A nice hotel room view can make all the difference. You can spend hours enjoying Central Park and the New York skyline from a balcony at The Carlyle, while the view from Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif., is much simpler but equally compelling — a vast expanse of ocean and sky. And if you’re lucky enough to stay at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco, the bathtub vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge are magnificent.
We’ve all had the dispiriting experience of throwing open the curtains of a perfectly nice hotel room to expose a parking garage or a ventilation shaft. When you’re traveling for a special occasion, it never hurts to make a polite inquiry about the view beforehand. If pricing isn’t an issue, most hotel managers will respond to a friendly request for a better room location.
As a travel writer, I’ve stayed in hundreds of resorts and hotels over the years, and these are my favorite rooms with a view. As these properties benefit from remarkable locations, it’s difficult to choose a bad room, but I’ve included some specific recommendations when appropriate. After all, when a vacation is over, which do you remember more: the room or the view?
Diamond Head from Halekulani, Honolulu, Hawaii
Halekulani is a remarkably peaceful resort for being located squarely in five acres of prime Waikiki beachfront. The “Diamond Head Suites,” on floors nine and higher, offer commanding views of the volcanic crater. Room service on the balcony is highly recommended.
Plantation Golf Course and the Atlantic Ocean from The Lodge, Sea Island Resorts, Ga.
The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club is situated on the southern tip of St. Simons Island, one of Georgia’s many coastal islands. The Lodge is reminiscent of an English country manor and sits at the end of a magnificent natural avenue of oak trees. All of the guest rooms here overlook a bracing combination of emerald fairways, swaying cedar trees and St. Simons Sound.
Saranac Lake from The Point, Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Originally a weekend escape of the Rockefeller family, The Point is an Adirondack wilderness lodge in the “Great Camp” tradition on a 10-acre peninsula on a pristine lake in upstate New York. “Morningside,” a pine-paneled end-room in the south wing, is a particularly good spot for early risers. At dawn, Saranac Lake is as still as a mirror.
The Berkshire Hills from Wheatleigh, Lenox, Mass.
A two-and-a-half-hour drive from New York or Boston, Wheatleigh is a classic “Berkshire Cottage,” one of the many grand country estates built by the titans of the Gilded Age. Set on 22 acres overlooking a lake and the beautiful rolling Berkshire hills, the pastoral views here are framed by stately portico columns. A circular staircase in the whimsical “Aviary Room” leads to a light-filled bedroom that seems to hover in the trees.
Nantucket Harbor from The Wauwinet, Nantucket Island, Mass.
The Wauwinet is a classic gabled New England manse next to a nature preserve on the northeastern tip of Nantucket Island. The windows of the bayview bedrooms here offer a simple and classic composition of meadow, sea and sky. The far side of the bay is visible on the horizon, and the occasional sailboat at dusk adds a nice painterly touch.
Central Park from The Carlyle, New York City
One of New York’s classic art deco hotels, The Carlyle sits on the Upper East Side at Madison and 76th Street. Most of the west-facing “Tower Suites” here have intimate balconies hidden amid the architectural flourishes seen from the street. All have breathtaking views of Central Park, directly overlooking Conservatory Water.
The Madison Valley from The Lodge at Sun Ranch, Cameron, Mont.
The Lodge at Sun Ranch sits in the upper Madison River Valley in the southwestern portion of the state. The surrounding peaks and the angler-acclaimed Madison River are wonderful to behold, but it’s the big sky in its infinite varieties that dominates the senses here. Be sure to book a master suite upstairs with a panoramic mountain-view balcony.
The Tetons from Amangani, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Amangani sits on the crest of East Gros Ventre Butte, an isolated mountain overlooking the town of Jackson,Wyo. Every suite in the three-story modernist (“contemporary” for one of these?) resort affords heroic views of the snowcapped peaks of Grand Teton National Park jutting up from the alpine meadows of a broad valley. At almost 7,500 feet above sea level, the view is dizzying for more than one reason.
The Pacific Ocean from Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, Calif.
Post Ranch Inn is a loose collection of modernist (“contemporary” for one of these?) dwellings set on a ridgeline 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur, Calif. While several of the accommodations here (including a handful of clever tree houses) face the mountains to the east, most feature stunning floor-to-ceiling views of pure Pacific Ocean. A new “Cliff House” has a deck suspended almost directly over the crashing surf far below.
Boynton Canyon from Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Ariz.
Enchantment Resort in Sedona (roughly 100 miles north of Phoenix) sits in the heart of Arizona’s “Red Rock Country.” The adobe casita-style accommodations are sprinkled along the base of a canyon ringed with towering rock formations. At sunset, the crimson canyon walls almost seem lit from within.
Golden Gate Bridge from the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco
And finally, my nomination for best view from a bathtub would have to go to the Bay Bridge Mandarin King Rooms at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco. The baths have first-class views of the Transamerica Pyramid, Golden Gate Bridge and the glimmering bay beyond.