvania

Wm. Mulherin’s Sons
Philadelphia
The most important takeaway here is going to be wood-fired pizza, but we’ll get to that. Situated above a neighborhood Italian joint, Mulherin's is home to just four cozy, rustic hotel rooms, each of which come outfitted with some unique combination of solid audio systems, a curated selection of vinyls records, live plants, cocktail kits, clawfoot tubs, and more. Downstairs, you’ll find a garden, a bar, and a restaurant slinging that aforementioned piping-hot wood-fired pizza, as well as the entire Fishtown neighborhood, yours to explore. Dare we say this is the ideal weekend date spot? We do dare.

The Chanler at Cliff Walk
The Chanler at Cliff Walk

Rhode Island

The Chanler at Cliff Walk 
Newport
Devastated to learn that the Pewterschmidt Estate is completely made up, we went with this historic mansion instead—the only hotel located among the mansions on Newport’s famous Cliff Walk. Built in 1873 atop Newport's majestic cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, the home actually did some time as a historical museum, and its collection of antiques is used in the décor of the 20 period-themed rooms.

The Ryder Hotel
Photo courtesy of The Ryder Hotel

South Carolina

The Ryder Hotel
Charleston
There are so. Many. Damn. Hotels. In Charleston. Literally dozens of them, the majority of which could be described as “charming” or some other variation of that word. But The Ryder, which sits smack-dab in the center of Downtown Charleston, still rises a cut above the rest. This hotel is a knockout as far as aesthetics go, with tropical pale pink and green interiors and an equally colorful pool (complete with lounge area and bar!). That being said: We don’t care how social media-averse you are. You will find yourself taking dozens of photos, so clear your phone storage in advance.

Custer State Park Resort
Custer State Park Resort

South Dakota

Sylvan Lake Lodge 
East Custer
It's pretty cool that in the middle of South Dakota you can find a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed lakefront lodge. But unless you're seriously into architecture, the bigger draw is probably waking up to a buffalo in your front yard. You can also hop in your car and, within an hour, get to Mt. Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, or the Crazy Horse Memorial. 

The Dive Motel
The Dive Motel

Tennessee

The Dive Motel & Swim Club
Nashville
There is perhaps no place on earth that’ll make you want to buy a pair of bell-bottoms and bring back the phrase “groovy” more than Nashville’s Dive Motel & Swin Club, where the essence of disco essentially oozes from every floorboard. They’ve got 70s mod wallpaper. They’ve got an airy public pool and a wood-paneled bar complete with checkerboard tile and a Malm fireplace. Each uniquely-decorated room comes with a “Party Switch,” which causes a disco ball to spin to the tune of four specially-curated music channels. The whole place kind of feels like if the Bee Gees’ Stayin' Alive manifested itself into a hotel.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Emma

Texas

Hotel Emma
San Antonio
What, pray tell, could better enhance a vacation than beer and drama? That’s right: Nothing. Fashioned by the same design duo responsible for the Ace Hotels, Hotel Emma offers guests a choice of welcome drink: one being a Pearl beer, representative of the hotel’s 150+ year old history as a former brewhouse, and another being a Three Emmas cocktail, named for the wife and two mistresses—ALL NAMED EMMA!—of the late brewery owner Otto Koehler, shot and killed by one of the mistresses in 1914 and replaced as the boss by his wife the day after his murder. Luckily today, there are far fewer “incidents” and way more suds, books, pool time, food, and events.

Yonder Escalante
Photo by Aleks Danielle Butman

Utah

Yonder Escalante
Escalante
Being one of the best places in the country for stargazing, Utah’s standards for “unique lodging” are astronomically high considering you could straight-up lay down on the earth and fall asleep beneath the Milky Way, and it’d be the coolest overnight experience you’d ever had in your life. But if you really value your creature comforts (or you’d prefer not to eff up your back sleeping on the ground), Yonder Escalante makes for a pretty impressive stay. In the desert just outside Bryce Canyon National Park, they’ve got 10 vintage Airstreams, 22 A-frame cabins, and RV hookups for rent, as well as (decorative) vintage Corvettes, a drive-in theater, a pool, and a hot tub.

Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, Manchester, Vermont
Courtesy of The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa

Vermont

The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa
Manchester
Golf might not be the first sport one associates with the Green Mountain State, but step foot onto this lush 250-year-old Manchester property and you'll be hitting the state-of-the-art championship links in no time. 195 cozy guest rooms and suites have your overnights covered, while non-golf draws like a 75-foot indoor pool, fully loaded fitness center and spa, Orvis-lead fly fishing expeditions, clay shooting, axe-throwing, an off-roading driving school, guiding hiking, and falconry lessons (!!!) keep the 18 hole-averse crowd good and busy while their counterparts are out divot-digging.

Primland Resort
PRIMLAND

Virginia

Primland 
Meadows of Dan
Treehouse hotel rooms? Cool, but it’s been done. Golfing, hunting, fishing, ATV rides, swimming, and Frolf? Sounds like summer camp. An in-hotel observatory? Well, that's one we haven’t heard of before. Nor have we heard of an occasional chance to drive an Audi race car on the Virginia International Speedway. Expect both, though, when you arrive at Primland.

TreeHouse Point
TreeHouse Point

Washington

TreeHouse Point 
Fall City
If the Great Northwest is known for one thing, it’s those endless groves of trees. And what better way to put yourself smack in the middle of all those giant evergreens than staying in a hotel that’s all treehouses​​​​​​? This spot, just a few minutes from Snoqualmie Falls, is made up of six luxury treehouses accessible by a series of 18-foot-high treetop bridges and hammocks.

The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier

West Virginia

The Greenbrier 
White Sulfur Springs
You're gonna forget every joke you’ve ever made about West Virginia when you arrive at this historic, 710-room resort in the Allegheny Mountains. Dating back to 1778, The Greenbrier has 10 (!!) lobbies, 96 guest houses, nine restaurants, eight bars, a 100,000sqft casino, and a golf course that hosts an annual PGA event. Also, you have to try the steak at Prime 44.

The Holiday Music Motel
The Holiday Music Motel

Wisconsin

The Holiday Music Motel
Sturgeon Bay
With too many overlooked festivals to count—including Blue Ox, Rock Fest, and Summerfest, the largest music festival in the US—one could easily consider Wisconsin the state with the most underrated music scene in the country. It’s the Holiday Music Motel that puts the nail in that coffin: Opened in May 1952 (marking its 70th anniversary in 2022) and renovated back in 2008, Door County’s first motel is like a smorgasbord of experiences for music lovers. Check in to enjoy live music, songwriting retreats, and a radio station that broadcasts songs written and recorded on-site (as well as some pretty dope merch!).

The Cloudveil (112 Center Street, Jackson, WY)
The Cloudveil

Wyoming

The Cloudveil
Jackson
As far as rooms with a view go, it’s difficult to go wrong in Wyoming, and particularly in Jackson, which backs up to the immense Grand Tetons and thus one of the most spectacular vistas on the North American continent. Worry not: the Cloudveil’s rooms will deliver those views. But in an area where the number of things to do can be just as overwhelming as the landscape, the hotel also goes out of its way to help orient guests by arranging seasonal itineraries on their behalf: sleigh rides and dog sledding in winter, kayaking and fly fishing come summer, and whitewater rafting and paddleboarding during fall, among other things. All that, and there’s still the rest of town, plus Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, left to explore.

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Meredith Heil, Tiana Attride, and Matt Meltzer contributed to this story.