27 Reasons to Book a Vacation Now
Looking for an escape this winter? Planning a quick getaway to the right hotel can turn a necessary escape into an incredible vacation. From brand new to just-renovated, these hotels have made it onto our must-book-a-stay-list this season. And many of these hotels are more than just a cozy spot for sleeping–they offer a relaxing experience. Looking for some fun on a budget? The Graduate in Oxford, Mississippi is only two blocks from Courthouse Square. Want to see Charleston, South Carolina from exciting new heights? The rooftop kitchen & lounge at The Restoration is the highest bar and eatery in the city. Ready to splurge for a special occasion vacation? Miami has two great hotels you must see: Faena Hotel Miami Beach and East, Miami. Convinced that it's time to book a getaway? We thought so. (And you deserve it!) Check out our favorite hotels now.
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21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Art fills the areas where autos were once assembled in this 135-room boutique hotel that opened last year in the former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. Enjoy loftlike guest rooms and Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge.
Check In & Check This Out: Visit historic Bricktown and explore the fascinating National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Plan Your Visit: $$ 21cmuseumhotels.com; oklahomacity.com
Aloft Louisville Downtown
In 2015, this 175-room hotel opened in the heart of the Whiskey Row District. It features a 24-hour gym and the cozy Corner Restaurant & Bar.
Check In & Check This Out: Walk to some of the city’s best restaurants and music, or take a short drive to Museum Row on Main as well as spirited attractions like the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience artisanal distillery.
Plan Your Visit: $$ aloftlouisvilledowntown.com; gotolouisville.com
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
This 72-room country inn is owned and operated on 12 scenic acres by German-born Erwin Asam and his family. West Virginia’s oldest town, Shepherdstown is loaded with historic character. But last year, the Asams added something decidedly new: the Infinity 101 Pool & Bar, exactly 101 feet above the Potomac River. The pool’s infinity edge sends water cascading down while you enjoy river views.
Check In & Check This Out: Shop local in downtown Shepherdstown.
Plan Your Visit: $$ bavarianinnwv.com; shepherdstown.org
Big Cedar Lodge
Service at this 30-year-old resort and former fish camp got even better last year with the addition of the impressive 18,000-square-foot Cedar Creek Spa.
Check In & Check This Out: Explore Table Rock Lake, 3,000 acres of Ozark Mountain forests, and 10,000-acre Dogwood Canyon Nature Park nearby.
Plan Your Visit: $$ bigcedar.com
The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Winston-Salem’s tobacco-fueled past meets its tourism-powered future at this amazing hotel. It opened last year in the R.J. Reynolds building, which was recently restored. The office complex that once served as the tobacco company’s headquarters now offers 174 rooms and 15 suites, as well as The Katharine Brasserie & Bar—a traditional French restaurant that features a seasonal menu—and the impressive 2,000-square-foot Rec Room, complete with a basketball court and bowling alley.
Check In & Check This Out: Enjoy the museums, gardens, shops, studios, and restaurants of the Old Salem Museum & Gardens, which is just a mile away.
Plan Your Visit: $$ thecardinalhotel.com
Château Élan Winery & Resort
This elegant resort and winery is about an hour from bustling downtown Atlanta. It uncorked a new look last summer after a two-year expansion project, which added a dining veranda and tasting terrace that overlook the winery’s vineyards. Also renovated during the project were the Georgia resort’s restaurant, wine-sampling room, and gift shop.
Check In & Check This Out: After a winery tour (and tasting, of course) do some dancing and dining. Enjoy the clubs, nightlife, and restaurants of downtown Athens, which is about 30 miles away.
Plan Your Visit: $$ chateauelan.com; visitathensga.com
Sea Island, Georgia
Last spring, a major expansion of the five-star Cloister added the Garden Wing, with 63 new guest rooms. The spacious rooms, featuring handcrafted rugs and Carrara marble baths, enhance the appeal of this classic property, where other amenities include The Spa at Sea Island and the Sea Island Beach Club restaurant.
Check In & Check This Out: Indulge in a spa treatment or play a round of golf at The Cloister, and then hop on a horse to ride among the driftwood and dunes found along Sea Island’s secluded beaches.
Plan Your Visit: $$$ seaisland.com; goldenisles.com
The 40-story East, Miami opened last spring with 352 guest rooms and 8 suites featuring balconies with views of the city’s skyline and Biscayne Bay. Two signature restaurants, the Uruguayan-themed Quinto La Huella and Asian-inspired Sugar, help make the East a top dining spot.
Check In & Check This Out: The Brickell City Centre, a $1 billion dining, retail, office, and residential complex, surrounds the hotel.
Plan Your Visit: $$$ east-miami.com
San Antonio, Texas
Housed in an 1894 Second Empire-style structure in the reclaimed Pearl Brewery complex, this 146-room, 10-suite boutique hotel is named in honor of Emma Koehler, wife of the Pearl company founder. (She kept the business going during Prohibition. Way to show them who’s boss, Emma.) Using large industrial fixtures—there’s a generator’s flywheel in the lobby—along with vintage furniture and a variety of other interesting pieces throughout, this hotel delivers 19th-century character with a shot of 21st-century chic. Sample farm-to-table cuisine at Supper restaurant, and sip a cocktail or craft brew at the hotel’s Sternewirth bar and clubroom. Hotel Emma even has a guest library, where you can enjoy a good read in a space that feels like a private study. This cool stay has definitely ramped up the style factor north of the city’s River Walk.
Check In & Check This Out: Hotel Emma is part of the Pearl Brewery complex of shops and restaurants, while the city’s famous River Walk, with its collection of eateries, attractions, and museums, has plenty to see and do nearby. Also, the Culinary Institute of America launched its third U.S. location at the Pearl, bringing new energy to the local dining scene.
Plan Your Visit: $$ thehotelemma.com; visitsanantonio.com
Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Miami Beach, Florida
File this one under “super splurge,” but the Faena property is so amazing that a stay might be worth a hit on your credit card. (You can save by booking on weekdays during Miami’s late-summer off-season; you can save a whole lot more by just having a classic cocktail at the stylish Saxony Bar or dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants.) The 169-room hotel is the hub of a new arts and cultural district on Collins Avenue. Faena’s lobby—aka “the cathedral”—makes a majestic statement, with soaring columns, its own red carpet, and beautiful ocean views. Amenities include fine dining; an art collection; Tierra Santa Spa; a cabaret theater; gorgeous, colorful rooms and suites; and those ocean views.
Check In & Check This Out: Honestly, when a hotel is this fabulous (and pricey), you probably won’t see the need to check out much of anything else while you’re there, but if you do, that magnificent beach is right outside.
Plan Your Visit: $$$ faena.com
Even outdoor enthusiasts enjoy a little Victorian style—especially when it’s offered in such an elegant package as this 1888 Queen Anne mansion, which was expanded into a 51-room, 5-suite hotel last spring. Many rooms include bicycle racks to accommodate avid cyclists exploring the nearby Chief Ladiga Trail, which runs for more than 30 miles from Anniston to the Georgia state line. All guests are invited to sample the Southern grits bar offered as part of a complimentary breakfast.
Check In & Check this Out: Bikers should try the Chief Ladiga Trail, about 5 miles north of the hotel, while race fans can take in the Talladega Superspeedway motorsport complex, which is less than 20 miles away.
Plan Your Visit: $ hotelfinial.com
Kimpton Glover Park Hotel
This luxurious boutique hotel opened last summer on a picturesque, tree-lined hilltop just north of Georgetown. Surrounded by the vibrant greenspaces of Glover Archbold Park, D.C.’s newest Kimpton property features 154 guest rooms, including 25 that have unforgettable, sweeping views of the National Mall and Potomac River. (All 25 of those rooms are equipped with telescopes to help guests take in and savor the incredible surrounding views.) Twenty-one rooms come equipped with kitchenettes—but for those guests who would rather turn off the stove and let someone else do the cooking, this hotel also offers the Casolare Ristorante + Bar, a new restaurant helmed by chef Michael Schlow, a winner of the Best Chefs in America: Northeast award by the James Beard Foundation.
Check In & Check This Out: Like everybody else, you’ll ooh and aah—and learn a few things—as you watch the pandas play (about a mile away) at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. Then head to the museums and memorials around the National Mall, just 25 minutes to the southeast.
Plan Your Visit: $$ kimptonhotels.com; washington.org
This 135-room hotel, which opened just two blocks northeast of Oxford’s Courthouse Square in the fall of 2015, is filled with artwork representing iconic spots at the University of Mississippi and around downtown. Fans of Ole Miss football or William Faulkner’s fiction can celebrate or contemplate in the hotel’s comfortable Cabin 82 cafe or at The Coop, a rooftop terrace lounge that offers great views of this historic Mississippi town.
Check In & Check This Out: The hotel is just a dropkick’s distance from the shops, restaurants, and bars found along the square, while the University of Mississippi campus and Faulkner’s stately home, Rowan Oak, are less than a mile away.
Plan Your Visit: $ graduateoxford.com; visitoxfordms.com
Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook
This boutique hotel, which opened in the upscale Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook in the fall of 2015, features 100 luxury rooms, a full-service spa, a wine tasting room, an art gallery and sculpture garden, and regularly scheduled cooking classes.
Check In & Check This Out: Plenty of trendy shops and assorted restaurants, as well as the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, are within walking distance in the Mountain Brook Village area.
Plan Your Visit: $$ grandbohemianmountainbrook.com; birminghamal.org
The Guest House at Graceland
The King’s subjects started making reservations at this 430-room, 20-suite resort hotel as soon as it opened last fall. Located just across from Graceland on Elvis Presley Boulevard, The Guest House has two restaurants and a 464-seat theater for musical events—including an entertaining tribute or two to you-know-who. (Thank you. Thank you very much.)
Check In & Check This Out: Explore the one-of-a-kind attraction that is Graceland, as well as the restaurants, blues joints, and other music venues of Beale Street, which is only about 8 miles away.
Plan Your Visit: $$ graceland.com; memphis.com
The Hotel Hot Springs & Spa
Hot Springs, Arkansas
A major renovation has turned an older property into the new Hotel Hot Springs & Spa, with 196 remodeled rooms. The 14-story hotel, located on the eastern edge of historic Bathhouse Row, offers a spa featuring the area’s famous thermal waters and other amenities.
Check In & Check This Out: The hotel is within walking distance of downtown shops, galleries, and restaurants.
Plan Your Visit: $ hotelhotsprings.org; hotsprings.org
Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown
Famed Atlanta architect John Portman added another landmark to his hometown’s downtown area when this 200-room hotel opened last spring. Portman’s mid- century design includes a dramatic lobby staircase rising above the hotel’s circular cocktail bar and a skywalk that connects the sleek Indigo to several downtown destinations.
Check In & Check This Out: The Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola museum, and Centennial Olympic Park are within walking distance.
Plan Your Visit: $$ hotelindigo.com
MGM National Harbor
Oxon Hill, Maryland
When this mega casino and hotel opened late last year at National Harbor, it brought a little bit of Vegas to D.C. Across the historic Potomac River from the Nation’s Capital (about 10 miles south of the White House), the MGM National Harbor features 308 rooms, 74 suites, a state-of-the-art casino, 7 restaurants, 3 lounges, and a 3,000-seat theater.
Check In & Check this out: The National Harbor waterfront complex features more than 180 restaurants, shops, and boutiques you can explore.
Plan Your Visit: $$$ mgmnationalharbor.com; nationalharbor.com
Ocean 22 by Hilton Grand Vacations Club
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The beaches, bars, and boardwalk of Myrtle Beach are just a sandy stroll away from this 22-story resort that opened in the summer of 2015. The beachfront complex features 220 one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites as well as outdoor and indoor swimming pools, an activity center for kids, and a fitness center for everybody else.
Check In & Check This Out: Play on the excellent beaches and golf courses located in the Myrtle Beach area.
Plan Your Visit: $$ hiltongrandvacations.com; myrtlebeach.com
Playa Largo Resort and Spa
Key Largo, Florida
This full-service resort opened on the northernmost Florida Key last summer. Playa Largo features a private marina and spa as well as 144 rooms, 10 bungalows, and the Beach House—a two-story, three-bedroom accommodation with a full kitchen and private beach.
Check In & Check This Out: Do the “Duval Crawl” on Key West’s main drag, about 95 miles away.
Plan Your Visit: $$$ playalargoresort.com; fla-keys.com
New Orleans, Louisiana
This 14-story architectural gem in the heart of the city’s Garden District was a luxury apartment building when it opened in 1927. Having transformed into a high-class hotel in the 1940s, it was renovated and reopened as a 106-room boutique hotel last summer. Dine on-site at the restored Caribbean Room by chef John Besh.
Check In & Check This Out: Catch the St. Charles Avenue streetcar out front to ride through the Garden District and French Quarter.
Plan Your Visit: $$ thepontchartrainhotel.com; neworleans.com
Inspired by the nearby Quirk Gallery, this 75-room hotel, which opened in the fall of 2015, lives up to its name. From the lively room decor (all different shades of pink) to the beds (made from reclaimed wood), the Quirk combines a Southern sense of humor with solid Virginia craftsmanship. That dedication to homemade comfort extends to the locally sourced dishes offered at its Maple & Pine restaurant, the custom-blended beverages served in the coffee bar, and the handcrafted drinks mixed at The Rooftop Bar.
Check In & Check This Out: Ramble the galleries, museums, shops, and restaurants of Richmond’s revitalized Broad Street area as well as the clubs and music venues of the city’s famed Fan District, just over a mile away.
Plan Your Visit: $$ destinationhotels.com; visitrichmondva.com
Charleston, South Carolina
Located near the corner of King and Wentworth streets, this hotel opened last year in the heart of historic Charleston. Composed of five buildings (four of which date to the 19th century), The Restoration has 54 luxury suites, along with The Amethyst Spa; The Indigo swimming pool; and The Watch: Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits lounge. Located on top of one of the structures, The Watch is now the highest bar and eatery in the city, which makes for great views.
Check In & Check This Out: King Street’s many boutiques and antiques shops, as well as all the historic sites and scenic sights of downtown, are all within walking distance. Or you can always hop on one of the city’s carriage rides. They make for a fine Charleston photo op.
Plan Your Visit: $$ therestorationhotel.com; charleston.com
The Gulch—Nashville’s booming industrial area turned entertainment district—gained a much-needed upscale stay when this 12-story hotel opened last fall. Anchoring the busy intersection of 11th and 12th Avenues South, the Thompson Nashville offers a quiet oasis in the middle of downtown Nashville’s bustling SoBro (South of Broadway) neighborhood. Besides 224 luxury guest rooms, the hotel also features the seafood restaurant Marsh House by chefs John Besh and Justin Cameron, as well as retail shops and a rooftop bar with showstopping views of Music City.
Check In & Check This Out: The Gulch’s eclectic boutiques, restaurants, and music venues, including the famous Station Inn, are just around the corner from the hotel.
Plan Your Visit: $$ thompsonhotels.com; explorethegulch.com
Treasure Island Beach Resort
Treasure Island, Florida
Inspired by a classic Old Florida beach town, this sun-drenched Gulf Coast resort opened last spring. It offers 77 Art Deco-style suites with expansive Gulf views. Don’t miss the resort’s BRGR Kitchen & Bar, where made-to-order burgers are paired with artisanal cocktails and craft beers.
Check In & Check This Out: Venture about 10 miles east to explore St. Petersburg, including the surreal Dali Museum.
Plan Your Visit: $$ treasureislandbeachresort.com; visitstpeteclearwater.com
Union Station Hotel
Al Capone was probably one of the few people who didn’t like visiting Union Station, because the notorious gangster just passed through on his way to a Georgia penitentiary. But for over 30 years, thousands of other Nashville visitors have enjoyed stopping—and staying—at the beautiful Gothic building that once served as the city’s main train station. Turned into a luxury hotel in 1986, the Union became even more luxurious last fall after a major update restored its 100-year-old stained glass windows and soaring towers, modernized all of its 125 rooms, and added Carter’s, a new restaurant and lounge.
Check In & Check This Out: The hotel is within walking distance of many iconic attractions, such as the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and it’s less than a mile away from others, including the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Plan Your Visit: $$ unionstationhotelnashville.com; visitmusiccity.com
A 50-room, 14-suite boutique hotel, the Vandivort opened two years ago in a circa-1906 former Masonic temple. The hotel’s restaurant, The Order, is a popular gathering spot.
Check In & Check This Out: Hit the theaters and clubs of Springfield’s downtown entertainment district.
Plan Your Visit: $$ hotelvandivort.com; springfieldmo.org