Trips to Take With Your Closest Friends
Sometimes, the best way to reboot is to corral your best girlfriends and get out of dodge. Whether you’re looking to veg out on the beach, explore the great outdoors, or post up in a great hotel in a big city, these spots deliver in terms of making the most out of quality time.
Into the Wild
A good dose of fresh air is even more therapeutic when shared with your girl gang. Here, six spots to get outdoors, from a retro wine country motel to a glamping gem in the Hudson Valley.
Located in Santa Rosa’s up-and-coming arts district, The Astro, a recently renovated 1960s motel, offers the essentials for an outdoorsy wine country stay–proximity to the region’s vineyards, closeness to the city’s restaurants–at a much more accessible price point. Everything in the space is considered, from the authentic mid-century pieces that outfit the thirty-four rooms (its owners sourced incredible finds, from Danish church light fixtures to Robert Arneson sculptures to iconic prints of Mohammed Ali and Joni Mitchell, all of which are shoppable), to the genuine warmth of the staff who will give you insight into the best places–and ways–to see the Sonoma Valley. Within striking distance from the airport, it’s a convenient, easy spot to book a few rooms and call basecamp for the weekend. And if you’re looking to burn some extra calories, the motel comes stocked with shiny Shinola Bikes on-the-ready to rent.
For such a popular destination, Ojai has surprisingly few accommodation options; Caravan Outpost and its fleet of eleven tricked-out, freshly-refurbished Airstreams aims to remedy the situation. The whole experience brilliantly combines the get-back-to-nature appeal of camping with all the creature comforts of a boutique hotel: cozy beds, small yet well-equipped bathrooms, warm Pendleton blankets, old-school record players, and all the tech hook-ups. There’s also a well-manicured outdoor common area (replete with deck chairs and a fire-pit for that necessary sundown drink) and activities, like biking and marshmallow roasting. Best yet, it’s proximity to downtown makes it to walk back from a wine-filled dinner at, say, Azu.
On the other side of the Country, just a short two-hour drive from NYC, Collective Retreats also redefines the camping experience, turning it into something completely luxurious with plenty of rustic charm. Located on a working organic farm and equestrian center, and close to Hudson village’s boutiques and restaurants, the camp is a perfect blend of seclusion but with all the city amenities nearby. The accommodations, self-described as ‘tents’ are more like the dreamiest log cabin you can imagine, but with a white canopy roof. The bleached wood floors, four poster beds made up with the finest linens, and individual wood-burning stoves (with pails of freshly-chopped wood stacked alongside) make for the most comfortable stay in the outdoors. Meals can be taken at the nearby lodge, under the stars or at your tent. All the food is organic and grown locally (within a mile or two).
One of the magical aspects of Marfa is that even with all the hype, there still isn’t much there besides art and a smattering of great shops and restaurants, which makes it a perfect spot to really get away with a group of girlfriends (it’s about 200 miles from the closest airport). The Hotel Saint George is the town’s first luxury property, and it’s a fancy minimalist’s dream. Built in a 1930’s stucco building, it’s located in the center of all that’s there, so it’s easy to walk to the nearby shops, galleries, and restaurants. The rooms are spacious, clean, and outfitted with local art and sourced goods, including a few bespoke furniture pieces. And while it’s closeness to the downtown action is a selling point, many of the town’s happenings take place downstairs, either at the Bar Saint George or Marfa Book Company (located in the lobby, this is one of the best ways to spend the afternoon). While there, be sure to make a visit to the Chinati Foundation, the Donald Judd-founded contemporary museum that’s a five-minute drive away in the desert.
This 1949 hacienda, just 10 minutes from the park, fully encapsulates the slow living vibe that Joshua Tree is known for. The two bed, two bath Airbnb, with its smooth polished stone floors strewn with colorful rugs, an open fireplace, wood-beamed ceiling, and natural light contributes to the space’s rustic, yet supremely comfortable vibe. We love the tent room, a textural sleeping space with a canopied bed and bright layered rugs. This house is the perfect retreat to pack full of friends for a weekend in the desert. Despite the pull of local joints like Pappy & Harriets, La Copine, and the park itself, stargazing in the outdoor tub with only the record player breaking the total silent stillness is a pretty sublime experience worth staying in for. The owners (who instantly fell in love with the area at the tail end of a road trip) have imbued the house with plenty of thoughtful touches—the snug kitchenette is stocked with locally roasted coffee and Chemex for brewing.
Yellowstone obviously has some beautiful campgrounds, but they book up months in advance, and you’ll need to arrive around 7 a.m. (and probably wait out the previous occupants’ breakfast) for a first-come-first-serve option. For an outdoor stay that requires a lot less planning, we recommend Under Canvas Yellowstone, a glamping operation in the tiny town of West Yellowstone, just outside the West entrance to the park. Tents have running water and private bathrooms, but the best parts of camping—the stars, the sounds of birds and other wildlife in the tall grasses—remain utterly intact. The staff here packs beautiful picnic lunches for daytime outings, and the nearby restaurant, Bar N, makes for a great dinner option. While each tent fits four comfortably, you can opt for one with an adjacent teepee if you’re traveling with a larger group.
Grab your clean sunscreen, favorite hat, and latest read–once you’re settled in one of these spots, you’ll be on your way to some serious chill time.
Whether you come for a meal at the farm-to-table restaurant, or to check-in and unplug in one of the twelve tree houses on the property, this place is a bucket-list must. Situated on twenty-five acres of farmland up a winding dirt road adjacent to Flora Farms, design-forward hotel offers some of the most incredible amenities (note: tree houses, fifteen feet off the ground, each with their own alfresco shower, plus terrace with palm grove views) and experiences for total rejuvenation, including proximity to the beach, yoga, and access to roam the totally gorgeous on-site farm. For the aesthete in your crew, nothing beats the decor here: rustic wood and concrete complement the white accents and locally made accessories throughout. The staff and owners are incredibly hospitable, so much so they have a Mezcal tasting ready and waiting upon your arrival.
Perched on the raw, wild cliff overlooking the Pacific, Mukul brings a dose of open-air luxury to this quiet stretch of Nicaragua’s coastline. There are twelve beachside villas and twenty-three treehouse-like bohios, on the property—both styles do a great job of bringing the outdoors in. (Think sugarcane twig headboards, carved teak tables—a private plunge pool and ocean views come standard.) If you and your besties really want to spread out, the six-bedroom, 20,000-square foot Casona Don Carlos compound can be booked when the resort owners family isn’t in residence. You’ll literally want to spend the entire day at the spa, which is top-notch with its Turkish baths and Indonesian massages. The hotel has several dining options on site, ranging from more casual canopy dining on the beach to fine dining at La Mesa, where Nicaraguan-inflected dishes include a yellow fin tuna confit with chili oil and blue crab ceviche.
Harbour Island is one of those quick getaways for East Coasters that’s ideal for many reasons, the primary one being that there’s nowhere to go (unless it’s into the water). The life of the island revolves around the ocean: playing in it, eating by it, drinking by it, fishing in it–add the fact that so many from NYC seem to vacation here, and you’ve got a pretty sizable social scene, too. There are a few fancy resorts that dot the shoreline, but we’re into Ocean View Club, a teeny tiny spot where all the rooms are done up individually, to pretty great effect. It also has a small and mighty restaurant, where you’ll find significantly better fare than at many of the other spots on the island.
On a stretch of what’s referred to as “Mid-Beach,” the private members-only club has brought a level of exclusivity to Miami with the opening of its fifty-room, Latin-inflected property. (Soho House operates as a private club, but hotel guests have a run of the premises.) For those familiar with the club’s amenities, there’s the Cowshed Spa, a rustic relaxation retreat, as well as Cecconi’s, which serves largely Italian fare in a scenic courtyard setting (light-adorned trees overhead, included). Rooms are generously sized and feature gorgeously tiled Moroccan-inspired floors, raw concrete beams, and worn-in leather armchairs. A strip of private beach is lined with blue-and-white covered lounge chairs and Tiki bar, while the requisite daybeds flank the always-buzzing swimming pool.
Once you arrive to Sugar Beach, you won’t really want to leave—and that’s kind of the point. Flanked by St. Lucia’s twin volcanic Pitons, the property, tucked away on the island’s west coast, is set amongst 100 acres of rainforest (meaning hummingbirds and butterflies are par for the course). Admittedly, it’s a bit of a journey to get here, whether you fly in from the north or the south of the island, the road is steep and windy, but it’s well worth the hour-long-drive (it also makes for the perfect time to catch-up, if you and your girls live in different cities). The recently renovated colonial-style cottages are the move—they’re perched on the hillside and have their own claw-foot tubs, terraces as big as New York apartments, and are swathed in entirely in white from the slipcovered furniture to the four-poster beds. Each room has a private plunge pool; if you’re feeling inclined to wander down to the Caribbean, it’s one of those resorts where the main activity is ordering piña coladas to your beach chair while taking in the epic view. The spa is a necessary indulgence here, as the seven treatment rooms are tucked into private thatched-roof tree houses, and are the perfect spot for a bamboo massage or hot rock therapy.
Southern California local Matthew Goodwin, an architect who grew up surfing at nearby First Point, worked with his wife, Emma Crowther Goodwin, to completely preserve the iconic 1950’s Surfrider Hotel. Together with New York-based business partner Alessandro Zampedri, they’ve infused a bit of polished California nostalgia back into a space they’re treating as an extended living room for both locals in need of a staycation and visitors alike. The twenty-room hotel is luxurious, airy, and light-filled—you get the sense it’s the kind of place their friends will be hanging out. They teamed up with LA-based Croft House and Malibu Market & Design for custom furniture–and each room features its own ocean-facing balcony and hammocks, plus Grown Alchemist toiletries in the bathroom and Parachute waffle robes. If you’re traveling with a crew, we suggest booking out five ocean-facing rooms. (We’re also partial to Surfrider Suite, which sleeps two and feels like a serious home away from home thanks to a generously sized balcony, separate sitting area, and en-suite kitchenette.) There’s a guests-only roof deck bar and restaurant, which has uninterrupted views of Surfrider Beach across the street and a stellar fire pit.
Weekend in the City
A fun-filled city escape, replete with long dinners and plenty of wine, may just be the fun recharge you and your ride-or-dies have been craving.
If you or a friend are lucky enough to have snagged a membership, rooming at the Arts Club on Mayfair’s Dover Street cannot be topped. Owner Arjun Waney (he’s behind London favorites like Zuma, Roka, and Oblix) seems to have nailed that special formula for modern dining, which obviously involves great food. If the meals alone don’t fully justify the membership fee, the art collection (you’ll see a John Baldessari and a Tomas Saraceno sculpture in the stairwell) and exquisitely decorated common spaces for gathering over coffee and afternoon tea will. Members and their friends can also book one of the Club’s sixteen enormous hotel rooms, which offer 24-hour butler service. Perhaps most importantly, though, members get access to 1863, the club’s intimate bar and performance space, where you can see some of London’s best musicians perform literally feet away.
While Austin has no shortage of great, quirky hotels (Hotel San José and Hotel Saint Cecilia being two of our favorites), there’s something totally clutch about finding a great house you can spread out in, particularly if you’re traveling with a group of friends. Enter this lovingly restored 1920’s bungalow that happens to belong to a friend of a goop staffer, conveniently located in Travis Heights, and an easy walk from the action on South Congress Avenue. There are two generously sized bedrooms, a modern, subway tile-lined bathroom with brass fixtures; plus, the light-filled sitting room is tastefully appointed with vintage furnishings and great for gathering. The fully-equipped kitchen is stocked a fresh loaf of Sourdough bread from a neighborhood bakery, organic Mill King milk for the Nespresso coffee machine, butter, eggs and even local honey. Don’t miss spending a late afternoon unwinding in the backyard under the native oak trees.
At thirty-five rooms strong, the international design firm Yabu Pushelberg has done an outstanding job of tastefully incorporating Mexican motifs into a contemporary setting beginning with the stunning spiral rosewood staircase leading from reception into the hotel’s breakfast room and spa. Each of the rooms and apartment-like suites feature this same attention to detail when it comes to décor, with custom-made furnishings, luxurious marble bathrooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. It’s also home to two great restaurants, Anatol and Dulce Patria, which are among the best in the city for fresh Mexican cuisine.
In Chicago’s buzzy and rapidly gentrifying West Loop, Ace Hotel has set up shop right across from Google’s Midwest HQ. Fittingly, the 159-room property is a nod to the city’s strong architectural history, having partnered with LA-based Commune design studio to thoughtfully marry both utility and craftsmanship. Taking inspiration from Mies Van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, the hotel expertly mixes warm woods, clean lines, and rich textures. Commune and Ace also tapped Chicago’s Volume Gallery, which specializes in American Craft, to collaborate on a series of pieces specifically for the hotel by emerging artists. In the guest rooms, the low-slung plywood furniture references mid-century design with pops of blue, greens, and grays and geometric patterns. (One of our favorite rooms is the Loft, a 545-plus square foot space, where a turntable and selection of curated vinyl and an acoustic Martin guitar are also on offer—it’s ideal for a a larger group.) Downstairs, Stumptown Coffee set up shop just off the lobby—it’s their first location in the Midwest—making for an ideal pit stop before you explore the neighborhood by foot.
After four years of renovations—the first closure in the hotel’s storied history—the Ritz Paris finally reopened. To everyone’s great relief, the renovation kept the old hotel’s charming, traditional style firmly intact (if a bit spruced up), down to the grand window treatments, gilded frames, and copious chandeliers. As ever, the rooms are exceptionally luxurious—each is outfitted with a marble bathroom, generous windows and famously soft sheets, with many boasting antique furnishings. The hotel is also home to three restaurants, two of which now have retractable glass ceilings on their patios: L’Espadon, for a traditional, white-tablecloth French dining experience, including breakfast and lunch; Bar Vendôme, a moody brasserie with red velvet booths; and the Ritz Bar, a more casual spot with shared plates and an Art Deco design palette. The hotel is home to a stunning fitness center—also available to private club members—where guests can swim laps in a stunning tiled pool or sign up for a day of pampering in the Chanel spa. Amidst the bells and whistles, though, we’re probably most excited about the re-opening of Bar Hemingway, the old author’s historic haunt that’s now famous for some of the world’s best cocktails. Blessedly, bartender Colin Field is back at the helm.
New-kid-on-the-block, The William Vale is an all-balcony building, meaning guests have a stellar view no matter their room’s orientation—we recommend a corner suite, the panoramic views, all-glass bathroom (lie in the tub and take in the Manhattan skyline), and beautifully appointed living room are so worth it, especially if you’re rooming—or planning on entertaining—a few friends. Located in what was once a neighborhood of abandoned buildings, adjoining Wythe St. is now packed with incredible breakfast spots (try Meyers Bageri or Sunday in Brooklyn), bars, and great boutiques. The accommodations are Scandinavian in style with clean lines and unfussy furniture in a neutral palate, intended not to detract from the majesty of the city views. In keeping with the neighborhood’s creative spirit, the hotel regularly hosts artistic and wellness-oriented events from chakra healing with a shaman, to meditation and letter pressing at their stunning, water-facing, rooftop bar that’s packed to the rafters at night.