My All-Time Favorite Hotels

When I was in Cambodia, I fell in love with my hotel and started thinking about how many hotels I’ve stayed in and which ones were truly memorable.  I love staying in hotels, especially nice hotels, but there are definitely a few standouts that make the cut as my all-time favorite hotels.  Many of these aren’t even fancy, but there was something special about them that seared them into memory.

Le Meridien Angkor; Siem Reap, Cambodia

This is the hotel that spawned this list in the first place.  From the second I walked through the entrance and was greeted by a cool washcloth and cold juice, I was smitten.  A gorgeous oasis to retreat from the heat of Cambodia.  Beautifully designed pool and spa area, excellent service and good food, too!

Le Meridien Angkor

Le Meridien Angkor

Renaissance Carambola; St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

My mom and I stayed here two Christmas vacations in a row!  After a late night arrival, waking up to this ocean view was such a treat!  I love a hotel room with outdoor space, and these screened in porches were perfect, not to mention the hammocks and uncrowded beach. This place is a great destination for a quiet escape from the real world.  I know we’ll be back again!

Davis Bay

Hacienda la Jiminita; Quito, Ecuador

We stayed here before and after our Galapagos cruise, and it was so charming, especially the resident French bulldogs, Francois and Maya.  I wish we’d had more time to explore the grounds, but it was another whirlwind trip! This is a place I’d love to return with a pile of books and just relax.  (we know my trips are never relaxing, but maybe someday they will be!)

Casa de Hacienda "La Jimenita" - we spent the first two nights at this cute hacienda near the Quito airport

Breakfast at the hacienda - the food was delicious, and fresh squeezed fruit juice!

Flanigan’s Inn; Springdale, Utah

Oh, Flanigan’s!  Someone on a backpacking forum recommended this place for its proximity to Zion National Park and I visited with my friends in 2008.  I then spent the next 8 years dreaming of a return until I finally made it back in 2016 after my Grand Canyon rafting trip.  On the 2nd visit, I also got to experience the spa and the hilltop labyrinth, which was pretty cool.  Honestly, I think there’s something in the air here that just captivates me.

Flanigan's in Springdale, UT - awesome place to stay!(Photo Credit:  Amy)

The pool at Flanigan's - I love that view!

Redstone Inn; Redstone, Colorado

We’ve been visiting the Redstone area for many summers, and in 2005, my mom, sister and I decided to fly out for Christmas at the Redstone Inn.  What a treat, and I think this started the Christmas travel tradition for us.  We had all our meals in the gorgeous lodge, enjoyed stunning views of the night skies from the hot tub, and even a horse-drawn sleigh ride to nearby Redstone Castle.  What an experience!


Photo Credit: Aspen Valley Film

Christmas Eve sleigh ride at the Redstone Inn

Freestone Inn; Mazama, Washington

My sister and I stayed here on a trip to Washington State, after seeing Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge.   The cabin-like rooms each had their own patio, the lodge was gorgeous, the location remote. I would love to come back here sometime.

Lake outside our deck at Freestone Inn

Heaton’s Guest House; Dingle, Ireland

I don’t even have a photo of Heaton’s, but the Dingle Peninsula was just stunning.  I think we only stayed at Heaton’s 1 night, on a whirlwind trip across Ireland, but it had the perfect location near town right on the water.  I remember saying it would be the perfect place to come back and just relax with a bunch of books.  It’s been 13 years, and I haven’t made it back there yet 🙁

Honorable Mention:

Indian Lodge at Davis Mountains State Park, Texas

This place looked so great, and I really, really want to go back and give it a proper visit.  Unfortunately, when I visited I came down with a cold/flu and spent pretty much the entire time in bed.

Sunset from Skyline Drive(BW)

Far View Lodge at Mesa Verde National Park

I guess I have a thing for lodges?!  This was a short visit on a road trip to Utah and Colorado.  Super cute rooms, good food at the restaurant and of course, stunning scenery and history.

Mesa Verde - my last National park of the trip, and where I would meet my mom.

I have a feeling I will be adding a few more to this list soon!  Any suggestions?


Favorite Hotels


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A Perfect Day at Zion National Park

I first visited Zion National Park in 2008, and dreamed of returning ever since.  There is just something magical about those red cliffs and canyons.  So, when my Grand Canyon rafting trip ended in Vegas, I seized the opportunity to head back to Springdale for what turned out to be one perfect day.  We stayed at Flanigan’s on my first visit, and I loved it so much, I didn’t consider any other options for this trip.

The town of Springdale has a free shuttle that goes up and down Main Street and will deliver you to the park entrance, where the Park Shuttle system takes over.  Compared to a park like Yellowstone, which has frequent traffic jams and overflowing parking lots, it’s so refreshing to just hop on and off a shuttle bus.  More parks need to implement a shuttle system like this!

Town shuttle in Springdale - one of my favorite things about this area are the free shuttles!

My biggest goal for this part of the trip was to climb Angel’s Landing after a failed attempt in 2008.  (Failed because it got way too crowded and freaked me out!) So I set my alarm for 5am, and got up before dark to head out.  Luckily, the hotel is about a 10 minute walk from the park entrance, where I would catch a shuttle bus into Zion Canyon.  I hit the trailhead right at 7:00 as the sun was coming up.  Two hours later, I was on top of Angel’s Landing.  After a few celebratory photos and a quick snack, it was time to head back down and thread the crowds of people coming up.  Between the crowds and the heat, I was so grateful for having gotten an early morning start.

Much of the last 1/2 mile is done with the help of chains, as there are steep drop-offs on both sides of the ridge:

Having accomplished my goal by 11am, but with tired, blistered feet, I had the rest of the day to spend at the pool – lounging and reading until my 4:00 spa appointment.  Yeah, I know, after 11 days on the Colorado River, I was already pretty relaxed, but it still felt great to sunbathe and catch up on my reading.

The pool at Flanigan's - I love that view!

After a few hours poolside, it was time to go check in for my spa appointments.  I had booked a facial and a massage to undo any damage from 10 nights of camping.  I started out with a facial from Carisa , followed by a massage by Michelle.  Both were fantastic and it was fun chatting with them about local events and growing up in Utah.

After a stroll around town and a quick bite for dinner, I returned to my comfy king bed for one more night in Utah.  The next day, I would take my time heading back to Vegas for a redeye flight home.  I can only hope it’s not another 7 years before I make it back to this magical wonderland!

For the rest of my Zion pictures, click here!


Zion National Park

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