The Awtrey House
Pedigree: What happens when acclaimed architect and a former NBA player go all in on a B&B? The answer is found at the Awtrey House, an airy abode along a perfect slice of Pacific Northwest beach. The house was designed by James Cutler, an award-winning modernist architect whose designs blend emotional appeal and intellectual style. The panoramic ocean views almost pale in comparison to the interiors: soaring ceilings and wide-angle windows, earthtone textiles and original art by a local painter. It’s the height of contemporary cool.
Best Design Feature: The entire house is a work of modern art, but it’s the ocean-facing sitting room that’s the true heart of this home. Catch a sunset from the extra-spacious couch and enjoy the warming flow of the heartstone fireplace.
Rates from $295 per night.
Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast
Pedigree: Architect Charles Barton Keen designed many of the lush country homes that dot the affluent Main Line, and the 1856 Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast is among his finest. Once the home of a prominent physician, the English-style manor is now a top-rated B&B loved by Philadelphians looking for a romantic, elegant stay near the city. Breakfast is served on antique silver and crystal in the beyond-elegant dining room. Guests are encouraged to relax beside a babbling koi pond and or play a round in the fireside billiards room, nightcap in hand.
Best Design Feature: The Tudor Room delivers on its namesake with a magnificently carved mahogany four-post bed, draped in rich crimson linens. If that alone doesn’t do it for you, allow the antique armoire and fireplace to make you feel positively royal.
Rates from $205 per night.
The Buckingham Inn
Pedigree: The Prairie School is a thoroughly Midwestern one, marked by neat horizontal lines and broad overhanging roofs, all meant to blend effortlessly into the flat prairie landscape. The recently renovated Buckingham Inn, located at the edge of the University of Wisconsin campus, exemplifies this method inside and out. A sharp, squared-off exterior leads to neat-as-a-pin interiors mixing Arts and Crafts details with clean lines, bold colors, and tiled baths—a study in early-20th century Americana.
Best Design Feature: Is it the intricate woodwork, the dark-stained floors or the stained-glass windows that draw guests back time and time again? (It could be the Big Ten Wisconsin Badgers games, too.)
Rates from $160 per night.
Pedigree: This is Newport, where pedigree is everything. The Cliffside Inn, mere steps from the Cliffwalk and Rhode Island’s oldest money, is filled to the brim with Victorian elegance. This stately pile was built in 1876 by Maryland’s governor and later lived in by Newport artist and doyenne Beatrice Turner. Today, it’s a magnificent inn with lovingly restored details, including formal gardens and a sweeping verandah, plus enough rave reviews and travel awards to make anyone green with envy.
Best Design Feature: Each of the 16 suites marries a modern coastal aesthetic with Old World details; boldly painted walls bear fine art and period details. We love the idea of hopping from the two-person, skylight-topped spa shower right into a Victorian carved bed.
Rates from $200 per night.
Pedigree: Who better to operate a redesigned, design-focused B&B than, well, an interior designer? Barb Shadomy did just that when she opened the doors of Stonehurst Place, a restored National Register Historic manse in Atlanta’s Midtown. Preservation was key, and much of Stonehurst’s interiors contain original furnishings. A cool, contemporary palette of crisp whites and soft neutrals plus tasteful modern art hand-picked by Shadomy make this inn one of Atlanta’s artsiest.
Best Design Feature: There are plenty of surprises, from a vintage Hermes bags to a carved Carrara-marble fireplace, that speak to Shadomy’s refined tastes. On a romantic trip? We recommend a hideaway in the luxe Gables Suite.
Rates from $199 per night.
Hampton Terrace B&B
Pedigree: This Berkshires B&B promises the Gilded Age, and you'll get it in every nook, cranny, and corner. Live like a Vanderbilt—however briefly—in this 1897 “cottage” (that's what the rest of us call a mansion) tucked away in Lenox. Original fireplaces, elaborate moldings, glittering sconces, and antique textiles add Georgian flair. Amenities like Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and flatscreen TVs add a modern touch. And the lavish all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet adds a few inches to the waistline.
Best Design Feature: You can plunk out a jazzy tune on the 1929 Steinway (it’s available for guest use), or you can leave it to the experts at nearby Tanglewood, of course. Post-show, soak in a suite’s two-person corner Jacuzzi tub or, in summer, take a dip in the on-site swimming pool.
Rates from $249 per night.
Pedigree: A historical summer cottage that’s been refashioned into a Tuscan country estate—located in the heart of Chicago? It’s a reality at Villa D’Citta, a boutique mansion inn. Its greystone walls hide an interior honed by seven years of renovation by the award-winning firm Burns and Beyerl. Rooms are expertly furnished and completely unique, while public spaces are luxe with dark wood, grey linens, and soaring archways. Discover a brick-walled private grotto and courtyard (perfectly paired with a chilled glass of Asti in the sweltering midsummer heat).
Best Design Feature: We love the Milan Room’s crisp white style, designed with the attention to detail and proportion of an Italian atelier. It’s modern, clean and effortless; no stuffy floral wallpaper here.
Rates from $129 per night.
—by Dara Continenza