Travel + Leisure has its readers rate their favorite hotels — based on categories like food, rooms, service, and location — every year, and the 2014 results have been tallied! U.S. resorts did better than ever this time around, with Rhode Island’s The Ocean House ranking particularly well by scoring a spot in the top five. Are we surprised? Well, no. Located on a private white-sand beach in the sleepy (read: adorable) coastal town of Watch Hill, this luxury resort has an elegant vibe that’s nonetheless laid-back and beachy. The hotel offers a slew of amenities, including a full-service spa, indoor pool (that opens to the outdoors), large fitness center, and plenty of dining options, so there’s really no reason for guests to even leave the hotel grounds — which, by the way, are gorgeous. But don’t just take our word for it…
See more amazing pics of The Ocean House after the jump >>
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Ever dreamed of being king or queen of a castle? Lord or lady of the manor? Well, you’re not the only one — and plenty of hotels around the world can make that dream come true. We scouted out nine luxury hotels that were formerly the elaborate private homes of blue bloods, aristocrats, and royals, from an Irish castle to a Gatsby-era Gold Coast mansion. Feelin’ fancy? Then check these out.
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland
This charming stone manor house dates to the 18th century and the 450-acre country estate embodies the sort of wild country beauty that Connemara is famous for. Past owners of the lands have included the O’Flaherty clan (the 16th century “Pirate Queen,” Grace O’Malley, married into the clan and was one of its more noteworthy members); Richard Martin (a member of Parliament nicknamed Humanity Dick for founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals); and the Indian Maharaja, Ranji, who bought the estate in 1922. Read More »
Although the ski slopes are a draw, New England’s cold winters sometimes scare visitors away– but come the warmer months, the region turns into a bustling destination with beachgoers, outdoors enthusiasts, foodies, and even visitors whose only plans are to watch the world go by from a chair on the front porch of a quaint B&B. From Maine to Rhode Island, New England offers endless options for those looking to relax — be it with friends, family, or their better half. We picked out five activities so no matter with whom you’re traveling, you’ll have a great time.
For families: Seal-watching on Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are mostly known for their miles of sandy beaches and famous visitors (we missed you last year, Mr. President). It’s a favorite among couples in need of some R&R, but there is tons for families to do as well. One of the most fun activities when traveling with kids is seal-watching in Chatham, probably the most charming New England beachside community. While seals can be spied from several spots, one of the best places to catch a peek is from the shores of Chatham Lighthouse Beach, which Harbor and Grey seals call home every year when the warm weather sets in. Just remember to stay at a safe distance!
Stay: Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham
Rooms and suites are large enough to fit in a rollaway.
Nestled near the heart of Chatham on 25 scenic acres overlooking Pleasant Bay, Chatham Bars Inn has been a local staple since 1914. The true Cape-Cod style architecture is complemented by lovely interiors to match — upholstered wingback chairs, antique-style turned-leg furnishings, and seafaring decor. But don’t let the term “inn” fool you, this property is big and amenities-packed, with a beautiful spa, modern fitness center, scenic beach, fine dining, private chartered boats, and classic clay tennis courts. Thanks to the large pools (including a kiddie pool) and an extensive kids’ club, the Inn is a popular choice for families.
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It may not be the Caribbean, but with this view, who on the San Juan Islands could complain about it?
An “island getaway” doesn’t necessarily translate into washing up on the shores of the Caribbean. Plenty of other islands in the U.S. boast the same laid-back, secluded feel that you can find in Barbados or Jamaica, but often come at a fraction of those sky-high all-inclusive rates; you’ll at least save some cash on airfare! For perhaps unconventional, but nonetheless awesome, island stays, check out our top picks for value, sun, and fun!
Halloween looms in the near future (though we must confess, we’ve been planning our costumes for months) and we’re doing just about everything we can to get into the spooky spirit. Carving pumpkins? Check. Watching a scary movie? Check. Visiting a spooky spot? Check. In fact, some of our favorite hotels are not only home to quaint rooms, delicious restaurants, and friendly staff — they also host resident ghosts. Fortunately, most of these shady figures are reportedly nice enough, but it certainly gives us a little chill when checking-in. Especially when we’re visiting the chilly Northeast. Continue reading — if you dare — to learn more about the spooky specters that haunt the Northeast’s hotels.
Enter the Jailhouse Inn...at your own risk...
The ghostlore: Originally built in 1772, the Jailhouse Inn occupies what used to be the old Newport County Jail. In keeping with the jail theme, the inn features interesting little artifacts and details throughout, such as iron bars over the lobby front desk, framed articles about famous criminals, and signs directing guests to “solitary” and various “cell blocks.” Stories abound of ghosts visiting the Jailhouse, so if you keep your eyes open perhaps you’ll see one too — especially if you stay on the third floor. Guests have felt cool gusts of wind when it’s hot outside and no windows are open, and others have heard whispering voices that can’t be explained — all evidence of paranormal activity.
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