I have been traveling extensively recently, to the point where I have stayed at dozens of hotels already this year. During the course of these travels, I have discovered several really great properties, which I will share from time to time here.
But lest you get the idea that a travel journalist’s life is all heavenly beds and five-star hotels, let me first off assure you that I have stayed in several fleabags along the way. To that end, I can’t advise you enough against staying at New York’s Riverside Tower Hotel and Boise’s Best Value Inn and Suites. They are so bad that I won’t even grace them with a link.
But let’s get back to the good stuff.
In May, I traveled to Austin to be a judge in the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships (yes, that’s a thing).
During my stay in the capital of Texas, my home was Hotel Eleven, located in Austin’s funkadelic East End. The 14-room property is owned by a wife and husband team. He’s the architect; she’s the hand-son general manager.
Rooms are located on three stories, each floor with its own outside lounge/balcony. The rooftop sports a for-guests-only lounge with spectacular 360-degree views of the city.
|The Crash Pad|
Credit: Paul Bardagy
The interiors are modern, popping with orange and blue accents. Guest rooms (from a Crash Pad to the junior suites) feature wallpaper of varying color and design, along with cool lighting fixtures and contemporary artwork from local artists. Some rooms have freestanding bathtubs that are just inviting guests in for a soak.
This month, I decided to spend a couple of days in “my happy place.” That place is Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho. I discovered that the previously-rundown Clarion Hotel in downtown Ketchum had been refurbished into the Hotel Ketchum. While the general manager refers to it as a three-star hotel, and the rates are among the cheapest in the area, I was impressed, and I don’t feel sheepish in saying so.
|A mural by a local artist graces the exterior of Hotel Ketchum|
In fact, the hotel mascot is the sheep--which is appropriate given that this area is known for sheep farming. (Ketchum and neighboring Hailey host The Trailing of the Sheep every October, which is one of the best festivals I have ever attended.)
|Trailing of the Sheep Festival|
Guests can also hang out at the Hangout. The onsite cafe is open in the morning for breakfast (free to guests) and again after 4 PM. That’s when the space converts into a cocktail lounge featuring beers and wines made in Idaho, along with craft cocktails and a light menu.oor covered patios and