Unique hotels in small to medium cities?
July 23, 2008 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know any hotels, in any city in the US, comparable to the Hotel Congress in Tucson, AZ? Basically, a hotel that "makes" the experience of visiting a city which you might not otherwise consider a vacation destination.

The hotel is downtown within walking distance to a lot of stuff, driving distance to national parks, has a unique history and decor, and it has its own restaurant and bar and even nightclub. It's not fancy at all, in fact it is pretty cheap and feels like one step up from a hostel, but it is clean and has a great vibe. For my bf and I, staying in this hotel totally made our recent trip to Tucson. I was thinking that the trip would have felt very different and not nearly as special if we had stayed at some sort of chain hotel.

I would love to visit other small to medium cities off the beaten path if I knew where I could find a similar place to stay. And by similar I don't mean that it has to be exactly like the Hotel Congress, just similar in the fact that the hotel is itself a reason you might select the destination. I know it's hard to pinpont what exactly makes a hotel special in this way, so recommendations don't necessarily have to have all or even any of the amenities listed above. Day-trip closeness to national parks or other cool hiking is definitely a plus, though. Oh, and I am not a fan of shared bathroom situations, so a lot of B+Bs are probably not going to be my thing.

Thanks!! :)
posted by eileen to Travel & Transportation (27 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I felt that same way about the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina Saskatchewan when I was there. It's way off the beaten path but really gave you an idea of the place and the history and was a decently priced and nice place to stay besides.
posted by jessamyn at 11:06 AM on July 23, 2008

It might be a bit on the pricey side, and there are plenty of other reasons for visiting the city, but the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City is a beautiful hotel in many ways.

On preview, I hope you like Canada!
posted by Grither at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2008

Oh yes, these hotels by the McMenamins. I tried the olympic club: bunk beds, movie theater, restaurant, what fun! I want to try the Old St. Francis School next.
posted by Eringatang at 11:16 AM on July 23, 2008

The Moore Hotel in Seattle is wonderful - a little threadbare, but clean and comfortable, and with a great staff and character to burn. The century-old Moore Theater is right next door (this week is a little rough, but they do host interesting acts), and I've had some good conversations and cheap beer at the Moore's in-house dive bar, and at Night Light next door.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:18 AM on July 23, 2008

Obviously, I'd have gone to Seattle anyhow - The Moore was just a great and unexpected bonus!
posted by ryanshepard at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2008

When I went on business to LA, we stayed at the Georgian in Santa Monica and it was really awesome. Food was never bad, service was great and the rooms were interesting. You could get to the beach by crossing the road, it was right around the corner from all kinds of stuff to do.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:43 AM on July 23, 2008

The Greenbrier - in WVA.

It's by far and away the definitive destination hotel in the U.S.
posted by Zambrano at 11:46 AM on July 23, 2008

There's always The Mexican Hat Lodge
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:50 AM on July 23, 2008

The Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, TX. It is owned by the same woman who re-created the San Jose in Austin, which is also something of a destination hotel.

The Dabbs Railroad Hotel (no website, but lots of google hits) in Llano, TX is an almost mythical institution.

The Gage Hotel in Marathon, TX (right up the road from Big Bend Nat'l Park).

I've stayed in a lot of B&Bs, and the best of them reveal some aspect of the proprietors' personality. One that comes to mind is the Katy House in Smithville, TX: the house used to be the residence of a staff doctor for the MKT Line, and the house is filled with train memorabilia (the proprietor is a train nut, and IIRC used to work in that business). Also, almost every B&B I've stayed at has a private bath.
posted by adamrice at 11:53 AM on July 23, 2008

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:20 PM on July 23, 2008

The Broadmoor, in Colorado Springs, is a remarkable hotel/resort. Remarkably expensive, too, but if I had money to burn, there's no other place I'd stay while in southern Colorado.
posted by cog_nate at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2008

La Posada de Santa Fe in Santa Fe, NM
posted by yohko at 12:31 PM on July 23, 2008

Well, that'll teach me to preview before submitting.

Regardless, The Grand America, in Salt Lake City, probably also fits your criteria. It's pricey, too.
posted by cog_nate at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2008

The Holland Hotel and Edelweis Brewery in Alpine Texas.
The Peery Hotel in SLC, maybe.
The Laughing Horse Inn in Taos, NM except that is a "tourist" destination, just not one in which I would spend time in a hotel.
posted by Seamus at 12:36 PM on July 23, 2008

I came in to 2nd the Thunderbird and the Gage in West Texas. An amazing part of the country. It takes some effort to get there, but it's worth it. I'll add The Paisano, especially if you're a James Dean fan.

There's also Ragged Point on the Pacific Coast Highway between LA and San Francisco.
posted by dog food sugar at 12:42 PM on July 23, 2008

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, about an hour's drive from Denver. This is the place that inspired the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining. In addition to its absolutely gorgeous location, the Stanley has been reported by many to be haunted. The stories are fascinating. That, and the fact that the hotel plays Stanley Kubrick's uncut R-rated version of The Shining on a continuous loop on Channel 60 in guest rooms, has put this place at the top of my current destination list.
posted by halogen at 12:58 PM on July 23, 2008

Oh, the interior of The Overlook Hotel in Kubrick's The Shining are modeled after the Ahwahnee Hotel, a destination hotel in Yosemite National Park, California. The Ahwahnee is out-of-this-world gorgeous (and outrageously expensive), but it's pretty much impossible to book a room during the winter holiday season.
posted by halogen at 1:08 PM on July 23, 2008

The Pomegranate Inn in Portland, ME made our trip there quite special, and it is a neat little city to boot.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:28 PM on July 23, 2008

Banff Springs Hotel in Canada is a good one.
posted by spilon at 2:29 PM on July 23, 2008

The Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff is a great town, a real getaway if you're normally in Tucson this time of year.
posted by ldenneau at 2:43 PM on July 23, 2008

The victorian Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga Springs NY might fit your criteria. Saratoga is a great town, too, and staying here would put you smack dab in the middle of it (less than a mile from the horse track and the Saratoga Spa State Park (with SPAC inside)).
posted by zpousman at 3:49 PM on July 23, 2008

The Davenport in Spokane, WA.
posted by ebellicosa at 5:07 PM on July 23, 2008

The Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, only about 90 minutes from Manhattan.
posted by gudrun at 5:59 PM on July 23, 2008

The Pier Hotel, St. Petersburg FL.
posted by brain cloud at 6:33 PM on July 23, 2008

Kitschy as hell, but I can't believe nobody's said The Madonna Inn yet. It's the only hotel I NEED to stay in before I die.
posted by crinklebat at 9:46 PM on July 23, 2008

A little pricy (but one of the better priced places in the area), but we stayed at a B&B in Santa Fe named Casa de la Cuma. Wonderful B&B, great hosts, no shared bathrooms, and you can walk to the Plaza area in 5 minutes. As awesome as Santa Fe is, the B&B really made the trip.

(Passed by Hotel Congress a half-hour ago. The place really is awesome, even for us locals.)
posted by azpenguin at 12:14 AM on July 24, 2008

Tee Pee Hotel in Wharton Texas. Not fancy - but super kitchy cute.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:13 PM on August 9, 2008

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