Check In, Bliss Out

Sometimes it’s not where you go—it’s where you stay.

What if your hotel was your destination? With one-of-a-kind experiences that cater to different interests, these 12 hotels are vacations in and of themselves.

The Adventurer

Do you…

  • Prefer to be outdoors?
  • Try to sit courtside at games?
  • Consider yourself a thrill-seeker?

The Lodge at Primland

Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Set on 12,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this resort features an activity roster that goes beyond nature hikes and yoga. Try geocaching, kayaking, fly-fishing, or tree climbing. Then, spend an evening stargazing at the observatory, complete with a high-powered telescope. From $430

Casa de Campo Resort & Villas

La Romana, Dominican Republic

The island’s oldest golf resort offers world-renowned courses designed by Pete Dye, as well as free golf clinics twice a week, a state-of-the-art training center, and two indoor hitting bays. Kids will love the nighttime driving range, which comes with LED golf balls. From $149

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel

Lahaina, Hawaii

True to its name, this hotel overlooks one of Maui’s most beautiful beaches. Excursions include snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding, but the real can’t-miss experience comes in the form of a traditional outrigger canoe. As guests help power the boat, local guides discuss ancient practices like Hawaiian navigation techniques and canoe-building. Go during whale season (November–May) for a particularly memorable outing. From $200

Hotel Domestique

Travelers Rest, South Carolina

This hotel’s rural location puts it near some of the best road cycling in the Southeast, sans traffic. Rent a Scott bike and fuel up on complimentary nutrition bars before tackling a route suited to your skill level. You can also “ride with the pros” and be paired with a seasoned local. From $379

The Epicurean

Do you…

  • Know all the top tables in town?
  • Have a well-stocked home bar?
  • Always order the tasting menu?

The Willows Inn

Lummi Island, Washington

Fresh seafood from the Puget Sound, mushrooms from the Olympic Peninsula, vegetables from the inn’s farm just up the road—a meal here is like a love letter to the San Juan Islands archipelago from James Beard Award–winning chef Blaine Wetzel. To fully appreciate the ever-changing menu, add wines from Washington or Oregon, plus a couple nights’ stay in an oceanfront room. From $240

Zero George Street Hotel

Charleston, South Carolina

Reserve a spot at Zero Restaurant + Bar for an inventive tasting menu by chef and Chopped winner Vinson Petrillo. Then, slice and dice alongside him (and the occasional guest chef) in an intimate cooking class in the former carriage house. Hungry for more? It’s a short walk to buzzy Chucktown restaurants Husk and The Ordinary. From $359

SingleThread Farms

Healdsburg, California

This cozy inn takes room service to the next level with a fine dining event you can enjoy in your PJs. The Japanese hot pot dinner consists of seafood and vegetable canapes, sashimi, a main course—choose chicken meatball tan tan, American wagyu shabu-shabu, or Hokkaido-style seafood miso—and a dessert. Something tells us you’ll still be dreaming about your meal for months to come. From $850

The DogHouse

Columbus, Ohio

Wake up inside a brewery—specifically the BrewDog OverWorks sour beer facility—before heading downstairs for a beer-paired breakfast. Wander through the craft beer museum or peruse the latest brewing books while enjoying a pint poured from your personalized in-room tap. Certain rooms are even pet-friendly, so Fido can join in on the fun. From $172

The Culture Hound

Do you…

  • Love live music?
  • Constantly quote your favorite films?
  • Always have your nose in a book?

Heathman Hotel

Portland, Oregon

Within its 3,000-volume collection, this hotel touts one of the world’s largest autographed libraries. See signed editions from Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners, U.S. poet laureates, and former presidents, all of whom have stayed the night. From $129

Hotel Van Zandt

Austin, Texas

Located on bustling Rainey Street and named for singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, this hotel is perfect for exploring the Live Music Capital of the World. Come March, acts fill the lobby for South by Southwest, but you can take in the music-themed decor and the pool’s under-water playlist year-round. Plus, at Geraldine’s, there are live tunes and cleverly named cocktails like It’s the Fennel Countdown. From $299

Hotel Palomar

Los Angeles

Lights, cameras, action—this Beverly Hills hotel has it all. You’ll find movie-inspired murals, items repurposed from Hollywood backlots, and a circular fireplace that mimics a camera lens. Borrow a mountain bike, GPS, and GoPro from the front desk to explore the set of M*A*S*H and the bat cave from Batman. From $249

21c Museum Hotels

Multiple locations

In 2006, two collectors imagined a hotel that could double as a contemporary art gallery and 21c Louisville was born. Now, there are nine locations, including Kansas City, Nashville, and Chicago. Each offers a distinct vibe and a themed exhibition featuring local, national, and international artists. Take a docent-led tour or go on your own; galleries are free and open 24 hours. Rates vary


Tommie Ethington is a former editor of this magazine. Email her at tommie.y.ethington@gmail.com.

Originally Published January 2020