Howard L. Puckett
THE CHANLER AT CLIFF WALK
Newport, Rhode Island
Prepare to feel spoiled. This converted mansion high above Easton Bay provides every amenity you can imagine and then some. No need to bother drawing your bath, for example; the bath butler can take care of that. Each of the 20 rooms reflects a different historical period or theme, artfully mixing gas fireplaces and antique furnishings with contemporary touches such as flat-screen TVs and sumptuous baths. The hotel's name reflects its location at the north end of the Cliff Walk, a 3 ½-mile waterfront path that provides views of the bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and some of Newport's most spectacular mansions.
• Rates range from $395 to $1,295; 401/847-1300 or thechanler.com.
THE COTTAGES AT THE BOAT BASIN
Twenty-four shingled cottages perched on Old South Wharf's docks let you sleep over the water. In the heart of historic downtown Nantucket, the one-, two-, and three-bedroom units boast beautiful harbor views and contain polished pine floors and red, white, and blue nautical decor. Modern kitchens and baths, TVs with cable and DVD players, and wireless Internet bring the place up to date. Book a room with a private balcony or terrace, kick back, and watch the world go by.
• Rates range from $200 to $1,200; 866/838-9253 or thecottagesnantucket.com.
HARBORFRONT INN AT GREENPORT
Greenport, New York
Goldilocks would approve of this Long Island inn. Not too big and not too small, it's just the right size for the personal attention of a bed-and-breakfast, but with conference facilities typical of large hotels. The 35 airy guest rooms feature luxurious Frette linens and showers with five showerheads. Most rooms afford views of Greenport Harbor, Peconic Bay, and Shelter Island. Guests don't have to venture far for a pleasant afternoon in a quaint seaside village. The hotel sits next to Mitchell Park―with its 1920s carousel, observation deck, harbor walk, and seasonal ice skating―and is just a few minutes' walk to The Frisky Oyster restaurant, itself worth the trip to Greenport.
• Rates range from $189 to $749; 631/477-0707 or theharborfrontinn.com.
BEST WESTERN SEAPORT INN
New York, New York
Ah, to have a Manhattan apartment with an outdoor terrace and a river view! The Seaport Inn offers a taste of that life, and a glimmer of Old New York. The accommodations are comfortable but not swanky, and the included breakfast is pretty basic. But rooms on the top two floors come with roof terraces overlooking the East River and (for some) the looming Brooklyn Bridge. Shops, restaurants, and South Street Seaport's collection of maritime exhibits and historic ships lie steps away. And you can jog or stroll on the riverside promenade or across the fabled bridge. With subway lines nearby, this cheery inn makes an offbeat base for a New York visit.
• Rates start at $299; 212/766-6600 or seaportinn.com.
BLUE HERON INN
The Blue Heron offers four especially large guest rooms, but the most beguiling spaces are the smallest: window seats tucked into dormers. Both top-floor rooms have a pair, one each facing the Patuxent River and the sailboat-filled harbor. Just add a good book and a glass of Chardonnay from the "honor bar" for a blissfully lazy afternoon. Amanda Rutledge Comer, a trained chef who operates the inn with husband Chris, prepares wonderful breakfasts and will cook dinner on request. Guests also have access to bicycles, a kayak, the inn's dock, and first- and second-floor balconies that overlook the harbor.
• Rates range from $165 to $235; 410/326-2707 or blueheronbandb.com.
THE SANDERLING RESORT & SPA
Duck, North Carolina
Accommodations at this Outer Banks resort are divided among three inns. Most rooms have private porches overlooking Currituck Sound or the beach, where anything from a beach wedding party to a red fox may wander by. Considered among the best places to watch the sunset, The Sanderling also offers spa services, gourmet cuisine, and the soothing sound of waves outside your window.
• Rates start at $129; 252/261-4111 or thesanderling.com.
GULF OF MEXICO
INN BY THE SEA, VERA BRADLEY
Love Vera Bradley's signature floral and paisley handbags? Now you can stay at an inn with the same sense of style. This past spring, the company revamped the B&B, giving it nine guest rooms and common areas decorated with primary hues and mixtures of blooming wallpaper, toile, and checked patterns. Beds dressed in matelassé coverlets and sateen sheets make for great snoozing, although the inn's savory breakfast nudges even sleepyheads downstairs. Then, step outside to the roomy porch and relax in wicker settees and chairs. A final bonus: You get to take a bit of the inn home with you. Guests receive a complimentary Vera Bradley tote bag.
• Rates range from $270 to $300; 800/358-8696 or innbytheseavb.com.
THE LOOKOUT INN
New Orleans, Louisiana
As visitors return to the Big Easy, nabbing a nice room at a fair price can be as challenging as finding a moment of stillness on Bourbon Street. The Lookout Inn offers a surprising alternative: large, comfortable rooms at an amazing price. You'll have access to a saltwater pool, hot tub, and satellite TV, plus the French Quarter less than two miles away. The catch? The historic Bywater area might give Crescent City first-timers pause. You'll find a neighborhood with a dash of grit: Carefully restored shotgun houses trimmed in gingerbread details share the block with sagging shacks. But crime is minimal here, so stroll a half-block to The Joint for what some call New Orleans' best barbecue. Or walk to Bacchanal, a wine shop that also sells pâté and cheeses, and sample your purchase in its courtyard garden.
• Rates start at $69; 888/947-8188 or lookoutneworleans.com.
THE TIDES SOUTH BEACH
Miami Beach, Florida
After a much-needed makeover, one of Miami Beach's Art Deco landmarks has gone from dowager to diva. Built in 1936, The Tides South Beach has 45 suites, all featuring sea views and serene decor. (To escape South Beach's hubbub, ask for an upper floor.) In front of the handsome coral-stone facade, guests lounge over the hotel's Popsicle martinis and observe Ocean Drive's endless parade. Inside, the lobby feels like a glamorous living room, flanked by two intimate bars and the acclaimed restaurant La Marea, where faux turtle shells line the wall like shields. A pool with cabanas supplements the beach.
• Rates range from $450 to $7,500; 800/439-4095 or tidessouthbeach.com.