For me, nothing spells inspiration quite like a nice hotel for a good price. Call me shallow, call me a woman of material pleasures – whatever you like – but I am simply tickled pink when I find a great deal on a stylish and chic hotel. Since my dollars never seem to flow in any great abundance, I have mastered the art of finding such places. Below are five of my favorites from my travels over the years.
1. Gaige House – Sonoma, California
Gaige House, je t’aime. Each of the twenty-three rooms in this boutique inn is decorated with Asian -inspired elegance and
many feature a Japanese-style soaking tubs. There is a pool and spa on-site, so if you feel like skipping the usual winery hopping, you can still treat yourself
to plenty of pampering. The rooms are on the larger side and feature all your standard luxuries: flat screens, robes, you know, the usual. Each afternoon, there
is complimentary wine tasting and every morning, a wonderful breakfast awaits you. I am still amazed that I can actually afford this place because it truly is
great value for the money.
2. Hotel San Jose – Austin, Texas
Austin is a great town. I was born in Texas so I visited a bunch growing up; now my work brings me there once a year for the
SXSW Music Conference. There are tasty restaurants, stylish shops and above all, great hotels. There is also a thriving
music scene. It’s particularly fun to hit the town during two of its biggest events: Austin City
Limits in September and SXSW in March. I came across the Hotel San Jose on my last visit to Austin. I was really excited to find such a modern boutique accommodation right in the heart of downtown. Texas isn’t exactly known to be
cutting edge, many of the hotels, while nice, aren’t exactly hip.
The Hotel San Jose is a perfect example of a small, fashionable and minimal boutique hotel, described as a "hotel with soul", an apt statement. Austin is a youth-oriented city; the hotel reflects
its residents. It is fun and modern while managing to retain its southwestern charm. Give it a try next time you are in Austin.
3. Borgo Argenina – Tuscany, Florence
Ever see the movie Under The Tuscan Sun? Well, if you haven’t, you aren’t missing much. It’s shylock really, but the scenery is amazing. Why does this movie matter to this post? Well, because Borgo Argenina is located across the hillside from where the movie was filmed. It is truly gorgeous. The innkeeper, a former fashion designer turned
hotelier, was a dream as far as directing us to the finest restaurants the region has to offer. If a sleek, chic and well appointed room is the peanut butter,
then a good host/hostess is surely the jelly. Put them together and you have a tasty, er, hotel. Smack dab in the middle of Tuscany, this is a beautiful place to set up camp while taking day trips to many of the towns
that dot the region. Borgo Argenina is everything you hope to discover when searching for an accommodation in Tuscany. Its exteriors are rustic, indicative of their history; its interiors are comfortable,
welcoming and utterly calming. It is also tucked away up a dirt road, making it serene for maximum relaxation.
4. The Palomar – San Francisco
The Palomar is one of several Kimpton Hotels in the San Francisco
area, and my personal favorite. As far as San Francisco goes, this place is a steal compared to the rest of them. First off, there is free WiFi.
I think it’s ridiculous to pay what roughly amounts to your monthly WiFi bill for five days of
internet. In this day and age, I find it unacceptable. Beyond the benefits of free technology, the rooms are spacious, as is the bathroom.
The decor is modern with somewhat gaudy accents, but beds are huge and comfortable, as well as the bathrooms. The Palomar is better located in downtown than most
hotels; conveniently situated close to the shops, the freeway and The BART! All of this for an average price of $220,00 a night – a bargain for San Francisco.
5. Mas De Bassette – Provence, France
This charming provincial French B&B is located right in the middle of one of the prettiest regions of France. It is virtually equidistant
from Avingon, Gourdes,
St. Remy and L’Isle Sur la Sourge (home to some of the best flea markets in France). The property is sprawling. If you explore around, you will find peacocks
are among you, squawking away to their hearts’ content. The rooms are sparse, modern and lit in a way that is warm and welcoming. Like all
B&B’s, breakfast is included. If you are not an early riser, your hosts will leave your breakfast on a tray in the dining room, where you an take
it anywhere on the property and eat it. Our hosts made for wonderful tour guides; they were happy to give us great restaurant recommendations,
along with maps of the region and suggestions on things to do. It is a fantastic place to get away in to relax.
Okay, now go make those reservations with all of your disposable income in this booming economy.