Our Favorite Stays of the Year
Our editors’ picks for the most restful, memorable, and invigorating hotel experiences.
The perfect autumnal candle, an upgraded weekender, NYC’s loveliest new wine bar — and other things delighting our editors this season.
PEAK AUTUMN HAS finally arrived. The air is crisp and thick with the scent of campfire and clove, the leaves are orange, and sidling into a velvet banquette for a warm drink has never felt more right. Fall food is here too: snappy root vegetables and savory soups, vibrant gourds and earthy mushrooms. As I walk around New York, the city feels like its grandest self, its dwellers looking sharp in their overcoats and boots. Looks aside, so much of this month’s magic is in its ephemerality. Summers can stretch long, winters never end. But peak fall — sexy, spooky, ever-nostalgic fall — she’s gone before you know it. Best to get out and revel while you can. — Sophie
A new wave of hotels, wineries, and restaurants is transforming this rural region...
The Lake House on Canandaigua is the ideal getaway for all seasons. If you haven’t heard of Canandaigua, you aren’t alone — the hotel lobby even sells novelty caps with the phrase “Where the hell is Canandaigua?” Located in the Finger Lakes region of New York, The Lake House feels like home, but includes all the luxury amenities you need to stay put. The on-site Willowbrook Spa has an extensive menu of treatments that use top-of-the-line wellness brands like Luzern and Dr. Dennis Gross, along with an extremely knowledgeable staff of trained aestheticians and masseuses. Nestled in one of their many gardens are barrel saunas, where you can revel in 60 minutes of pure relaxation with views of the lake. I had the pleasure of visiting in late summer and experienced the magic of the lake on a sunset cruise. What makes this property unique is that it offers something for everyone, no matter the season. In autumn, you can hike and marvel at the leaves changing colors or lounge in front of a firepit making s'mores. With winter just around the corner, The Lake House is only a 20-minute drive to the nearest ski resort. If relaxation is more your speed, you can hang back and soak in the outdoor hot tub or enjoy a cocktail in front of the fireplace. With so many dining options and activities on property, it’s hard to find an excuse to leave. — Elissa
Two very fun urban hotels I recently experienced were The West Hollywood Edition and Hotel Californian. The Edition is everything an Ian Schrager property should be, with a buzzy, awe-inspiring lobby, a sexy rooftop for socializing, and a disco-ball encrusted nightclub below. It’s a lively, sun-soaked Westside scene for catching up with friends over a cocktail and people-watching. The Hotel Californian was a dynamic stop during my first trip to Santa Barbara. Right by the city’s Funk Zone (a stretch of charming local breweries, galleries, and boutiques) yet steps away from the beach, the hotel was a delightful bike ride away from historic sites — and an ideal location for exploring bougainvillea-lined, pink-skyed Santa Barbara on foot. — Sophie
There is no shortage of fabulous accommodations in Los Angeles. For those looking for a bit of nostalgia, the Beverly Hills Hotel is the perfect spot to indulge in some Old Hollywood glamour. “The Pink Palace” only gets better with age and is celebrating its 110th anniversary with an array of events, exhibitions, and dining experiences until the end of 2022. The iconic Polo Lounge is power lunching at its finest, and the legendary McCarthy salad has been upgraded with gold leaf, fresh lobster, and caviar to be savored with a glass of Dom Pérignon while enjoying the maestro at the piano. Staying in one of the bungalows will make you feel like a member of Troop Beverly Hills, Shelley Long’s iconic character Phyllis Nefler’s spirit watching over you as you sleep. People flock to Los Angeles to escape, and whether you are a local or out-of-towner, there is no better place to retreat and reminisce about the Golden Age of Hollywood. — Elissa
After launching for the 1962 World’s Fair, The Edgewater Hotel in downtown Seattle struggled to pull in visitors due to its odd location on a pier stretching into Elliott Bay. After hosting the Beatles at the height of their fame in 1964, The Edgewater became the go-to hotel for rock and rollers stopping through Seattle. From Nirvana to Frank Zappa, they all stayed here. Back in the day, guests were permitted to fish out of the windows, which led to some legendary rock-star shenanigans, including a famously debauched visit from Led Zeppelin. These days, The Edgewater Hotel is a downtown Seattle hot spot that mixes chic midcentury decor with a rock-and-roll edge. Most rooms include lovely views and cozy fireplaces — a welcome antidote to Seattle's famously gray, rainy weather. The hotel is steps away from the bustling Pike Place Market and the gorgeous waterfront Olympic Sculpture Garden. The Edgewater’s excellent Six Seven restaurant and bar serves up tasty Pacific Northwest–inspired food and cocktails over the water. While fishing is no longer allowed, you can fulfill your rock-and-roll fantasies by staying in the Beatles Suite, the actual room that the Fab Four occupied 58 years ago. — Cole
My last days of summer before fall set in could not have been spent at a more idyllic place than the Inn at Perry Cabin, a breathtaking waterfront resort tucked away in St. Michaels, Maryland. Built after the War of 1812, the property features 78 unique rooms, with much of the original architecture still present in the main house. Along the picturesque drive up, you’ll find the Har-Tru tennis courts, zero-edge pool, and spa. Stunning pathways lead right up to the water, where you can enjoy drinks on the property’s Adirondack chairs. I was lucky enough to be among the first guests invited on board the Stanley Norman, a 120-year-old skipjack, to enjoy light oyster bites and claws from the Chesapeake Bay. The seasonal menu is part of the exquisite program curated by executive chef Gregory James, who has put a focus on sustainability along the Eastern Shore. In addition to cultivating the on-site garden, he has been working closely with local farms and fishermen to highlight the beauty of Chesapeake Bay cuisine. I spent an afternoon with him and the team at Wittman Wharf to experience the crabbing process firsthand. Our endeavors ended up being part of that evening’s dinner. Every detail at the resort is so thoughtfully considered that it’s easy to find a sense of peace here. I’ve always found myself rejuvenated after spending time by the water. Maybe the proximity to the tides helps rebalance my rhythm — and ending the nights with cozy fireside chats is hard to beat. — Lisa
There are as many high-end candle companies as there are stars in the sky, but few burn as brightly as Trudon. The company has been purveying candles and fragrances since 1643, when founder Claude Trudon became the owner of a small store on Rue Saint Honoré in Paris. These days, Trudon is the gold standard for candles and home fragrances, as well as for a potent array of delicious perfumes. Housed in an amber glass vessel, the beeswax Cire candle nods to the company’s history and deep relationship with bees. Since the seventeenth century, Trudon’s motto has been “Deo Regique Laborant,” which means “they (the bees) work for God and the King.” Sales from the Cire candle help benefit the Orne Dark Bee Conservatory in Normandy. — Cole
I love almost everything about travel — except, of course, disrupted sleep. Moving between time zones wreaks havoc on my internal clock, which in turn can send me into a panic spiral about the fact that I can’t fall asleep (a recipe for a restful night if I ever knew one). But I have recently been using Peels CBD Night Oil, with excellent results. It contains CBD derived from orange peels (so no THC) and melatonin, an old standby for jet lag that has never worked very well for me. But this combo has, helping me relax enough to get to sleep no matter what time my confused body thinks it is. — Skye
As we move toward winter in the Northern Hemisphere, I’ll take any pick-me-up I can get. Light on the Riviera: Photography of the Côte d’Azur, a new coffee table book from teNeues, is a lovely reminder that the days aren’t always going to be so short, and that it isn’t always going to be so cold. This compilation, edited by two photo-world heavyweights, looks at the Riviera through the lenses of several successive generations of twentieth-century artists. But it also looks at how photography as an art form was influenced by the specific light and critical mass of creatives drawn to the place, from Picasso to Lartigue to Helmut Newton — an academic thesis wrapped in a beautiful object. — Skye
I really can’t say enough about this feat-of-science brand. Their coat keeps me insanely warm. Their sheets keep me cool. And now I have their pajamas to add to my perfectly chilled slumber. When you first slide into the shirt and pants, they’re icy to the touch. I can’t even comment on how they feel throughout the night because I’m typically dead asleep, body temperature delightfully regulated. — Sophie
As a photographer, traveling light is a challenge. My camera comes with me almost everywhere I go, rolling around in its indestructible and quite heavy Pelican case, which means I always have to check a bag. With that constraint, I’ve pretty much given up on having nice carry-ons, instead throwing everything into one of several Jeremy Scott x Longchamp bags left over from my fashion days. While adorable, they’re also worn out — those fashion days were quite a while ago. So I recently made the switch to a Leatherology Harwood Weekender bag as my personal carry-on. With multiple interior pockets, a side pouch for my computer, nice handles, a shoulder strap, and a slot that allows it to slide onto the handle of my rolling case, it feels like a major grown-up upgrade. The construction is beautiful and they even offer several options for personalization — and who can resist a monogram? — Skye
Even though I like to think of myself as a seasoned traveler, I’m still not the most pragmatic packer. Since my work travel often includes bracing for multiple climates and the possible need for formal wear, I was thrilled earlier this year when I picked up Buck Mason’s Carry-On suit — a loosely tailored cotton twill jacket and trousers that pack easily, steam perfectly, and quickly became my go-to for any kind of semi-formal dinner occasion. Now that fall weather is upon us, I was extra thrilled that the same suit comes in a corduroy version. The High-Ridge Cord Carry-On Jacket (and matching pant) not only travels well, but also provides a cozy bit of warmth, while helping to building the wizened-college-professor-from-the-1970s look — basically my ultimate aesthetic goal. — Cole
My new favorite local spot is Claud, a recently opened restaurant and wine bar in the East Village from Momofuku Ko vets Joshua Pinsky and Chase Sinzer. My friend and I sat at the bar — a thick swirling slab of glossy gray-green marble — and had one of those perfect New York nights here. Dishes span light and bright (razor clam with apple and horseradish) to rich and warming (chicken liver agnolotti) to classic and comforting (red shrimp with olive oil and garlic). Two standouts were the mille-feuille with confit tomatoes (a heavenly pile of flaky pastry, cheese, and jammy tomatoes) and the steelhead trout and clams with dry sherry. We sipped on a beautiful white burgundy with our mains, and for dessert stuck our faces into their devil’s food cake for two (one of the best decadent yet not-too-sweet desserts I’ve had all year). — Sophie
After 15 years living in New York, I’ve come to notice that alcohol comes in waves of zeitgeist — one year, it seems like everyone on the island of Manhattan is drinking Mexican mezcal, and the next, they’re on to English gin. Right now, a major drink of choice seems to be quality French cognac, which has found its way onto loads of cool restaurant and cocktail bar menus of late. I’m both surprised and delighted by this spirit surge, largely because I’ve never really been a cognac drinker, and the renaissance gives me a chance to try it out in ways I never have. Someone sent me a bottle of Camus Cognac, specifically the XO Borderies Single Estate, and on the first sip, my taste buds had a party (actually, more like a black-tie gala, as cognac has an incredible way of making me feel fancy and festive). The amber richness and velvety sweetness fit so well with the fall season, a time when it’s warm by day but cold enough at night that you’re starting to want something cozy for your nightcap. This variety from Camus, a house that was founded in 1863, is that perfect last drink before turning in for the evening, something that warms up your belly. Think of it as the alcohol version of a cashmere blanket. I’m hoping the cognac craze will last all winter long, but even if it doesn’t, I’m sticking with Camus. — Alex
I prefer to have a hot drink in my hand at all times, but I’ve come to understand that it’s not ideal for my health. Much as I long to down espresso like an Italian, in recent years, caffeinating any time after noon has presented sleep problems. So I was very happy to learn about Velty uncaffeinated coffee. Their tagline is “It’s about time decaf leveled up” (yes), and their instant formula contains ethically sourced decaffeinated coffee beans from women farmers and producers in Mexico, as well as health-boosting ingredients like inulin, mesquite powder, and lion’s mane and reishi mushrooms. Velty’s founder and CEO created the product after diagnoses of adrenal fatigue and ADHD forced her to cut her caffeine intake. Her lifestyle change is our gain: Velty is a guilt-free afternoon treat that I think tastes deliciously roasty and graham cracker-y. And it’s been added to my rotation so I never have to stop wrapping my hands around a warm mug. — Nina
Causwells, an American bistro in San Francisco’s Marina district, has long been known for its satisfying burger. But this month the pretty Euro-style restaurant along a busy stretch of Chestnut Street reopened with a bigger, better menu. You can now hit up Causwells for a martini-and-oysters happy hour, or feast on entrees like octopus, white bean hummus, and fennel salad or pork belly confit with a johnny cake, sorghum gastrique, and stone fruit. Sit outside if you want to take in the foot traffic. And don’t miss their mocktail offerings: I especially enjoyed the cleverly named Blood Orange Nah-perol Spritz.
As someone with an insatiable sweet tooth — who will eat every cookie, every morsel of cake, every available pastry that enters my home until there is nothing left — I have to be careful about what I bring into the house. That’s why I was so enamored with these delectable treats from Blondery. Every blondie in their gift boxes is one perfect bite — the unmistakable cinnamon snap of snickerdoodle, the classic taste of vanilla birthday cake, the perfect distillation of sweet potato pie. The beautifully packaged desserts are the perfect gift, and the product of a direct-to-consumer virtual bakery founded by Auzerais Bellamy, a professional pastry chef and lifelong advocate for women and people of color. — Cole
The world of sake is as vast, varied, and hard to navigate as fine wine, if not more so. Truly understanding the production and infinite varieties of Japan’s national drink involves, at least in my case, a willingness to ask lots of questions and the patience for taste testing lots of different bottles. Byakko Bespoke, an artisanal sake produced by Sake Hundred, is perfect for both the sake novice and the budding aficionado. Of the four perfectly crafted sakes the company produces, Byakko Bespoke provides the freshest and most easily paired drinking experience. When served perfectly chilled, the sake offers the aroma of white peach, pear, and apple — equal parts sweet and tart. Created with a process in which rice is polished for upwards of 200 hours using water taken from Mt. Chokai in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, the resulting sake is clear, pure, and imbued with incredible sweetness.
As a New Yorker, I’m a firm downtowner. But now I have a reason other than museums to head uptown — a new restaurant that’s actually connected to the MoMA, below their new extended wing. The new 53 is an opulent pan-Asian experience in a glamorous, three-story setting. Their team is led by Singapore-born chef Akmal Anuar, who got his start at his parents’ hawker stand before making waves in fine dining (earning himself a Michelin star and helming Iggy’s, one of Asia’s best restaurants). The dim sum alone is worth a journey, but their entire menu is spectacular. The royal shumai (lobster, golden kaluga caviar) and the xiao long bao (a soup dumpling of chicken and truffle) are little handmade masterpieces. In homage to its iconic location, the space will be featuring a rotation of artist works throughout its sprawling space. — Sophie
Skye Parrott is the editor-in-chief of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor-in-chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.
T. Cole Rachel is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media. He is currently an editor-at-large at Departures.
Nina Renata Aron is a writer and editor based in Oakland, California. She is the author of “Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls.” Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the New Republic, Elle, Eater, and Jezebel.
Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.
Elissa Polls is the senior director of content production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.
Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at Vogue.com as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.
Lisa Lok is an art director at Departures. A Brooklyn-based creative, she enjoys collaborating with illustrators and photographers from around the world. Her work can be found in the pages of Airbnb Magazine, NYLON, and Asia Society Magazine, among others.
Jess Rotter is a Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist. Rotter’s work has frequently featured in the Washington Post. Her clients range from Natalie Portman to Questlove.
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