A SPECIAL PLACE
Travelers often settle for chain hotels with generic decor and not much in the way of character or amenities. The kind of distinctive lodging described as a "boutique hotel," typically a privately owned, one-of-a-kind inn with less than 150 guest rooms, has a reputation for higher prices. But it's entirely possible to find a boutique hotel in every state with rates below $150 a night. Many are housed in restored buildings from days gone by, some offer free breakfast, and many cater to business travelers and host meetings and events. All welcome vacationers with open arms.
ALABAMA: FORT CONDE INN, MOBILE
Staying at the Fort Conde Inn feels like a trip back in time. Guests can book rooms, starting at $139 a night, in the stately historic mansion built in 1836 or the carriage house or reserve an entire three-bedroom cottage. Breakfast is included and every night the main rooms and verandah are lit with chandeliers and gas lanterns. Reviews posted on Yelp and TripAdvisor commend the helpful staff and chic southern décor.
ALASKA: SILVERBOW INN, JUNEAU
The antique- and memorabilia-filled Silverbow Inn in the heart of Juneau's historic downtown offers rooms starting at $89 a night and views of snow-topped mountains. Guests who are still hungry after the free morning repast can buy a bagel or pastry at the affiliated bakery and café right next door. Yelp reviews note the clean and quiet rooms and special touches, such as a shower radio.
ARIZONA: GRAND HIGHLAND HOTEL, PRESCOTT
The décor of the Grand Highland Hotel, which was completely rebuilt after a fire in 2012, takes inspiration from local history. Each room reflects a theme -- the Speak Easy Room, for example, looks out on Whiskey Row, and the Prospector Room recalls the days of gold and copper mining. Rates start at $98 a night and include breakfast. Guest reviews on TripAdvisor are excellent, especially with regard to the hospitality.
ARKANSAS: INN AT THE MILL, SPRINGDALE
Hard by the University of Arkansas sits the Inn on the Mill, a timber-frame boutique hotel attached to a 19th century water mill. A free continental breakfast appears each morning and free newspapers are available during the week. Rooms start at $87 a night and reviews on the booking site hit a solid 4.9 out of 5 for comfort, cleanliness, and service.
CALIFORNIA: SAGUARO PALM SPRINGS
Brilliant, eye-popping colors define this boutique hotel in the desert, where rooms start at $144 a night and feature a private patio and furnishings from Mexico. Public spaces at the Saguaro are adorned with rotating art displays. Guests can frolic in the Olympic-size outdoor pool and two hot tubs. The pool scene and décor earn high marks on TripAdvisor, but some guests consider the place understaffed.
COLORADO: HOTEL COLORADO, GLENWOOD SPRINGS
This grand hotel, near Glenwood Hot Springs Park, dates from 1893 and has long accommodated the rich, famous, and politically connected. Rooms are styled with 19th century Italian influence and start at $119 a night. Outdoor and sporting opportunities near Hotel Colorado range from hiking to hunting. Guests award the hotel high marks on Booking.com for location and ambiance but grouse about comfort and signs of aging.
CONNECTICUT: LITCHFIELD INN
The fictional Dragonfly Inn from "Gilmore Girls" might come to mind as the ideal Connecticut boutique hotel, but the real-life Litchfield Inn deserves consideration as a solid competitor. The recently renovated colonial-style building features a lobby with a spiral staircase and a 9-foot chandelier. Each room has a theme -- Bohemian or Wine Cellar, for example -- and nightly rates, including breakfast, start at $109. Four stars on TripAdvisor reflect consensus about the comfortable accommodations and common areas.
DELAWARE: BEACH HOUSE DEWEY, DEWEY BEACH
The family-operated Beach House Dewey sits surfside (near the more well-known Rehoboth Beach) and offers guests the option of an ocean dip or a plunge in the hotel pool. The high-end beach-style décor belies the modest cost -- rates start at $60 a night -- and rooms come equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, and free Wi-Fi. Strong reviews on Booking.com call out the location and friendly staff.
FLORIDA: PONCE DE LEÓN HOTEL, ST. PETERSBURG
Conveniently situated across the street from the waterfront, Ponce de León Hotel is walking distance to many popular restaurants and attractions, including the Salvador Dalí Museum. The Spanish mission revival building offers visual appeal and plenty of attention to modern amenities. Room rates start at $99 a night. Guest reviews on Booking.com commend the location and value and award high marks for cleanliness, as well.
GEORGIA: HOTEL INDIGO ATLANTA MIDTOWN
The trendy Hotel Indigo borrows design inspiration from the historic Fox Theatre, once a snazzy movie palace and now a performing arts space, across the street. Guest rooms, starting at $126 a night, feature bold colors and mural-size photos -- attributes that reviewers on TripAdvisor praise for their funk and uniqueness.
HAWAII: THE EQUUS, HONOLULU
The swanky Equus boutique hotel near Duke Kahanamoku Beach charms guests with -- you guessed it -- an equestrian theme revealed through horse art, rustic finishes, and southwestern colors. The owners are polo enthusiasts and hand out free match tickets to guests during polo season. Customer service earns high marks on TripAdvisor, although some guests say the street noise is excessive. Nightly rates start at $139.
IDAHO: RIVERSIDE HOT SPRINGS INN, LAVA HOT SPRINGS
Outdoorsy, northwestern décor graces the quaint Riverside Hot Springs Inn, where rooms start at $79 a night. There are three private hot mineral springs tubs and one outdoor hot tub, as well as geothermal hot water throughout the facility. Weekday breakfast is complimentary and $7 vouchers are handed out on weekends. According to reviews at Expedia, the mineral baths and top-notch food are big draws.
ILLINOIS: IRISH COTTAGE, GALENA
Reminiscent of Ireland's countryside and picturesque villages, Galena is a fitting home to the Irish Cottage. The 75-room inn is situated on 20 acres and loudly proclaims its affinity for the Emerald Isle, with a library named after W.B. Yeats, an on-site Irish pub and grille, artwork by an Irish artist, and a faerie ring. Guests praise the authenticity of the Irish theme and the camaraderie at the pub in reviews on TripAdvisor. The nightly starting rate of $89 includes breakfast.
INDIANA: CHARLEY CREEK INN, WABASH
Accolades belong to Charley Creek Inn's historic preservation of its 1920s-era building in downtown Wabash. On-site amenities include an ice cream and chocolate shop and a wine and cheese shop. Room rates start at $149 a night and come with free Wi-Fi and access to the indoor pools at the nearby YMCA. The inn boasts a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, and guests award points for beauty and cleanliness.
IOWA: HOTEL CAPONE, SPILLVILLE
Recently renamed and reopened with new owners, the Hotel Capone operates from a building listed in the National Register of Historic Places that dates to 1871. There's an on-site bar and restaurant, free popcorn in the lobby, free Wi-Fi, and free continental breakfast. The themed rooms, which start at $55 a night, are well liked for their charm, according to reviews on TripAdvisor.
KANSAS: COURTLAND HOTEL, FORT SCOTT
Holding pride of place on the National Register of Historic Places, the Courtland Hotel has the look of an early 20th century establishment, but 21st century amenities keep guests comfortable. No two rooms are alike and the décor pays homage to the area's history. Rates start at $69 a night for rooms that seem small to some guests reviewing the hotel on TripAdvisor, although they say the staff and ambiance compensate. The on-site spa is associated with Aveda, and all personal care products bear that label.
KENTUCKY: CAMPBELL HOUSE, LEXINGTON
This is horse country and, not surprisingly, décor at the recently renovated Campbell House exudes a distinct equestrian air with southern flourishes. Guests have access to a fitness center and indoor heated pool, but breakfast is extra. TripAdvisor reviews, largely positive, celebrate the gracious comfort of the antebellum-style manor.
LOUISIANA: PARC ENGLAND, ALEXANDRIA
The Parc England exudes Southern charm and elegance, with antiques and lush bedding being the décor of choice. Rates start at $115 a night and include continental breakfast and omelet bar. There's a small outdoor pool and, across the road, a golf course landscaped on a former Air Force base. Reviews on TripAdvisor say the hotel is quaint and comfortable.
MAINE: KENNEBUNK INN
Rooms at the Kennebunk Inn, which start at $99 a night, are named for John and Abigail Adams and Martha and Thomas Jefferson, the presidents and first ladies serving during the time the inn opened for business. Guests enjoy free beach access and environmentally green surroundings, including non-toxic cleaning and personal care supplies and, at the restaurant, in-season herbs and vegetables from the inn's organic garden and local growers. Reviews on Booking.com laud the staff and food, although some take exception to the building's maintenance.
MARYLAND: ISLAND INN AND SUITES, PINEY POINT
Guests at the waterfront Island Inn & Suites can choose between sunrise and sunset rooms with balconies, both of which garner favorable reviews on the Choice Hotels website. Free breakfasts are standard fare, and rooms start at $99 a night. Waterfront access and kayak and bike rentals are additional pluses.
MASSACHUSETTS: HOTEL ON NORTH, PITTSFIELD
The quirky Hotel on North inhabits two restored buildings constructed in the late 19th century. Many of the original architectural features have been preserved, including decorative columns and tin ceilings. Each of the 45 rooms, with nightly rates starting at $134 when booked two weeks in advance, presents a modern, funky aesthetic with furnishings made by local artisans. Overwhelmingly positive reviews on TripAdvisor mention the hotel's visual appeal and the concierge service.
MICHIGAN: HARBOR GRAND, NEW BUFFALO
The architectural inspiration for this very late 20th century Lake Michigan waterfront property comes from the design approach promoted by Frank Lloyd Wright in the first half of the century. An overhaul 10 years ago added a more contemporary feel without sacrificing the original intent. For a starting rate of $119 a night, Harbor Grand guests are entitled to complimentary breakfast in bed; free use of beach bicycles, beach towels, and sand chairs; and unlimited access to a DVD library, indoor pool and hot tub, and fitness center. Reviewers on TripAdvisor applaud the service and overall value.
MINNESOTA: SOUTH PIER INN, DULUTH
The family-owned South Pier Inn sits astride Lake Superior Bay at the foot of the Aerial Lift Bridge. Rooms start at $79 a night, and the pricier suites come equipped with binoculars to ensure no waterfront sight goes unseen. Reviews on TripAdvisor rave about large windows that afford views of the city and bridge. The inn is within walking distance of the Great Lakes Aquarium.
MISSISSIPPI: OLD CAPITOL INN, JACKSON
The Old Capitol Inn, located near the capitol building, provides a Southern-style breakfast each morning and wine and cheese each evening. Guests retire to chic and stylish rooms that start at $99 a night and have access to a rooftop garden that overlooks downtown. TripAdvisor ranks it the top hotel in the city.
MISSOURI: SOUTHMORELAND ON THE PLAZA, KANSAS CITY
This quaint inn, styled much like a colonial New England bed and breakfast, has a homey feel with upscale amenities, including a carafe of sherry in each room. Rates at Southmoreland start at $143 a night for rooms that each boast a unique feature, such as a fireplace or whirlpool tub. Guests are treated to breakfast, afternoon wine and hors d'oeuvres, and an evening hot beverage with a sweet. Posts at TripAdvisor describe it as snug and adorable.
MONTANA: PINE LODGE, WHITEFISH
Guests at Pine Lodge are rewarded with unparalleled mountain views, proximity to Glacier National Park, and, until March 30, one complimentary ski lift ticket. Located on the Whitefish River, this budget-priced boutique hotel, with rates starting at $89 a night, including breakfast, sticks with a spare, Western-style aesthetic. It earns high marks on TripAdvisor for airy, clean rooms and accommodating staff.
NEBRASKA: NORFOLK LODGE AND SUITES
The Norfolk Lodge and Suites offers upscale amenities at budget prices. Guest rooms, starting at $88 a night, include work desks with ergonomic chairs, refrigerator, microwave, wet bar, and other perks. The hotel also has fireside seating areas so travelers can enjoy the countryside views, and the breakfast merits a shout-out in reviews posted at Kayak.
NEVADA: RUMOR, LAS VEGAS
Located 2 miles from the Strip, Rumor Boutique Hotel makes art its unifying theme. Rooms start at $83 a night, and all are suite-style with original artwork and murals, as well as unique fixtures and décor. The pool features private cabanas and bar service. The location and posh feel attract positive notice in reviews at Expedia, although some find fault with the cleanliness of the guest rooms.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: HOTEL PORTSMOUTH
The Hotel Portsmouth gives guests a chance to stay in an authentic 1881 Queen Anne Victorian mansion in rooms that start at $119 a night. The furniture and decorations are a quirky mix of modern and thrift gems. Guests can walk to Prescott Park or Market Square to enjoy the historic neighborhood. Recent renovations, comfort, friendliness, and location earn the inn a solid 5 stars on TripAdvisor.
NEW JERSEY: THE VIRGINIA, CAPE MAY
The Virginia is a 24-room luxury hotel with period charm and a hard-to-beat location half a block from the Jersey Shore. For rates starting at $89 a night, guests enjoy pool and beach access and free breakfast served in-room or on the porch, which draws special mention in reviews at Travelocity. Reviews also comment on the relaxed environment, comfortable accommodations, and amenable staff.
NEW MEXICO: HOTEL CHIMAYÓ, SANTA FE
Guest rooms at the Hotel Chimayó feature original art and furnishings, making each one unique. Much of the art and custom décor was created by local Chimayó craftspeople. The hotel also offers free walking tours and is pet-friendly. An online special currently sets nightly rates starting at $84. The warmth of the staff and ambiance of the hotel help it earn 4.1 stars at Expedia.
NEW YORK: HOTEL VETIVER, LONG ISLAND CITY
Manhattan is a quick subway ride away (ETA to Times Square: less than 20 minutes) for visitors who choose the Hotel Vetiver in Queens, where rooms start at $115 a night. Guests are welcome to free breakfast and have access to a fitness center. As part of the hotel's green program, the housekeeping staff uses non-toxic and hypoallergenic products and soaps, and shampoos and conditioners are eco-friendly. Reviews posted at Expedia comment positively on the clean rooms, location, and staff.
NORTH CAROLINA: MAST FARM INN, BANNER ELK
Guests at this historic boutique hotel tucked in the Appalachians can choose elegantly furnished rooms in a farmhouse built in the 1880s or rustic cabins or cottages that date from the 1790s to 1820s. Rates start at $109 a night and include a full gourmet breakfast. At TripAdvisor, Mast Farm Inn earns 5 stars for the romance, comfort, food, and service.
NORTH DAKOTA: DAKOTA INN, MINOT
The Dakota Inn is a convenient stopover for visitors to the North Dakota State Fair or Roosevelt Park Zoo. Kids will appreciate the on-site arcade as well as the indoor swimming pool. Rooms, starting at $54 a night, come with refrigerators and microwaves, and guests are entitled to free breakfast. Most reviews at Expedia are upbeat about the staff and the lodgings, although some shave points for the hotel's physical condition.
OHIO: AURORA INN
Guests will find historic charm and modern amenities at the pet-friendly Aurora Inn, which was built in the 1920s. Rooms start at $89 a night and afford guests access to two pools -- indoor and outdoor. For relaxing, there's a wood-burning fireplace in the lobby's cozy sitting area. Guest reviews at TripAdvisor praise the sleep quality, the food, and the scenery.
OKLAHOMA: CAMPBELL HOTEL, TULSA
Built in 1927, the Campbell Hotel aims to give guests an immersive Sooner experience. The 26 rooms, starting at $139 a night, have themes ranging from the Crimson and Cream Room to the Route 66 Room. Courtesy airport car service, fireplaces, and pet-friendly accommodations are some of the perks. The décor and charm appeal to most reviewers at TripAdvisor, although some grouse about noise.
OREGON: JUPITER HOTEL, PORTLAND
An art gallery, free coffee, and hipster-chic décor are all part of a stay at the Jupiter Hotel. The building is a converted midcentury motor lodge, and guests can decide between the livelier bar side and quieter "chill side." Rates start at $110 a night for rooms with artistic touches such as a wall-size Marilyn Monroe portrait or tree mural, as well as funky pillows and furniture. Reports at Yelp say the staff and design are top-notch, but some guests gripe about late-night noise.
PENNSYLVANIA: LEDGES HOTEL, HAWLEY
The historic Ledges Hotel, originally a glass factory, is situated amid gorges and waterfalls in the Pocono Mountains. Tastefully modern rooms, starting at $110 a night, open to views of the natural surroundings and display artwork by local artisans. Guest reviews at TripAdvisor extol the rustic vibe, location, and friendly staff.
RHODE ISLAND: CARRIAGE HOUSE INN, MIDDLETOWN
Nature lovers will flock to the Carriage House Inn for its proximity to a bird sanctuary and wildlife refuge, as well as a state park and lighthouse. For starting rates of $69 a night, guests receive free breakfast and Wi-Fi and can sunbathe on the sundeck. Reviews at the Choice Hotels website are overwhelmingly positive, with particular praise for the clean, comfortable accommodations and overall value.
SOUTH CAROLINA: INN ON THE SQUARE, GREENWOOD
A dog-friendly boutique hotel, the Inn on the Square features rooms with modern furnishings and upscale accoutrements such as an HDTV and free Wi-Fi. There's an outdoor patio for relaxing, a fitness room, and an on-site restaurant and lounge. Rooms start at $139 a night and include a full breakfast. TripAdvisor ranks the inn No. 2 in the city, with praise going to the friendly staff and comfortable rooms.
SOUTH DAKOTA: THE HOTEL BY GOLD DUST, DEADWOOD
A historic building dating to the earliest years of the 20th century has been renovated as a hotel affiliated with the Gold Dust Casino, where nightly rates start at $49. The casino and nearby Mount Rushmore offer leisure excitement, while marble bathrooms with rainfall shower heads and contemporary furnishings offer modern comfort. Excellent reviews at Booking.com single out the friendly and helpful staff, although some quibble about cleanliness and room size.
TENNESSEE: HOTEL PRESTON, NASHVILLE
The Hotel Preston, not far from the airport, is one of the quirkiest on this list and thus valued by lodgers, according to reviews at Expedia. Guests can request amenities such as lava lamps, rubber ducks, and pet fish at the front desk. There's a pillow menu, pet room service, and spiritual books for humans and dogs (obviously, pets are welcome). Rates start at $89 a night.
TEXAS: HOTEL ALSACE, CASTROVILLE
A small hotel with a spot-on view of the Medina River Valley and an outdoor pool, the Hotel Alsace is surrounded by green lawns, palm trees, and gardens. Each guest room in the historic two-story resort features a private balcony; nightly rates start at $81. Guests enthuse about the Hill Country locale and the relaxing atmosphere, according to reviews at TripAdvisor.
UTAH: CANYONS, KANAB
This sprawling, Victorian-style inn with 28 guest rooms and suites is a convenient home base for visiting the Grand Canyon. Guests also enjoy complimentary cruiser bikes, concierge services, breakfast, and weekly live entertainment (May through October). Guests had positive things to say about the décor and furnishings in reviews at TripAdvisor.
VERMONT: TACONIC, MANCHESTER
Modeled on turn-of-the-century Vermont inns, this cozy hotel offers a luxury experience at a reasonable rate. There's a large front porch with rocking chairs, a lobby with a working fireplace, a yoga mat in every room, a concierge who will map out a day's journey, and free evening wine hours. Rooms start at $145 a night with advance purchase. TripAdvisor reviews say a stay at Taconic is replete with comfort and relaxation in a lovely part of the state.
VIRGINIA: LINDEN ROW, RICHMOND
Seven row houses built in the 19th century make up Linden Row, a boutique hotel with a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and antique décor juxtaposed with modern amenities. Guests can stroll through a garden courtyard where Edgar Allan Poe played as a child and view art on display in the common areas. Rooms start at $109 a night. Many reviews at Booking.com note the site's charm and convenient location.
WASHINGTON: HOTEL DECA, SEATTLE
The art deco-inspired Hotel Deca is located in the University District, near museums and a 27-mile walking/running/biking trail. Guest rooms, starting at $125 a night, are funky and colorful and some boast stunning city and mountain views. Reviewers at Kayak value the location and generally praise the staff.
WEST VIRGINIA: PRESTON COUNTY INN, KINGWOOD
The original inhabitants of the colonial-style Preston County Inn lived in the house during the Civil War. In recent years the inn was respectfully refurbished and modernized and now combines period charm (including seven fireplaces) with 21st century amenities. Nearby historic attractions are a draw, as are room rates starting at $70 a night. Reviews posted on Expedia generally praise the inn and the antique furnishings, but some express disappointment with the upkeep.
WISCONSIN: CHATEAU DE PERE
With a nod to the Green Bay area's early settlers, Chateau De Pere boasts French country décor and cozy charm. Colors are soothing, furnishings are rustic, and amenities are modern. There's an accessible room priced at $10 below the entry-level price of $129 for a deluxe queen. Breakfast is complimentary for all guests. Spacious accommodations and a warm and relaxing atmosphere appeal to satisfied lodgers -- including football fans, according to reviews at TripAdvisor.
WYOMING: MANSION HOUSE INN, BUFFALO
Built in 1903 and restored to its period look by 21st century owners, the Historic Mansion House Inn boasts modern-day amenities such as in-room TV and air conditioning. Rooms, starting at $104 a night, sport different themes based on Old West history, including the Johnson County War, Crazy Horse, and the Hole in the Wall Gang. In addition to the Victorian rooms, 11 motel rooms are available in a separate building. Guests are impressed by the thoughtful decorating and welcoming staff, according to reviews at TripAdvisor.