Darn Good Digs

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Darn Good Digs in Canada and the United States

Darn Good Digs are the world's best independently owned accommodations for budget-minded travelers, all with rooms under US$150. Darn Good Digs stand out for their originality, spectacular locations, scrumptious food, and great vibes.

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  =   Editors' Choice


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Louisbourg, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia: Cranberry Cove Inn
 Nominated By: Jennafer, Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA, June '08

Price Range: $105-$160 CAD (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes Cranberry Cove Inn so Darn Good? The themed rooms in this grand, cranberry-colored Victorian mansion are fun and just the right amount of frilly. Germaine and David, the innkeepers, clearly paid loving attention to every detail. A highlight of our stay was when their son played fiddle for us - true Cape Breton atmosphere!

Location: The Cranberry Cove Inn is located in the town of Louisbourg on the remote eastern shore of Cape Breton Island, and its proximity to the fascinating Fortress of Louisbourg can't be beat. The fortress, a meticulous reconstruction of the doomed French fort that stood on these grounds, is well worth the journey. Each summer, the fort's houses, inns, shops, and waterfront are brought to life by a cadre of highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic interpreters, all wearing period garb and telling tales of life at the fort during the summer of 1744.

Rooms: We stayed in the Cranberry Sweet, which was lovely, with a cranberry-colored floral theme and a comfy bed. The six other rooms also have telling names like Field and Stream, Captain's Den, and Hearts and Flowers. All rooms are delightfully decorated, and many have Jacuzzi bathtubs.

Food: We had a delicious birthday dinner at the Inn's restaurant, the fanciest spot in town and rightfully famous for its seafood chowder. We also enjoyed the Island Egg Bake for breakfast, which we washed down with healthy doses of cranberry juice.

Vibe: David and Germaine made us feel right at home. We particularly appreciated that they welcomed our five year old son, when many other B &B's in the area did not, even inviting him to the big barn to play with their sons.

Things to Keep in Mind: The Cranberry Cove Inn is only open from May 1st to October 31st.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Niagara Falls, Ontario: Rex Motel
 Nominated By: cari, Louisville, Kentucky, August '11

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Price Range: $55-$159 CAD (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 15 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes the Rex Motel so Darn Good? The Rex may look like a typical roadside motel from the outside, but inside you'll find cute remodeled theme rooms such as "Provence" and "Sunset in Africa". The owners, Emily and Simeon, are amazingly friendly and dish up tasty homemade Bulgarian pastries for breakfast.

Location: The motel is located right off the highway just over a mile from the town of Niagara Falls, Canada (and that little waterfall you’ve come to see).

Rooms: The Rex has six themed singles, eight themed doubles, and one family fun suite, otherwise known as Cuba Libre.

Food: For breakfast, the owners bring you freshly baked traditional Bulgarian pastries called bureks to enjoy with your coffee or tea. Each room has a mini-fridge and microwave, some have kitchenettes, and the motel has a communal BBQ area outside. While you’ll find a greater selection of restaurants in town, you can also grab a quick bite at the inexpensive restaurant across the street from the motel.

Vibe: Ultra friendly.

Things to Keep in Mind: The Rex may not be super fancy, but you can’t beat the price and experience for Niagara Falls!

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Traveler Favorite

Alpine (east central AZ): Hannagan Meadow Lodge
 Nominated By: Donna Hull at My Itchy Travel Feet, Tucson, Arizona, USA, May '09

Price Range: US$85-$200 # of Rooms: 16 Kid-Friendly: Yes

Why so darn good? "The location at 9,000 + ft. on the Coronado Trail in the White Mountains. The lodge overlooks a meadow where animals come to graze in the summer. On a snowy day in the winter, you'll see beginning cross-country skiers practicing newly-learned skills." Read more.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Bisbee, Arizona: The Shady Dell
Nominated By: Amanda, Dallas, Texas, November '11

Price Range: US$55-$145 # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes The Shady Dell so Darn Good? Each vintage trailer at the fabulous Shady Dell is decked out in a retro theme, complete with authentic interiors, period tableware, and mid-century appliances. Over the years, we have stayed in four trailers, each one as cool as the other. We always have fun looking in the trailer drawers and cabinets to see what treasures - old yearbooks, magazines, board games, even packets of 1950’s hosiery - are waiting to be discovered.

Location: The Shady Dell is a couple of miles outside Bisbee, one of southern Arizona’s original copper-mining towns, now home to a laid-back arts and restaurant scene. Bisbee is also worth the trip for a tour of the Copper Queen Mine or a visit to the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.

Rooms: The Shady Dell has nine vintage trailers, a 1957 Tiki-themed Airporter bus, and a 1947 Chris Craft Yacht. The Polynesian El Rey, the Vegas-themed Airfloat, and all the rest brim with authentic details of days gone by. Sit back and soak up the 50’s era radio broadcasts on your AM radio or watch a Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz flick on your black and white television set. Have some coffee from your electric percolator in a melamine mug or learn to tap dance from a book. There’s so much to do at the Shady Dell, and that’s without even stepping out of your trailer!

Food: Cooking is not allowed in the trailers, but Shady Dell has placed several charcoal grills in the central courtyard – perfect for a cookout and a great opportunity to hang out with your neighbors. For picnic provisions, head to Old Bisbee’s High Desert Market and Café where you’ll find gourmet groceries, organic produce, and locally brewed beer.

Vibe: The Shady Dell has a real sense of community. One night, we had an impromptu picnic with a German mother-daughter duo checked into the El Rey. We had a blast drinking their Icelandic Schnapps and talking for hours. Jen and Justin, the Shady Dell’s on-site owners, are super fun too and helpful if you need them.

Keep in Mind: The trailers are diverse in size and amenities, so check out the online photos and descriptions before making a reservation. In particular, keep in mind that only one trailer has a full bath, most have toilets and sinks, and all are within easy walking distance to the shared bathroom facilities. Also, we are sad to say that the on-site Dot’s Diner is closed.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Prescott: The Motor Lodge
 Nominated By: Fans of The Motor Lodge, December '11

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Price Range: US$89-$139 # of Rooms: 12 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes The Motor Lodge so Darn Good? Just three blocks from Prescott's town square and famed Whiskey Row, the Motor Lodge has been lovingly rebuilt, restored, and funkified by its new owners. Brian and Joe are fantastic hosts and have poured their hearts and souls into the Motor Lodge, transforming this historic 1940's motel into the stylish, fun, and lively digs that it is today. Hang out with the other happy guests at the community firepit, take a vintage tandem bicycle out for a spin, or cozy up in your comfy bed with its down pillows. Any way you look at it, you might just leave a little hipper and cooler than you were when you arrived.

Location: The Motor Lodge is within walking distance to Prescott's historic Courthouse Square and Whiskey Row, a saloon-lined street featuring live music most nights. Ninety miles north of Phoenix, Prescott is a laid-back old west town, a destination not only for its art galleries, antiques, and boutique shops, but also for its old west history and spectacular setting. After taking in times past at the Sharlot Hall Museum or the Smoki Museum of Indian Art and Culture, get outside and go hiking, climbing, mountain biking or flatwater kayaking.

Rooms: Brian and Joe have pulled off a totally groovy renovation of a 1940's motor court, and have a story to tell about each of the twelve free-standing rooms, all individually decorated with cool art, retro furniture, and funky knick knacks. In Room #6, you'll find a bed and vanity rescued from the original honeymoon suite at the Vegas Stardust hotel, cool glasswork on the bathroom walls, and original subway tiles in the two person shower. Most rooms have porches, adjoining parking garages, and fireplaces, and in cooler months the owners stoke up a fire where guests can warm themselves while having cocktails.

Food: Beer and wine at check–in, freshly baked cookies when you leave. Besides that, some rooms have kitchenettes, and the Motor Lodge has a gas grill available to all guests. Headed out for a meal? Brian and Joe are fantastic at recommending restaurants - every place they suggested was delicious and we tried many a local spot that we would've otherwise missed.

Vibe: Upbeat, low-key, funky, fun, and amazingly hip. We felt welcome from the get-go, like we were instantly in on something fantastic.

Keep in Mind: This is a popular place, so make sure to book ahead, especially for peak weekends and events such as the Whiskey Off Road Mountain Bike Race or the Prescott Rodeo.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Sedona: Grace's Secret Garden B & B
 Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, February '08

Price Range: Gosh Darn It! # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes Grace's Secret Garden B & B so Darn Good? You are in red rock heaven at Grace's Secret Garden, with clear views of striking red rock formations from the front of the ranch house. The owner, Grace, is incredibly sweet and helpful, and she sure knows how to cook up a good breakfast.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Sonoita (south central AZ): La Hacienda de Sonoita
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, March '08

Price Range: US$115-$140 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes La Hacienda de Sonoita so Darn Good? La Hacienda de Sonoita is pure cowboy chic, and if you don't watch out, you might just gallop away into the sunset. The hacienda itself is a beautiful, modern take on the mission house, and the main guest rooms all have fun Southwestern themes. But what catapults the Hacienda de Sonoita from just amazing to darn good is its absolutely spectacular setting. The hacienda is surrounded by great fields of grass, yellow in the winter and green in the summer, with majestic mountains looming in the horizon and the big blue sky above.

Location: The Hacienda is located an hour south of Tucson and only five minutes from Sonoita, a little town that is really not much more than a cross in the roads.

Rooms: The Hacienda's four guestrooms, the Mission, Ranch, Railroad, and Grand Canyon, border a traditional Spanish courtyard and are all clearly decorated with love, care, and great attention to detail. Relaxing in our deep turquoise Ranch room, we could imagine our hosts, Cheryl and Tom, scouring local art galleries and antique shops for the perfect pieces. The wrought iron cowboy toilet paper holder and the glass owl night light were especially excellent finds.

Food: Tom cooks up a hearty ranch style breakfast, including such treats as Southwestern scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits, blueberry pancakes, and the John Wayne Breakfast Casserole. I am not sure what that is, but it sure sounds good! Cheryl bakes a fine coffee cake and breakfast is always served with fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola.

Vibe: Tom and Cheryl made us feel right at home. They were super friendly, giving us toys to entertain our seven month old, and sitting down with us to enjoy breakfast.

Things to Keep in Mind: The Hacienda is located up a somewhat rugged dirt driveway, but our little car made it no problem.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Tucson: Catalina Park Inn B & B
 Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, February '08

Price Range: US$109-$189 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: Children over 10

What makes Catalina Park Inn so Darn Good? The Catalina Park Inn is a grand and immaculately restored 1920's era house located in a charming historic district. The friendly innkeepers, Mark and Paul, make a fabulous breakfast, and the dining room is bright and cheerful. We particularly loved sitting in the prickly, yet very soothing, cactus garden alongside the house.

Location: The Catalina Park Inn is located on a quiet residential street in the West University Historic district of Tucson. The Inn is within walking distance to many restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops. We managed to catch some live music at a cafe right down the street.

Rooms: Four rooms are in the main house and two are in a cottage bordering the cactus garden. In the main house, the two upstairs rooms have private porches, and the Catalina room (where we stayed) on the lower level has a big whirlpool bath located in a cedar-lined closet. The Catalina room is big and gorgeous, filled with beautiful furniture and artwork in all shades of yellow and blue. This room is no longer in the Darn Good Digs price range, but it is definitely worth the splurge!

Food: During our stay, breakfast at the communal table was always a festive occasion. The food was abundant, fresh, and delicious, and the southwestern flavors were an exciting bonus. Some house specialties include papaya and lime scones, lemon ricotta pancakes, and spicy buttermilk coffee cake.

Vibe: Mark and Paul were very welcoming, and we especially loved how they set out a plate of freshly baked cookies every evening. We truly appreciated the warmth and relaxed atmosphere of such an impeccably kept and beautiful bed and breakfast.

Things to Keep in Mind: The Catalina Park Inn is not in walking distance to downtown, but it is just a few minutes drive away. Also, while the inn's website states that they allow children over 10 years old, they welcomed our 7 month old.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Winslow: La Posada Hotel
Nominated By: Michael and Allison at Darn Good Digs, November '10

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Price Range: US$99-$169 # of Rooms: 45 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes La Posada Hotel so Darn Good? La Posada, originally a 1929 railroad hotel, was designed by southwest star-chitect Mary Colter to resemble a grand Spanish hacienda. In 1997, its new owners, Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion, began an extraordinary restoration to bring the Posada back to its former glory, while at the same time adding their own contemporary touch. We especially dug La Posada’s museum–like common areas which showcase the owner’s eclectic collection of contemporary artwork and historical pieces, including several of Mion’s own paintings.

Location: La Posada is in tiny Winslow, Arizona on iconic Route 66 three hours northeast of Phoenix near the fascinating Four Corners area. While the town was made famous by the Eagles hit “Take It Easy,” the hands-down reason for coming to Winslow is La Posada. While we could have easily spent our entire visit exploring the hotel and watching the trains go by, we tore ourselves away to take a stroll through Winslow and a dip in the local swimming hole at Clear Creek.

Rooms: Each room is named for one of the hotel's famous guests from days-gone-by such as John Wayne or Clark Gable. The rooms are Southwestern in style and are decorated with fine antiques, original artwork, wrought iron lamps, and hammered tin or tile mirrors. Our room was bright and airy and very comfortable.

Food: We splurged and ate breakfast and dinner at La Posada’s award-winning Turquoise Room restaurant. The gourmet southwestern-inspired cuisine was delicious and memorable, particularly the Crispy Fried Squash Blossoms appetizer we had at dinner. Yum!

Vibe: La Posada’s restoration is truly remarkable and a must see for train buffs, historians, and art aficionados alike. The staff is friendly and helpful and the hotel has plenty of comfortable spots just to kick back and relax.

Keep in Mind: Although we thought it was pretty cool that guests could arrive by train right at the hotel’s back door, we liked having a car to explore the area.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Eureka Springs: Rock Cottage Gardens
Nominated By: Jan, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, August '08

New owners took over Rock Cottage Gardens in 2010. We have only heard rave reviews since.

Price Range: US$145-$170 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes the Rock Cottage Gardens so Darn Good? The Rock Cottage Gardens rock! The gardens are beautiful and quiet, and we loved to just sit, visit with other guests, and watch the trolleys go by. The innkeepers are always willing to go the extra mile, from booking carriage rides to accommodating special diets. We can't wait to return to this one of a kind bed and breakfast!

Location: The Rock Cottage Gardens are just a few blocks from downtown Eureka Springs, but far enough away from all the hustle and bustle to be a true getaway. Situated in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is a well-preserved Victorian era town. The entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is filled with colorful homes, historic hotels, art galleries, boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Rooms: The charming rock cottages, with fitting names such as the Hummingbird and Aspen Cottages, are each decorated in their own style. Rooms feature comfy beds, antique furnishings, fireplaces, and Jacuzzis for two. The impeccably maintained gardens surrounding the cottages are a wonderful place to relax.

Food: The breakfasts are the most scrumptious I have ever had. Don't sleep in or you will miss the decadent french toast. Who knew you could have dessert with your breakfast! Now that's my kind of food!

Vibe: The Rock Cottage Gardens is an oasis. We enjoyed sitting in the lovely gardens and chatting with the owners. It's all very relaxing, and if you aren't already married, well, you can be if you choose to - in their very own chapel!

Things to Keep in Mind: This is one of the busiest bed and breakfasts in Eureka Springs, so call early to make your reservations.

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Traveler Favorite

Eureka Springs: Tall Pines Inn
 Nominated By: VictoriaD, Kansas City, KS, USA, December '10

Price Range: US$63-$135 # of Rooms: 30 Kid-Friendly: Yes

Why so darn good? "Once I walked in, I never wanted to leave. I felt so at home. These are authentic log cabins and they are very clean and comfortable. Sit out on the porch in front of your own personal log cabin and enjoy the gorgeous tall pines. Plus, there's also a nice pool and the owners are very friendly and helpful." Read more.


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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Healdsburg (Sonoma County): Camellia Inn
Nominated By: Nina Vemac, Olga, Washington, USA, January '10

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Price Range: US$129-$299 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly:

What makes the Camellia Inn so Darn Good? Located in the town of Healdsburg in the heart of pricey Sonoma County, the Camellia Inn beckons with a cozy "Budget Room" that blends vintage style with modern amenities. The inn is within walking distance to the historic town plaza, great restaurants, and several wine tasting rooms.

Location: With its small town charm, nearby wineries, and surrounding nature, Healdsburg is the hippest town in the California Wine Country. Brimming with bookstores, coffee shops, boutiques, and art galleries, the town has plenty to keep you busy when you are not visiting any of the more than one hundred wineries within ten miles of the Inn. Giant California redwoods and the beautiful Pacific coast are both within an hour's drive.

Rooms: Housed in an 1869 Italianate Victorian home, the inn has nine distinct guestrooms with period architectural details like marble fireplaces, inlaid hardwood floors, and ceiling medallions. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, except the Budget Room, which has a private bathroom including a huge tub just across the hallway. Guests can take a self-guided walking tour of the gardens, which boast more than fifty varieties of camellias and surround a lovely swimming pool.

Food: The full breakfast buffet includes a warm dish, fresh seasonal fruit, breakfast meats, granola, yogurt, pastries, and smoothies. On Thursday mornings, the Inn offers a chocolate-inspired breakfast as part of its chocolate-covered Wednesday theme, which also includes chocolate treats upon check-in, chocolate port in the evening, and chocolate body paint and soap in the rooms. The inn offers wine, sometimes from their very own winery, and cheese every evening by the pool or in the parlor.

Vibe: The Camellia Inn, a three decade old family business, is comfortable, fun, and warm, but not fussy or cloying.

Keep in Mind: The Budget Room is very popular so make sure to book in advance.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Joshua Tree: Hicksville Trailer Palace
 Nominated By: Margaret Sche of The Sche Report, Los Angeles, California, February '12

Price Range: US$75-$225 # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? Built by Los Angeles writer and director Morgan Higby Night, Hicksville was opened in April 2010 as a retreat for artists to get away and have a safe place to create and collaborate. Each trailer has its own special theme. Take the Gypsy/Carnival inspired "Sideshow" with fantastic details like its very own Fortune Teller, or "The Sweet" – a curvy Airstream donned with a 1970s lounge feel. Morgan has thought of everything for your stay here: picnic tables, bbq pits, and a communal tipi for lounging, or ping-pong, horseshoes, and a BB gun shooting gallery (tin cans hanging from a clothesline) for playing. And all the trailers are situated around a solar-heated saltwater pool. We had a blast at Hicksville, and I can’t recommend this spot enough.

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Joshua Tree: Spin and Margie's Desert Hide-a-Way
 Nominated By: Jamie at A Desert Fete, California, October '11

Price Range: US$135-$175 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "Hacienda style cabins around the sweetest courtyards, expansive grounds for spreading out, and nooks and crannies for discovering and hiding. Exactly what we had been looking for - a non hotel compound environment for our wedding where our friends and family could spend the weekend together. It's damn cute, and the owners are complete dolls. It was perfect. I highly recommend it for a wedding or just a getaway."

Traveler Favorite

St. Helena (Napa Valley): Milat Estate Winery
 Nominated By: Ginny, Grove City, Ohio, May '10

Price Range: US$125-$150 # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "The cottages at the Milat Estate Winery are located right at a small family owned winery. The minute you show up you feel like you are part of the family. Plus the cost is less than a small budget hotel." Read more.

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Twentynine Palms: Moon Way Lodge
 Nominated By: Colleen, Chicago, December '11

Price Range: US$120-$165 # of Rooms: 2 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? I loved this place. Jeff and Mikal, the owners, are the perfect hosts - so friendly, but also gave us all the privacy we needed. Our room was huge and opened up to a semi-private pool, patio, and balcony. It was decorated in a fun, funky, retro way with the owners’ own art pieces. We could walk out into our own "backyard" with a fire pit to sit by which looks onto acres of unadulterated desert. The lodge is very close to Joshua Tee National Park as well as the little downtown of Twentynine Palms, but far away enough to feel like you are alone (in a very good way). I wish I could take this place everywhere I went.

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Traveler Favorite

Redstone (Aspen region): Avalanche Ranch
 Nominated By: Steve Dancha, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, November '09

Price Range: US$139-$209 # of Rooms: 17 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "The Avalanche Ranch is secluded, with views of Mount Sopris and easy access to Aspen and Vail. Be sure to visit the Village Smithy in Carbondale for breakfast while you are there, and the town of Redstone is very quaint." Read more.

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Crested Butte: Pioneer Guest Cabins
Nominated By: Dee Andrews, Boulder, Colorado, June '10

Hotel Website: www.pioneerguestcabins.com     Phone: (970) 349-5517

Price Range: US$119-$171 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Pioneer Guest Cabins so Darn Good? Set in a spectacular location near Crested Butte, Colorado, the Pioneer Guest Cabins are the perfect place for glamping...glamorous camping. Each cabin has its own particular charm, as well as a fire pit, picnic table, and hammock. Trails for hiking, biking, snow-shoeing, and cross-country skiing leave right from the cabins, and the sprawling grounds are perfect for games of Capture the Flag with the kids.

Location: Eight miles from Crested Butte, the cabins are surrounded by nearly two million acres of unspoiled wilderness in the Rocky Mountain region of southwest Colorado. While winter sports enthusiasts descend upon the area for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, visitors in the warmer months enjoy such outdoor pursuits as whitewater rafting, fly-fishing, and horseback riding. Crested Butte itself is a historic mining town with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as a free shuttle bus to the nearby Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Rooms: The Pioneer Cabins were built in 1939 as part of the base camp for the old Gunnison-Pioneer Winter Sports Area, the region's first ski area and home to Colorado's first chairlift. The eight cabins are well-spaced along a private dirt road next to a gorgeous creek, and each sleeps from two to six people. The cabins are small but tastefully remodeled, and the wood burning fireplaces, down comforters, and old skis hanging on the walls make for a charming and quaint cabin experience.

Food: Bring your own. All of the cabins have full kitchens, fire pits, and grills. Crested Butte itself has a wide selection of excellent restaurants for every taste and budget.

Vibe: The grounds are beautiful and expansive with plenty of space for solitude or for kids to run around.

Keep in Mind: Crested Butte is at an altitude of nearly 9,000 feet, so be sure to pack many layers and drink plenty of water since the weather can change quickly in the mountains. Also, the cabins have a seven night minimum in the heart of the summer and a two night minumum the rest of the year.

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Traveler Favorite

Dunnellon (North Central FL): Two Rivers Inn
 Nominated By: Barbara, Sarasota, Florida, USA, April '09

Price Range: US$55-$120 # of Rooms: 13 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "These detached bungalows were used as barracks during WWII. When they were no longer needed, they were moved to their present location near the center of historic Dunnellon. Since then they have been extensively remodeled several times. Today each room sports a different theme and the decor and furnishings are absolutely gorgeous. The innkeepers are wonderful. There is so much to do in the area, and best of all, the rooms are just $55-65 - in season!" Read more.

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Jensen Beach (Southeast FL): Inn at Tilton Place
 Nominated By: Shalimar Orlanes at Wanderlust for the Love of Food and Travels, November '11

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Price Range: US$99-$170 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly:

What makes the Inn at Tilton Place so Darn Good? The two and half hour drive from Ft. Lauderdale was well worth it when I opened the door to my room. The walls are a beautiful shade of dark blue and the sleigh bed is covered in luxurious blankets and huge memory foam pillows. It was not like a typical inn I have seen in the US, but rather something I would expect in the UK, except of course for the ceiling fan, the shutters, and the wooden floors which are light and airy - a traditional old Floridian house. And more, there was a complimentary breakfast, oh and oh, a proper kettle! Yes, indeed it was the best breakfast I ever had in the US.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

New Smyrna Beach (Northeast FL): Longboard Inn
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, March '10

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Price Range: US$115-$150 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: no (or not really)

What makes the Longboard Inn so Darn Good? This historic Craftsman Style bungalow has been lovingly restored by its friendly owners, John and Dee, with a surf theme and an eye for detail. Our room was fun and inviting and we enjoyed the delicious home-made breakfast served in the Inn's colorful dining room.

Location: New Smyrna Beach is an old-Florida style beach town on the state's northeast coast less than ninety minutes from Orlando. The Inn is within walking distance to historic Canal Street with a few antique shops and restaurants, but the real action is a five minute drive across the bridge to Flagler Avenue and the beach. Filled with ice cream shops, swimwear boutiques, and eateries, Flagler Avenue is an excellent place to stroll after a day of surfing or relaxing in the sun.

Rooms: Longboard Inn has eight lovely themed rooms and suites, each distinctly decorated with original fabric paintings, ceramics, and stained glass by local artists. The Sky Blue room, where we stayed, has cheerful blue walls, an enormous bathroom with soft towels, and French doors opening to the Inn's impressive wrap-around porch. We dug the colorful bedspread and whimsical pillows.

Food: Breakfast is a real treat at the Longboard Inn. Ours started off with a selection of freshly baked breads, including pecan cherry, wild berry, and gingerbread, and ended with fluffy blueberry flapjacks draped in an apple brandy compote. For dinner, we want to give a shout out to Maloney's Oyster Bar a few blocks away where we enjoyed an evening of steam kettle cooking, good beer, and live music.

Vibe: The Inn is laid back and mellow. John spent a good deal of time giving us the low-down on New Smyrna Beach, things to do, and places to eat. Even though the Inn usually has a no child policy, John welcomed our four year old off-season and was super-friendly to him.

Keep in Mind: While the Inn is not on the beach, it is in a historic residential neighborhood and makes for a great base for exploring Florida's northeast coast.

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Traveler Favorite

Brunswick (Southeast GA): Hostel in the Forest
 Nominated By: Lauraloo Tumbleweed, Atlanta, Georgia, March '10

Price Range: US$25 per person # of Rooms: 13 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "It's unique to this region of the Southeast. The treehouses are wonderful. The communal kitchen cooks up food from the organic garden for all the guests. There is a "Chicken of the Week" feature on the hostel website and domes designed by Buckminster Fuller. Any guest may join in the Lakota-style Sweat Lodge. The amazing staff, knowledgeable about many things, is always willing to help make your stay whatever you need it to be. The Hostel in the Forest is a good place to go for a spiritual retreat, whatever that might look like for you. It is a one-of-a-kind haven." Read more.

Hawaii, USA

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Holualoa, Big Island, Hawaii: Lilikoi Inn
Nominated By: Dian H , Honolulu, Hawaii, January '12

Price Range: US$125-$165 # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Lilikoi Inn so Darn Good? "The Lilikoi Inn is home away from home. Set in the peaceful and lush Holualoa, it offers a tranquil and private place to stay while vacationing on the Big Island. The home itself is beautiful with many stunning views of Kailua-Kona and the coast. The hosts are amazing too. Trina and Shai feel like long lost family. They are open, caring and compassionate, sharing personal stories, photo albums, and even an impromptu hula in the living room! Shai is an amazing chef, so creative and passionate about his masterpieces! I was equally impressed with a tour of their property with many fruit trees and even some new and surprising plants to eat."


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Provincetown, Massachusetts: Aerie House and Beach Club
Nominated By: Teresa W at Swim and Communicate with Whales, Big Sur, California, April '11

Price Range: US$45-$330 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: yes (and dog-friendly too)

What makes the Aerie House and Beach Club Guesthouse so Darn Good? Both the Aerie Guest House and Beach Club are private, quiet, and have excellent locations with spectacular views of the bay. The affable owners, Dave and Steve, are extremely helpful and dog-friendly to boot.

Location: Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod, boasts eclectic shops, excellent art galleries, and fabulous restaurants, and is one of the best places in the United States to spot North Atlantic humpback whales. Sitting on top of Miller Hill, one of the highest elevations in P-town, the Guest House offers panoramic views of Provincetown Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. The Beach Club, where I stayed, is on Commercial Street right on the beach. Both properties are in Provincetown's East End gallery district and are only a five minute walk from town center.

Rooms: Aerie House has seven guest rooms, ranging from economical rooms with shared baths to two bedroom suites. The Beach Club has four beach-front apartments with full kitchens, plus a private beach with chaise lounges available to all guests. I watched the sunset every night from my beach club balcony – without a doubt, one of the best views in P-town!

Food: Guests staying at both properties can enjoy breakfast at the Guest House, which includes wonderful egg dishes, home-made baked goods, bagels, and fresh fruit. When the weather is good, breakfast is served on the second floor deck overlooking the bay. Since I stayed at the Beach Club, I enjoyed cooking some of my meals in my very own kitchen.

Vibe: Dave and Steve make things easy with champagne chilling in the fridge, an impressive DVD library, and a fleet of complimentary bicycles.

Keep in Mind: P-town is a popular summer destination, but quiet in the winter, so prices and availability vary widely depending when you go.

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Traveler Favorite

Sheffield (Berkshire region): Race Brook Lodge
 Nominated By: Jen Schenkel, Brooklyn, NY, January '10

Price Range: US$85-$325 # of Rooms: 33 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "Race Brook Lodge is one of those places where it just feels great to be there from the minute you show up. From the kooky but super helpful family that runs the place, to the hammocks and trails that dot the property, to the range of barn-like, rustic rooms, to the tavern that serves delicious local fare, to the range of indoor and outdoor gathering spaces -- including a barn that can be rented out for group retreats or events -- Race Brook Lodge is a fantastic all-season getaway (though particularly cozy in the fall and winter). Plus they take dogs and kids, and attract a very groovy brand of independent, progressive travelers." Read more.

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ramsdell inn ramsdell inn ramsdell inn ramsdell inn

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Manistee: Ramsdell Inn
Nominated By: Sarah and Michael Christenson, Cadillac, Michigan, USA, June '08

Price Range: US$109-$199 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 10 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes the Ramsdell Inn so Darn Good? The Ramsdell Inn is a lovely, converted bank building in Manistee's historic downtown. My husband and I were intrigued by the old woodwork, polished marble lobby, and hospitality. There is a tiny gift shop in the old brass vault, and long, elegant corridors to wander, complete with brass radiators and dark woodwork.

Location: The Ramsdell Inn is in the center of Manistee, a Victorian-era seaport town designated a National Historic Landmark. The Inn is within walking distance to plenty of restaurants and independently-owned shops selling everything from kitsch to kitchenware. A stroll along Manistee's Riverwalk, just a stone's throw away from the Inn, will lead you to Lake Michigan, and the city's beaches, pier, and lighthouse.

Rooms: Each room has its own decor theme, but all are comfortably shabby chic. Our room had ornate stonework right outside our window and a lovely view of the Manistee River. The most comfortable, thick pillows and blankets covered our bed and the bathroom was scrupulously clean with some tiny lil' decorations.

Food: For breakfast, we enjoyed muffins, crackers, and fruit, which was enough to get us going for the day. A constant supply of hot water for tea, cider, and cocoa was available in the lobby, and since we stayed here during the subzero Michigan winter, we were extremely grateful for that!

Vibe: The Inn's lobby is utterly gorgeous, and even has an area where the corporation of old used to hold their meetings - complete with an ancient letter of recommendation for an employee and some photos of the staff! The Inn has a tower with lovely, etched glass doors and upholstered seating. We sat here and enjoyed our library books and hot tea while we snuggled and looked out over the cold Michigan morning. When we left, I honestly had to shake off the feeling that I was stuck in the 1920s!

Things to Keep in Mind: Marble is slippery under a layer of icy snow. From experience :) Also, this four story historical building has no elevator, so be prepared to walk up some stairs.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Clarksdale, Mississippi: Shack Up Inn
Nominated By: Dave Hoekstra from the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago, USA, September '11

Price Range: US$65-$275 (moon pie, Delta donuts, coffee included) # of Rooms: 25 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Shack Up Inn so Darn Good? You can find Mississippi's heart at the Shack Up Inn. I've slept in hotel lobbies in Havana, pontoons on the Mississippi River and a bordello in the Dominican Republic, but I've never stayed at a place as cool as the Shack Up Inn.

Location: About an hour south of Memphis, and home to the Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale is a good place to begin a slow drive along Highway 61, the legendary "Blues Highway". The Inn is surrounded by Mississippi bean fields, yet just a couple of miles from the center of town.

Rooms: While each of the Shack Up Inn's thirteen sharecropper shacks appears to have been restored just to its bare necessities, the owners (aka "shackmeisters") have clearly paid attention to every detail such as the rusty, brown refrigerator that looks like it was last used by Howlin' Wolf and the moon pie waiting for me on my pillow. With a Washburn piano from the 1800s, an antique Victrola, and a CD player-radio complete with CDs from regional artists like Son House, the Crossroads stays true to the area's musical roots. In addition to the shacks, the property includes the Cotton Gin Inn, a renovated barn with ten slightly more "plush" rooms, and Bill's House, a three bedroom converted tractor shed.

Food: Wake up to Delta donuts and coffee compliments of the Inn, or scramble up your own breakfast in your shack's kitchenette. When you don't feel like cooking, bring back some BBQ from town, or sit down to a meal at Madidi, co-owned by local Morgan Freeman. Afterwards, head over to Ground Zero or the Inn's own Juke Joint Chapel for some live blues.

Vibe: Grab a cold one from the lobby bar, sit back on your porch, and take in the Mississippi air.

Keep in Mind: During Clarksdale's three major Blues Festivals, the Shack Up Inn is nearly impossible to book so call way ahead to get the low-down.

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Editor-Picked from the Web: Where We Want to Go

Ennis (southwest MT): El Western Cabins and Lodges

Why so darn good? "Hand-peeled log cabins preserve Wild West heritage in Madison River Valley, an hour's drive from Old Faithful. Yippee-ai-ay decor: ranch oak furnishings, leather chairs, wagon-wheel lamps...." Read more at National Geographic Traveler.

- National Geographic Traveler Stay List 2009


andaluz hotel andaluz hotel andaluz hotel andaluz hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Albuquerque: Hotel Andaluz
Nominated By: Michael and Allison, Brooklyn, New York, USA, August '10

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Price Range: US$109-$285 (15% exclusive discount) # of Rooms: 107 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Hotel Andaluz so Darn Good? We knew from the second that we walked into the gorgeous lobby at the Andaluz that we were onto something good. Darn good. The huge two-tiered space was designed to resemble a Moorish palace, and we were seduced by the shimmering fountains, private casbahs, and striking artwork.

Location: The Andaluz is just off historic Route 66 in downtown Albuquerque, which is currently undergoing an impressive multimillion dollar revitalization. We enjoyed the location, as we had a choice of several restaurants and bars that were within easy walking distance. The hotel is a ten minute drive from historic Old Town and several renowned museums, including the fascinating Pueblo Cultural Center.

Rooms: The hotel was built in 1939 by famed hotelier Conrad Hilton in the Spanish Territorial style, and has since earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2009, a massive renovation was completed and the hotel was re-opened as the stunning and eco-friendly Andaluz. Our room, though less dramatic than the lobby, was no less impressive. Its contemporary touches such as the streamlined lime-green couch and wall-mounted flat screen tv perfectly complimented the vintage wooden furniture and Buddha statue blessing our bathroom.

Food: The hotel has a downstairs restaurant and bar, the Lucia, and a second floor tapas bar with rooftop terrace, the Ibiza. While both restaurants looked tempting, we opted for some of the more budget options in the neighborhood. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Gold Street Café one block from the hotel and dinner at the Standard Diner, a former Route 66 service station.

Vibe: The Anduluz is a stylish and inviting downtown boutique hotel. One of the many beautiful (and friendly) staff members even took a moment to hang out with our five year old boy as he checked out the fish swimming in the fountain.

Keep in Mind: To get the best price at the Andaluz, first search for special deals on the hotel website and our affiliate link. If no discount rates are available, then use the exclusive Darn Good Digs promo code of darn on the hotel website to get an automatic 15% off. For parking, we opted for a $10/day parking garage pass to self-park in the garage next door.

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Traveler Favorite

Albuquerque: Monterey Non-Smokers Motel
 Nominated By: Vera Marie Badertscher, Tucson, Arizona, USA, May '09

Price Range: US$38-$70 # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "The couple who owns the hotel does everything themselves, because they want it done right. The size of the rooms and the location near Old Town are the main things that attract me. It is a period motel with a B & B atmosphere, but without one of the B's." Read more.

Traveler Favorite

Cloudcroft (south-central NM): The Lodge Resort and Spa
 Nominated By: Amy Weber, Brooklyn, New York, USA, June '09

Price Range: US$99-$285 # of Rooms: 59 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "Beautiful hotel. Super-nice and friendly staff. Delicious restaurant. We didn't get to partake, but they offer lots of "theme" weekends (i.e., murder mystery, holidays, etc.)." Read more.

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Silver City (southwest NM): Bear Mountain Lodge
Nominated By: Amy Weber, Brooklyn, New York, June '09

The Bear Mountain Lodge that was operated by the Nature Conservancy closed on October 6, 2009. However, new owners reopened the property and we have heard only wonderful reviews.

Price Range: US$140-$170 # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Bear Mountain Lodge so Darn Good? The beautiful Bear Mountain Lodge is owned and operated by the Nature Conservacy, and offers free guided hikes around the hotel's amazing grounds and nearby nature preserves. The lodge is comfortable and quiet, the staff is friendly and accommodating, and breakfast is delicious.

Location: Bear Mountain Lodge sits on 178 acres of mixed desert grassland and pinon-juniper woodland, and is just ten minutes from Silver City, a neat little historic mining town in southwestern New Mexico. Silver City is the home of two museums that showcase the area's rich history and include world-class collections of Mimbres pottery. Other popular excursions from the Lodge include a hike along the Catwalk trail over Whitewater Canyon and a trek to the fascinating Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Rooms: The main lodge dates back to 1928 when it was opened as the Rocky Mountain Ranch School for Boys. The Nature Conservancy inherited the property in 1999 and completely renovated the lodge with the goal of maintaining its historic character. Highlights include hand-hewn beams, stone fireplaces, and bathrooms with 1920's-style block tile and fixtures. Bear Mountain's eleven rooms are located in three separate buildings, the main Lodge, Myra's Retreat, and the Wren's Nest, which has its own kitchen. We stayed downstairs in the main lodge in a large, comfortable room with a great patio.

Food: Breakfast includes a hot entrée, home-made baked goods, cereal, and fresh fruit. Guests can also help themselves to oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, orange-cranberry biscotti, avocados, and other tasty snacks all day long. For a nominal fee, the lodge will pack you a filling lunch for your day's outing.

Vibe: Bear Mountain Lodge is laid-back and very comfortable.

Things to Keep in Mind: The Lodge has no televisions or radios and has quiet time between 10 pm and 7 am so birders can wake up early. In addition, alcohol is not allowed in any of the Lodge's public spaces.

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la dona luz la dona luz la dona luz la dona luz

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Taos: La Dona Luz
Nominated By: Lynda, San Francisco, California, USA, August '08

Price Range: US$69-$229 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 15 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes La Dona Luz so Darn Good? With its great atmosphere, very comfortable rooms, and nice people, La Dona Luz is authentic Taos at the right price.

Location: La Dona Luz is located in the heart of Taos, 70 miles north of Santa Fe. The town is a great base for skiers and outdoor enthusiasts due to its proximity to the towering Sangre de Cristo mountains and the spectacular Rio Grande Gorge. Taos itself is known for its vibrant artist community and its multitude of top-notch art galleries, museums, and restaurants. Just a few miles away are the multi-storied adobe dwellings of Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark.

Rooms: La Dona Luz has 15 richly decorated theme rooms. Every wall, bedspread, and fireplace of this 200 year old adobe home is covered with the artwork of both contemporary Taos artists and those of yesteryear. Our favorite room, Sonrisa, has a tile mural of the "Garden of Eden" wrapped around the Jacuzzi bathtub, which is big enough for two! We also enjoyed the small, fun, and inexpensive La Luz room on the top floor.

Food: A basic, continental breakfast is served either on the patio or in the dining room where in the winter, guests can warm their bones by the home's original adobe fireplace. The coffee is decent and it will certainly get you going for the day.

Vibe: La Dona Luz is VERY Taos, funky, and relaxed.

Things to Keep in Mind: The steps are narrow and steep, so if you have a lot of luggage, you might want to ask for a room on the ground floor. Also, La Dona Luz is pet-friendly.

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Traveler Favorite

Brooklyn, New York City: 3B
Nominated By: Adam Robinson at Publishing Genius, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, November '11

Price Range: US$45-$160 # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: Yes

What makes 3B so Darn Good? Run by a small cooperative of creative Brooklynites (dare we say hipsters), 3B is cool. The design is thoughtful, the all-vegetarian breakfasts are inspired, and the location is near hip Brooklyn neighborhoods as well as that little island across the river called Manhattan. Read more.

Traveler Favorite

High Falls (Hudson Valley region): Captain Schoonmaker's Bed and Breakfast
Nominated By: Jenny, Kearny, New Jersey, October '11

Price Range: US$140-$195 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Captain Schoonmaker's so Darn Good? "We had a wonderfully romantic time and we highly recommend this B&B for the location, house, and hosts, Judy and Bill. For us, the place and hosts went beyond our expectations." Read more.

the roxbury motel the roxbury motel the roxbury motel the roxbury motel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Roxbury (Catskills Region): The Roxbury Motel
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, New York, USA, April '09

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Price Range: US$90-$335 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 18 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes The Roxbury Motel so Darn Good? Every room at the Roxbury is divine and an experience unto itself! From the Shagadelic Suite to the Mod Pod, the Roxbury's rooms shine with whimsical decor, bold colors, and modern style and luxury. Joe and Greg, the innkeepers, are nothing short of genius, and their relentless attention to detail is evident in everything from the fluffy green trim topping our kitchenette cabinets to the Godiva chocolates beside our bed. The entire staff was incredibly welcoming and helpful throughout our stay.

Location: The motel is located in the village of Roxbury, three hours north of New York City in the Catskill Mountains. Surrounded by rolling green hills dotted with red barns reminiscent of days gone by, the village has an unspoiled setting and a bevy of 19th century architecture that have earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The family-friendly Plattekill Ski Mountain is just fifteen minutes away, and the entire region offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and antiquing.

Rooms: The Roxbury has eighteen gloriously funky rooms, including studios, theme studios, kitchenettes, and suites. We stayed in Kitchenette 4, AKA the Psychedelic Swirl. We dug the lime green and orange wall murals and matching décor, not to mention the comfy king size bed and huge flat screen tv. Greg and Joe take it to the next level with their theme rooms. Faux rock walls line Fred's Lair and a mesmerizing cloudscape envelops you in Samantha's Cloud.

Food: The Roxbury serves a filling and downright tasty continental breakfast of cinnamon rolls, scones, croissants, and a wide selection of delicious toppings like creamy maple spread and mimosa jam. Add into the mix fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, fair trade coffee, and an assortment of fancy hot chocolates and teas, and even our three year old couldn't wait for breakfast each morning. The village of Roxbury has a few restaurants serving lunch and dinner, and rooms include a complete list of eateries in the area.

Vibe: The Roxbury is friendly, fun, and out in the country. Besides admiring our room, we enjoyed hanging out in the big grassy yard, warming our bodies by the outdoor fire-pit, and watching movies borrowed from the motel's 400+ DVD library.

Things to Keep in Mind: For US$20, guests get full access to the Shimmer Spa. Hot tub, sauna, super-soft robes, a disco ball, what's not to like?

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Windham (Catskills Region): Albergo Allegria
Nominated By: Logistics, Denville, New Jersey, February '12

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Price Range: US$93-$249 # of Rooms: 21 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Albergo Allegria so Darn Good? "The breakfasts at Albergo Allegria are on this side of gourmet and the rooms are kept spotless by an efficient staff. If you have any questions about activities in the area, such as hiking, skiing, or snow shoeing, the staff will not steer you wrong. Just minutes from Windham Mountain and a little longer from Hunter, the Albergo Allegria is an oasis in the Catskills."

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the carlton inn the carlton inn the carlton inn the carlton inn

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Carlton (Willamette Valley): The Carlton Inn
Nominated By: Sonia Zamborsky , Falls Church, Virginia, USA, May '09

Price Range: US$125-$190 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: on a case by case basis

What makes the Carlton Inn so Darn Good? Innkeepers, Edward and Heidi, have the perfect set of skills and experience to run a fabulous bed and breakfast in Oregon's wine country. Edward is a stellar chef and his breakfasts, made from locally-sourced and organic ingredients, are to die for. Heidi has worked in the wine industry for years, and can point you in the right direction to visit any of a myriad of wineries in the area, some of which are virtually in the Inn's backyard.

Location: The Inn is located in the Willamette Valley, smack in the middle of Oregon's wine trail. An hour southwest of Portland, the small town of Carlton is home to a dozen wineries, a handful of which are within walking distance of the Inn - not an insignificant detail for those who'd like to partake in some worry-free wine tasting. This is Pinot Noir central, after all!

Rooms: This 1915 home retains many original features, such as its crown moldings and fir floors, and Edward and Heidi have added to the charm by adorning the Inn with carefully chosen antiques and family heirlooms. The Inn's four guestrooms are spacious and bright, and all have queen beds and private baths. Common areas include the downstairs living room, adjoining sitting area, and sunny back porch.

Food: Breakfast is crafted from scratch with great care and great flair. Start your meal off with a hot cup of direct-trade coffee, fresh-baked goods such as date and pecan scones, and a plate of seasonal fruit with home-made yogurt and granola. Save room for a gourmet hot entrée, such as wild chanterelle and roasted red pepper frittata or an omelet with fresh salmon and Danish blue cheese.

Vibe: The Carlton is mellow and casual, with a small-town, relaxing kind of vibe.

Things to Keep in Mind: Ask Edward and Heidi for recommendations on local wineries. They have great connections and are very knowledgeable about all things wine. Also, Edward is happy to accommodate special dietary needs.

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hotel deluxe hotel deluxe hotel deluxe hotel deluxe

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Portland: Hotel deLuxe
Nominated By: Shelley Seale, Austin, Texas, November '09

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Price Range: US$125-$309 # of Rooms: 130 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Hotel deLuxe so Darn Good? I felt as if I'd just stepped into a David O. Selznick set when I entered the doors of the Hotel deLuxe in Portland, Oregon. I have stayed in many boutique or theme hotels, and many luxurious hotels, and while the Hotel deLuxe is certainly all of these things, it exudes a certain joie d vivre all its own, and is sure to whisk any guest back in time to the glam of mid-century movie royalty.

Location: The location is just blocks from the Pearl District, trolley and light-rail stations, and within easy walking distance to numerous Portland attractions, shops, and restaurants.

Rooms: Although the era lends a certain old-fashioned glitz to the vibe of the hotel, it is anything but stuffy, and rooms have clean contemporary lines and the latest in amenities. With buttery yellow walls, high ceilings, and an abundance of windows, the rooms are modern and airy. Choose from king or queen deLuxe rooms, premier suites, or go all out for the Marlene Dietrich Suite, with the only circular bed in Portland, spanning eight feet across. The attentive but unobtrusive guest services include a "Make It So" button on the phone, from which guests can request anything from their choice of a dozen styles of pillows to their religious book of preference.

Food: Facilities at the deLuxe are no less stunning than the rest of the hotel. In the swanky Driftwood Room bar, it seems entirely plausible that Frank Sinatra or Marilyn Monroe might saunter in while you sip your classic cocktail. I had the "Elizabeth Taylor", the hotel's signature drink of champagne and crème de violette. The place is almost unbearably hip, and popular among Portland locals. Gracie's Restaurant serves stylishly presented comfort food in a chic setting of white and gold walls, black upholstered seating, and crystal chandeliers.

Vibe: Hotel deLuxe is a contemporary tribute to Old Hollywood that tastefully balances art deco and art moderne styles, for a mix of timeless sophistication and serene comfort. The lobby is understated and elegant, with 1930's modern décor, original gilt moldings, and crystal chandeliers. The focal point of the room is a large projected vintage film still that changes daily. All the design and detailing is based on the architectural and decorative arts of the 1920's through the 1940's. The hotel also gives a respectful nod to the filmmakers of the day and a historic stroll for guests: along the corridors of each of the eight floors are about 350 black-and-white photos of film stars, grouped by their legendary directors such as William Wyler, Ingmar Bergman, and Frank Capra.

Keep in Mind: While the hotel is only a six minute walk from downtown, it is on the other side of the submerged highway and not right in the heart of the city.

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hotel lucia hotel lucia hotel lucia hotel lucia

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Portland: Hotel Lucia
Nominated By: Shelley Seale, Austin, Texas, November '09

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Price Range: US$118-$299 # of Rooms: 127 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Hotel Lucia so Darn Good? Hotel Lucia is a thoroughly comfortable, striking hotel that gets just about everything right. The minimalist black-and-white decor is warm and inviting, as are all the staff members from the doormen to those behind the front desk. The lobby welcomes you not only with its cozy seating areas grouped around fireplaces, but also with a stunning array of museum-quality art that may make you think you have wandered into a gallery. The eclectic collection is largely that of Pulitzer-winning photographer, and Portland native, David Hume Kennerly. His exquisite black and white photographs of celebrities and political elite line the walls of the lobby, the hallways of each floor, guest rooms, and even the elevators.

Location: The downtown location is excellent, steps from the free downtown trolley and light-rail and only blocks from the Pearl District. Venture outside and be at the epicenter of all Portland has to offer, including attractions, restaurants, shopping, art galleries, and theater.

Rooms: The guest rooms are small but stylish, with custom leather headboards and thick duvets. The "Make It So" button on the phone can summon anything from your choice of a dozen styles of pillow to your religious book of preference.

Food: Hotel Lucia is home to the award-winning Typhoon! Restaurant featuring innovative Thai cuisine. Lauded by Bon Appetit as one of "the hottest chefs in America," Chef Bo Kline's culinary signatures are crunchy crisp freshness and distinct, bursting flavors. You can also try their fusion Restobar for casual eats and fun cocktails.

Vibe: The Lucia is artistic, stylish, and very friendly.

Keep in Mind: The entire 4th floor is designated as "pet friendly!"

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kennedy school kennedy school kennedy school kennedy school

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Portland: Kennedy School
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, New York, USA, August '08

Price Range: US$115-$145 # of Rooms: 57 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Kennedy School so Darn Good? McMenamins Kennedy School is housed in a nearly 100 year old elementary school, and the classrooms have been converted into guestrooms, complete with chalkboards, large schoolhouse windows, and cloakrooms. Fascinating artwork, a lovely Turkish soaking pool, a movie theater, and an in-house brewery make this school house rock! Along with restoring the Kennedy School, the McMenamin brothers have given new life to several other historic properties in the Pacific Northwest, including a poor farm and a brothel.

Location: Less than a mile from the Alberta Arts District, a funky and diverse neighborhood in northeast Portland, the Kennedy School is within walking distance to block after block of hip, locally owned shops and restaurants. The hotel is fifteen minutes from downtown, and the bus stops nearby if you don't have a car.

Rooms: We stayed in the Blues Room with Langston Hughes poetry stenciled on the blue-trimmed walls. Our son loved the entryway lined with chalkboards, and we dug the comfortable bed and huge windows.

Food: The Kennedy School is way more than just a hotel. The school cafeteria is now home to the Courtyard Restaurant, which serves up good comfort food and a wide selection of home-brewed beers. If you are still thirsty after dinner, you can head to one of the five other bars on site, such as the detention bar or the honors bar.

Vibe: The Kennedy School excels at being both cool and family-friendly. All three of us had an excellent time at the free, all ages, Freak Mountain Ramblers show in the old gym. Throughout or stay, we found the front desk staff to be both friendly and helpful.

Things to Keep in Mind: The hallways are dimly lit, and you might run into a few bar-hoppers late at night.

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pennsview hotel pennsview hotel pennsview hotel pennsview hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Philadelphia: Penn's View Hotel
Nominated By: Shelley Seale, Austin, Texas, USA, June '10

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Price Range: US$119-$254 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 51 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Penn's View Hotel so Darn Good? You arrive at a charming block of buildings, facing cobblestoned Front Street and the Delaware River, overlooking Penn's Landing. The 1828 building that houses Penn's View Hotel was originally built as a shipping warehouse for the port; it later served as a hardware store and coffee house. After the 1950s the building sat vacant for many years, until the Sena family bought and renovated it, and Penn's View Hotel opened in 1990.

Location: One of the big drawing points of the Penn's View Hotel is its incredible, unmatched location only steps away from historic Philadelphia's most interesting spots, including Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin's gravesite, and the Betsy Ross house. Located just off Front and Market Streets, and a block from the SEPTA train, there is no better spot for a visit to the birthplace of the nation.

Rooms: Each of the 51 guest rooms are finely appointed, with queen or king beds. Some include working fireplaces or terrace balconies with views of the river and Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and premium rooms have Jacuzzi bathtubs. Other on-site facilities and features include wireless internet throughout the hotel and guest rooms (no additional charge), and guest access to the fitness room. Complimentary, European-style continental breakfast and the morning newspaper are included with each stay. Several function rooms are available for meetings and private parties.

Food: The hotel's Ristorante Panorama is an award-winning Italian Restaurant and wine bar, and holds the distinction of having the world's largest wine preservation system. Serving more than 120 wines by the glass, the Il Bar offers wine flights and special tasting nights and has won acclaim from Wine Spectator and Food & Wine. The New York Times called it "the mother of all wine bars."

Vibe: Penn's View Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Sena family's loving restoration resulted in an architectural award in 1995 from the city of Philadelphia. Owner and family patriarch Luca Sena is a native of Napoli, Italy, arriving in the U.S. in 1967 with his father Carlo, a Master Chef. Luca's son, Carlo A. Sena, manages the hotel and continues his family's tradition of hospitality.

Keep in Mind: One side of the hotel faces the highway, so if you are sensitive to background noise, you might want to request a room on a different side.

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Traveler Favorite

Austin: Hotel San Jose
 Nominated By: Amy, Brooklyn, New York, USA, June '09

Price Range: US$95-$400 # of Rooms: 40 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "Hotel San Jose has an awesome wine bar and patio with some great appetizers and a beautiful pool. Lots of local Austinites come to hang out on warm evenings. The rooms are eclectic and chic, with ipod docks and good bath products, and there are three cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms if you're on a budget." Read more.

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

San Antonio: O'Casey's Bed and Breakfast
Nominated By: Dennis, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May '10

New owners took over O'Casey's Bed and Breakfast in 2011. We have only heard rave reviews since.

Price Range: US$89-$110 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes O'Casey's Bed and Breakfast so Darn Good? O'Casey's Bed and Breakfast occupies a lovely century-old home in a quiet, residential neighborhood close to downtown San Antonio. The hosts are warm and knowledgeable and the bed and breakfast sports a cheerful Irish theme.

Location: O'Casey's is located in the Monte Vista Historic District two miles north of downtown San Antonio. For fun, stroll along the city's popular River Walk with its art galleries, shops, and restaurants, or explore a little Texas history at San Antonio Missions National Historic Park and the Alamo.

Rooms: O'Casey's has five spacious and well-maintained rooms and suites in the main house, and two studio apartments with kitchenettes in the carriage house. The main house has dual wrap-around porches perfect for reading and relaxing. Inside, hardwood floors, antique furniture, and claw-foot bathtubs complement the Irish theme to give the bed and breakfast the feel of another place and era.

Food: Breakfast, served at a large communal table in the dining room, was among the best I have ever had. A hot entrée, such as Eggs Benedict with home fried potatoes or French Toast with apples and cinnamon, is accompanied by fruit salad, toast and jam, and a savory breakfast meat.

Vibe: The bed and breakfast is family-friendly and the price is very reasonable.

Keep in Mind: The two carriage house apartments are pet-friendly. Also, the steps to the second floor are somewhat steep, so be sure to ask for a ground floor room if necessary.

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the view hotel the view hotel the view hotel the view hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Monument Valley, Utah: The View Hotel
Nominated By: Allison and Michael at Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, July '10

check availability, get rates, and reserve online

Price Range: # of Rooms: 96 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the The View Hotel so Darn Good? THE VIEW! Unbelievable.

Location: The View Hotel stands at the gateway to Monument Valley, famous for its jaw-dropping, iconic red-rock formations that have come to symbolize the American West. The location couldn’t be more ideal – not only are you literally at the edge of the valley, but the seventeen mile loop road that winds its way through the red rocks begins right at the hotel. Monument Valley, a Navajo Nation Tribal Park, straddles the border of Arizona and Utah.

Rooms: The hotel has an attractive low-rise adobe-like façade on the outside and some authentic Navajo touches on the inside, but what really makes this hotel so darn good is its unsurpassed view. While we splurged for a room with a balcony facing the Valley, guests opting for the more economical rooms opposite the parking lot can still enjoy the million-dollar view from the hotel lobby, restaurant, and terrace.

Food: The hotel restaurant offers typical American fare as well as some Navajo-inspired dishes. We partook in the breakfast buffet which did the trick to get us started on our day.

Vibe: The hotel is owned and operated by the Navajo Nation, employs an almost entirely Navajo staff, and has a well-stocked trading post selling Native American artwork, crafts, and jewelry.

Keep in Mind: Rooms in the high season book fast, so either book early or keep calling every day in hopes for a cancellation, like we did. We wanted a room with a view and managed to save US$20 by asking for a better deal over the phone. We arranged separately for a Navajo guide to take us on a tour through the back roads of Monument Valley, but the hotel can also make arrangements.

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Traveler Favorite

Fairlee (East Central VT): Fairlee Motel and Drive-in Theater
 Nominated By: Steve Dancha, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, November '09

Price Range: US$70 # of Rooms: 20 Kid-Friendly: yes

Why so darn good? "The Fairlee Motel and Drive-in Theater is one of the most interesting places that I have spent the night. Your room will have a large window on the back wall and a drive in speaker system mounted on the wall as well. From the comfort of bed you can watch the feature movie at the drive-in theater that operates behind the motel. Classic Americana experience." Read more.


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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington: Juniper Lane Guest House
Nominated By: Natalie Pelc, Vienna, Austria, October '11

Price Range: US$60-$199 # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Juniper Lane Guest House so Darn Good? San Juan Island's Juniper Lane Guest House boasts beautiful rooms, a perfect location, and a cool vibe.

Location: Situated just outside Friday Harbor, the island's main town, Juniper Lane is surrounded by natural beauty yet within strolling distance to the town's many shops and restaurants. San Juan is the largest island of the chain, accessible by ferry from Washington and British Columbia, as well as by regional plane.

Rooms: With an abundance of love and imagination, Juniper and her team of talented craftspeople have transformed a dilapidated building into the absolutely gorgous guesthouse that it is today. The colorful rooms are whimsical, yet elegant and the woodwork and decorative finishes are of top-notch quality. Along with five guest rooms in the main house, two with shared bath, and a small cabin, Juniper Lane has a comfy living area and an outdoor patio/garden with incredible views of the idyllic Beaverton Valley.

Food: Although Juniper Lane does not serve meals, the guesthouse does have a spacious and fully equipped eat-in kitchen for guests who wish to dine in.

Vibe: Relaxing and inviting.

Keep in Mind: Juniper Lane is on the main road just outside town.

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inn at lucky mud inn at lucky mud inn at lucky mud inn at lucky mud

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Skamokawa (Southwest WA): Inn at Lucky Mud
Nominated By: A traveler, Olympia, Washington, USA, March '09

Price Range: US$110-$120 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Inn at Lucky Mud so Darn Good? The owners! Jessica and Sunrise are both professional musicians with a wealth of knowledge and stories to share, and from the moment they greeted us we knew we were some place magical. They have lovingly designed Lucky Mud to showcase the local environment - the pond is visible from every room, blacktail deer graze mere feet from your window, and bald eagles soar overhead. Even the local elk herd has been known to show up!

Location: Lucky Mud is in 'the outback of bohemia'* and we love it! Complete with hiking trails and an 18-hole championship disc golf course, the inn sits on forty acres of gorgeous Pacific Northwest forest in the Willapa Hills of southwest Washington. Wildlife wanders the property and so will you.
*song by Steve & Kristi Nebel

Rooms: Lucky Mud has four inviting and aptly-named rooms, Fern, Cedar, Pond, and Audubon, each with a queen size bed and private bath. All rooms have porches overlooking the grounds and pond, so you can enjoy your morning coffee while watching the deer browse.

Food: Fresh, well prepared local food abounds with homemade breads and jams, vegetables from the organic garden, eggs from neighbors' chickens, and meat from local farms. Breakfast includes a lovely serenade from Sunrise and Jessica, and dinners are available on request. In addition, a small kitchen is located in the downstairs common area.

Vibe: Relaxed, relaxed, relaxed. Kick off your shoes at the door, gaze at the pond outside your room, and enjoy being in the middle of nowhere.

Things to Keep in Mind: Remember to bring good, comfortable shoes for hiking and disc golf.

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