Long Winter Weekend Guide Getaways
Presidents’ Day is around the corner. Although a seemingly rando holiday, I think we all appreciate the time off. But what to do with it… Below: ideas. And while we are on the subject (and not in a political way), Mr. President, you are kind of dreamy.
Presidents’ Day Weekend may loom, but for those of us who have failed to make a plan, all is not lost. We’ve rounded up a handful of excellent hotels and resorts—all within striking distance of the big cities on their respective coasts—that still have availability.
Lenox, MA 16 Blantyre Rd. | 413.637.3556
Originally built in 1901, Blantyre was modeled after the owner’s family’s ancestral Scottish castle, complete with ivy-covered turrets, towers, and gargoyles. It didn’t become a hotel until 1981, when the house was restored by Ann Fitzpatrick Brown—and reinstated as a tribute to the Gilded Age.
Driving Time: 3 hours from NYC | 2 hours from Boston
The Rooms: The décor here is fittingly lush—i.e., exactly what you’d expect to find in an English country manor. You’re supposed to spend your days relaxing in overstuffed armchairs by the fire, before descending to the dining room for long, formal dinners come evening.
Winter-Appeal: High season here is spring through fall (in fact, the hotel was only winterized in 2005), though if you come during the colder months, you’ll find a quieter stay.
What To Pack: Long-underwear and a down jacket: The resort provides equipment for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice-skating , which are all available on-site. The dining room calls for jackets for gentlemen and something a bit dressy for ladies.
Don’t Miss: The Warming Hut, a small cabin on the property outfitted with comfy reading chairs, a pool table, and an outdoor fire pit for making smores.
The Food: Pressed linens, fine china, heavy silver, and live music underline the overwhelming feeling that you might have stepped back in time. In fact, the evening begins with champagne and canapés in the sitting room before you’ll even be offered a menu.
Extra-Credit: The Edith Wharton House, an Estate the writer built, then lived and wrote in for many years, is just a mile away and open daily for visits. If you’re willing to go two miles, you’ll find The Shakespeare & Company playhouse, which hosts evening performances on weekends.
Newport, RI 590 Ocean Ave. | 401.849.3800
Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic, this 19th-century mansion-turned-hotel is one of Rhode Island’s most luxurious.
Driving Time: 3.5 hours from NYC | 1.5 hours from Boston
The Rooms: Originally constructed in 1874 as a summer home for a marine biologist, Castle Hill has played host to everyone from a legion of World War II Naval Officers to Grace Kelly, who made the inn her home while filming High Society. It’s still evident today that its original intent was to provide the perfect perch for observing the sea: Windows look out on nothing but water, which gives the distinct feeling of being on a boat. While the walls are notably thin (a bummer, since the stairs and hallways creak), the accommodations are lovely: Gas fireplaces with timers mean you can fall asleep to a roaring fire and the beds are some of the softest we’ve tried. The property also offers beach cottages that provide a more sound-proofed stay.
Don’t Miss: The oyster martini at the bar. Tea with homemade petit fours in the afternoon. The footpath to the old lighthouse, which offers epic views.
The Food: The dining room provides a cozy, intimate place for dinner, with just a few tables, deliberately slow-paced service, and views of the lighthouse blinking in the distance. Understandably, the menu focuses on local seafood: The baked lobster is particularly delicious. If you’d rather head into town, Tallulah on Thames and White Horse Tavern are two favorites.
Extra-Credit: Ignore your GPS and take the longer, scenic Ocean Avenue to get to the Inn. The drive along the water is stunning, and the shoreline is studded with old-world mansions. (The historic homes that allow tours, like The Breakers, are on Bellevue Avenue.)
Lenox, MA 165 Kemble St. | 413.637.4100
Though a weekend at Canyon Ranch is arguably about exercising restraint, there’s nothing spare about this wellness retreat, which is situated in a gorgeous, fully-restored 19th century manor nestled in the Berkshires.
Driving Time: 3 hours from NYC | 2 hours from Boston
The Rooms: The understated rooms here are designed to be relaxing, and to that end, there’s not much to distract you from your weekend of centering and healthy living. That’s no problem, though, since you won’t be spending much time in them: Days at Canyon Ranch revolve around the spa, working out, and a wealth of activities, including cross-country skiing.
What To Pack: Bring your workout gear. There are about 50 classes on the roster, along with a myriad of pools, a full gym, and assorted extras like a ropes course and squash courts. When you’re not working out, you might be taking a cooking class or learning how to diagnose your dreams.
The Food: It’s healthy, but it’s also delicious—and all-you-can-eat.
Washington, CT 118 Woodbury Rd. | 860.868.9466
Formerly known as the Mayflower Inn & Spa (Grace Hotels acquired it last year), this is one of those resorts that is a consistent siren song for worn-out New Yorkers.
Driving Time: 2 hours from NYC | 2.5 hours from Boston
The Rooms: Overstuffed chairs, feather-topped beds, and softly printed toile wallpapers are design hallmarks here, which all add to the feeling that you’ve descended upon the guestroom of your most hospitable aunt. In short: You won’t want to leave.
Don’t Miss: The spa, which is one of Connecticut’s best. For those who are more inclined to be outside, the resort sits on 58 acres.
The Food: There’s a tap room for casual eats, as well as a more formal restaurant, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, which shares its name with the restaurant at one of the Grace Group’s other hotels, The Vanderbilt.
Rutherford, CA 180 Rutherford Hill Rd. | 707.963.1211
Set up on a hill above an endless—and undulating—vista of vineyards, Auberge du Soleil has been maintaining the luxury standard in Napa for 30 years.
Driving Time: 1.5 hours from San Francisco
The Rooms: Though it’s since spawned two sister hotels (Solage and Calistoga Ranch), Auberge du Soleil is the reigning patriarch in Napa Valley, particularly when it comes to old-school indulgences and creature comforts (the other two spots are a bit more modern and laidback). Here, the cottage-like rooms are organized into private little villages (they all feature patios and terraces).
The Food: With two Michelin Stars, Auberge’s main, global-inflected restaurant draws a crowd that swells well beyond hotel guests—the Japanese breakfast is particularly dreamy.
Don’t Miss: While hotel treatments often aren’t that great (particularly for their generally inflated price-tags), this was one of the best massages we’ve ever had, particularly because it was followed by a soak in the outdoor bathtub.
Head Out: You’re in Napa! Quintessa Winery, one of our favorites, is just across the street.
Laguna Beach, CA 30801 South Coast Hwy | 949.715.6000
Step into this Craftsman-style hotel lobby, and you’ll be greeted by a sweeping panorama of the ocean. Here, every room comes with a private oceanfront balcony.
Driving Time: 1 hour from LA
The Rooms: While there are nearly 250 rooms, it doesn’t really feel that way, as they all range across the edge of a cliff with unobstructed water views. The décor is understated and luxurious with an emphasis on comfort: Huge bathrooms and large beds to sink into after a day in the sun are highlights.
Don’t Miss: The Japanese breakfast. An evening drink in the lobby (there’s live music every night). A spa treatment, as any 60-minute body, facial or personal training service entitles you to a full day of access to the spa’s amenities, the best of which is the oceanfront, adults-only pool. The cold plunge, sauna and steam rooms are also top-notch.
What To Pack: A bathing suit. There’s quite a scene at the main pool, where people park themselves on lounge chairs from sunrise to sunset, participating in poolside breakfast, lunch, and evening drinks. The beach is a short golf-cart drive down the hill—staff will ferry you back and forth and set you up with lounge chairs and towels. Yoga gear for the complimentary 5pm class. A light sweater so you can sit by the fire pit at night.
Santa Barbara, CA 900 San Ysidro Ln. | 805.565.1700
Inarguably, this is one of our favorite hotels in the world—to the extent that GP got married here. (In good company, too, as John and Jackie spent their honeymoon at SYR, and Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh tied the knot in the gardens.)
Driving Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes from LA
The Rooms: Set against the Santa Ynez Mountains, on an olive and lavender tree studded estate that was originally built as a citrus farm in the 19th century, you’ll find 41 secluded bungalows. Each cottage comes equipped with a fireplace, private patio (many have outdoor hot tubs and rain showers), and wonderful extras, like heated bathroom floors. Though it’s big with honeymooners, we never need a big reason to come, as it’s the type of place where the occasion is the stay. Among many other things, the ranch is famous for its $130 “Montecito Margarita” made with Don Julio Real Añejo Tequila and Grand Marnier 150th Anniversary—mixed with agave and lime.
Extra-Credit: The wineries of Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys are less than an hour north, while Santa Barbara is just minutes away (see our guide here).
The Food: Situated in the farm’s former citrus packing house, the stone-walled restaurant offers either creek or ocean views. The menu focuses on fancy comfort food—and revolves around the offerings from the ranch’s gardens. If you’re looking to drive into town for a meal, the family-friendly Brophy Brothers on the waterfront has great clam chowder and fish & chips. Pane e Vino is a classic Italian trattoria with delicious seasonal dishes, while people line up for the unmatched tacos and tostadas at La Super Rica, where the fare is served up on plastic plates.
Westlake Village, CA 2 Dole Dr. | 310.457.8700
This just-launched, 4-day program from the people behind The Ranch at Live Oak requires an extra vacation day (it runs from Thursday-Monday, rather than an entire week), but it promises to deliver similar results.
Driving Time: 45 minutes from LA
The Rooms: The Ranch 4.0 operates in partnership with the Westlake Village Four Seasons, so you’ll be taking up residence there—though the daily itinerary is the same as what you’d expect to encounter at the main ranch.
What To Pack: Workout gear. Every morning begins with a four-hour hike, followed by an afternoon of abdominal work, toning, and yoga—all dictated by diagnostic fitness and metabolic rate testing you’ll submit to when you check in. Rest assured, though, all this activity is mitigated by a daily massage.
The Food: While the days are packed with activities, they’re admittedly not packed with carbs: All 16 participants abide by a strict, vegetarian diet of 1,400 calories. (It’s delicious.) In addition to eating, there are cooking demonstration and nutrition classes.
West Marin, CA 30 Callendar Way | 415.669.1034
Balanced between the woods and Tomales Bay, Manka Inverness Lodge feels like a tucked-away time capsule—in the best possible way.
Driving Time: 1 hour from San Francisco
The Rooms: This is one of those spots where you can pass an entire weekend without running into anyone else: Marin is sleepy, sure, but this place feels even more remote. Manka’s is made up of three separate properties—boat houses on the bay, complete with cathedral doors that open right onto the water; cabins tucked away up high on a ridge; and the main quarters, which revolve around a 1917 hunting and fishing lodge. The accommodations are reminiscent of (luxury) log cabin camping: Pendleton blankets, log post beds, stone slab fronted fireplaces, and taxidermy are all design hallmarks.
The Food: Breakfast is brought to your room each morning. The proprietors are fanatic about local sourcing, so pretty much everything—from the butter on the toast to the honey—comes from Marin County. Their restaurant down the street, Sir and Star at the Olema, abides by a similar theme.
Head Out: There’s much to explore in West Marin. Check out how we spent 24 hours here.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 4143 Cedar Ave. | 530.208.0180
Kids will go nuts for this hip, affordable, inn-like spot in South Lake Tahoe, and for good reason: You’ll find forest wallpaper, fake campfires, tented beds, Coleman-style lanterns, steel bunk beds and… Xboxes.
Driving Time: 3.5 hours from San Francisco
The Rooms: Each of the 50 rooms has a different look, but they all revolve around a cabin-like theme—with plenty of modern (and eco) flourishes. The emphasis is on shared experiences here, as many of the rooms come with bunks, and you’re encouraged to mingle with the other guests at communal dinners, the fire pits, and in the rooftop hot tub. Rooms that start at $89 a night attract a younger crowd.
What To Pack: Ski gear. It’s a few short paces to the Heavenly Gondola. Swiss army knife. This is an area for hikes, adventures, and getting lost. A “Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook” comes with every room.