The USA is really, really, really big. And although it’s one country, it’s geography, climate and culture are so hugely varied that it’s pretty impressive in this day and age that it remains one country. So if you have a bit of time this year, and you’re thinking of doing a spot of longer travel then maybe the USA is worth considering? You could read that as ‘road trip!’ or not, but these are five very varied stops which would make for a great American ‘taster’. As usual the hotel recommendations come care of the Hotel Guru.
The Seaside Like Mama Made – Carmel, California
Carmel-by-the-Sea, or more often simply Carmel, is an especially beautiful seaside town just a coast down Highway 1 from Monterey and, before that, San Francisco. Small but beautifully formed, Carmel is the kind of town you can stroll across in five minutes. Or you can take all day popping into the galleries, cafes, boutiques and restaurants as you do. And at the end of town there’s an idyllic, white sandy beach, possibly lit up by an incredible sunset. When in Carmel you might find people are dressing up for lunch, or driving slowly in convertibles down Main Street. But artists and writers have been inspired by this town too. And by the local state parks and their walking trails and the old Spanish Missions.
Where to Stay? The Sea View Inn is a charmingly traditional B&B just outside Carmel Town. It has eight, quaint rooms – some with cosy canopied beds, bay windows and ocean views, and all of them with antique furnishings and wooden flooring. This is the perfect place to really relax and enjoy the wonderful, simple pleasures of Carmel. There aren’t any TVs in the room, and you’re a short walk from the beach and town, so it really encourages you to enjoy the area not just your pretty room. Which will start from $195 per night including breakfast.
Practical Details: Carmel is most popular in the spring and summer months, it’s a breezy, sunny kind of destination. You might think the summer weather blighted by the famous Carmel fog, or you might think it’s one of the highlights of your trip – the way it rolls in is quite incredible. Carmel’s closest airports are San Jose International, which is 75 miles away, and San Francisco International, which is 100 miles away.
Food and Wine Haven Heaven – St. Helena, The Napa Valley
There’s no way of escaping the Rodeo Drive comparison. It’s a cliche, but St Helena has the high end boutiques and fancy restaurants to warrant such comparison. Parking is also a nightmare. But St Helena is so historically pretty and so close to so many of Napa’s most popular wineries, and the farmer’s market is just so good, that it’s difficult not to want to overlook the extra people on the streets and the need to book a table in advance.
The Napa Valley is a big place, so if you’re staying for more than a few nights you might even want to consider choosing a few different hotels to stay, eat and drink at…?
Where to Stay? Surrounded by incredible vineyard views, the scent of olive groves and set above a 15,000 strong wine cellar, the Auberge du Soleil is a Napa Valley classic. In gorgeous St. Helena, this hotel has an outstanding restaurant – well regarded across the valley, plus a gorgeous pool and spa. And 50 rooms, which start from $775 per night B&B. Yes, it’s luxurious as luxurious can be!
Practical Details: There’s not really a bad time to visit St Helena. The growing season is pretty, but then so is autumn, with its colours and cooling evenings. Spring too is colourful and winter remains fairly mild. The closest major airport to St Helena is Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, which is 28 miles from the city centre, but if you’re flying direct you’ll find your UK connections at San Francisco International.
The Really, Really Big Outdoors – Utah
Utah is known for its fiery-red cliffs, weird-shaped rock formations, dramatic canyons and endless deserts – and in winter for its incredible ski terrain. In amongst all this, you’ll find ancient rock art, fossils and the remains of pioneer settlements. There are scenic drives, such as through Bryce Canyon National Park, and stunning rock formations, such as the alien-looking Goblin Valley State Park or Arches National Park, near Moab, with its extraordinary sunset-red rock formations. Visit Monument Valley and you’ll feel that you’ve strayed on to a Hollywood Western film-set; best explored on horseback for real authenticity.
Where to Stay? The Zion Mountain Ranch is great if you’re looking for some space, and for Utah at its most spectacular. It’s a collection of generously proportioned cabins right next to the Zion National Park. There’s certainly a western feel to the decor – visible logs and plenty of wood finishes – but they also have fireplaces, leather chairs, stylish details and baths with jets. Rooms start from $158 per night.
Practical Details: The closest town to the Zion National Park is Springdale – which is no good for airports! You’ll have to fly into either Las Vegas, which is two hours away, or Salt Lake City, which is about four hours away. You can travel by road from there, or change for Saint George or Cedar City domestic airports, which will get you to within about 50 miles of the park.
Springtime here is beautiful, what with the wild flowers and all, but the weather is unpredictable and that often means stormy. Summer is hot, with daily maximums ranging from 35°C to 43°C, but it cools right down come the evening. Autumn is mild, crisp and clear, and for a lot of people the best time to visit. Winter is fairly mild too, and picturesque, if you like a dusting of snow on your spectacular rock formations.
The Desert, But Not as You’re Expecting it – Austin, Texas
Austin is known for being the self declared ‘Live Music Capital of the World’, and for being creative, artistic, friendly and colourful – and for those ‘Keep Austin Weird’ bumper stickers. But there’s even more to it than that! Its position, centre state and surrounded by natural beauty and a wealth of resources, means it’s a great city to be based in if you want to explore the great outdoors as well as the fascinating history of this part of the US. Plus it’s really sunny.
Where to Stay? The Hotel Saint Cecilia is colourful, vibrant, confident and a bit quirky with it. Its 14 rooms feature all sorts of bright colours and interesting objets d’art and antiques, but it’s all super chic too. As well as the rooms in the main house there are also private villas and suites, plus a rather 70s era glamorous pool and bar area. Rooms start from $360 per night.
Practical Details: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is well connected to Europe, and major UK hubs. And you’re in central Texas, so you can expect it to be hot, pretty much whenever you visit. But in summer it’s really, really hot, with high humidity and temperatures in the mid 30s!
It’s Really Is a Wonderful Town – New York
Gloried in many a film, New York doesn’t have an equivalent. And you’ll have your own reasons to want to visit for the first time, or to return. The grid may seem simple enough to navigate from the maps, but New York is a hive of industry, and hives have all sorts of ins and outs that you only see once you’re in the thick of things. So choosing where to stay can be a complicated part of planning your visit, but the Hotel Gurus have come up with a pretty stunning looking recommendation this time:
Where to Stay? The Crosby Street Hotel is an achingly chic property in Manhattan’s SoHo district, which appeals to celebrities and design-lovers, as well as to us. You’re in the heart of things, but on a quiet street. On the higher floors especially it feels buzzy but peaceful. There are 86 rooms and they start from $595 per night. But it is New York. And this is a Proper New York hotel!
Practical Details: New York has two well connected international airports: John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International. I would say you also know when you want to be in New York. It might be anytime, or it might be sometime very specific, either way you’ll work with the weather, which certainly comes in for distinct seasons, two mild and two extreme.
Lots more fabulous hotel recommendations from other places in the world