One amazing way to soften the blow of restricted travel in the COVID-19 era is to stay in unique hotels. From boutique properties in US cities to convenient lodges right in the middle of American national parks, where you sleep can be as integral to your next trip as the destination you choose.
These hotels have been chosen because they offer something different than your average hotel. They also all offer free cancellation, which is a huge plus during this uncertain time. For peace of mind, Skyscanner also shows the cleanliness score so that travelers can make informed decisions about their hotel accommodation.
Continue reading for incredible American hotel inspiration, no matter where in the country you live and how far you feel comfortable traveling. Those who want to keep more distance (as in, miles of it) might enjoy unique hotels in national parks or along popular road trip routes, while urban boutique hotels and hotels near nightlife spots are great for you if you don’t mind adhering to the “new” normal. Finally, who doesn’t love a good beach hotel, COVID or not?
Pandemics require all of us to be mindful, but that doesn’t mean we can’t explore (in a responsible fashion). No matter which of these hotels you plan to visit, please make sure and verify travel restrictions and regulations with local officials. When in doubt, wear a mask and keep your distance—and if you’ve got any potential symptoms, stay inside, which will be downright tempting in these awesome rooms!
Boutique Hotels for Urban Adventures
1. The Godfrey Hotel, Boston
What makes Boston’s The Godfrey Hotel one of the most unique hotels in the USA? Well, in addition to being just steps from Boston Common and the Massachusetts State House, this small and stylish property will make you feel at home in the heart of the city. Moreover, if you don’t want to have lunch or dinner at any of the award-winning restaurants nearby, the excellent room service is a delicious and socially-distant substitute.
2. Pendry, San Diego
As is the case with many other properties on this list, one thing that qualifies Pendry San Diego as being among the unique hotels in the US is its incredible location. You’re right in the heart of the city’s famous Gaslamp District, which makes twilit strolls amid its namesake lights convenient enough to do on a whim. Beyond this, you’ll enjoy a modern bathroom with a standalone tub, views of San Diego‘s glittering skyline from your room, and a rooftop pool to get a base tan before heading to the Pacific at La Jolla Cove.
3. Inn at the Market, Seattle
As its name suggests, Inn at the Market is literally in Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market, which means you can get that priceless Instagram shot, day or night, and in just a few seconds. Of course, it’s not just proximity to the market that makes this hotel such a must-stay. It’s the Puget Sound views from inside your stylish guest room, and from the outdoor panoramic deck, which is the perfect spot to enjoy a COVID-safe glass of wine. Or any of the goodies you buy downstairs at the market since that’s something you can do on a whim when you stay here!
Hotels to Enjoy Nightlife’s New Normal
1. Delano South Beach, Miami
Just steps from the bars and clubs of South Beach, Delano South Beach is absolutely iconic. From its classic Art Deco design accents to a location right on trendy Collins Avenue, this boutique hotel just screams “Miami.” Prepare for your COVID-safe night on the town with a day on the iconic sands of nearby Miami Beach. Consider beach camping in Florida, or at least strolling as far down the beach (and as far away from others) as possible, so you can take your mask off and avoid a nasty tan line! On the other hand, when you’re having outdoor cocktails in the evening, keep that mask on when you can’t social distance.
2. French Quarter Mansion, New Orleans
Don’t be fooled by the name of the French Quarter Mansion. Although it accurately describes the location of the property—in the heart of New Orleans’ famous French Quarter and not far from Bourbon Street—staying here doesn’t necessitate drinking in crowded bars and breaking COVID-19 protocol. Rather, you can have a cocktail in the comfort of your own room after a day of safe sightseeing, be it at one of New Orleans’ famous cemeteries (you’re definitely not going to get the virus from a bunch of ghosts!) or with selfies in front of picturesque St. Louis Cathedral.
Unique Hotels in US National Parks
1. Red Feather Lodge, Grand Canyon
As one of the most beautiful and iconic places in America, Arizona’s Grand Canyon is hard to upstage. With this being said, Red Feather Lodge definitely manages to hold its own. With a location just a few minutes’ drive from the South Rim, to a rustic design scheme that incorporates Native American accents, this hotel is like a precious desert ruby. It’s a little slice of home in this national park, and it’ll give you wings as you set off to explore.
2. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone
You say you haven’t been impressed by any of the unique American hotels we’ve mentioned yet? The Old Faithful Inn might just change this. While it isn’t literally on top of the most famous geyser in the country (we hope you can see why this would be problematic), it is only a short distance from there, as well as from other iconic Yellowstone National Park attractions like the Grand Prismatic Spring. Beyond this, the log cabin design of this old hotel might just make you feel like you’re an intrepid explorer from decades ago, back in the days before the West was truly won.
3. Port of the Islands, Everglades
With so many other amazing destinations in Florida, it’s easy to forget Everglades National Park. However, in addition to serving as home to literally thousands of birds and other marine animal species, this huge wetland is home to some truly special hotels. Take Everglades Adventure Resort, which sits right in the heart of the park. In addition to its stately grand design, it’s perfectly situated for boat trips into the swamps, which you can arrange at the hotel’s very own tour desk.
Hotels to Visit On Your Quarantine Road Trip
1. K Bar S Lodge, South Dakota
If you’ve never been to Mt. Rushmore, you might not have a grasp of the size of the mountainside. The homey K Bar S Lodge hammers this point home, affording you a cocoon of comfort to rest in before you emerge to discover timeless landscapes during your South Dakota road trip, such as Black Hills National Forest and Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.
2. Bar Harbor Inn and Spa, Maine
Not surprisingly, many of the most unique hotels in the USA happen to be in the country’s most unique destinations. Take Maine’s Bar Harbor Inn and Spa. Staying here situates you in the heart of Acadia National Park, where the only more abundant than gorgeous views is restaurants serving fresh lobster. Even if you stayed here the entire time instead of as a stop on your Maine road trip, many sleeps here would still impress you. After lounging amid the elegant New England luxury of your ocean-view guest room, you can head to the on-site spa for a massage, facial, or pedicure.
3. Hyatt Carmel Highlands, California
Want to stop during your road trip along one of America’s most scenic stretches of coastline at a chic property operated by one of your favorite brands? Hyatt Carmel Highlands ticks all these boxes—and then some. The only danger in staying here is that the views you enjoy from your room might seem de-motivating. Who needs to hike down to sea level or up to any of Big Sur’s viewpoints when you can lay in bed and take it all in with your morning coffee?
4. Kaanapali Villas, Maui
If you’re lucky enough to live in Hawaii, it might be difficult to impress you, even with the most unique hotels. However, we have a feeling Kaanapali Villas is up to the challenge—and not just because of a location right on the gorgeous, iconic Kaanapali Coast. Both the guest rooms and public areas of the hotel feature Hawaiian design and decor, to say nothing of the local cuisine on offer in the on-site restaurant. Moreover, what better way to continue social distancing than with a road trip along Maui’s famous Hana Highway?
Best USA Beach Hotels
- Marriott Suites on Sand Key, Clearwater Beach
- First Colony Inn, Outer Banks
- Ashore Hotel, Cannon Beach
1. Marriott Suites on Sand Key, Clearwater Beach
In addition to being one of the most unique hotels in the US, Marriott Suites on Sand Key is undoubtedly one of the country’s best beach hotels. Located in Sand Key, which is a few minutes south of the busier main part of Clearwater Beach, the Suites are the best of both worlds—close to the action, but insulated from its noise. Moreover, the views you enjoy both from the well-appointed guest rooms and the sparkling outdoor pool make you feel like the Gulf of Mexico belongs to you.
2. First Colony Inn, Outer Banks
Windswept and bright, First Colony Inn is right on North Carolina’s scenic Outer Banks. You’re as good as on North Carolina’s famously sandy beaches the moment you open the door to your room, although to be fair you will need to take a short walk to reach them. If you don’t want to swim in saltwater or have kids that are too young to get in the ocean, take a dip in the on-site outdoor pool, which affords incredible views of the sea as you paddle.
3. Ashore Hotel, Cannon Beach
The main reason Ashore Hotel qualifies as one of the most unique hotels in the USA is that it looks out on one of America’s most unique landscapes. Cannon Beach and its iconic boulders are only a few minutes away by foot, which makes maintaining a six-foot distance on your way there no problem. That’s assuming you care to leave behind your well-appointed guest room, with amenities and design accents that mirror the beauty just outside.
COVID-19 travel restrictions and tips
The most dramatic effects of COVID-19 on travel are international, but some domestic restrictions exist as well. Before booking any of these special hotels, you’ll want to check out Skyscanner’s COVID-19 travel advice page. Here, you’ll find up-to-the-minute travel regulations on a state-by-state basis. These include whether you need to quarantine or monitor your own health while traveling in certain places.
Considering an international trip? You won’t want to miss Skyscanner’s interactive travel restrictions map. This priceless tool visually represents global travel restrictions with a simple color-coding system. You can then click on any country to learn about more detailed restrictions, such as whether you need to submit to a PCR test in order to enter. As is the case with Skyscanner’s US-specific travel info, that page is updated constantly. You’ll want to make sure you come back often in the lead-up to your trip!
Sleeping in unique hotels doesn’t end the COVID-19 pandemic, but it can give you a break from the stress of these uncertain times. A secondary benefit of finding your travel inspiration in hotels? It just might motivate you to explore places you hadn’t considered visiting before. This might be the dramatic dune beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks or the beautiful badlands around Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Plus, at a time when everyone is feeling a little scared and anxious, wouldn’t a place that feels like home make travel feel a little more like it did in “normal” times?