And naps. There should be daytime naps.
March 15, 2011 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out how to take my first-ever real adult vacation.

I've never taken a vacation before. Whenever I've had a break from school or time off from work, I've flown to visit my family. After I graduate from law school, but before I start studying for the bar, I want to take my very first real adult vacation for me!

Except I don't know how.

I think I want to go somewhere like a hotel where I'm not cooking or cleaning and can take a bath and can have breakfast in bed. Also it would be nice if it were pretty there and there were windows letting in daylight. Maybe there should be stuff to do around the area, but I'm also OK with some books and wireless internet.

What am I looking for? A resort? A spa? Just any hotel? How do I know if a hotel is nice? How do I know if it's overpriced? What should I expect to spend for two nights? Where should I be looking? Ideally, I'd like to stay somewhere I can get to very cheaply and easily from NYC (I don't drive).

Thanks for your advice, mefiters.
posted by prefpara to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"Nice" and "overpriced" are very subjective, and most hotels have windows. You can fly anywhere from New York ... what do you like to do?

How about Reykjavik? Hot springs, interesting design, easy (and probably cheap) from New York. If you want something warmer, there are approximately one million island vacations (Caribbean) and a nice all-inclusive package might suit you.
posted by cyndigo at 3:53 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really love the Kimpton hotels in DC. If you reserve a room at the last minute (like the day before), you can often get suites for half price. They're very trendy and have a fun, young atmosphere and lots of cool people hanging out at the bar/restaurant -- they also have complimentary wine tastings, or something similar at most of them.

You can take a train down from NYC, catch a cab from Union Station and they'll drive you anywhere. Almost everything worth going to in DC is easily walkable from metro (except for Georgetown, but you can also take a cab there).

You could easily spend a week just relaxing at the hotel and visiting museums. Plus there is tons of night life and clubs.
posted by empath at 3:58 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and where ever you decide to go, it's always a good idea to organize a metafilter meetup while you're in town. It's a good way to meet people and find out a lot of stuff to do.
posted by empath at 4:02 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about going on a cruise? Basically a small floating city devoted to personal diversion, but with the option of just lazing around & doing nothing. Pick a destination you think might be intersting (Bahama? Alaska? Mississippi River --they do vacation cruises too!) and either gad around at each port-of-call & enjoy the amenities in between!
posted by Ys at 4:40 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

What am I looking for? A resort? A spa? Just any hotel?

Resorts are the sort of places you don't leave - everything is there, and you can be pampered. The pampering (massages and whatnot) may be included in the over-all price, or not. They're more expensive, as they offer more services and amenities.

When I think of "spa," I think day spa - some of what may be offered at a resort, all about "pampering" - people making you feel good. But when it's over, you go home. I could be wrong on this, though.

You could go to a hotel that has day spas in the area, and enjoy a nice breakfast in bed, head off to a spa type thing, then wander around for a meal and enjoy the rest of wherever you are.

How do I know if a hotel is nice? How do I know if it's overpriced? What should I expect to spend for two nights?

Lots of variety here. The cost will vary greatly depending on the location and on the timing. Is it a popular destination? Is it a holiday weekend, or are schools out for summer? If yes to any of those, the price could increase greatly. Weekends are typically more expensive, too. But in the end, a reasonable cost is only what you're comfortable with, and what you think was worth it.

I don't know much about the NYC area, but location is what should determine where you look next. Because you don't drive, you're limited on the "whim" vacation - heading off anywhere and finding something that looks interesting. This is both good and bad - random can be fun, but can also be sketchy, or expensive (or both).

If you want breakfast in bed, you'll want something more than many chain hotels offer, which is a decent bed for the night and a nice bathtub. Many hotels have some breakfast option as part of the cost of the room, from continental breakfast (coffee, tea, milk, juice, and pastries, with a chance of fruit) to a buffet with people making tasty breakfast concoctions for you. If you're OK with something in that range, which you can then take up to your bed, there are a lot more options. Or if you're in a smaller place (not a multi-story hotel tower), you could order from a local restaurant that delivers breakfast.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:44 PM on March 15, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far! I should specify that my cousin is joining me from CT and I hate to fly, so some combination of her driving and me being transported by trains cars buses and cabs would have to be the engine of our Vacation of Destiny.
posted by prefpara at 5:02 PM on March 15, 2011

You can head north along the Metro-North Hudson Line and stop at any big chain hotel (in Garrison or Poughkeepsie, probably). It's really pretty, boring, and far enough out that the chain hotels are reasonably priced.

If you're willing to splurge a little bit, some of the larger Bed and Breakfasts have wireless, too (and they are super gorgeous)--but usually no breakfast in bed (but breakfast at a real table, that someone else cooked, and someone else will be doing the dishes for).
posted by anaelith at 5:15 PM on March 15, 2011

The first questions to ask yourself:

1. How much do you want to spend? Both in terms of money and time off work.

2. Do you want to be in a city, do you want to be in Nature?

3. Do you mind being around lots of other tourists, or do you want to be off the beaten track?

You may not really know the answers to these until you've tried the different options. I think that it is possible to get better at vacationing over time.

Practical tip: I've had good luck with TripAdvisor for hotels.
posted by sesquipedalian at 5:57 PM on March 15, 2011

For the amount of money you would spend on a resort, or often a lot less, you could go to a workshop, learn something interesting and get your mind stretched by world-class experts.

I'm a musician and have gone to two-week total immersion sessions for years.

They're the best places to meet like-minded people. Intense relationships develop (intellectual and sexual), because everyone knows that it's ending soon, which is an automatic, painless breakup.

I met my wife at one 30 years ago.
posted by KRS at 7:33 PM on March 15, 2011

Personally, I love love love cruises, as you can probably tell by my username.

IMHO are ideal for a books-and-room-service vacation (my favorite kind) because room service is actually included in the price. (At most hotels it's tough to do room service breakfast for under $40.) The rooms typically have very comfy beds and blackout curtains, too -- ideal for naptime.

Also, cruises have the big advantages of being good value for money (floating real estate and an int'l workforce means their costs are way lower than a land based hotel/resort), and they requiring zero driving (I love being able to stroll from room to dinner to drinks to show).

The down-sides to a cruise: majorly expensive wi-fi, since it's via satellite it's like $1/minute AND slow.

There are 4-day cruises out of NYC up to Canada, and some 7+ day cruises that go to Bermuda and the Caribbean, so no flying required.

A while back I wrote a cruise guide that might be a useful primer on your options, or feel free to memail me.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 8:08 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thirding the cruise idea.

Pick a smaller ship, so you don't end up in the Vegas version of the cruise ship industry. Me, I'm partial to Hurtigruten, mid-size ships, go to interesting destinations (I went to Greenland and Iceland with them, with 200 other passengers on the MV Fram; and I am about to go to Norway with a slightly larger ship, but still well under 400 people).

Wifi can be free (it will be, on the Norway cruise) just do your research - is a good source, as is for the darker side of cruise ships.

The benefit of cruise ships is this - you are on a floating hotel, and you stop at a different port every day (sometimes several times a day). You can go walk about the town on your own, or join an excursion. You can read books on board and while away the hours on the top deck (including nap time!!) or mingle with other guests, make new friends, and stretch your horizons.

It's all up to you. Like others said, the cruise experience is less expensive than putting together a similar trip by air, or on land. Memail me if you wish for more information.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:45 PM on March 15, 2011

Response by poster: I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't specific enough in my question. I only have three days to make the vacation happen, and that includes travel time. I'm just not sure how to look or what to look for. For example, I tried looking in the part of CT that faces the Hamptons, but google was giving me everything from a Super 8 to the world's priciest and most romantic B&B. And, having thought about some of these suggestions, I must say I'd rather not be in a big noisy city.

Oh, and cruises activate my emergency red alert we're trapped we're trapped flee for our lives system.
posted by prefpara at 7:03 AM on March 16, 2011

And, having thought about some of these suggestions, I must say I'd rather not be in a big noisy city.

FWIW, DC isn't particularly big or noisy if you just hang around the mall/capital area and visit the Smithsonian. It's big and noisy if you go to where the bars are, though. It's all walkable and fairly stress free, at least if you avoid the metro during rush hour.
posted by empath at 7:17 AM on March 16, 2011

Best answer: You could take the MetroNorth to The Village of Cold Spring. There are beautiful little New England-y inns* there, and really great hiking if that's your thing. There's also fun antique stores and great places for brunch.

(I've been planning on a lazy solo weekend there for some time. Go!)

*This inn is a bit pricey, but you're only going for one night. I'd probably splurge for a bit of luxury for one night.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:57 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: functionequalsform! AWESOME SUGGESTION! I will run it by my cousin and see what she thinks. They even have breakfast in bed. I could kiss you.
posted by prefpara at 8:23 AM on March 16, 2011

Best answer: I KEESS YOU TOO!
posted by functionequalsform at 8:58 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

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