For reasons we probably don’t need to explain, we did very little traveling over the last couple of years. But after so much time spent baking bread and re-watching “How I Met Your Mother” in our apartments, we’re itching to hit the open road.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of worthy destinations in our very own backyard. From glittery metropolises to sunny island paradises to rolling national parks, the U.S. is a treasure trove of highly desirable travel destinations.
With so many options to choose from, your biggest challenge, really, is choosing where to go. You’re likely considering factors like weather, activities and nightlife, but here’s an angle you may not have considered when picking a destination: hotel options. Because — let me tell you — there are some seriously luxurious, chic and undeniably hip hotels out there.
To inspire your next vacation, we’re sharing some of the coolest hotels in the U.S. to book in the summer of 2022.
Cool Hotels in Chicago: Virgin Hotels Chicago
Neighborhood: Downtown/The Loop (0.5 miles from The Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park)
One of our favorite cities in the U.S., Chicago is a buzzy sprawl of dazzling architecture, dramatic lakefront scenery, mind-blowing cuisine and world-renowned comedy. Predictably, there are tons of cool hotels in Chicago — so it was hard to pick just one. After much gnashing of teeth and reading Google reviews, we settled on Virgin Hotels Chicago. It’s a good blend of boutique hotel luxury and hipster Chicago coolness — without a prohibitively astronomical price.
What We Love: Even the least expensive “chamber” rooms include a dressing room area and sleeping lounge with custom-designed hybrid beds, yoga mats and a retro, cherry-red fridge stocked with booze and treats at street prices. But the real draw of this downtown hotel is the on-site dining and nightlife options, which include the ultra-poppin’ rooftop bar Cerise with jaw-dropping views of the city.
Savings: Get 30% off stays if you’re an Illinois resident with a valid state I.D. Or, book your stay seven or more days in advance for 15% off.
Price: $209 and up per night
Cool Hotels in New York City: Freehand New York
Neighborhood: Flatiron, Manhattan (0.2 miles from Madison Square Park, 2 miles from the Central Park Zoo, 3 miles from the Museum of Natural History)
New York City is packed with a truly dizzying surplus of cool hotels, but we can narrow the selection down by prioritizing awesome hotels that are also affordable — of which there are demonstrably fewer.
What We Love: Our pick, the Freehand New York, outshines other budget-friendly cool hotels in NYC with its chill vibes and art-filled spaces. On its rooftop, the hotel has an outpost of the renowned cocktail bar Broken Shaker — a James Beard Award finalist and winner of Tales of the Cocktail’s Best American Hotel Bar. The hotel features a midcentury-modern design by Roman and Williams, custom artwork commissioned by Bard College artists and tons of leafy plants.
Savings: If you’re traveling with a group, you can book a private quad starting at $289 per night.
Price: $215 and up per night
Cool Hotels in Nashville: Dive Motel & Swim Club
Neighborhood: Talbot’s Corner (3 miles from Downtown, Ryman Auditorium, and Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum)
The Dive Motel & Swim Club is our pick for cool hotels in Nashville, but the word “cool” doesn’t really do it justice: try “groovy” or “jivin’” or “funkadelic.”
What We Love: The hotel seems plucked right out of the ’70s, with its wood-paneled dive bar, antique beer lights and poolside cocktail service. The 60-foot pool and hot tub are open to non-hotel guests for an entrance fee, and the bar draws a mixed crowd of Nashvillians and travelers with DJ sets and live music.
Each of the 23 rooms is decorated differently, with mod wallpaper, furry bedspreads and shag carpets. A few have massive soaking tubs and all of them have party switches that cause a disco ball to spin to a selection of curated tunes.
Savings: Even if you don’t want to book a room, you can check out the pool and hot tub for $25 on Monday through Friday ($15 after 5 p.m.) or $40 on Saturday and Sunday ($30 after 5 p.m.).
Price: $195 and up per night
Cool Hotels in New Orleans: NOPSI New Orleans
Neighborhood: Central Business District (0.3 miles from Bourbon Street, 1 mile from the French Quarter)
Erected during the era of speak-easies and radio empires, NOPSI Hotel offers modern luxuries amid Jazz age splendor. Originally built to be the headquarters of the New Orleans Public Service Inc. (NOPSI), the historic landmark stood vacant for decades before being transformed into a 217-room hotel in 2017.
What We Love: The glamorous spot boasts oversized suites with high ceilings and natural lighting, a rooftop pool and bar and an excellent seafood restaurant. Plus, it’s close enough to walk to Bourbon Street (if you must) but far enough away that you can sleep without having to call down for earplugs.
Savings: Get 30% off suites if you stay two nights or more.
Price: $170 and up per night
Cool Hotels in Austin: Austin Motel
Neighborhood: South Congress (Steps away from The Continental Club and that “I Love You So Much” mural everyone likes taking photos in front of.)
Nestled amid the hip boutiques, trendy restaurants and live music clubs on Austin’s famous South Congress, Austin Motel is one of the town’s most iconic hotels. Founded in 1938, the uber-hip spot pays homage to midcentury roadside motel architecture with quirky décor and vibrant orange and yellow accents.
What We Love: Its 41 rooms are outfitted with custom vinyl tufted beds, ’50s-inspired seating, old-time push-button phones and vintage music posters. At the heart of the property is a kidney-shaped pool and lounge area, where locals and hotel guests alike gather to sunbathe and sip jalapeño margaritas shaken up by friendly bartenders.
Savings: Book a room for four or more nights to get up to 20% off, or book a room five days in advance to get a 15% discount.
Price: $215 and up per night
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