2016 Best of Hotels

Hot Tub at Carmel Valley Ranch

It’s no secret that we love hotels. In fact, more often than not, we’ll end up planning entire vacations around a single hotel property, so writing this post is something I look forward to doing each year. To see more highlights from years past, check out our ‘Best of’ tag.

Overall Aesthetic

The Buchanan’s design was the entire reason we chose to stay at this Kimpton property in San Francisco earlier this year. If you’re like us and are willing to go a little out of your way to experience a thoughtfully decorated property, make sure this hotel is high on your list. Closer to home back in Maine, Whitehall’s design was also very impressive. The sheer number of photo-worthy vignettes around the recently renovated inn was almost too much for this photographer to handle.

The Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in SF by Map & Menu

The Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in SF by Map & Menu

Whitehall - Camden, Maine Hotel by Map & Menu

Whitehall - Camden, Maine Hotel by Map & Menu

Dog-Friendly

We made it a priority to visit as many places as we could with Orvis this year, and although many were dog-friendly, few stood out as much as the Inn by the Sea, The Jefferson Hotel, and Topnotch Resort. At the Inn by the Sea, they go as far as to offer puppy meals and dog massages, while also being just steps away from the beach. At The Jefferson, there was something so extraordinarily special about staying at such a luxurious hotel with a fairly large dog, but everyone at the property was so friendly and accommodating to him. Unfortunately for Orvis, it’ll be awhile before he gets to sleep on a bed as large and plush as the one at The Jefferson again. Last but not least, Topnotch Resort is always one of the more dog-friendly places we stay. In the summertime, Orvis can accompany us to each meal on the different restaurant patios, and with the Stowe Recreation Path located across the street, there are miles of outdoor fun to be had with him at a moment’s notice.

Dog Friendly Inn by the Sea

Dogs at Topnotch Resort

Dog Friendly Washington DC Hotels

View/Location

It’s a little unfair to pit California’s Carmel Valley against the more familiar views of our home coast, but regardless, the Carmel Valley Ranch, with its valley vineyard setting, ridge hike, and overlook views of the entire area, will leave a lasting impression on us for years to come.

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Ranch

Breakfast

For this category, we might as well write Hotel Fauchere’s breakfast in sharpie, because as long as we’re able to break up a road trip down south with that homemade yogurt and creme bruleed grapefruit, it will remain one of our favorites. The Pitcher Inn’s farmhouse breakfast however, makes the list for an entirely different reason. Before a day of skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, a plate full of bacon, eggs, potatoes, and toast, in the sun-filled dining room, will give you the energy needed to explore Vermont’s Mad River Valley. For the record, a stay at either of these Relais & Chateaux hotels is worth it for their breakfasts alone.

Hotel Fauchere Breakfast

Pitcher Inn, Warren Vermont - Map & Menu

Hotel Restaurant

Food is one of the most alluring parts of traveling for us, and during our trips, we tend to eat at least one meal at most of the hotels we visit, but this year, our cozy, winter dinners at both 275 Main (the Pitcher Inn) and Sea Glass (the Inn by the Sea) stand out to me as two of the more memorable meals we enjoyed all year long.

Pitcher Inn, Warren Vermont - Map & Menu

Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea

Bathroom

The floor to ceiling marble, oversized walk-in rainforest shower, heated slate floor, and Kiehl’s toiletries make the bathrooms at Hotel Fauchere some of the most luxurious from our hotel stays.

Hotel Fauchere Bathroom

Interaction with Hotel Staff

This one is a little bittersweet. Since our last stay at The Pitcher Inn, Ari, their former manager, has moved on to a new adventure on Nantucket. Never before, and unlikely ever again, will one of our stays be so improved by a member of the hotel staff. Trail hikes with our pups, expert wine recommendations, and countless minutes of wonderful conversation add up to make Ari one of our favorite people we’ve ever met while traveling.

Maisy and Ari

Overall Hotel Experience

Donkeys, a gorgeous pool and infinity hot tub, golden hour sunsets, hiking trails, a vineyard, good restaurants, and private outdoor soaking tubs. The Carmel Valley Ranch has it all and more.

Carmel Valley Ranch Fire Pit

Carmel Valley Ranch Donkey

Carmel Valley Ranch Outdoor Soaking Tub

Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu. 

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