From New York
Splurge stay: Want to live like royalty? Book a weekend at the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown, built in 1910 in the style of a Norman castle in medieval Europe. Though just 30 minutes from Manhattan, the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley will have you feeling like you’re deep in the countryside. The spa features couples’ treatments and Thai massages, and the Equus Restaurant serves dishes that rely on the bounty of the surrounding farmland.
Value option: The Storm King Art Center is one of the hidden gems of the Hudson Valley – a world-class sculpture park full of works by Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero and Andy Goldsworthy – and the Cromwell Manor Historic Inn is just a few minutes down the road in Cornwall. Groups can rent out the four guest rooms in the 1764 House (named for the year in which it was constructed); there are an additional nine rooms in the Manor House, a brick mansion that dates back to 1820. Gourmet breakfasts are included in the rates; stroll next door to Grandma Phoebe’s Kitchen at Jones Farm for a delicious sandwich or salad at lunchtime.
Splurge stay: Spain’s prestigious Ribera del Duero wine region is just a few hours from the country’s capital. For a romantic weekend getaway (particularly if you have something to celebrate), try the Hotel Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine. This 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice property is the result of a careful restoration of a Romanesque abbey that dates to 1146 – so peace and tranquility are a given. The 27 rooms and three suites (each of which comes with butler service) look out onto vineyards, and the spa offers a grape seed body polish. The food at Refectorio Restaurant is good enough to earn a Michelin star; make sure to pair it with award-winning wines from the same estate (which you can tour during your stay).
Value option: Wine is the predominant theme at the Hotel El Lagar de Isilla, run by a winemaking family and quirkily decorated throughout with bottles, barrels and other winemaking paraphernalia. And you won’t walk away with an empty wallet: Says TripAdvisor traveler rmarshp, “The hotel has a restaurant and a café/bar. Both serve superb food at reasonable prices and the excellent wine, made on the premises, is equally reasonably priced.”
From San Francisco
Splurge stay: If city life has you wound too tight, Carmel Valley Ranch is the ideal antidote: Five hundred acres on the Monterey Peninsula set aside as a playground for every age. There’s an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, three pools, numerous trails to traverse by foot or horseback, an apiary where you can learn about beekeeping, an Adventure Kitchen that hosts garden-to-table cooking demos and a 10,500-square-foot spa. It’s a great place to bring the whole family – and to enjoy some adult time, thanks to the Ranch Hands Kids Camp. Accommodations range from studios to four-bedroom suites, all with private decks and fireplaces.
Value option: When it’s hoodie-and-sweatpants weather on San Francisco’s beaches, pack your bikini and drive south to Santa Cruz’s Dream Inn, a 1960’s-era hotel that has recently been remodeled with all the modern amenities while keeping the retro surfer vibe. The cheerfully decorated rooms all look out to the beach from floor-to-ceiling windows, and there’s a brand-new pool and an oversized hot tub. Not only is the inn’s beach access the best you’ll find in town, but you’re also a short walk from the Beach Boardwalk (famous for its Coney Island-style amusement park) and you can borrow a cruiser bike to pedal along the gorgeous coastline.
Splurge stay: The Blue Mountains are a favorite getaway for Sydneysiders wanting a dose of nature. If luxury is what you have in mind, look no further than the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, a five-star resort set amidst a 7,000-acre wildlife reserve and a TripAdvisor 2017 Travelers’ Choice property. If you can manage to tear yourself away from your villa’s private pool, there are guided nature walks, historical tours, stargazing activities and plenty more to keep you busy. The all-inclusive rates, while on the steep side, include all meals, soft drinks, house wines and beers with meals and two daily on-site nature activities per person.
Value option: If you want to explore the Blue Mountains on a budget, consider the Black Gold Motel, which earns praise from TripAdvisor travelers for its warm staff and well-appointed standard rooms and three- and four-bedroom cabins. From the motel’s location in Wallerawang – a charming town that feels of another era – it’s a short drive to three national parks: Marrangaroo, Blue Mountains and Wollemi. Hearty meals are served in the Crib Room Restaurant.
Splurge stay: Normandy has much to lure weekend visitors from the city: Charming villages, picturesque cliffs along the coast, the famous landmark of Mont-St-Michel, and history that spans from ancient times to the 20th century – all just a few hours’ drive from Paris. The décor at Chateau d’Audrieu is just what you’d expect from a countryside chateau – lots of gold filigree, elaborately designed wallpapers and armchairs covered in shiny fabrics. What you might not expect to find is a tree house, the most unusual of the accommodations, which looks out onto the English gardens.
Value option: Chateaux aren’t just for those with deep pockets, though: At the four-star Hotel Chateau de Bellefontaine, you can sometimes snag a room in this 18th-century mansion for under $100 a night. A 15-minute walk from the charming medieval town of Bayeux (home of the Bayeux Tapestry, one of the most impressive works of art that we have left from the 11th century), the estate’s grounds feature a moat, a pond with a rowboat and swans, tennis courts and spacious lawns for relaxing.
Splurge stay: An hour-long train ride from Rome brings you to Bracciano, on the shores of the same-named lake. The most luxurious place to stay nearby is the Hotel Villa Clementina, which one traveler called “an oasis of tranquility” and an ideal escape from the city. Beautiful frescoes – done by the owner – adorn the seven rooms, and the spa (equipped with a Jacuzzi, Turkish bath, and Finnish sauna) is designed to be reserved for private use. Spend your days on one of the lake’s small beaches (no motorized boats are allowed, so it’s a peaceful place), or explore Bracciano’s winding streets and medieval castle.
Value option: If you need a weekend getaway that your bank account will barely notice, check in at the Hotel Massimino in Anguillara Sabazia, also on Lake Bracciano. This three-star property earns praise for its clean rooms and friendly staff; it’s very close to the train station, but a drive from the town center and the lake (a scheduled shuttle can take you there). In addition to standard rooms and suites, the hotel has several apartments equipped with kitchens – though you’ll see many locals dining at the onsite Restaurant Massimino.