Equally as important as answering the question, "Where should I go on my next vacation?" is "Where should I stay on my next vacation?" Where you sleep can make or break any holiday, be it a long weekend away from the office, a family trip with the kids, or a romantic getaway for two. Sure, Motel 6 is cheap, and places like Holiday Inn have frequent-sleeper rewards, but nights spent at these stays tend to be forgettable (not to offend you, Motel 6: I can't count the times I've been on a road trip pleading to the highway gods for the next exit sign to read "Motel 6, next right").
But for those who are looking for a hotel that incorporates the destination's history, culture, and community, Traveler's got the ultimate guide to authentic getaways in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean: The Stay List.
We sent detailed surveys to some 600 properties and, thanks to our hardworking research staff, narrowed down the list to the top 150 hotels. These Stay List-worthy hotels embrace authenticity, location-inspired architecture, eco-stewardship, and giving back to their community. While I can't obviously feature all 150 hotels in this post alone (you'll have to check out the April 2008 issue for that), I'd like to highlight a few of my favorites.
Take the Waimea Plantation Cottages, for example. Located in Kauai, Hawaii, the property is made up of a cluster of cottages from a 1900s sugar mill, has heaps of amenities (including a spa), is decorated with antiques, and supports affordable worker housing, and a local hospital and church.
On the opposite side of the country, the Home-Nest Farm in Maine's lake district sits on 240 acres of woodland in three 200-year-old famhouses. The farm has 11 rooms, period details, and a few animals to entertain the kids (we hear that Ebenezer the donkey is particularly friendly).
What the Shack Up Inn (Clarksdale, Mississippi) lacks in luxury it surely makes up for in character. Claiming to be Mississippi's oldest B&B ("Bed and Beer"), the shacks at the Inn are rustic (see for yourself), and the owners invite guests to jam with them in the authentic cotton gin at night.
For the complete list of all 150 Stay List hotels, check out the April 2008 issue of National Geographic Traveler, now on newsstands.