Palm Springs, California
Formerly a 1965 Howard Johnson, the Ace (from $109; acehotel.com) is now Palm Springs’ coolest crash pad. Rooms, decked out in Americana and thrift-store furnishings, are on the small side, but you’ll likely spend most of your time by the pool, enjoying the booze-spiked snow cones. The diner-style King’s Highway serves haute pub fare, like white-bean-and-sirloin chili. If you must venture off property, taxi to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and ride to the top of Mt. San Jacinto for its stunning views, or rummage through Estate Sale Co.’s incredibly well-priced midcentury-modern furniture—like McGuire chairs for $100 each.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Restaurateur Steve Hanson has transformed a former Travelodge on the Gulf Coast into the Postcard Inn (from $99; (postcardinn.com), a 196-room retro ode to beach culture—there are surfboards in the rooms, a photo booth in the lobby, and a tin-roof beach bar that’s been around since the seventies. There’ve been much-needed physical improvements (new galvanized-steel floors, ecofriendly roofing, ceiling fans) and an updated beverage list (order the Cold Ass beer). Next door is the southern outpost of Wildwood Barbecue, presided over by pitmaster “Big Lou” Elrose, who rode the 1,200 miles from Manhattan on his motorcycle to open the restaurant.
The Curtis (from $259; thecurtis.com) is as quirky as it gets here—its floors have themes ranging from Chick Flick (11) and Big Hair (9) to Dun, Dun, Dunnn!, which is, of course, the thirteenth floor and inspired by horror films. It’s campy but winning, and the hotel’s casual restaurant, the Corner Office, is a local hangout prized for its strong martinis and cheap comfort food (try the lobster mac and cheese, $15). The Curtis puts you within a few blocks of the neighborhood known as LoDo (Lower Downtown), with its microbreweries, the Denver Museum of Art, and the REI flagship store, with its 45-foot climbing wall.
The Jupiter (from $99; jupiterhotel.com) is only five years old, but it’s already given itself an overhaul, with new linens, fresh paint, and locally made furniture. Hang out at the Doug Fir Lounge, where Pacific Northwest bands like Great Lake Swimmers and Blitzen Trapper perform, and enjoy a Burnside Boilermaker (a shot of whiskey and a bottle of PBR, $6). The neighborhood is full of independent shops and eateries and the historic Laurelhurst Theater, where you can see old and first-run films for $3 while downing a Widmer Hefeweizen and some thin-crust pizza from neighboring Pizzicato, a short walk away. For lunch, go (early) to Bunk Sandwiches and have the sublime pork-belly-and-green-tomato-pickle number.
Originally built in 1946, the Belmont Hotel’s (from $109; belmontdallas.com) most recent transformation is being overseen by Bunkhouse Management (the same design team that did Austin’s hip Hotel San José and Hotel Saint Cecilia). In addition to sleek midcentury-inspired interiors, there’s a new smokehouse—called Smoke—with a patio hosting live music and featuring views of downtown Dallas. Located on the edge of the indie Bishop Arts District, the hotel is within walking distance of shops like Oak Cliff Mercantile, which sells salvaged home goods, and Indigo 1745 for cowboy-cool threads like soft, washed T-shirts and chunky studded belts.