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Posted March 9, 2013


The Padmini Haveli Guesthome The Padmini Haveli Guesthome The Padmini Haveli Guesthome The Padmini Haveli Guesthome

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, India: The Padmini Haveli Guesthome
Nominated By: Charlotte Tottenham at Tottie's Travels, New Delhi, India, February '13


Price Range: Rs 3200-4100 # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes The Padmini Haveli Guesthome so Darn Good? The two qualities that make this hotel so exquisite are its unbeatable location and the charming family who owns and runs it.

Location: To understand the incomparable location, one needs to understand that Chittorgarh is an eighth century fort set on a steep hill overlooking the town and surrounding countryside. The fort itself houses a small village of 4000 residents, and it is in the midst of their colourfully painted concrete homes and Shiva temples that the newly renovated haveli sits. Chittorgarh is located in the state of Rajasthan, approximately ninety kilometres northeast of Udaipur, and can be reached in two to three hours by car or train.

Rooms: The nine rooms in this brilliantly restored Rajasthani merchant’s house are beautifully decorated, the sheets are pristinely white with quilts from the Jaipuri-brand Anokhi, and the walls of every room sport stunning photographs of Chittorgarh. The owners have installed a cozy library with an abundance of coffee-table photo books and a heavenly rooftop terrace that boasts phenomenal panoramic views. All rooms are complete with air conditioning units, heaters, and hot water.

Food: The traditional Rajasthani food is one hundred percent vegetarian, delicious, and can be as spicy as you request. The menu is set and includes seasonal vegetables, lentils, and rice, accompanied by chappatis, puris, and parathas. The coffee is fresh and real (as opposed to instant!), something I found hard to come by in India. In keeping with the family environment of this small hotel, guests dine together at a communal table in the courtyard.

Vibe: Very laid-back. Padmini truly embraces the rurality of this location. Borrow a mountain bike from the hotel and spend the day cycling around and exploring the area.

Keep in Mind: With no restaurants or other hotels in the fort, Padmini Haveli is very much an escape destination. If you are looking for a buzzing hotel in a busy area, neither Chittorgarh nor Padmini are for you. Instead, retreat to this beautiful Haveli which feels, in all the right ways, like a home from home.

Read more. See the map.
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Posted March 2, 2013


the green backpackers the green backpackers the green backpackers

Traveler Favorite

Mitzpe Ramon, Israel: The Green Backpackers
Nominated By: Adam Groffman of Travels of Adam, Berlin, Germany, February, '13


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: 75 ILS - 265 ILS # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes The Green Backpackers so Darn Good? "The hostel, only one year old, is small but the atmosphere on the inside is big. When you first arrive at the hostel, you step right into a living room; it feels immediately like a home."

Location: "Mitzpe Ramon is a small town in the Israeli Negev Desert. The Green Backpackers is located within five minutes walking distance to the tourist information center and the start of many hiking trails through the Makhtesh."

Rooms: "Hostel dorms and private rooms. The hostel is spread across two homes in the town (just down the street from one another)."

Food: "Breakfast is basic hostel fare, and you just chip in a bit to the jar."

Vibe: "Backpacker vibe."

Keep in Mind: "The Green Backpackers is not luxury, but the people who stay here and the hostel owners make sure everyone is happy."

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Posted February 10, 2013


wink hostel wink hostel wink hostel wink hostel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Singapore: Wink Hostel
Nominated By: Ria Mandik, Jakarta, Indonesia, December '11


Price Range: 50 SGD - 90 SGD (breakfast included) # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Wink Hostel so Darn Good? Wink has a perfect location in the heart of Chinatown, convenient by mass transit to just about anywhere you want to go in Singapore, but what makes the hostel so cool is its modern and high-tech take on the bed-pod concept. The staff is friendly and helpful, the atmosphere is peaceful and laid-back, and the rates for this level of quality in this part of town are fantastic.

Location: Wink is just a few minutes from the Chinatown Mass Rapid Transit station, but linger in the neighborhood and you can learn some history at the Chinatown Heritage Center, visit a Buddhist temple, or pick up some souvenirs at the vast Night Market. When you are finished shopping, take a short walk to Clarke Quay, a hotspot for Singapore nightlife.

Rooms: Located in a historic shop house gone modern, Wink departs from the ubiquitous hostel bunk bed with its sleek yet cozy bed pods. Pods have sound-resistant walls, and boast 260 thread-count sheets, orthopedic mattresses, and cushy backrests. Upon arrival you are equipped with a personal smart card which allows you to access your dormitory, your locker, and the entertainment lounge. Wink offers two mixed singles and one ladies-only dormitory, as well as a selection of queen-sized pods.

Food: A do-it-yourself breakfast of toast, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, and juice, is included, and the staff will happily point you in the right direction for some cheap and tasty eats. Of course, Chinatown has no shortage of options with the Chinatown Night Market just around the corner and a multitude of hawker stalls in the various food centres throughout the neighborhood.

Vibe: Wink has a relaxed atmosphere, doesn’t feel overcrowded, and is run by a group of wonderful, helpful people.

Keep in Mind: Wink only has shared bathrooms, but they are kept clean and have rain-shower showerheads.

Read more. See the map.
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Posted January 12, 2013


chrislin african lodge chrislin african lodge chrislin african lodge chrislin african lodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Addo, Sundays River Valley, South Africa: Chrislin African Lodge
Nominated By: Pamela, Charlottesville, Virginia, February '12


Price Range: R380-995 per person (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 12 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Chrislin African Lodge so Darn Good? Chrislin’s traditional mud huts, refreshing pool, and delicious restaurant are set in an orange grove just minutes from the amazing Addo Elephant Park. Need I say more?

Location: An hour and a half drive from the airport in Port Elizabeth, Chrislin Lodge is located in South Africa’s malaria-free Sundays River region. The Lodge is just twelve kilometers from the entrance to Addo Elephant National Park. Besides our guided wildlife safari, we spent our days canoeing down the Sundays River, visiting the Daniell Cheetah Breeding Project, and horseback riding in the park.

Rooms: Originally a working citrus farm, Crislin now offers a choice of several comfortable and airy thatched roof mud huts surrounded by the farm’s orange trees. Guests may choose from two hut types, the Garden Huts or the larger and more luxurious Orchard Huts, some of which have air conditioners. A dip in the Lodge’s pool was a great way to cool off after our morning game drive, and the beautiful grounds are an excellent place to stroll.

Food: Yum! Our first evening, the chef at Sneezewoods, Chrislin’s on-site restaurant, prepared a braai, or mixed BBQ, along with lovely salads, side dishes, and a good selection of South African wines. On our second night, the menu included several South African dishes, such as the tasty potjie, a traditional stew prepared outside in a cast iron pot. Breakfast is made to order and is served with freshly squeezed orange juice from the farm.

Vibe: Very relaxing. Chrislin’s staff is welcoming and extremely helpful, and we always felt that everyone was taking good care of us.

Keep in Mind: We suggest staying at least three nights to explore the area, and on that note, we highly recommend Chriscross Adventures, a tour company owned by the son of Chrislin's owner, for all of your adventure needs.

Read more. See the map.
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Posted December 16, 2012


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Arenal Volcano Region (Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica): Lucky Bug B & B
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, December '12


Price Range: US$69-$120 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Lucky Bug B & B so Darn Good? We are suckers for a good theme and the Lucky Bug does not disappoint with its beautifully adorned rainforest-themed rooms. We stayed in the art-filled Frog Room where everything from the lampshades to the wrought-iron bed frame and the ceramic sink basin leaped with tropical frogs. Ribbit. In the mornings, we enjoyed eating a scrumptious breakfast at the restaurant overlooking Lucky Bug's lush grounds, and then wandering around the on-site art gallery picking out gifts for back home.

Location: Lucky Bug is located on Lake Arenal's main road between the adventure hotspots of La Fortuna and Monteverde. Nuevo Arenal, a small town three kilometers down the road, has a few restaurants, a gas station, and a growing expat community. While we planned to go kayaking on the lake, we awoke to heavy downpours and had to switch gears. Within forty minutes, we found ourselves lounging in the thermal pools and sipping piña coladas at The Springs Resort and Spa (a less expensive but still fancy alternative to the more famous Tabacon Hot Springs).

Rooms: Lucky Bug has four guest rooms upstairs, two with balconies, plus one large suite downstairs, all decorated with colorful artwork from local Costa Rican artisans. Nature abounds at Lucky Bug. We could smell ripe guava fruit in the garden alongside the driveway, and spot frogs hopping around in the evenings. Guests can wander the grounds (look out for leaf-cutter ants) or take a canoe out on Lucky Bug's little pond.

Food: We ate our yummy and filling breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast with homemade jelly, and fresh fruit while sitting on the deck near the hummingbird feeders checking out the giant iguanas and basilisk lizards below. If we had more time we would have eaten lunch or dinner at Lucky Bug's restaurant, Caballo Negro, but we couldn't resist trying some of the local hotspots, such as the fabulous Gingerbread.

Vibe: Lucky Bug is a family affair, owned and run by Monica and her daughter Alexandra. Monica was away for most of our stay, but Alexandra was fun and friendly and steered us right on our rainy day.

Keep in Mind: Just so you're not confused when you arrive, guestrooms are tucked in the back of the property behind the owner's home and pond, while breakfast is served in the restaurant attached to the gallery along the roadside. Also, Lucky Bug is not within walking distance to the area's attractions, so having your own transport may be a good idea.

Read more. See the map.
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Posted November 4, 2012


hotel luna azul hotel luna azul hotel luna azul hotel luna azul

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Ostional, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: Hotel Luna Azul
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12


check availability, get rates, and reserve online


Price Range: US$110-$205 # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Hotel Luna Azul so Darn Good? Luna Azul's private bungalows come with outdoor showers and stylish wooden decks overlooking the jungle canopy. The open air restaurant serves scrumptious food in an elegant (but not stuffy) setting, and a swim in the gleaming infinity pool will soothe all your troubles away.

Location: Ten minutes from Ostional, Luna Azul is an obvious choice as a base for turtle watching. On our guided night-time walk along the protected beach, we had hoped to see the spectacular arribada, when thousands of Olive Ridely turtles lumber up the beach to dig holes and lay eggs, but instead we saw just a handful of turtles doing their thing – but so worth it! The next day we drove fifteen minutes in the other direction to spend the day in San Juanillo, a little fishing village with a sandy beach and a couple of tasty lunch spots. Nosara, the area's largest settlement and home to several popular surf beaches, is thirty minutes away.

Rooms: Luna Azul has seven bungalows situated along a winding path that leads though a lovely garden. The path culminates in the hotel's outdoor restaurant, lounge, and accompanying infinity pool. Our bungalow was bright and comfortable, but the highlights for us were showering in the blue-tiled outdoor shower and sitting on the deck rocking in traditional Guanacaste rocking chairs, all overlooking the forest canopy with views to the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Food: In the morning, we sat down to a beautifully set table for a breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, homemade jam, eggs, and pico de gallo. At night, we ordered a gourmet meal off the ever-changing chalkboard menu, eased back, and sipped our wine while dining by candlelight. Rolf, one of the owners, is a chef and everything we ate, such as the chicken with mushroom cream sauce, was absolutely delicious.

Vibe: Luxurious, yet laid-back. Fancy, yet family friendly. Rolf and Andreas arranged our trip to Ostional and gave us boogie boards and snorkel equipment for the next day's adventure in San Juanillo.

Keep in Mind: The unpaved coastal roads leading to Luna Azul, which sits on a hill in the middle of the rainforest, can be a bit of a challenge, and don't be surprised if you have to fjord a few rivers to get there. With a 4WD vehicle though, the adventure is most enjoyable and highly doable. Also, remember you are a visitor to the jungle, so be prepared for the occasional insect visitor.
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Posted October 2, 2012


poas lodge poas lodge poas lodge poas lodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica: Poas Lodge and Restaurant
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12



Price Range: US$55-$90 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Poas Lodge and Restaurant so Darn Good? Wow - the view! Feel the stress drain as you sip your wine in the candle-lit lounge staring out the wall of windows, mesmerized by the twinkling lights of San Jose below or a lightning storm in the distance.

Location: On the main road just two kilometers from Poas Volcano National Park, the lodge is the perfect place to stay for an early morning visit to the volcano before the infamous clouds roll in. The lodge is forty-five minutes from the San Jose airport and even closer to the Doka Coffee Estate and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Rooms: Decked out in soothing neutral tones, the lodge's five rooms have comfy beds with warm soft blankets, fresh-cut flowers, and views overlooking the Central Valley. Hummingbirds dart around the feeders in the lodge's hummingbird garden, and cows graze in the fields below.

Food: The Lodge's restaurant/lounge serves up delicious food in a supremely atmospheric setting. The breakfast spread includes home-made cakes, a choice of cereals, fresh fruit salad, and a hot entrée, such as the traditional pico de gallo. For dinner, the menu offers both typical Costa Rican fare and International dishes – either way you go the food is wholesome and fresh. For lunch we went right next door to a little restaurant, which served up the best arroz con pollo I ate on the whole trip (and I ate a lot!)

Vibe: Super-chill, especially at night when the candles are lit. The managers, Mark and Oliver, are a couple of friendly guys from South Africa who know how to run a killer lodge and restaurant.

Keep in Mind: Bring warm clothing as it is cool up at Poas, though in the lodge you'll find heaters in the rooms and cozy blankets in the lounge to keep your warm.

Read more. See the map.



Posted August 27, 2012


samara palm lodge samara palm lodge samara palm lodge samara palm lodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Samara, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: Samara Palm Lodge
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12



Price Range: US$50-$95 (breakfast extra) # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Samara Palm Lodge so Darn Good? Beautifully maintained and much loved by its amiable, yet unobtrusive, Swiss-German owners, the Samara Palm Lodge won us over from the moment we stepped through the gate. We could have spent all day swimming in the lovely pool or chillaxing in the thatched-roof lounge admiring the tropical gardens and looking for iguanas and monkeys in the trees.

Location: Located on the Nicoya Peninsula on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, Samara is a little surfer town with an excellent swimming beach, protected from riptides by a coral reef. One morning we drove ten minutes to the beautiful palm-lined Playa Carrillo where we had nearly the whole beach to ourselves, not counting the bright red sand crabs!

Rooms: The lodge's eight guestrooms and one family suite, all overlooking the pool, are simply yet cheerfully decorated with shells and towels sculpted into sea animals, and colorful hangings on the walls. Some rooms have air conditioners (much appreciated while we were there in July) and televisions.

Food: The yummy European-style breakfast includes a plate of meat and cheeses, along with bread, cereal, yogurt, and fresh fruit salad. While we planned on checking out some local breakfast spots, we couldn't resist opting for a leisurely breakfast by the pool each morning.

Vibe: Wonderfully peaceful, yet family friendly - we always looked forward to coming home to our little hideway after a day at the beach.

Keep in Mind: The lodge is a few blocks from the main part of town and the beach, but an easy walk.

Read more. See the map.



Posted August 19, 2012


arco iris lodge arco iris lodge arco iris lodge arco iris lodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Santa Elena, Monteverde Region, Costa Rica: Arco Iris Lodge
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12



Price Range: US$ (breakfast extra) # of Rooms: 20 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Arco Iris Lodge so Darn Good? Arco Iris is conveniently located just off Santa Elena's central triangle, yet its collection of immaculate cabins set among lush grounds makes it a world its own. We loved coming back to our cabin after a day of hiking in the cloud forest to relax on our front porch while looking forward to the next morning's scrumptious breakfast buffet.

Location: The cool little mountain town of Santa Elena, three hours from San Jose, is the gateway to the Monteverde region. While a few attractions such as the lovely Orchid Garden, as well as restaurants and grocery stores, are within walking distance to Arco Iris, you'll need transport to take advantage of all that the region has to offer. We recommend hiking in the Children's Eternal Rainforest and the Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge, touring Bat Jungle, and zip-lining at the Original Canopy Tour (Jimmy Carter did it too!).

Rooms: The lodge's twenty cabins, all built by local craftsmen using local materials, are set on a hill connected by stone paths winding through landscaped gardens abounding with tropical flowers and fruit trees. Our Standard Room had two beds, a blue-tiled rain shower, and hand-made honey soap.

Food: A huge shout-out to the breakfast buffet! With three types of fresh-baked breads (favorite: banana), an assortment of home-made jams (favorite: guayaba), tropical fruit salad, yogurt, granola, gallo pinto, plantains, potato pancakes, meats and cheeses, who could not come back for more? The lodge harvests much of its own produce right from its fruit trees and herb and vegetable garden behind the kitchen. For other meals, Santa Elena and the surrounding area have enough yummy restaurants to keep you busy for awhile.

Vibe: Supremely comfortable and relaxing – an excellent base for Monteverde adventures.

Keep in Mind: The friendly and informative staff at reception will steer you right and set you up with reservations for transportation, guided hikes, tours, and restaurants. Upon their recommendation we went to some of the smaller reserves and saw the resplendent quetzal along with a plethora of other birds and animals.

Read more. See the map.



Posted April 28, 2012


juniper lane guest house juniper lane guest house juniper lane guest house juniper lane guest house

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington: Juniper Lane Guest House
Nominated By: Natalie Pelc, Vienna, Austria, October '11



Price Range: US$60-$199 # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Juniper Lane Guest House so Darn Good? San Juan Island's Juniper Lane Guest House boasts beautiful rooms, a perfect location, and a cool vibe.

Location: Situated just outside Friday Harbor, the island's main town, Juniper Lane is surrounded by natural beauty yet within strolling distance to the town's many shops and restaurants. San Juan is the largest island of the chain, accessible by ferry from Washington and British Columbia, as well as by regional plane.

Rooms: With an abundance of love and imagination, Juniper and her team of talented craftspeople have transformed a dilapidated building into the absolutely gorgous guesthouse that it is today. The colorful rooms are whimsical, yet elegant and the woodwork and decorative finishes are of top-notch quality. Along with five guest rooms in the main house, two with shared bath, and a small cabin, Juniper Lane has a comfy living area and an outdoor patio/garden with incredible views of the idyllic Beaverton Valley.

Food: Although Juniper Lane does not serve meals, the guesthouse does have a spacious and fully equipped eat-in kitchen for guests who wish to dine in.

Vibe: Relaxing and inviting.

Keep in Mind: Juniper Lane is on the main road just outside town.

Read more. See the map.



apartment espoir

Traveler Favorite

Castries, St. Lucia: Apartment Espoir
 Nominated By: B. Gibbons, Regina, Saskatchewan, March '12


Price Range: US$78-$198 # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Apartment Espoir so Darn Good? "Location, location, location. Enjoy a spectacular view from your own terrace. Walk five minutes one way and live like a rich tourist on an exclusive beach. Walk five minutes the other way and live like a local, shopping and eating with wonderful friendly St. Lucians." Read more.




Posted April 4, 2012: Some of the new reviews were working on. Full reviews coming soon!


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Joshua Tree: Spin and Margie's Desert Hide-a-Way
 Nominated By: Jamie at A Desert Fete, California, October '11


Price Range: US$135-$175 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes


Why so darn good? "Hacienda style cabins around the sweetest courtyards, expansive grounds for spreading out, and nooks and crannies for discovering and hiding. Exactly what we had been looking for - a non hotel compound environment for our wedding where our friends and family could spend the weekend together. It's damn cute, and the owners are complete dolls. It was perfect. I highly recommend it for a wedding or just a getaway."



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Twentynine Palms: Moon Way Lodge
 Nominated By: Colleen, Chicago, December '11


Price Range: US$120-$165 # of Rooms: 2 Kid-Friendly: yes


Why so darn good? I loved this place. Jeff and Mikal, the owners, are the perfect hosts - so friendly, but also gave us all the privacy we needed. Our room was huge and opened up to a semi-private pool, patio, and balcony. It was decorated in a fun, funky, retro way with the owners' own art pieces. We could walk out into our own "backyard" with a fire pit to sit by which looks onto acres of unadulterated desert. The lodge is very close to Joshua Tee National Park as well as the little downtown of Twentynine Palms, but far away enough to feel like you are alone (in a very good way). I wish I could take this place everywhere I went.



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Jensen Beach (Southeast FL): Inn at Tilton Place
 Nominated By: Shalimar Orlanes at Wanderlust for the Love of Food and Travels, November '11


check availability, get rates, and reserve online


Price Range: US$99-$170 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly:


What makes the Inn at Tilton Place so Darn Good? The two and half hour drive from Ft. Lauderdale was well worth it when I opened the door to my room. The walls are a beautiful shade of dark blue and the sleigh bed is covered in luxurious blankets and huge memory foam pillows. It was not like a typical inn I have seen in the US, but rather something I would expect in the UK, except of course for the ceiling fan, the shutters, and the wooden floors which are light and airy - a traditional old Floridian house. And more, there was a complimentary breakfast, oh and oh, a proper kettle! Yes, indeed it was the best breakfast I ever had in the US.



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Holualoa, Big Island, Hawaii: Lilikoi Inn
Nominated By: Dian H , Honolulu, Hawaii, January '12


Price Range: US$125-$165 # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Lilikoi Inn so Darn Good? "The Lilikoi Inn is home away from home. Set in the peaceful and lush Holualoa, it offers a tranquil and private place to stay while vacationing on the Big Island. The home itself is beautiful with many stunning views of Kailua-Kona and the coast. The hosts are amazing too. Trina and Shai feel like long lost family. They are open, caring and compassionate, sharing personal stories, photo albums, and even an impromptu hula in the living room! Shai is an amazing chef, so creative and passionate about his masterpieces! I was equally impressed with a tour of their property with many fruit trees and even some new and surprising plants to eat."



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Windham (Catskills Region): Albergo Allegria
Nominated By: Logistics, Denville, New Jersey, February '12


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: US$93-$249 # of Rooms: 21 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Albergo Allegria so Darn Good? "The breakfasts at Albergo Allegria are on this side of gourmet and the rooms are kept spotless by an efficient staff. If you have any questions about activities in the area, such as hiking, skiing, or snow shoeing, the staff will not steer you wrong. Just minutes from Windham Mountain and a little longer from Hunter, the Albergo Allegria is an oasis in the Catskills."



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize: Moonracer Farm
Nominated By: Sara Arman, Earen Hummel, Margaret Rush, and Sarah, February '12


Price Range: US$65 (meal plan available) # of Rooms: 2 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Moonracer Farm so Darn Good? The rustic cabin (running water, but no electricity) at Moonracer Farm in the jungles of western Belize is the perfect getaway from urban city life. Marge and Tom are fabulous – they are down-to-earth, caring, and knowledgeable hosts. They helped arrange tours and suggested sites for us to see, and everything they suggested was something we were very glad we did not miss. Marge's food is to die for, and we enjoyed evenings eating and drinking with them in the palapa while discussing a wide and wild variety of things.



Traveler Favorite - Full Review Coming Soon!

Heredia, Costa Rica (Central Valley): Casa Holanda
 Nominated By: T&M, Green Valley, Arizona, January '12


Price Range: US$30-$110 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Casa Holanda so Darn Good? "James and Roy are the vibe that makes a stay at Casa Holanda special. They provide for every need, quietly and pleasantly. Where else could one be treated to live piano music while dining? Beyond the service, the other best part is the home-cooked local cuisine using fresh ingredients - breakfast included in the room rate, and additional meals at reasonable prices. Casa Holanda is just what a B&B should be!"



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Punta Uva, Costa Rica (Caribbean coast): Korrigan Lodge
Nominated By: Marina K Villatoro at Travel Experta, February '12


Price Range: US$80-$100 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Korrigan Lodge so Darn Good? Located on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, not far from the border with Panama, Korrigan Lodge consists of four wonderfully furnished and comfortable bungalows, each with a private porch and luxurious bathroom. The lodge is set back in the middle of the jungle, yet quiet beaches and nearby restaurants are only a short walk away. Wake up in the morning to the sounds of howler monkeys and tropical birds, and then enjoy a delicious breakfast that includes fresh fruit, eggs, and home-baked croissants.



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Federal District (Mexico City), Mexico: El Patio 77 Bed & Breakfast
Nominated By: Hannelore Boerm, Hamburg, Germany, January '12


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: US$75-$105 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes El Patio 77 so Darn Good? El Patio 77 is an old-style Mexican town house with comfortable, spacious suites and bedrooms decorated with popular art from different Mexican states. Located in the colorful and quaint Colonia San Rafael neighborhood, this eco-friendly B&B is a few blocks from the San Cosme metro station and within walking distance of the historic city center. I especially appreciated the artistic ambience and the helpful and friendly multilingual staff.



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Jalisco State (Jocotepec), Mexico: Los Dos Bed & Breakfast
Nominated By: Buzzy Gordon, Fennville, Michigan, USA, November '11


Price Range: US$90-$160 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Los Dos so Darn Good? Live like an expat in your own apartment-like digs in an area renowned for the best year-round climate in Mexico. Your American-born hostess, long-time local resident Phyllis Rauch, has created a tranquil enclave popular with repeat foreign visitors and vacationing Mexicans alike.



Traveler Favorite

Oaxaca State (Puerto Escondido), Mexico: Hotel Tabachin
 Nominated By: Dan, Austin, Texas, January '12


Price Range: US$75-$90 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes the Hotel Tabachin so Darn Good? First, the owner, Paul Cleaver, an American living in Puerto Escondido for thirty years, is both gracious and knowledgeable about the history and culture of the area as well as the entire country of Mexico and the world. The six studio and penthouse apartments are spacious, colorful, and full of artistic details. The rooftop view is available for all guests and offers a spectacular, panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Hotel Tabachin is located conveniently between the principal tourist area, Adaquin, and the famous surfing beach called Zicatela, and a short taxi ride or a pleasant walk gets you downtown. Your hotel room comes with a splendid breakfast with everything from oatmeal to enchiladas.



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Yucatán State (Mérida), Mexico: Hotel Julamis
Nominated By: Clarke Gallery, Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA, January '12


Price Range: US$39-$75 # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: no


What makes the Hotel Julamis so Darn Good? Just know how to enjoy and relax when staying at this down-to-earth Merida boutique hotel. Mel and Erid are the best - sooo accommodating. The hotel has a quiet but central location, a five minute walk to the main square and the fabulous Paseo de Montejo. The new rooftop deck provides visitors with fabulous views of all the cities churches.



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Manses, Ariège: Belrepayre Airstream & Retro Camping
 Nominated By: Martin, Kingston Upon Hull, England, February '12


Price Range: 77-200 Euro (camping and pitches are much less) # of Rooms: 10 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Belrepayre so Darn Good? "After driving through the pretty little village, Manses, and after a quick confirmation over the intercom, the 'Retro' style electronic gates open, putting a smile on our faces which would remain for the rest of our stay. The lovingly restored Airstreams alone are a thing of beauty, and the landscaping, views, and attention to detail all show the passion that's gone into Belrepayre. The hosts, Coline and Perry, are genuinely warm, friendly, and caring, and they have created an amazing, relaxing, and unique place."



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Subles, Normandy: Moulin De Hard
 Nominated By: Jenny, Kearny, New Jersey, October '11


Price Range: 100-120 Euro (includes breakfast) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes the Moulin De Hard so Darn Good? "Moulin de Hard is a bed and breakfast in a converted old stone mill lying between two streams, so all you hear at night is the gentle running of water. Gorgeous flowers are everywhere outside in the garden, and sheep, cows, and horses graze in the green meadows surrounding the property. The inside is amazingly decorated from Helene's own trips around the world, and I spent a good hour just looking at all her things. I cannot recommend this bed and breakfast enough. It is simply fantastic. "



Traveler Favorite

Kilkenny, County Kilkenny: Lawcus Farm Guest House
 Nominated By: Christa at Fearlessly Infertile, November '11


Price Range: 50 Euro (per person) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes the Lawcus Farm Guest House so Darn Good? "The Lawcus Farm Guesthouse was our version of paradise on earth. It was so beautiful and peaceful yet there were so many things to do. It felt like coming home...that's really the only way I can explain it. When we pulled up Ann-Marie was waiting for us and showed us to our room, The Stone Room. It was so nice. After we had tea with Ann-Marie, she showed us around the farm that was teeming with new life. Her four sheep and one sow had all given birth and there were little lambs and piglets everywhere. There were dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, turkeys, horses, cows and a little river down the hill where we spotted trout swimming. It was such a neat place to spend the night."



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Lisbon: Living Lounge Hostel
 Nominated By: Christa at Riding the 505, Sheffield, UK, January '12


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at hostelbookers


Price Range: 18-37 Euro (per person) # of Rooms: 23 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes the Living Lounge Hostel so Darn Good? "The Living Lounge Hostel is an art-themed hostel close to the Baixa-Chiado metro station, right in the heart of the trendiest part of town. A lovely chocolate shop sits next door, a cafe at one end of the block, and must-do sights at the doorstep. The rooms have really interesting themes inspired by Lisbon culture – ours revolved around a Portuguese artist. During the evening meal we made brilliant friends, including with the cook, a lovely guy who made us feel so welcome."



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: The 252
 Nominated By: Andrea, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, December '11


Price Range: US$45-$65 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 19 Kid-Friendly: yes


Why so darn good? The 252's large, spacious rooms and friendly and helpful staff won me over. Gorgeous huts surround the pool for relaxing, enjoying a drink, or taking an afternoon nap! The hotel is a quiet and peaceful alternative to staying right by Phnom Penh's riverside.



Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Yangshuo County (Jiuxian Village), China: Yangshuo Secret Garden Boutique Hotel
 Nominated By: niekie, Netherlands, February '12


Price Range: # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes the Yangshuo Secret Garden Boutique Hotel so Darn Good? "The Secret Garden is a beautiful and authentic hotel located in a gorgeous setting - right between Yangshuo's famous karst mountains with rice paddies outside the front door. The buildings are 19th century farmhouses, stunningly renovated using local labor and full of original features. The owners and staff are super friendly as well, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome."



Wink Hostel

Traveler Favorite

Singapore: Wink Hostel
 Nominated By: Ria Mandik, Jakarta, Indonesia, December '11


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: 50 SGD - 90 SGD # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Wink Hostel so Darn Good? "Wink has a great location in Singapore's Chinatown near the Mass Rapid Transportation (MRT), hawker's food centre, and night market. The room design is super cool, with cozy bed pods instead of bunk beds and individualized safety cards. The male and female showers are spacious, clean, and ultra-modern. The staff is friendly and very helpful. Last but not least Wink Hostel is quite cheap (50 SGD/night) including a lavish DIY breakfast."


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Addo, Sundays River Valley, Eastern Cape, South Africa: Chrislin Lodge and Spa
Nominated By: Pamela, Charlottesville, Virginia, February '12


Price Range: R360-R550 per person (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 12 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Chrislin Lodge so Darn Good? "Chrislin is set in an orange grove in the malaria-free Sundays River region, right next door to Addo Elephant Park. Chrislin's thatched roof mud huts are large, comfortable and airy, with a large shower in the bathroom. The pool is a great way to cool off after a morning's game drive, and the restaurant is the best in the area. The staff is welcoming and extremely helpful. We always felt safe and well taken care of."




Posted February 15, 2012


the shady dell the shady dell the shady dell the shady dell

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Bisbee, Arizona: The Shady Dell
Nominated By: Amanda, Dallas, Texas, November '11



Price Range: US$55-$145 # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes The Shady Dell so Darn Good? Each vintage trailer at the fabulous Shady Dell is decked out in a retro theme, complete with authentic interiors, period tableware, and mid-century appliances. Over the years, we have stayed in four trailers, each one as cool as the other. We always have fun looking in the trailer drawers and cabinets to see what treasures - old yearbooks, magazines, board games, even packets of 1950's hosiery - are waiting to be discovered.

Location: The Shady Dell is a couple of miles outside Bisbee, one of southern Arizona's original copper-mining towns, now home to a laid-back arts and restaurant scene. Bisbee is also worth the trip for a tour of the Copper Queen Mine or a visit to the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.

Rooms: The Shady Dell has nine vintage trailers, a 1957 Tiki-themed Airporter bus, and a 1947 Chris Craft Yacht. The Polynesian El Rey, the Vegas-themed Airfloat, and all the rest brim with authentic details of days gone by. Sit back and soak up the 50's era radio broadcasts on your AM radio or watch a Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz flick on your black and white television set. Have some coffee from your electric percolator in a melamine mug or learn to tap dance from a book. There's so much to do at the Shady Dell, and that's without even stepping out of your trailer!

Food: Cooking is not allowed in the trailers, but Shady Dell has placed several charcoal grills in the central courtyard – perfect for a cookout and a great opportunity to hang out with your neighbors. For picnic provisions, head to Old Bisbee's High Desert Market and Café where you'll find gourmet groceries, organic produce, and locally brewed beer.

Vibe: The Shady Dell has a real sense of community. One night, we had an impromptu picnic with a German mother-daughter duo checked into the El Rey. We had a blast drinking their Icelandic Schnapps and talking for hours. Jen and Justin, the Shady Dell's on-site owners, are super fun too and helpful if you need them.

Keep in Mind: The trailers are diverse in size and amenities, so check out the online photos and descriptions before making a reservation. In particular, keep in mind that only one trailer has a full bath, most have toilets and sinks, and all are within easy walking distance to the shared bathroom facilities. Also, we are sad to say that the on-site Dot's Diner is closed.

Read more. See the map.



Posted January 21, 2012


skapo apartments skapo apartments skapo apartments skapo apartments

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Vilnius, Lithuania: Skapo Apartments
 Nominated By: Allison and Michael of Darn Good Digs, January '12


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: 37-62 Euros # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Skapo Apartments so Darn Good? After parking our car on a narrow alleyway in the heart of Old Town Vilnius, we entered an unassuming wooden gate to find a lovely cobblestone courtyard with a covered outdoor dining table and bright flowers. We stayed in Apartment #1, a cozy studio with a cool loft bed, wooden beams, and colorful paintings of old Vilnius. We couldn't have asked for a better location or a more comfortable pad in Vilnius.

Location: Smack dab in the center of Old Town, Skapo Apartments are just a one minute walk from Pilies Gatve, one of Vilnius's most lively pedestrian streets lined with restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops. Other attractions, such as Cathedral Square and the University are just a few minutes away as well.

Rooms: The three apartments that make up Skapo Apartments are all clustered around the same quiet courtyard. All apartments have laundry and kitchenettes, and our apartment had its own glassed-in sun area and a small table in the courtyard. The other two apartments are larger; Apartment #2 is the most basic, and Apartment #3 sports some authentic details like antique refurbished doors and arches.

Food: While you could easily cook all of your meals in your kitchenette, we wouldn't recommend it! Old Town Vilnius has a ton of inspired restaurants including the raw food spot right outside the courtyard gate on Skapos Gatve.

Vibe: Private apartments, atmospheric courtyard, and friendly managers.

Keep in Mind: We found a parking spot right outside the gate, and kept our car there for three nights. Apparently the proximity of the Presidential Palace helps to keep the adjacent streets safe.

Read more. See the map.



Posted January 16, 2012


the motorlodge the motorlodge the motorlodge the motorlodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Prescott: The Motor Lodge
 Nominated By: Fans of The Motor Lodge, December '11


Price Range: US$89-$139 # of Rooms: 12 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes The Motor Lodge so Darn Good? Just three blocks from Prescott's town square and famed Whiskey Row, the Motor Lodge has been lovingly rebuilt, restored, and funkified by its new owners. Brian and Joe are fantastic hosts and have poured their hearts and souls into the Motor Lodge, transforming this historic 1940's motel into the stylish, fun, and lively digs that it is today. Hang out with the other happy guests at the community firepit, take a vintage tandem bicycle out for a spin, or cozy up in your comfy bed with its down pillows. Any way you look at it, you might just leave a little hipper and cooler than you were when you arrived.

Location: The Motor Lodge is within walking distance to Prescott's historic Courthouse Square and Whiskey Row, a saloon-lined street featuring live music most nights. Ninety miles north of Phoenix, Prescott is a laid-back old west town, a destination not only for its art galleries, antiques, and boutique shops, but also for its old west history and spectacular setting. After taking in times past at the Sharlot Hall Museum or the Smoki Museum of Indian Art and Culture, get outside and go hiking, climbing, mountain biking or flatwater kayaking.

Rooms: Brian and Joe have pulled off a totally groovy renovation of a 1940's motor court, and have a story to tell about each of the twelve free-standing rooms, all individually decorated with cool art, retro furniture, and funky knick knacks. In Room #6, you'll find a bed and vanity rescued from the original honeymoon suite at the Vegas Stardust hotel, cool glasswork on the bathroom walls, and original subway tiles in the two person shower. Most rooms have porches, adjoining parking garages, and fireplaces, and in cooler months the owners stoke up a fire where guests can warm themselves while having cocktails.

Food: Beer and wine at check–in, freshly baked cookies when you leave. Besides that, some rooms have kitchenettes, and the Motor Lodge has a gas grill available to all guests. Headed out for a meal? Brian and Joe are fantastic at recommending restaurants - every place they suggested was delicious and we tried many a local spot that we would've otherwise missed.

Vibe: Upbeat, low-key, funky, fun, and amazingly hip. We felt welcome from the get-go, like we were instantly in on something fantastic.

Keep in Mind: This is a popular place, so make sure to book ahead, especially for peak weekends and events such as the Whiskey Off Road Mountain Bike Race or the Prescott Rodeo.

Read more. See the map.



Posted January 9, 2012


bueng pai farm bueng pai farm bueng pai farm bueng pai farm

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Mae Hong Son (Pai), Thailand: Bueng Pai Farm
Nominated By: Mary Bartnikowski, San Francisco, California and Mike, Montreal, Canada, November '11


Price Range: 500-1800 Baht # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Bueng Pai Farm so Darn Good? A true gem - we never wanted to leave this little piece of heaven on earth! Surrounded by rice paddies in a gorgeous mountain valley, the farm has private bungalows overlooking a quiet fishing pond where guests can fish right from their hammocks. When not exploring the countryside, we spent our days fishing, relaxing in the farm's open-air island library, and swimming in the farm's natural, chemical-free swimming pool - complete with little fish to tickle your toes! Your hosts, Run and Orn, are absolute angels – kind, helpful, and fantastic cooks to boot. I felt so absolutely cared for and rested in this Pai-adise.

Location: The farm is set among rice paddies along the lazy Pai River two and a half kilometers outside of Pai, a laid-back backpacker town with a lively music and restaurant scene. When not lazing in your hammock, you may want to take a bike ride through the countryside, go tubing down the Pai River, or check out the nearby hot springs and waterfalls. Pai is a popular starting off point for elephant treks through Northern Thailand and can be reached by bus from Chiang Mai, eighty kilometers away, or by plane directly to Pai.

Rooms: Bueng Pai Farm's fourteen bungalows, all traditionally designed and built using local, natural materials, are immaculate with en-suite bathrooms, hot showers, and free WiFi. Many of the bungalows are right on the pond, yet the ones set back from the water are also wonderful as they have gorgeous views of the rice fields to be enjoyed from your veranda. The bungalows range in size to accommodate single travelers as well as families.

Food: Better than mom's! Run and Orn cook up delicious and nutritious vegetarian breakfasts such as home-made toasted muesli with yogurt, omelets cooked and served on a banana leaf, and chocolate pancakes. These and other delicious dishes and drinks are served with a smile – everyone at the farm is wonderful at making you feel at home. For lunch and dinner, the farm has a fully equipped guest kitchen, and the nearby town of Pai has plenty of restaurants with tasty food from the world-over.

Vibe: The beauty and tranquility of Bueng Pai Farm are mesmerizing. I loved sitting on one of the shady decks watching the fish in the pond leap for joy and at night listening to the frogs in the rice fields sing me to sleep.

Keep in Mind: The Farm is a couple of kilometers out of town so you may need a bicycle, motorbike, or car to get around. The walk to town is doable though, and you get to enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way.

Read more. See the map.



Posted December 11, 2011


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Niagara Falls, Ontario: Rex Motel
 Nominated By: cari, Louisville, Kentucky, August '11


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: $55-$159 CAD (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 15 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes the Rex Motel so Darn Good? The Rex may look like a typical roadside motel from the outside, but inside you'll find cute remodeled theme rooms such as "Provence" and "Sunset in Africa". The owners, Emily and Simeon, are amazingly friendly and dish up tasty homemade Bulgarian pastries for breakfast.

Location: The motel is located right off the highway just over a mile from the town of Niagara Falls, Canada (and that little waterfall you've come to see).

Rooms: The Rex has six themed singles, eight themed doubles, and one family fun suite, otherwise known as Cuba Libre.

Food: For breakfast, the owners bring you freshly baked traditional Bulgarian pastries called bureks to enjoy with your coffee or tea. Each room has a mini-fridge and microwave, some have kitchenettes, and the motel has a communal BBQ area outside. While you'll find a greater selection of restaurants in town, you can also grab a quick bite at the inexpensive restaurant across the street from the motel.

Vibe: Ultra friendly.

Things to Keep in Mind: The Rex may not be super fancy, but you can't beat the price and experience for Niagara Falls!

Read more. See the map.
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Posted November 30, 2011


maravilla maravilla maravilla maravilla

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Las Marias, Puerto Rico: Maravilla
Nominated By: Stacy at Butiki Teas, Hamilton, New Jersey, USA, October '11


Price Range: US$110-$210 # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Maravilla so Darn Good? My husband and I stayed in the "luxury" cabin for six nights and chose the luxury all-inclusive option, which includes an unbelievably amazing breakfast, lunch, and multi-course dinner each day. The view of the lush rainforest during breakfast is spectacular, and our dinners by candle-light were very romantic. Maravilla's owners, Margo and Mark, along with their staff, are so welcoming – we can't wait to go back some day!

Location: Maravilla is located in the rainforest at the end of a long, winding road through hills planted with coffee, oranges, and plantains. Hiking trails wind through the property (a Mecca for bird watchers) past streams, waterfalls, and swimming holes. While guests may easily spend their days lounging in their hammocks or wandering the jungle trails, many take a day or two to explore more of western Puerto Rico. Popular trips include the surf town of Rincon or the cute little coffee town of Maricao. San Juan is two and a half hours away, but Aguadilla has a closer airport.

Rooms: Maravilla offers three choices of accommodation: the cabin, a cottage room or suite, and camping. We stayed in the cabin, which has an open kitchen and sitting area allowing for a spectacular view of the rainforest. The cabin has no electricity and is lit by propane lanterns and heated by a gas fireplace on chilly days, all adding to its charm. The cottage has two upstairs rooms that can be rented together, a living room, and a small balcony. Downstairs is a full kitchen, and dining area where the breakfast buffet is served. For those who choose to camp, Maravilla supplies tents, air mattresses, linens, and lanterns.

Food: Margo prepares unbelievably delicious food. We went vegan, although Maravilla also offers raw and vegetarian options. Some of the highlights for us were the coconut crusted tofu over noodles, the sesame and walnut crusted tofu, and the fried green tomatoes with pepper jam. Desserts were to die for, and we looked forward to the breakfast buffet every morning with its fresh-baked pastries and tropical fruits picked right on the property. Margo was very accommodating with meals and packaged several breakfasts and lunches for us when we went on day trips.

Vibe: Natural, lush, and laid-back.

Keep in Mind: Our advice is to splurge for the luxury all inclusive option if you can – so worth it. Also, plan to spend a few days at Maravilla exploring the beautiful property – we took many day trips but wished that we had spent more time just relaxing. And finally, if you are staying in the cabin, you may want to bring some extra lights.
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Posted November 30, 2011


Traveler Favorite

Brooklyn, New York: 3B
Nominated By: Adam Robinson at Publishing Genius, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, November '11


Price Range: US$45-$160 # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes 3B so Darn Good? Run by a small cooperative of creative Brooklynites (dare we say hipsters), 3B is cool. The design is thoughtful, the all-vegetarian breakfasts are inspired, and the location is near hip Brooklyn neighborhoods as well as that little island across the river called Manhattan. Read more.



Posted October 31, 2011


selous river camp selous river camp selous river camp selous river camp

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania: Selous River Camp
Nominated By: John Strain, Chippenham, UK, September '11



Price Range: US$65-$125 (full board, per person) # of Rooms: 12 Kid-Friendly: Yes (but wild animals are all around)


What makes the Selous River Camp so Darn Good? I'll never forget the excitement of being awakened at night by a stampeding elephant or a whooping hyena while staying in a mud hut overlooking a river full of hippos! Not only this, but the entire camp is run so efficiently. Meals were punctual (and delicious) and the safaris were well organized, with good vehicles and extremely knowledgeable guides and drivers.

Location: Selous River Camp is surrounded by dense scrub on the banks of the Rufiji River by the Mtemere Gate, just outside the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania. Declared a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1982, the Selous is home to the world's largest population of African wild dogs, the continent's highest concentration of hippos, and more than half of Tanzania's elephants. This fabulous game reserve is both the largest and oldest protected area in Africa, yet during our stay it felt largely undiscovered. From Dar es Salaam, Selous River Camp is a short flight, five hours by 4-wheel drive, or eight plus hours by bus.

Rooms: The camp has three lodging options: mud huts, canvas tents, and a campsite. The mud huts, all with lovely four-poster beds handmade from local tree branches and en-suite bathrooms with showers (some cold), have private terraces overlooking the river. Those opting to stay in the rest camp sleep in canvas tents decked out with local rope beds, safari chairs, and palm leaf mats, while visitors who bring their own tents may camp in the shady campsite along the river bank.

Food: Meals at Selous River Camp are excellent, and the chefs were happy to cater to our vegetarian diets. For breakfast, we enjoyed fresh fruit, toast with marmalade and peanut butter, and eggs cooked to order. Lunch is served at camp or packed into the Land River for a Safari picnic. You just can't beat eating quiche and salad whilst wildebeests, giraffes, and zebras look on! The camp serves a three course dinner at its lovely restaurant cum bar/lounge alongside the river.

Vibe: Selous River camp was one of the most friendly, personal, and relaxing places I've ever stayed. The owners spent time really getting to know the guests, and the staff was friendly and efficient without being formal. We enjoyed relaxing in the evenings with the other guests sharing stories about the day's safari.

Keep in Mind: Wild animals sometimes enter the camp, particularly at night, but we felt quite safe, especially with the armed guards stationed around camp. The camp is very dark at night, so don't forget your torch!

Read more. See the map.



Posted October 23, 2011


homestay homestay homestay homestay

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Riga, Latvia: Homestay
Nominated By: Allison and Michael of Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, October '11



Price Range: (includes breakfast) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Homestay so Darn Good? Diga and Ric's fabulous all-timber home in Riga's Mezaparks neighborhood was a true highlight of our three week trip to the Baltics. When normally we would be rushing out to see the sites, here we lingered, enjoying Ric's huge, delicious breakfasts and the good company of hosts and guests alike.

Location: Homestay is on a quiet street in Mezaparks, Riga's historic neighborhood of art nouveau and bauhuas mansions dating back to the early 20th century when the city's high society decided to move to the ‘burbs. While fifty years of Soviet rule took its toll on many homes, Mezaparks is still Riga's poshest neighborhood, and Ric will take you on a tour if you want to know more. While the zoo and song stadium make the neighborhood a destination unto itself, most visitors come to see Riga's captivating old town and striking art nouveau district, a thirty or twenty minute tram ride away respectively.

Rooms: Homestay has four rooms, a large double on the ground floor, and two doubles and a two-room suite on the second floor. The two bathrooms are shared but we were lucky enough to have the ground floor one to ourselves. Common spaces include a comfortable living room with a television and movies to watch and a lovely garden. What we really found most extraordinary about the house though is Diga's eclectic sense of style with a colorful mix of antiques, quilts, curtains, and paintings of all sizes (many by Diga herself) filling Homestay's every nook.

Food: Breakfast is a wonderful and fun affair at Homestay. Ric bakes multi-grain bread every morning which he serves with fresh rhubarb and home-made jam, followed by potato pancakes, bacon, eggs, and as many pancakes as you can possibly eat. You'll have a hard time saying "no thank you" to the next helping, so sit back, relax, joke with the other guests, and loosen your belt.

Vibe: Both Diga and Ric are excellent and generous hosts. Ric has many hilarious stories to tell, and even better, he told them to us while plying us with beer and home-made ice cream. Diga is lovely - she helped us with our laundry when it rained and even let our six year old take the dog for a walk.

Keep in Mind: We enjoyed the daily tram rides to the old town, but the commute may not be for everybody. Also, be aware that Diga and Ric have cats and a very friendly dog.

Read more. See the map.



Posted October 3, 2011


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Clarksdale, Mississippi: Shack Up Inn
Nominated By: Dave Hoekstra from the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago, USA, September '11



Price Range: US$65-$275 (moon pie, Delta donuts, coffee included) # of Rooms: 24 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Shack Up Inn so Darn Good? You can find Mississippi's heart at the Shack Up Inn. I've slept in hotel lobbies in Havana, pontoons on the Mississippi River and a bordello in the Dominican Republic, but I've never stayed at a place as cool as the Shack Up Inn.

Location: About an hour south of Memphis, and home to the Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale is a good place to begin a slow drive along Highway 61, the legendary "Blues Highway". The Inn is surrounded by Mississippi bean fields, yet just a couple of miles from the center of town.

Rooms: While each of the Shack Up Inn's thirteen sharecropper shacks appears to have been restored just to its bare necessities, the owners (aka "shackmeisters") have clearly paid attention to every detail such as the rusty, brown refrigerator that looks like it was last used by Howlin' Wolf and the moon pie waiting for me on my pillow. With a Washburn piano from the 1800s, an antique Victrola, and a CD player-radio complete with CDs from regional artists like Son House, the Crossroads stays true to the area's musical roots. In addition to the shacks, the property includes the Cotton Gin Inn, a renovated barn with ten slightly more "plush" rooms, and Bill's House, a three bedroom converted tractor shed.

Food: Wake up to Delta donuts and coffee compliments of the Inn, or scramble up your own breakfast in your shack's kitchenette. When you don't feel like cooking, bring back some BBQ from town, or sit down to a meal at Madidi, co-owned by local Morgan Freeman. Afterwards, head over to Ground Zero or the Inn's own Juke Joint Chapel for some live blues.

Vibe: Grab a cold one from the lobby bar, sit back on your porch, and take in the Mississippi air.

Keep in Mind: During Clarksdale's three major Blues Festivals, the Shack Up Inn is nearly impossible to book so call way ahead to get the low-down.

Read more. See the map.



Posted September 21, 2011


karmi farm karmi farm karmi farm karmi farm

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Bijanbari, Darjeeling District, India: Karmi Farm
Nominated By: Shelley seale, Austin, Texas, USA, December '10


Price Range: US$35 (all meals included) # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Karmi Farm so Darn Good? A stay at Karmi Farm is far from your typical homestay. Here, guests can go trekking or bird-watching in the magnificent mountains, participate in one of the art retreats or yoga clinics held at the farm throughout the year, or volunteer at the farm's own medical clinic which offers free and low-cost treatments to villagers, many of whom walk hours for care.

Location: Karmi Farm is in the northern part of the Darjeeling District of India, tucked away between Nepal and Bhutan in the Himalayan foothills. Getting to the Farm takes real dedication; after flying into Bagdodgra airport or taking a train to New Jalpaiguri station, you must take a five hour car ride along steep, winding, bumpy mountain roads to the Bijanbari area where Karmi Farm lies. Once here, you feel quite apart from the rest of India, as the language, food, and customs are all more Nepalese than Indian.

Rooms: The farm has guestrooms in the main house as well as in separate thatched-roof cottages, each one simple and comfortable with two twin beds and tables with low chairs. While rooms are fairly rustic and lack heating or air conditioning, they do have electricity and bathrooms with hot water (though some bathrooms in the main house are shared). For groups or travelers on even more of a budget, Karmi Farm has recently added a dorm-style room that can accommodate six people. The main house has two living salons where guests can relax while reading books, playing games, watching movies, or listening to music. Both salons have a fireplace, which is delightful to sit by on chilly nights.

Food: Meals (organic, vegetarian, plentiful, and delicious!) are taken either in the kitchen or on the lovely thatch-covered deck overlooking the Himalayas. Dishes are a combination of Nepali, Chinese, and Indian cooking and include curries, paneer, and noodle soups. The farm also has an honor bar where guests can grab their own wine, beer, or liquor. Given the remote setting, almost all of your meals will be had at the farm, and in this informal setting guests quickly get to know each other, as well as the staff, many of whom have been with the farm for years.

Vibe: Arriving at Karmi Farm, you realize this family home is very much a part of the surrounding villages and has been so for decades. Andrew Pulger-Frame currently runs the farm with the help of his mother, other family members, and their warm and accommodating staff. Andrew's knowledge of the area is impressive, as is his commitment to the community. He has many a great story to tell about his family and the history of the region.

Keep in Mind: Given the farm's stunning and secluded location, be prepared to relax (bring books!) and get back to nature (bring good walking shoes!). Also bring cash.

Read more. See the map.



Posted September 9, 2011


adobe walls inn adobe walls inn adobe walls inn adobe walls inn

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Adobe Walls Inn, Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
Nominated By: Buzzy Gordon, Fennville, Michigan, USA, March '11



Price Range: US$55-$85 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Adobe Walls Inn so Darn Good? Painstakingly restored by its new American owners, and only three blocks from Ajijic's main plaza, Adobe Walls Inn is an atmospheric Spanish-style hacienda furnished throughout with Mexican antiques.

Location: The lovely village of Ajijic sits at the base of the Sierra Madre mountains on the shores of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest inland lake. Here you will find brightly-painted buildings, cobblestone streets, a pueblo-style central plaza, and oodles of flowers. While torta stalls and taco stands are still present, the burgeoning expat retirement community has made its mark with trendy restaurants, art galleries, and boutique shops. Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, and its international airport are just thirty minutes away.

Rooms: The Inn's eight rooms, situated on two levels of the hacienda, are lovingly decorated in neutral tones. Indoor and outdoor common spaces abound, including a billiards room, library, and both Sunset and Sunrise terraces, perfect for reading and relaxing.

Food: Adobe Walls serves an array of breakfasts treats. Choose from omelettes or eggs any way you like, pancakes, oatmeal, enfrijoladas, chilaquiles, or burritos. Daily accompaniments include fresh seasonal fruit, yogurt, juice, and coffee. For lunch and dinner, many terrific Mexican and international cafes and restaurants are just steps away.

Vibe: The Inn's enthusiastic owners have transformed this historic hacienda into a comfortable bed and breakfast with an all-out friendly vibe.

Keep in Mind: Room sizes and amenities vary, so make sure to read the room descriptions before making a reservation. Also be mindful of the Inn's cancellation policy.

Read more. See the map.



Posted September 9, 2011


Traveler Favorite - March '11

Iason Studios, Chania, Crete


Why so darn good? "Right in the center of the oldest town on Crete! Great rates, less than most other places in the neighborhood. Close to excellent restaurants, shops and cafes. Also, a wonderful hostess, Despina. Spotlessly clean, all rooms have cooking facilities so perfect for families or anyone who doesn't want to go out for all meals. Walking distance to everything, including the beach!"


Rooms: "Every room is simply decorated but different, and all have a full bathroom and cooking facilities. Many rooms have balconies as well."


Food: "Many restaurants, bakeries and cafes are VERY close by."


Vibe: "Comfortable, clean and simple. Despina is an endlessly helpful hostess, who can answer any question and has great recommendations."


Keep in Mind: "The Iason Studios is closed during part of the winter season."



Posted September 9, 2011


Traveler Favorite - December '10

Ibrik by the River, Bangkok, Thailand


Why so darn good? "Ibrik by the River is a simple but stylish guest house in a peaceful, convenient location right on the Chao Phraya River. Only three guest rooms means privacy and quiet, and the staff is incredibly polite and helpful. This little spot is like a home away from home in sprawling, bustling Bangkok, and a welcome respite at the end of a long day of sightseeing."


Location: "Ibrik's location is excellent – you are just across the river from both Wat Pho, with its enormous gold leaf Reclining Buddha, and the What Phra Kaew Grand Palace, easily accessible with a 4 baht ferry crossing. If you fancy a massage, this is the place, as Thailand's premier massage school and clinic is located here. The ferry landing itself is a great scene for delicious, cheap eating at one of the many food stands or sidewalk restaurants. The river location is also extremely convenient for catching the water taxi – a big plus in this city that is known for gridlock traffic. It's only a few stops to Khao San Road and other top Bangkok attractions. Ibrik by the River is about a 40-minute taxi ride from the airport."


Rooms: "The nice, spotless rooms have comfortable beds and linens, large wardrobes, air conditioning, televisions, mini-fridge, hot water maker with tea, good bathrooms and in-room safes. The teakwood floors throughout lend a traditional touch, and two of the rooms face out to the river – the downstairs River Room and the Sunshine Room upstairs, with its own private entrance onto the deck overlooking the water. The terrace is accessible to all guests, however, via a house entrance at the top of the stairs, and makes for a great place to enjoy breakfast or an evening glass of wine while watching the boats go by."


Food: "Breakfast is good and hearty, with your choice of eggs, bacon or ham or sausage, toast, a fresh fruit platter, juice and excellent Italian coffee from a serious espresso machine."


Vibe: "Quiet, peaceful, small place with attentive yet non-intrusive service."


Keep in Mind: "The neighborhood is pretty quiet at night. Taxis may have trouble finding its exact location in the small soi; be sure to have printed directions in Thai and the phone number handy." Also, the noises on the river start early, but that's part of the charm of the location.



Posted September 9, 2011


Traveler Favorite - August '10

La Barraca Suites, Bariloche, Argentina


Why so darn good? "For only a few dollars more than what you'd spend at a hostel for a double room, this hotel provides spotless and nicely decorated rooms with en-suite bathrooms and a nice view of the lake."


Location: "About a 15 minute walk or a $3 cab ride from the center of Bariloche."


Rooms: "Rooms are not particularly huge, but they are nicely decorated. The rooms in the back have a great view over the lake in Bariloche. The backyard is a well taken-care-of garden and you can pull chairs outside to enjoy."


Food: "Breakfast includes homemade bread baked every day and preserves. A kitchen is available to either cook in the hotel or bring back food to heat up."


Vibe: "Relaxed, clean, nice."


Keep in Mind: "The hotel offers a deal that if you stay 5 nights you get one free. We weren't planning to stay that long, but found the hotel a great place to relax and regroup. Free wi-fi (also in the rooms)."





Posted July 5, 2011


the view hotel the view hotel the view hotel the view hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

The View Hotel, Monument Valley, Utah
Nominated By: Allison and Michael at Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, July '10


Price Range: # of Rooms: 96 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the The View Hotel so Darn Good? THE VIEW! Unbelievable.

Location: The View Hotel stands at the gateway to Monument Valley, famous for its jaw-dropping, iconic red-rock formations that have come to symbolize the American West. The location couldn't be more ideal – not only are you literally at the edge of the valley, but the seventeen mile loop road that winds its way through the red rocks begins right at the hotel. Monument Valley, a Navajo Nation Tribal Park, straddles the border of Arizona and Utah.

Rooms: The hotel has an attractive low-rise adobe-like façade on the outside and some authentic Navajo touches on the inside, but what really makes this hotel so darn good is its unsurpassed view. While we splurged for a room with a balcony facing the Valley, guests opting for the more economical rooms opposite the parking lot can still enjoy the million-dollar view from the hotel lobby, restaurant, and terrace.

Food: The hotel restaurant offers typical American fare as well as some Navajo-inspired dishes. We partook in the breakfast buffet which did the trick to get us started on our day.

Vibe: The hotel is owned and operated by the Navajo Nation, employs an almost entirely Navajo staff, and has a well-stocked trading post selling Native American artwork, crafts, and jewelry.

Keep in Mind: Rooms in the high season book fast, so either book early or keep calling every day in hopes for a cancellation, like we did. We wanted a room with a view and managed to save US$20 by asking for a better deal over the phone. We arranged separately for a Navajo guide to take us on a tour through the back roads of Monument Valley, but the hotel can also make arrangements.

Read more. See the map.



Posted June 11, 2011


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Aerie House and Beach Club, Provincetown, Massachusetts
Nominated By: Teresa W at Swim and Communicate with Whales, Big Sur, California, April '11



Price Range: US$45-$330 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: yes (and dog-friendly too)


What makes the Aerie House and Beach Club Guesthouse so Darn Good? Both the Aerie Guest House and Beach Club are private, quiet, and have excellent locations with spectacular views of the bay. The affable owners, Dave and Steve, are extremely helpful and dog-friendly to boot.

Location: Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod, boasts eclectic shops, excellent art galleries, and fabulous restaurants, and is one of the best places in the United States to spot North Atlantic humpback whales. Sitting on top of Miller Hill, one of the highest elevations in P-town, the Guest House offers panoramic views of Provincetown Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. The Beach Club, where I stayed, is on Commercial Street right on the beach. Both properties are in Provincetown's East End gallery district and are only a five minute walk from town center.

Rooms: Aerie House has seven guest rooms, ranging from economical rooms with shared baths to two bedroom suites. The Beach Club has four beach-front apartments with full kitchens, plus a private beach with chaise lounges available to all guests. I watched the sunset every night from my beach club balcony – without a doubt, one of the best views in P-town!

Food: Guests staying at both properties can enjoy breakfast at the Guest House, which includes wonderful egg dishes, home-made baked goods, bagels, and fresh fruit. When the weather is good, breakfast is served on the second floor deck overlooking the bay. Since I stayed at the Beach Club, I enjoyed cooking some of my meals in my very own kitchen.

Vibe: Dave and Steve make things easy with champagne chilling in the fridge, an impressive DVD library, and a fleet of complimentary bicycles.

Keep in Mind: P-town is a popular summer destination, but quiet in the winter, so prices and availability vary widely depending when you go.

Read more. See the map.



Posted June 4, 2011


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

61Prado Guesthouse, Medellin, Colombia
Nominated By: Lisa Lubin, Chicago, Illinois, USA, January '11


Price Range: 40.000 - 75.000 COP # of Rooms: 16 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the 61Prado Guesthouse so Darn Good? 61Prado is cool and clean, with a fresh, modern design rarely found in other hotels at this price in Colombia. What I liked most about the guesthouse, though, was the lobby at night, which feels like a hip lounge with exposed brick, soft music, and glowing white candles.

Location: 61Prado Guesthouse is located in the Prado Centro barrio, just two blocks from the Metro station and a ten minute walk to central Medellin. The many opulent mansions and neoclassical homes from the 1920s and 30s reveal the Prado's former status as the choice neighborhood for wealthy Medellinenses. The barrio went through some hard times more recently, but today Prado Centro has largely recovered – though guests should still use common sense during the day and take extra care at night. Medellin is Colombia's second largest city and is known for its perfect climate, the excellent Museo de Antioquia, its orchid-rich botanical gardens, and happening nightlife.

Rooms: Lovingly restored by a Dutch expat named Luc, the guesthouse offers simply decorated rooms with private bathrooms smartly renovated with black-tiled showers and modern sinks and faucets. My room had a hardwood floor, a wood-beamed vaulted ceiling, and a big, flat screen TV.

Food: 61Prado offers a cheap and tasty breakfast every day. The menu includes several choices, but my favorite was the huevos pericos (scrambled eggs with onions and tomatoes), along with toast, fresh fruit, freshly-squeezed fruit juices, and coffee or tea. The big, modern kitchen is also available for communal use.

Vibe: At night, guests can hang out and relax in the candle-lit lobby while quiet music plays in the background. By day, sunlight shines in through the skylights and windows. I also appreciated the spectacular views of the city and surrounding mountains from the rooftop terrace, as well as the free wi-fi.

Keep in Mind: While 61Prado is on a side street, guests in the front rooms may hear some street noise. Again, the neighborhood can be a bit rough around the edges, so while it is considered safe during the day, definitely take a taxi back at night - they are cheap and plentiful.

Read more. See the map.



Posted May 21, 2011


secret garden hotel tulum secret garden hotel tulum secret garden hotel tulum secret garden hotel tulum

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Secret Garden Hotel, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Nominated By: Emily, Washington, D.C., January '11


Price Range: US$40-$85 # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Secret Garden Hotel so Darn Good? Just a short walk from Tulum's bus station and lively Avenida Tulum, the Secret Garden Hotel consists of nine cabanas surrounding a beautiful and peaceful garden decked out with hammocks and sofas. The hotel's owner, Joshua, is wonderful, kind, and uber-generous with his heaping knowledge of all things Tulum.

Location: The hotel is in the small beachside town of Tulum, one and a half hours south of Cancun on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. While a stay in town affords easy access to plenty of restaurants and bars, the hotel's location two blocks off the main road makes for a chill stay in a perfect spot. Bikes are available for rent right at the hotel, and in just fifteen minutes you can ride to Tulum's white sand beaches or stunning Mayan ruins.

Rooms: The hotel's simple, yet modern (think i-pod docks) rooms include four palapas with fans and five standard rooms with air conditioning. All rooms have comfortable beds and mini-fridges, and some have lofts and/or kitchenettes.

Food: While no meals are served at the Secret Garden Hotel, guests can take advantage of the downtown location to grab a bite at any one of the numerous restaurants within walking distance. The hotel does provide coffee and tea in the morning though, which guests can sip while easing in the day in the garden.

Vibe: The vibe is friendly, relaxing, and international.

Keep in Mind: The Secret Garden Hotel is an excellent in-town option for those who don't need to be right on the beach.

Read more. See the map.



Posted April 18, 2011


balam bali villa balam bali villa balam bali villa balam bali villa

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Balam Bali Villa, Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia
Nominated By: Francine Fischl, USA, February '11


make a reservation inquiry directly with Balam Bali Villa

Please book through Darn Good Digs to support our one-of-a-kind website!



Price Range: US$40-$145 (includes continental breakfast) # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Balam Bali Villa so Darn Good? Having lived and traveled overseas for twenty years, I can say without hesitation that Balam Bali Villa is the best of the best! I cannot praise Adi, the manager, and Hubert, the owner, enough on their personal attention to every detail and the extra care that they show every guest to ensure a memorable experience. The location is stunning, the villa and its rooms are gorgeous, and the food is fresh and delicious.

Location: Balam Bali Villa is surrounded by lush green rice paddies in the heart of Bali's serene and beautiful countryside. The sacred temple of Taman Ayun is close by, and the town of Ubud, considered by many to be Bali's cultural center, is a half hour away. While guests could easily wile away the day lounging by the pool or getting an in-house massage, Balam Bali offers several excursions around the island for when the mood hits.

Rooms: Balam Bali has three rooms in a genuine seventeenth century pirate's lair imported from the island of Sulawesi. The house is built of native teak and its soothing teak-furnished rooms are beyond exquisite. In addition to the House of Pirates, Balam Bali offers five stylish rooms surrounding a pool in its Villa of Marbles.

Food: Balam Bali serves fresh, made to order French and Balinese cuisine. Meals can be enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the rice paddies or at the Villa's on-site restaurant.

Vibe: Peace out. This small, intimate villa is totally chill, and the gracious staff is very accommodating to couples, singles, and families alike.

Keep in Mind: For two hours of bliss, don't miss the complimentary rice paddy and village walk with Adi or Hubert!

Read more. See the map.



Posted March 26, 2011


belfers dead sea cabins belfers dead sea cabins belfers dead sea cabins belfers dead sea cabins

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Belfer's Dead Sea Cabins, Neot Hakikar, Israel
Nominated By: Buzzy Gordon, author of Frommer's Jerusalem Day by Day, from Fennville, Michigan, December '09


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: US$110-$170 # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Belfer's Dead Sea Cabins so Darn Good? Belfer's newly-built cabins in the healthful Dead Sea region are cozy for couples, yet ideal for families as well. Bikes are provided free of charge, and are perfect for exploring the surrounding mountain and desert landscape.

Location: The cabins are located in Neot Hakikar, a small moshav, or cooperative agricultural community, twenty minutes south of the closest Dead Sea beach. The tiny village has a small general store, bar, and seasonal outdoor swimming pool with snack bar, and I enjoyed its remote desert location away from the large resort hotels in Ein Bokek.

Rooms: Each of the three private cabins contains a living area, kitchenette, bedroom, loft, and double-sized whirlpool bath. Guests can relax on their outdoor porch to take in the desert views.

Food: While the village has limited food options, the cabins all have kitchenettes and outdoor grills, so guests may want to stock up on groceries before they arrive. Also, the moshav has some great cooks who will cater your meals or picnics with advance notice, and the Belfers maintain a large organic garden where guests can pick their own vegetables.

Vibe: Belfer's Dead Sea Cabins offer plenty of privacy with the benefit of very attentive hosts. Belfer is an experienced desert guide who can arrange wilderness tours in jeeps, or even on horses.

Keep in Mind: The moshav is a gated community and guests may need to call the Belfers on their cell phone to open the gate if it is closed. Also, when planning your trip, keep in mind that July and August are really, really hot in the Dead Sea area.

Read more. See the map.



Posted March 11, 2011


Traveler Favorite

Tall Pines Inn, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA


Why so darn good? "Once I walked in, I never wanted to leave. I felt so at home. These are authentic log cabins and they are very clean and comfortable. Sit out on the porch in front of your own personal log cabin and enjoy the gorgeous tall pines. Plus, there's also a nice pool and the owners are very friendly and helpful." Read more.

- VictoriaD, Kansas City, KS, USA, December '10



Posted March 6, 2011


studio 99 studio 99 studio 99 studio 99

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Studio 99 Serviced Apartments, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Nominated By: Rasputin, Melbourne, Australia, November '10


Price Range: 2000-2800 Baht # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Studio 99 so Darn Good? Studio 99's modern and comfortable apartments are in a residential area just a five minute walk to Thapae Gate and Chiang Mai's old city. The building has a security guard, which I appreciated, and the staff is helpful and polite.

Location: Set on a quiet soi, or side lane, just off the main road leading to the old city's eastern entrance through Thapae Gate, Studio 99 is within easy walking distance to many of Chiang Mai's greatest attractions. Wander the old city's winding streets, shop at the bustling Night Bazaar, or visit one of the hundreds of Wats, or temples, honoring Buddha throughout the city. Chiang Mai is also a popular starting off point for treks up north and is easily reached by train, bus, or plane from Bangkok.

Rooms: Studio 99 has six spacious and very well-kept apartments with either one or two bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms. All apartments have balconies overlooking the street or courtyard garden, air conditioning, kitchenettes, and lounges complete with televisions and DVD players.

Food: Studio 99 does not serve food, but guests can cook their own meals in their kitchenettes. Several nearby guesthouses offer good affordable breakfasts, and plenty of tasty restaurants are within walking distance.

Vibe: Very local.

Keep in Mind: Studio 99 has three floors but no elevator, so if you need a ground floor room, make sure to ask for one.

Read more. See the map.



Posted February 28, 2011


olaulim backyards olaulim backyards olaulim backyards olaulim backyards

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Olaulim Backyards, Olaulim Village, Goa, India
Nominated By: Yvonne Gray, November '10


make a reservation inquiry directly with Olaulim Backyards

Please book through Darn Good Digs to support our one-of-a-kind website!


Price Range: 2500-4000 Rs # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Olaulim Backyards so Darn Good? We were collected from the airport and greeted at Olaulim Backyards by Pirkko, Savio, Manuel, and Shameena, as well as the dogs, horse, and donkey. We immediately felt at home and as if we had known everybody for years. The food and drinks are outstanding, the setting is spectacular with beautiful views across the lake and infinity pool, and the wildlife is incredible - a must-see for any twitcher!

Location: Olaulim Backyards has a peaceful location on the banks of the Mandovi River in tiny Olaulim village, just a half hour but a world away from Goa's busy markets, beaches, and nightlife. Sitting by the river early every morning, we saw Brahamani kites, wild peacocks, great hornbills, and kingfishers in all colours and sizes. We also loved our morning walks and bicycle rides around the garden and village, where we were shown indigenous trees, given tastes of spices, and taught about the history of the area with its strong Portuguese influence.

Rooms: All three of the eco-cottages at Olaulim Backyards are beautifully thought out and individually designed using reclaimed building materials. We stayed in the Sun Bird cottage which has comfortable beds and an open air shower heated by solar panels. We also peeked at the other two cottages, the Horn Bill and the Golden Oriole, and they were both lovely with fantastic views of the coconut groves, paddy fields, and swimming pool.

Food: The food and drinks are outstanding! Breakfast features tropical fruits such as pomelos, bananas, and coconuts fresh from the garden. For lunch and dinner, the traditional Goan cuisine is cooked on a wood-fire using seasonal vegetables from the local market as well as fresh fish and prawns straight from the lake.
FAB-U-LOUS!!

Vibe: Chilled, chilled, chilled. Our stay was so relaxing that four days felt like two weeks. This is truly a special place run by a special family.

Keep in Mind: Olaulim Backyards has kayaks, canoes, and bicycles for guests to borrow.

Read more. See the map.

Make an Inquiry/Book a Room at:



Posted February 4, 2011


hotel de la porte doree hotel de la porte doree hotel de la porte doree hotel de la porte doree

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Hotel de la Porte Doree, Paris, France
Nominated By: Gray Cargill at Solo Friendly, November '10


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com


Price Range: 49-150 Euro # of Rooms: 42 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Hotel de la Porte Doree so Darn Good? The Hotel de la Porte Doree just might be the best deal in Paris. The decor is a beautiful and tasteful blend of antique and modern, and the atmosphere is that of a warm and cozy bed and breakfast.

Location: The hotel is located in a real local neighborhood in the 12th arrondissement, a few minutes walk from Bois de Vincennes, Paris's largest park, complete with a 14th century chateau and several lakes perfect for taking out a rowboat. While the hotel may seem far removed from downtown, the Porte Doree metro station on line 8 is just outside the front door, bringing the sites of Paris to within a twenty minute journey.

Rooms: Each of the rooms at Hotel de la Porte Doree is artfully decorated with vintage antique furniture so that no two rooms are alike, yet all have a clean, modern feel with old world charm. The hotel has a green mission: they recycle (which is apparently not so common in Paris), have a soap pump dispenser in the shower (a cute one), use environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and have motion-activated lights in the hallways.

Food: The hotel offers a breakfast buffet available for ten Euros per person. The pastries come from the boulangerie across the street, and they serve fruit fresh from local markets. The neighborhood has several restaurants for lunch and dinner, but for a greater selection, head to the Bastille area, just a short metro ride away.

Vibe: The staff was friendly and helpful throughout my stay.

Keep in Mind: Porte Doree is technically a 2 star hotel, but in every respect, it is a 3 star hotel, and they are currently filing paperwork for that upgrade!

Read more. See the map.



Posted January 25, 2011


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Nice Garden Hotel, Nice, France
Nominated By: Jeff Dimond, October '10


Price Range: 50-110 Euro # of Rooms: 14 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Nice Garden Hotel so Darn Good? This small family owned hotel, with its courtyard garden and friendly vibe, feels like an oasis within the bustling, modern city of Nice. The owners and staff treated us like long-lost friends. They were helpful with any need we had during our stay, including providing restaurant recommendations and even securing us a bottle of champagne at the request of a friend.

Location: The hotel is located in a 19th century townhouse in the “new” part of the city, just a short stroll to the famous Baie des Anges waterfront promenade. The old town with its maze of narrow streets is a bit further, but also doable on foot. Since we were using Nice as our base to explore Monaco and the little towns along the Riviera, we particularly appreciated that the central train station was just a ten minute walk away.

Rooms: All fourteen rooms at the Nice Garden Hotel are simply and tastefully decorated, and some boast high ceilings, hardwood floors, and traces of faded ceiling frescoes. Our room was large and overlooked a lovely garden and patio area where we enjoyed our breakfast outdoors.

Food: The hotel serves a typical continental breakfast, yet at eight Euros, we jumped at the chance to eat outside in the shady garden beneath the orange and lemon trees. Plenty of restaurants are just a short walk from the hotel.

Vibe: The Nice Garden Hotel is low-key and quiet.

Keep in Mind: The hotel blends in with the neighborhood, and if you weren't looking for it, you might just miss it.

Read more. See the map.



Posted December 30, 2010


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

La Posada Hotel, Winslow, Arizona
Nominated By: Michael and Allison at Darn Good Digs, November '10


Price Range: US$99-$169 # of Rooms: 45 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes La Posada Hotel so Darn Good? La Posada, originally a 1929 railroad hotel, was designed by southwest star-chitect Mary Colter to resemble a grand Spanish hacienda. In 1997, its new owners, Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion, began an extraordinary restoration to bring the Posada back to its former glory, while at the same time adding their own contemporary touch. We especially dug La Posada's museum–like common areas which showcase the owner's eclectic collection of contemporary artwork and historical pieces, including several of Mion's own paintings.

Location: La Posada is in tiny Winslow, Arizona on iconic Route 66 three hours northeast of Phoenix near the fascinating Four Corners area. While the town was made famous by the Eagles hit “Take It Easy,” the hands-down reason for coming to Winslow is La Posada. While we could have easily spent our entire visit exploring the hotel and watching the trains go by, we tore ourselves away to take a stroll through Winslow and a dip in the local swimming hole at Clear Creek.

Rooms: Each room is named for one of the hotel's famous guests from days-gone-by such as John Wayne or Clark Gable. The rooms are Southwestern in style and are decorated with fine antiques, original artwork, wrought iron lamps, and hammered tin or tile mirrors. Our room was bright and airy and very comfortable.

Food: We splurged and ate breakfast and dinner at La Posada's award-winning Turquoise Room restaurant. The gourmet southwestern-inspired cuisine was delicious and memorable, particularly the Crispy Fried Squash Blossoms appetizer we had at dinner. Yum!

Vibe: La Posada's restoration is truly remarkable and a must see for train buffs, historians, and art aficionados alike. The staff is friendly and helpful and the hotel has plenty of comfortable spots just to kick back and relax.

Keep in Mind: Although we thought it was pretty cool that guests could arrive by train right at the hotel's back door, we liked having a car to explore the area.

Read more. See the map.



Posted December 20, 2010


hotel lucia hotel lucia hotel lucia hotel lucia

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Hotel Lucia, Portland, Oregon
Nominated By: Shelley Seale, Austin, Texas, November '09


check availability, get rates, and reserve online


Price Range: US$118-$299 # of Rooms: 127 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Hotel Lucia so Darn Good? Hotel Lucia is a thoroughly comfortable, striking hotel that gets just about everything right. The minimalist black-and-white décor is warm and inviting, as are all the staff members from the doormen to those behind the front desk. The lobby welcomes you not only with its cozy seating areas grouped around fireplaces, but also with a stunning array of museum-quality art that may make you think you have wandered into a gallery. The eclectic collection is largely that of Pulitzer-winning photographer, and Portland native, David Hume Kennerly. His exquisite black and white photographs of celebrities and political elite line the walls of the lobby, the hallways of each floor, guest rooms, and even the elevators.

Location: The downtown location is excellent, steps from the free downtown trolley and light-rail and only blocks from the Pearl District. Venture outside and be at the epicenter of all Portland has to offer, including attractions, restaurants, shopping, art galleries, and theater.

Rooms: The guest rooms are small but stylish, with custom leather headboards and thick duvets. The “Make It So” button on the phone can summon anything from your choice of a dozen styles of pillow to your religious book of preference.

Food: Hotel Lucia is home to the award-winning Typhoon! Restaurant featuring innovative Thai cuisine. Lauded by Bon Appetit as one of "the hottest chefs in America," Chef Bo Kline's culinary signatures are crunchy crisp freshness and distinct, bursting flavors. You can also try their fusion Restobar for casual eats and fun cocktails.

Vibe: The Lucia is artistic, stylish, and very friendly.

Keep in Mind: The entire 4th floor is designated as "pet friendly!"

Read more. See the map.



Posted December 6, 2010


Traveler Favorite

No. 9 (Number 9), Shanghai, China


Why so darn good? "No. 9 in Shanghai is my favorite place to stay in the whole world!" Read more.

- Matt Gross, Brooklyn, NY, September '10



Posted December 6, 2010


Pouso do Tapaceiro Pouso do Tapaceiro Pouso do Tapaceiro Pouso do Tapaceiro

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Pouso do Tapaceiro, Gamboa Beach, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Nominated By: Alison McGowan at Hidden Pousadas, August '10


Price Range: # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Pouso do Tapaceiro so Darn Good? This wonderful pousada is owned and managed by Henrique, a nuclear engineer turned tapestry artist. His atelier, which doubles as the TV room, is an amazing space full of looms, wall hangings, and rugs. Here you can see what a true artist can achieve using almost entirely recycled materials such as rubbish, leftover fabrics, and beach detritus, and even learn some of his techniques in an on-site hand weaving workshop.

Location: The Pouso do Tapeceiro is located up a short hill just as you come into Gamboa, a small fishing village in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. The pousada is ninety kilometers south of Santa Catarina's capital, Florianopolis, and fifteen kilometers north of Garopaba, a small beach resort town. The area is renowned for its natural beauty and offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, beach-going, bird watching, and whale watching from July to October.

Rooms: The pousada's seven light and airy rooms are set in a fabulous tropical garden with a swimming pool and views to the sea or surrounding countryside. Each room has something different to meet your needs; some have their own kitchens, some have separate bedrooms or bunk beds for kids, and some have just a double bed. All have en-suite bathrooms.

Food: Guests can cook for themselves, or the pousada will provide meals at an extra cost. Gamboa has one restaurant, Dezinha's, which serves simple Brazilian fare and a few bars serving shrimp skewers and other snacks.

Vibe: Henrique's idea is that you should feel entirely at home, which means you may well have to make your own bed, bring your own soap, and ask for new sheets and towels as needed. On the flip side, you can totally relax here - cook in the apartment, borrow a DVD to watch a film, or just chill out by the pool. As for exploring the area, just tell Henrique what you want to do, and he will try to organize it.

Keep in Mind: Pouso do Tapaceiro is indeed a hidden place, and getting here without a car may be a challenge, but is not impossible.

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Posted December 5, 2010


singer109 hostel singer109 hostel singer109 hostel singer109 hostel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Singer109, Berlin, Germany
Nominated By: Marie at Eurotrip Tips, September '10


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at hostelbookers


Price Range: 33-95 Euro # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Singer109 so Darn Good? Everything about Singer 109 is so darn good! The hotel was able to accommodate our group by offering us an amazing room with five beds and an en-suite bathroom, even letting us check-in early without any bother. The price is right, and the hotel's location in the middle of Berlin can't be beat.

Location: Singer 109 is located in a residential neighborhood near the Strausberger Platz subway between the central Mitte and hip Friedrichshain districts. Both Alexanderplatz, one of Berlin's largest public squares, and the iconic Fernsehturm tower are just a short stroll away.

Rooms: The hotel, which occupies a converted 19th century factory building, has rooms for one to eight people, many of which surround a huge sunlit atrium. Here travelers gather to relax at the bar/lounge, use the internet, or play foosball, pool, or Wii. Our room was spotless with modern furniture, a television, and large windows overlooking a garden. Bathrooms are either private or shared with one other room, and some rooms include kitchens.

Food: Singer 109 offers a five Euro breakfast which includes eggs, fruit, pastries, toast, and juice served in the atrium.

Vibe: The vibe is young and mellow, making it ideal for both backpackers and families.

Keep in Mind: The area immediately around the hotel is quiet at night and lacks shops, though on the other hand, the hotel provides everything you need.

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Posted November 15, 2010


le rendezvous le rendezvous le rendezvous le rendezvous

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

le Rendez-Vous, Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Nominated By: Audrey at Uncornered Market, August '10


Price Range: US$9-$16 (per person including breakfast) # of Rooms: 14 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes le Rendez-Vous so Darn Good? This peaceful and relaxing hostal is meticulously cared for by its French owners. Several rooms surround a tropical garden with views of the red rocks and mountains in the distance, and all rooms have small patios with a table, chairs, and hammock, perfect for reading and writing. We planned to stay three days and had to pull ourselves away after a week.

Location: The hostal is on a quiet street just a few blocks from the main square of Vilcabamba, a small town in southern Ecuador. Situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Andes Mountains, Vilcabamba is well-worth a visit before heading south to Peru or further north through Ecuador. The town lures visitors with spas, restaurants, and handicraft shops, and the surrounding countryside offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The nearby Podocarpus National Park, home to one of the largest concentrations of bird species in Ecuador, is a popular daytrip.

Rooms: The fourteen rooms are simply designed, but well outfitted with new mattresses, European-style sheets, great showers with plenty of hot water, and thick towels. The hotel's garden, planted with banana and avocado trees, sugarcane, ferns, and tropical flowers, is lovingly cared for by the owners.

Food: Breakfast includes freshly baked bread with homemade jams, eggs, fruit salad, and good, strong coffee. Also, Vilcabamba has plenty of restaurants for other meals, so eating out or picking up take-out to eat on your patio are easy options.

Vibe: The hostal is a perfect place to chill-out and recharge your batteries.

Keep in Mind: For an added daily fee, guests can have access to WiFi.

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Posted November 4, 2010


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

O'Casey's Bed and Breakfast, San Antonio, Texas
Nominated By: Dennis, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May '10


Price Range: US$89-$110 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes O'Casey's Bed and Breakfast so Darn Good? O'Casey's Bed and Breakfast occupies a lovely century-old home in a quiet, residential neighborhood close to downtown San Antonio. The hosts are warm and knowledgeable and the bed and breakfast sports a cheerful Irish theme.

Location: O'Casey's is located in the Monte Vista Historic District two miles north of downtown San Antonio. For fun, stroll along the city's popular River Walk with its art galleries, shops, and restaurants, or explore a little Texas history at San Antonio Missions National Historic Park and the Alamo.

Rooms: O'Casey's has five spacious and well-maintained rooms and suites in the main house, and two studio apartments with kitchenettes in the carriage house. The main house has dual wrap-around porches perfect for reading and relaxing. Inside, hardwood floors, antique furniture, and claw-foot bathtubs complement the Irish theme to give the bed and breakfast the feel of another place and era.

Food: Breakfast, served at a large communal table in the dining room, was among the best I have ever had. A hot entrée, such as Eggs Benedict with home fried potatoes or French Toast with apples and cinnamon, is accompanied by fruit salad, toast and jam, and a savory breakfast meat.

Vibe: Linda and John, the husband and wife team who own and manage O'Casey's, are very gracious hosts - none better to my knowledge. The bed and breakfast is family-friendly and the price is very reasonable.

Keep in Mind: The two carriage house apartments are pet-friendly. Also, the steps to the second floor are somewhat steep, so be sure to ask for a ground floor room if necessary.

Website: www.ocaseybnb.com

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Posted October 29, 2010


blue lime blue lime blue lime blue lime

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Blue Lime, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Nominated By: Andrea, Pine Mountain, Queensland, Australia, April '10


Price Range: US$40-$75 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 23 Kid-Friendly: no


What makes the Blue Lime so Darn Good? The Blue Lime is a quiet oasis right in the center of crazy Phnom Penh. Our amazing room was very clean with a funky, modern design and concrete furniture. The hotel has an awesome saltwater pool surrounded by a tropical garden, and decked out with cabanas, day-beds, and a small bar.

Location: The hotel is at the end of a small, quiet alley within easy walking distance to the National Museum, Royal Palace, and Sisowath Quay, the city's riverside promenade lined restaurants and cafés. In addition, tuk-tuks wait outside the hotel and are ready to whisk you away to anywhere you want to go in Phnom Penh.

Rooms: The Blue Lime's twenty-three beautiful rooms are accented with bright colorful silks, and are furnished with beds, desks, shelving units, and wardrobes, all constructed with molded concrete. Rooms have air conditioners and fans, as well as en-suite bathrooms with solar heated water. The reception area has computers with internet access, and rooms have a DSL wire to connect to your laptop.

Food: A lovely breakfast is served out by the pool, and includes breads, eggs cooked to order, fresh fruit, and orange-passion fruit juice.

Vibe: The Blue Lime has a friendly vibe and a helpful staff.

Keep in Mind: Book ahead since this hotel is a very popular place. The hotel refers families with children under sixteen to its sister property, the Kabiki.

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Posted October 23, 2010


casa del soul casa del soul casa del soul casa del soul

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Casa del Soul, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Nominated By: Michelle T, Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, Canada and Leah, New York, NY, August '10


make a reservation inquiry directly with Casa del Soul


Price Range: US$89-$129 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Casa del Soul so Darn Good? Surrounded by jungle and with breathtaking ocean views, Casa del Soul is an unbelievable bed and breakfast along Nicaragua's Pacific coast. Whether you want to chill by the pool or walk to the beach below the house to go searching for seashells, the entire experience is tranquil and relaxing. Randy and Brenda, Casa Del Soul's owners, couldn't be more accommodating. Randy gives you a cell phone so that you can call a taxi or reach him at any time, and Brenda and her staff will cook you up the best breakfast ever.

Location: Casa del Soul sits in a remote location above beautiful Nacascolo Bay along Nicaragua's Pacific Coast two hours from Managua. The bed and breakfast is a ten minute drive from the closest town, San Juan del Sur, where sleepy fishing village meets chill surf town. Besides surfing, water sports enthusiasts will find plenty to do in the area, including deep sea fishing, windsurfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. In addition, Nicaragua's longest zipline canopy tour is only minutes away, and the La Flor Wildlife Reserve, where Olive Ridley sea turtles come in mass to lay their eggs, is twelve miles down the coast.

Rooms: Staying at Casa del Soul is like staying at your own tropical beach house. The three comfortable guest rooms have modern amenities like DVD players, I-pod speakers, and free wi-fi. The two upstairs suites share a large balcony with amazing views of the jungle and bay with no other houses in sight, while the less expensive smaller room is on the ground floor.

Food: Every morning Brenda prepares a fresh and delicious breakfast that might include such specialties as Gallo Pinto, a local dish of rice and beans, which is served by the pool overlooking the bay. For lunch or dinner, you can head into town for drinks and some inexpensive, yet tasty, Nicaraguan fare at one of the many restaurants and bars in San Juan del Sur.

Vibe: Casa del Soul is peaceful and relaxing.

Keep in Mind: The land around Casa del Soul is quite hilly, so bring some good walking shoes, not just flip flops. If the timing is right, you might save yourself the taxi fare and get a ride into town with Randy, or you can always hike up the hill to the immense Jesus statue, and then down the other side into San Juan del Sur.

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Posted October 16, 2010


hotel cielo rojo hotel cielo rojo hotel cielo rojo hotel cielo rojo

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Hotel Cielo Rojo, San Francisco/San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico
Nominated By: Gary at Green Traveler Guides, July '10


Price Range: US$85-$150 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Hotel Cielo Rojo so Darn Good? Cielo Rojo is a simple, yet stylish hotel decorated in mellow Mexican colors and folk art lovingly collected by the owners on their world jorneys. The hotel's restaurant surely must rank among the best restaurants in the state of Nayarit. The chef uses organic, locally-sourced ingredients including fish caught that morning by village fisherman in small boats. What's more, this eco-friendly hotel uses biodegradable detergents, makes their own natural hand soaps, and has an active recycling program.

Location: The small pueblo of San Francisco, locally known as San Pancho, is thirty miles north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's central Pacific coast. The hotel is on a pleasant tree-shaded, cobblestone street near art galleries, restaurants, and shops, and just a few blocks away from a little beach. While surfers flock to the area for its great breaks, non-surfers can chill-out on the beach, explore nearby towns, or take a walk in the jungle.

Rooms: The eight scrupulously clean rooms at Cielo Rojo have shiny white walls and terra-cotta floors, and are artistically decorated in soothing colors with local crafts and antiques. A small, palm-shaded courtyard in the back has a rock waterfall edged by culinary herbs and dining area.

Food: Upon arrival at the hotel, guests are treated to a shot of artisanal tequila from the hospitality tray. In the morning, enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast of granola, fresh fruit, yogurt, and home-made breads, or spend a little more to order from the full menu. For lunch and dinner, the courtyard becomes Bistro Organico. In an open kitchen and with the most basic of tools, Chef Juan Diego Bernal turns out delicious, beautifully presented dishes like a smoked marlin-stuffed poblano pepper on a sesame-studded black bean sauce and salads like ensalada de toronja y miel - grapefruit, avocado and mixed greens in a cumin-yogurt-honey dressing. It's all part of the fun to watch Diego sneak out by the waterfall to twist off a sprig of basil or mint. Desserts are decadent and include an irresistible triple-layer cake of chocolate, mango, and carrot.

Vibe: Cielo Rojo is laid-back, hip, and friendly. The manager and most staff are English speakers and well-versed in hospitality. Even better, the hotel actively supports entreAmigos, a local non-profit aimed at providing educational opportunities for the children of San Pancho.

Keep in Mind: Some rooms do not have air conditioning but are equipped with ceiling fans.

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Posted October 1, 2010


Gecko Villa Gecko Villa Gecko Villa Gecko Villa

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - recently updated October 2010

Gecko Villa, Udon Thani, Thailand
Nominated By: James63, London, United Kingdom, November '08


make a reservation inquiry directly with Gecko Villa


Price Range: 6,500 Baht (three meals included) # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: Yes


What makes Gecko Villa so Darn Good? Located bang in the middle of rice paddy fields and sugar cane plantations, Gecko Villa is a green oasis far from Thailand's tourist trails. The two things that truly made our stay were the superb food, and the kindness and welcoming nature of the local host family and villagers. Having our own pool was a definite plus!

Location: Gecko Villa is located in Northeast Thailand's Isaan region, fifty minutes by plane or nine hours by train from Bangkok, and not far from the Laos border. The province, Udon Thani, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site, Ban Chiang, and its national museum which displays locally excavated artifacts and pottery dating as far back as 7,500 years. If that doesn't float your boat, guests at Gecko Villa can take a boat ride among lotus flowers in the nearby lake, and all around are opportunities for exploring the villages, temples, and farms of bucolic Thailand.

Rooms: Gecko Villa is a northern Thai-style country house with a pool that you rent all for yourself! The Villa's three bedrooms, large living and dining rooms, and fully equipped Western and Thai kitchens are in separate buildings and are connected by covered wooden verandas surrounding a garden. Traditional wooden furniture and artwork adorn the rooms and outdoor areas.

Food: Excellent and very zingy Thai food is cooked for you three times daily by Ten and Euang, the Villa's caretakers and chefs, who live in a small village a couple of kilometers away. Ask to try local Isaan dishes such as spicy beef salad with mint or their wicked barbecue chicken with papaya salad. Make sure to say upfront what your chili factor is! Thai cooking lessons are also included in the price.

Vibe: Guests could just chill by the pool and eat well, but definitely take the plunge and ask to get integrated: the locals are very friendly and definitely enjoy a good time! Gecko Villa is owned and run by local villagers, and all revenues stay in the community.

Things to Keep in Mind: Take any personal necessities with you because the nearest banks and major shopping areas are 45 minutes away!

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Posted October 1, 2010


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Pioneer Guest Cabins, Crested Butte, Colorado
Nominated By: Dee Andrews, Boulder, Colorado, June '10


Price Range: US$119-$171 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Pioneer Guest Cabins so Darn Good? Set in a spectacular location near Crested Butte, Colorado, the Pioneer Guest Cabins are the perfect place for glamping...glamorous camping. Each cabin has its own particular charm, as well as a fire pit, picnic table, and hammock. Trails for hiking, biking, snow-shoeing, and cross-country skiing leave right from the cabins, and the sprawling grounds are perfect for games of Capture the Flag with the kids.

Location: Eight miles from Crested Butte, the cabins are surrounded by nearly two million acres of unspoiled wilderness in the Rocky Mountain region of southwest Colorado. While winter sports enthusiasts descend upon the area for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, visitors in the warmer months enjoy such outdoor pursuits as whitewater rafting, fly-fishing, and horseback riding. Crested Butte itself is a historic mining town with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as a free shuttle bus to the nearby Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Rooms: The Pioneer Cabins were built in 1939 as part of the base camp for the old Gunnison-Pioneer Winter Sports Area, the region's first ski area and home to Colorado's first chairlift. The eight cabins are well-spaced along a private dirt road next to a gorgeous creek, and each sleeps from two to six people. The cabins are small but tastefully remodeled, and the wood burning fireplaces, down comforters, and old skis hanging on the walls make for a charming and quaint cabin experience.

Food: Bring your own. All of the cabins have full kitchens, fire pits, and grills. Crested Butte itself has a wide selection of excellent restaurants for every taste and budget.

Vibe: The grounds are beautiful and expansive with plenty of space for solitude or for kids to run around.

Keep in Mind: Crested Butte is at an altitude of nearly 9,000 feet, so be sure to pack many layers and drink plenty of water since the weather can change quickly in the mountains. Also, the cabins have a seven night minimum in the heart of the summer and a two night minumum the rest of the year.

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Posted September 25, 2010


Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Lebanon Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast, Dolores, Colorado
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, New York, September '10


Price Range: US$95-$135 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Lebanon Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast so Darn Good? This beautifully renovated 1907 Schoolhouse is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and we enjoyed relaxing on its huge porch taking in the views of the countryside and big mountains in the distance. Laura, the owner, made our whole family feel right at home, especially our home-sick four year old boy. She filled up a baby pool for him to swim in, took him out to walk her dog, and showed him the chickens out back.

Location: Lebanon is a small hamlet in the Four Corners region of Southwest Colorado thirty minutes from Mesa Verde, a National Park that protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings belonging to Ancestral Puebloan people. The Anasazi Heritage Center, a hands-on museum dedicated to Ancestral Puebloan culture, is just a ten minute drive from the Schoolhouse.

Rooms: The Schoolhouse has three rooms in the main house, the Recess, Art Room, and Bell Tower, one in the carriage house, the Social Study, and one cottage, the Teachery. Two rooms are pet friendly, two share a bathroom, and one has a bathroom across the hall. We stayed in the Teachery, a super-comfortable and private cottage just outside the main house which was built in 1920 as a home for the teacher.

Food: Breakfast at the Schoolhouse is awesome. On day one, we had fresh eggs with cheese and ham on croissants, and on day two, we had chocolate waffles with fresh whipped cream and cherry sauce. Yum! For dinner, we dug the Dolores Brewing Company where we relaxed with some home-brews, pizza, and the band out back.

Vibe: The Schoolhouse is easygoing and family-friendly, but also attracts couples looking for a country escape in the fascinating Four Corners area. In addition to being an excellent cook, Laura is a licensed massage therapist.

Keep in Mind: Lebanon Schoolhouse is at a small crossroads in the middle of farm country, and the closest restaurants and stores are ten minutes away in the towns of Dolores and Cortez.

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Posted September 20, 2010


prohm roth guesthouse, courtesy of TravelingMark.com prohm roth guesthouse, courtesy of TravelingMark.com prohm roth guesthouse prohm roth guesthouse

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Prohm Roth Guesthouse, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Nominated By: Akila, Salem, Alabama, May '10


Price Range: US$10-$25 # of Rooms: 14 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Prohm Roth Guesthouse so Darn Good? For $15 a night, we had a large, impeccably clean room in the heart of Siem Reap, within a two minute walk to Pub Street and its abundance of restaurants, bars, and shops. Prohm Roth is Khmer owned and operated and the customer service was the best that we experienced in our entire six months of traveling.

Location: The guesthouse is on a side alley off of Pub Street in Siem Reap's Old Market area, and is fairly quiet except for Sunday mornings when the monks in the wat across the street begin chanting at 6:00 a.m. Travelers flock to Siem Reap to visit the magnificent twelfth century temples of Angkor Wat.

Rooms: The guesthouse is in a brand new building and has twin, double, and triple rooms. Rooms are simply decorated and have comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms, and cable television. While most rooms have air conditioners, the cheapest twin rooms only have fans.

Food: The guesthouse does not have an on-site restaurant.

Vibe: We appreciated the honest opinions from Meang, Prohm Roth's owner, about what to see and how to see it, and were impressed by the care and attention shown by his whole family toward the hotel and its guests.

Keep in Mind: The brand new guesthouse stands in stark contrast to its poorer surroundings on the Pub Street Extension, and the alley is not illuminated, making for a dark walk home at night.

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Posted September 6, 2010


mustaphas place mustaphas place mustaphas place mustaphas place

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Mustapha's Place, Bwejuu, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Nominated By: Chandra Barbagallo, London, United Kingdom, July '10


Price Range: US$15-$30 (per person) # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Mustapha's Place so Darn Good? Mustapha's Place is a locally owned and managed quirky and funky hotel set in leafy gardens just two minutes away from a stunning tropical beach with powdery white sand and turquoise ocean. The garden creates its own micro-climate where tropical birds can be seen while you eat breakfast. I received a wonderful African massage at the in-house spa and was blessed to have a great time during my stay.

Location: Mustapha's Place is in the village of Bwejuu on the island's quiet eastern coast. While chilling out at the beach, swimming, and snorkeling are the most obvious activities, guests can also keep themselves busy exploring the rest of Zanzibar. Day trips include a visit to Stone Town, a Swahili coastal trading town designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a guided tour of the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park to spot rare red colobus monkeys.

Rooms: The nine guest cottages, with telling names like the Treetop Room and Swiss Banda, are made from local materials such as makuti thatch and coral rock and are decorated with African fabrics and murals by local artists. All rooms are well cared for and unique, some have private baths, and others share nearby bathrooms.

Food: The kitchen prepares wonderful, nourishing, and healthy African-inspired food. The chef specializes in Zanzibari dishes and Swahili seafood such as plantains in coconut milk and octopus stew, as well as vegetarian meals using fresh produce and island spices. The bar serves up local beers and cocktails, and a simple breakfast of fresh fruit, toast, and eggs, along with coffee or tea, is included.

Vibe: The atmosphere is laid back, but everything is kept in good order by the very attentive and committed staff members who will do their best to accommodate your every need. Mustapha's staff has a great relationship with the locals which makes for a real cultural experience.

Keep in Mind: The hotel spa is only open during the high season.

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Posted September 3, 2010


beit rose hotel beit rose hotel beit rose hotel beit rose hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Beit Rose Hotel, Damascus, Syria
Nominated By: Lena, Amman, Jordan, May '10


Price Range: US$110-220 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 14 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Beit Rose Hotel so Darn Good? This charming hotel is small and intimate with amazing customer service.

Location: The Beit Rose Hotel is tucked on a side alley just off ancient Straight Street within the walled old city of Damascus. Over five thousand years old, Damascus is considered to be the world's oldest continuously inhabited city, and a walk through atmospheric old town is like a walk through history. Packed within the maze of narrow alleyways are Roman-era walls and ruins, Greek Orthodox churches, bustling markets, and one of Islam's greatest mosques, the Umayyad Mosque.

Rooms: Beit Rose, which occupies a traditional 18th century home, has been carefully renovated in Damascene style. The hanging plants and lanterns, refurbished antique furniture, and handmade ceramic bathroom tiles set the tone, while the comfortable beds and flat screen televisions complete the picture.

Food: Upon arrival, we were greeted with delicious Arabic tea. Later, we relaxed with evening cocktails on the rooftop terrace overlooking old Damascus, and in the morning we enjoyed a sumptuous Syrian breakfast of fresh cucumbers, cheeses, olives, hummus, and croissants by the fountain in the courtyard.

Vibe: The Beit Rose is a cozy hotel with a very helpful, yet unobtrusive, staff.

Keep in Mind: Most hotels in Syria do not allow unmarried couples to share a room; this is the only bed and breakfast that would take us, and we feel that we lucked out!

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Posted August 25, 2010


andaluz hotel andaluz hotel andaluz hotel andaluz hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Hotel Andaluz, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Nominated By: Michael and Allison, Brooklyn, New York, USA, August '10


check availability, get rates, and reserve online


Price Range: US$109-$285 # of Rooms: 107 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Hotel Andaluz so Darn Good? We knew from the second that we walked into the gorgeous lobby at the Andaluz that we were onto something good. Darn good. The huge two-tiered space was designed to resemble a Moorish palace, and we were seduced by the shimmering fountains, private casbahs, and striking artwork.

Location: The Andaluz is just off historic Route 66 in downtown Albuquerque, which is currently undergoing an impressive multimillion dollar revitalization. We enjoyed the location, as we had a choice of several restaurants and bars that were within easy walking distance. The hotel is a ten minute drive from historic Old Town and several renowned museums, including the fascinating Pueblo Cultural Center.

Rooms: The hotel was built in 1939 by famed hotelier Conrad Hilton in the Spanish Territorial style, and has since earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2009, a massive renovation was completed and the hotel was re-opened as the stunning and eco-friendly Andaluz. Our room, though less dramatic than the lobby, was no less impressive. Its contemporary touches such as the streamlined lime-green couch and wall-mounted flat screen tv perfectly complimented the vintage wooden furniture and Buddha statue blessing our bathroom.

Food: The hotel has a downstairs restaurant and bar, the Lucia, and a second floor tapas bar with rooftop terrace, the Ibiza. While both restaurants looked tempting, we opted for some of the more budget options in the neighborhood. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Gold Street Cafe one block from the hotel and dinner at the Standard Diner, a former Route 66 service station.

Vibe: The Anduluz is a stylish and inviting downtown boutique hotel. One of the many beautiful (and friendly) staff members even took a moment to hang out with our five year old boy as he checked out the fish swimming in the fountain.

Keep in Mind: To get the best price at the Andaluz, first search for special deals on the hotel website and our affiliate link. If no discount rates are available, then use the exclusive Darn Good Digs promo code of darn on the hotel website to get an automatic 15% off. For parking, we opted for a $10/day parking garage pass to self-park in the garage next door.

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Posted August 16, 2010


Traveler Favorite - May '10

Lusi Evi Pension, Ortahisar, Cappadocia, Turkey


Why so darn good? "It's not often you can stay in a small family pension at such a good price in the ever-popular area of Cappadocia in Central Turkey. The fact that this hotel is also a cave dating back more than one thousand years and restored by the friendly owners' bare hands, and here you can eat a traditional meal cooked in a clay oven from the ground, just sets this place apart from any other!"


Location: "Ortahisar is the second-cousin of the popular Goreme town in Cappadocia, Turkey. It has a beautiful old rock castle in the centre of the town, and brings with it the traditional style of a Turkish village without the tourists!"


Rooms: "There are four rooms in this little guesthouse.... a couple of stone rooms chisseled by hand, but decorated with a mix of modern and authentic furniture, and also a couple of cave rooms! Siggy, the owner, is still chisseling away at the bigger caves below the house, turning these 1000 year old stables into a family room (or hostel - he's not sure yet!)."


Food: "What can I say about the food. Siggy and Lucy take great pride in their food and you won't be disappointed."


Vibe: "Between the terrace with clay oven and the garden overgrown with delicious grapes, or the flowers and cave rooms... this place has the vibe of the middle ages (in a good way) with plenty of elegance."


Keep In Mind: "It is not for large groups as it's only a few rooms (that's a good thing!)."



Posted August 16, 2010


Traveler Favorite - May '10

Haad Tien Beach Resort, Koh Tao, Thailand


Why so darn good? "This is our favorite beach resort EVER! We don't know how the resort does it, but there is a gentle breeze at all times of the day - from early in the morning until late at night - so it is a joy and pleasure to spend your days lounging on the sumptuous oversized outdoor beds and lawn chairs while overlooking the crystal clear waters, craggy coastline, and the sharks that roam through the bay in the early morning."


Location: "The Haad Tien resort is located off a horrible dirt road with giant rocky clumps. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get in and out to the main Koh Tao area. However, once you make it to the main road, there are plenty of great restaurants, shops, and dive shops within easy reach. Koh Tao itself is a beautiful island with cheap (though not necessarily spectacular) diving."


Rooms: "Haad Tien has several types of rooms, but the cheapest options run around $75/night. These are small yellow bungalows that overlook the beach on a hillside. The more expensive rooms range from $150 to $275 and are luxury teak bungalows built directly on the beach. The grounds are, in a word, stunning. The beach is beautiful and there are giant futon beds spread strategically through the grassy fields that overlook the beach."


Food: "The food is mediocre, at best. Your best option is heading into the main Koh Tao area."


Vibe: "The vibe was laid back and romantic."


Keep In Mind: The road into Haad Tien is truly horrible so we would not recommend driving a motorbike into the resort unless you are a comfortable and experienced driver. There is currently no swimming pool at the resort but there are planning on constructing a pool. I expect that rates will eventually go up, but right now the bungalows for $75 are a great deal.




Posted August 16, 2010


hotel hadrian hotel hadrian hotel hadrian hotel hadrian

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Hotel Hadrian, Kas, Antalya, Turkey
Nominated By: Steve Dancha, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, USA, November '09


Price Range: 80-300 Euros (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 14 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Hotel Hadrian so Darn Good? With its gorgeous setting overlooking Turkey's rocky coast, the Hadrian is a place that you'll never forget.

Location: The hotel is located near the tip of the Kas peninsula, eight kilometers from the small village of Kas on the Turkey's unbelievably beautiful Turquoise Coast. While the area is popular with scuba divers, snorkelers, and sea kayakers, the rugged coastline also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and cycling. In addition, the hotel offers excursions to several nearby archeological ruins.

Rooms: The Hadrian has ten double rooms and four suites. All are spacious and decorated with a Turkish touch, and many have balconies overlooking the sea and neighboring islands. Gardens surround a large saltwater pool with whirlpool, and a string of terraces, complete with lounge chairs and beach umbrellas, winds its way down to the water's edge.

Food: Dinner is included with the room rate, and the on-site restaurant serves fabulous food, such as paper wrapped fish and grilled meats, all freshly cooked by a local Turkish chef. Guests can dine outdoors adjacent to the pool or inside in the restaurant. A poolside bar serves drinks all day long.

Vibe: The Hadrian is very romantic and just amazing.

Keep in Mind: The hotel is a meandering three hour drive from Antalya along the cliffs hugging the Mediterranean coastline. It takes some effort to get there but the ride is a true adventure.

Read more. See the map.


Posted August 12, 2010


pennsview hotel pennsview hotel pennsview hotel pennsview hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Penn's View Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nominated By: Shelley Seale, Austin, Texas, USA, June '10


Price Range: US$119-$254 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 51 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Penn's View Hotel so Darn Good? You arrive at a charming block of buildings, facing cobblestoned Front Street and the Delaware River, overlooking Penn's Landing. The 1828 building that houses Penn's View Hotel was originally built as a shipping warehouse for the port; it later served as a hardware store and coffee house. After the 1950s the building sat vacant for many years, until the Sena family bought and renovated it, and Penn's View Hotel opened in 1990.

Location: One of the big drawing points of the Penn's View Hotel is its incredible, unmatched location only steps away from historic Philadelphia's most interesting spots, including Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin's gravesite, and the Betsy Ross house. Located just off Front and Market Streets, and a block from the SEPTA train, there is no better spot for a visit to the birthplace of the nation.

Rooms: Each of the 51 guest rooms are finely appointed, with queen or king beds. Some include working fireplaces or terrace balconies with views of the river and Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and premium rooms have Jacuzzi bathtubs. Other on-site facilities and features include wireless internet throughout the hotel and guest rooms (no additional charge), and guest access to the fitness room. Complimentary, European-style continental breakfast and the morning newspaper are included with each stay. Several function rooms are available for meetings and private parties.

Food: The hotel's Ristorante Panorama is an award-winning Italian Restaurant and wine bar, and holds the distinction of having the world's largest wine preservation system. Serving more than 120 wines by the glass, the Il Bar offers wine flights and special tasting nights and has won acclaim from Wine Spectator and Food & Wine. The New York Times called it "the mother of all wine bars."

Vibe: Penn's View Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Sena family's loving restoration resulted in an architectural award in 1995 from the city of Philadelphia. Owner and family patriarch Luca Sena is a native of Napoli, Italy, arriving in the U.S. in 1967 with his father Carlo, a Master Chef. Luca's son, Carlo A. Sena, manages the hotel and continues his family's tradition of hospitality.

Keep in Mind: One side of the hotel faces the highway, so if you are sensitive to background noise, you might want to request a room on a different side.

Read more. See the map.



Posted August 2, 2010


Traveler Favorite - July '10

New World St. Hostel, Warsaw, Poland


Why so darn good? "The price and location is unbeatable. It is highly accessible by tram - only two stops from the Central Station; and by bus, which has a stop right in front of the hostel. The hostel is located on Nowy Swiat St. From there you can easily walk to the Historic Old Town or to other attractions in the Warsaw District."


Location: "This hostel is located in Nowy Swiat St., which is one of the most active streets in Warsaw and an attraction in itself. It leads to the Historic Old Town (walking distance) and it's full of shops, restaurants, bars, and night clubs. The area still keeps some of the old Warsaw character, but it's well mixed with a modern social lifestyle."


Rooms: "The hostel is located on the third floor of a somewhat discreet building facing Nowy Swiat St. (you kind of have to look for it to notice it). The hostel is well kept, clean, has good service and security, and a friendly staff. The rooms are themed according to major cities around the world (e.g., Sydney, New York, Barcelona, Rome, etc.) and decorated with a modern style. Rooms range from private doubles to a ten bed mixed dorm, and some of the rooms have nice views of the city. The living area is a great place to meet and chat with other backpackers, read a book from their small library, play Wii, or simply have a good meal."


Food: Breakfast is included in the private rooms. If you're not interested in buying breakfast, you can prepare your own meal in the living room kitchen."


Vibe: "Whether it is in your room or in the living area, you will find a great hostel environment that makes it easy to meet other backpackers. The staff also creates a good vibe by being very social and helpful with their guests."


Keep In Mind: "Since Nowy Swiat St. is an attraction in itself, it is closed to traffic on the weekends. Access to public transportation can be found at the Rondo De Gaull'a, just a very short walk from the hostel."



Comment on New World St. Hostel




Posted July 30, 2010 - updated from Traveler Favorite


pousada do capao pousada do capao pousada do capao pousada do capao

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Pousada do Capão, Sao Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Nominated By: Lydia, Glocester, Rhode Island, USA, December '09


make a reservation inquiry directly with Pousada do Capao


Price Range: R$95-R$190 (dinner & breakfast included) # of Rooms: 12 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Pousada do Capão so Darn Good? The Pousada has beautiful cottages and delicious food. Owners Peter and Marcinha make everyone feel like the most welcome guest in their home. In addition, they will arrange any sort of sightseeing, transportation, or guides that you need.

Location: Pousada do Capão is located on the outskirts of the small village of São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras in the state of Minas Gerais, ninety minutes from the closest city, Diamantina. The town sits along the Estrada Real, or Royal Way, a road built in the 17th century by the Portuguese to transport gold and diamonds back to Lisbon. Today the road is still mostly unpaved, and the towns and villages along the way appear frozen in time with Baroque churches, cobblestone streets, and period buildings. The Pousada is located in the Cerrado, a tropical savannah home to waterfalls, caves, twisted trees, and petroglyphs.

Rooms: The Pousada has eight individual cottages, as well as four rooms with shared bath in the main house. All are decorated with local crafts and are surrounded by beautiful grounds, an abundance of lovely native plants, and mountain views.

Food: Excellent! Peter is a trained chef, and he uses many local ingredients to create inspiring meals combining Brazilian and American traditions. A gourmet dinner is included with the room rate, as is breakfast, which consists of home-made cakes, cookies, puddings, and granola, as well as local Serro cheese, fresh fruits, and juices.

Vibe: The pousada is a peaceful and friendly retreat.

Keep in Mind: Nights are quiet here, so be prepared for some serious relaxation.

Make an Inquiry/Book a Room at:



Posted July 30, 2010


Traveler Favorite - May '10

Milat Estate Winery, St. Helena, California


Why so darn good? "The cottages at the Milat Estate Winery are located right at a small family owned winery. The minute you show up you feel like you are part of the family. Plus the cost is less than a small budget hotel."


Location: "Right on the main drag in St. Helena, this small family owned winery has a tasting room and three cottages."


Rooms: "the three small cottages are right in the vineyard. The smallest cottage looks like a shed that has been converted, one of the others is above a garage, and the third is a small cabin-looking building."


Vibe: "Make yourself at home. Feel free to eat the grapes and wander through the vineyard."


Keep In Mind: "This is not the Ritz-type-of-place, and the rooms are quaint and comfortable."





Posted July 28, 2010


Traveler Favorite - May '10

Sri Pat Guest House, Chiang Mai, Thailand


Why so darn good? "These digs, in this neighborhood, are luxurious for a relatively small price. Other places were bare boned, concrete boxes with a shower head in the middle of another box called the bathroom. It is very easy to see that some effort, thought, and love had gone into the Sri Pat. The owners understand what weary travelers need and want, and they go the extra mile to deliver. My daughter and I stayed at Sri Pat for one month and had a great time."


Location: "The location is close to the famous night bazaar as well as some fabulous restaurants... it's just a really nice central location close to everything worth seeing in Chiang Mai. The street locale is quiet and peaceful, and we came to know the super friendly restaurant owners, the women who did our laundry, and the folks who ran the internet cafes."


Rooms: "The rooms are lovely - spacious, beatifully tiled floors, dark wood accents and a beautiful bathroom - VERY clean and luxurious for that particular neighborhood. We checked out about eight other guesthouses on the same long street and came back to the Sri Pat because we felt at peace there. Chairs were strategically placed, allowing tired guests a nice place to rest their weary bones after sightseeing all day. The flowers, lovely pictures, and other details really made us feel at home, and we looked forward to coming 'home' each day."


Food: "The food was great. The guest house even allowed us to buy our own food and bring it back to cook for ourselves, or have the cook make it for us. Room service is offered. We used it many times and were able to take our food and coffees out to the balcony and watch the world go by."


Vibe: "The vibe is great. The staff and the owners (the family had their own residence in the back of the house) made us feel as though we were part of a big family. The owners' pets wandered through and made friends with people sitting around. The owners' children would sit with us and share their world. Very nice!"


Keep In Mind: "While the guesthouse costs a bit more for this neighborhood, it was well worth it to us to pay the eight extra baht to have some place beautiful to come back to at the end of the day. We always knew we would come back to a spotless room and smiling faces :)"





Posted July 26, 2010


aiguaclara hotel aiguaclara hotel aiguaclara hotel aiguaclara hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Aiguaclara Hotel, Begur, Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain
Nominated By: Sarah Lavender Smith, Piedmont, California, USA, April '10


Price Range: 85-175 Euros (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 10 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Aiguaclara Hotel so Darn Good? Situated in the heart of Begur, a medieval village on the coast of Northern Spain, Aiguaclara occupies a 19th century mansion replete with original tilework and ornate wrought iron detailing. Windows open to a view of the town's winding cobblestone streets and 11th-century castle, and the central plaza is just out the door. Aiguaclara's owners, Clara and Joan, are extremely welcoming and helpful; they picked us up at the bus stop and helped us arrange a rental car.

Location: Begur is a lovely small town along the spectacular Costa Brava one and a half hours from Barcelona and a half hour from the ancient, walled city of Girona. Hunker down in Begur and savor its tiny one-lane roads, plazas buzzing with life, and medieval castles and churches. The closest beaches and swimming coves are three kilometers down a winding road from Begur's town center.

Rooms: Each of Aiguaclara's ten rooms is individually decorated with antique furnishings and regional art, and some have terraces overlooking the town. The hotel is spacious with high ceilings and has a restaurant enclosed in what used to be an outdoor yard. Common spaces include a game room with hip decor and retro board games, a self-serve snack and beverage area, and a lounge within the restaurant.

Food: The hotel serves a buffet breakfast featuring traditional Spanish fare, such as tortilla espanola, as well as fresh fruit, yogurt, and pastries. The dinner menu at the top-rated hotel restaurant includes several regional specialties.

Vibe: Aiguaclara attracts a hip international crowd, yet manages to be family-friendly at the same time. Our eight and twelve year old kids were made to feel very welcome.

Keep in Mind: Smoking is prevalent in Catalonia, so be prepared for the restaurant and lounge area to be a little smoky. Also, church bells ring every quarter hour and sounds echo in the tile hallways, so while the hotel is not always quiet, it is extremely comfortable and peaceful.

Read more. See the map.



Posted June 21, 2010


riad numero 9 riad numero 9 riad numero 9 riad numero 9

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Riad Numero 9, Fez, Morocco
Nominated By: Nadia Latif of Travel Intelligence, London, England, June '10


make a reservation inquiry directly with Riad Numero 9


Price Range: 100-200 Euros (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Riad Numero 9 so Darn Good? It looks – as with most traditional riads - like nothing from the outside, but through the metal-studded door lays a mosaic-tiled oasis of a boutique hotel. Meticulously restored by its owner Stephen, Riad Numero 9 is furnished with antiques and curios from Morocco, Europe, and the Far East.

Location: The riad is a ten-minute walk from Bab Boujeloud, the main entrance gate to Fez's medina. The city is notoriously difficult to navigate and a guide will be sent to meet you (at no extra charge) from the airport.

Rooms: Riad Numero 9 has just three suites (though there are plans to expand). I stayed in the Master Suite, which takes up an entire floor, and is split over two huge rooms connected by a birdcage-adorned walkway. The first is a bedroom/dining area and the second is a bathroom, complete with a pair of 1930s dentist chairs. The other suites are smaller, but no less lavish. All rooms have intricately carved cedar-wood ceilings, double beds and private, spacious bathrooms. The riad is very suited to exclusive rental, but rooms are also let individually.

Food: Stephen's French partner, Bruno, is a trained chef and oversees all things culinary. As is usual with these traditional Moroccan houses, breakfast is included in the room rate and all other meals are arranged on request. Take breakfast on the roof terrace, which boasts the best view of the medina that I could find. I have very fond memories of eating home-made banana jam, French toast, and hot waffles while listening to the hustle and bustle of Fez drifting up through the latticed fencing.

Vibe: The vibe at Riad Numero 9 is intimate and exclusive. I felt like I was staying in the home of a very rich, cultured friend.

Keep in Mind: Don't expect the staff to wait on you hand-and-foot; you're urged to treat the place like your own (gaspingly gorgeous) home. A selection of CDs, books, and comfy seating is positioned around the sunken Japanese table in the courtyard, and a mini-fridge stocked with wine and beer is tucked away on one of the upper levels. You're also at liberty to explore the kitchen for snacks.

Read more. See the map.



Posted June 7, 2010


balamku balamku balamku balamku

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Balamku Inn on the Beach, Mahahual, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Nominated By: Gary at Green Traveler Guides, April '10


Price Range: US$75-$90 # of Rooms: 10 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Balamku Inn on the Beach so Darn Good? This eco-friendly hotel on Mexico's beautiful Costa Maya has been nominated by the World Travel Awards as a Leading Green Hotel in Mexico and Central America two years in a row. Balamku is powered by solar and wind energy and its ten beachfront rooms are situated to maximize natural ventilation. The airy rooms are tastefully turned out with tile floors and colorful Mexican art.

Location: Balamku is a few minutes from the little fishing village of Mahahual, four and half hours south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Inn boasts a sandy beachfront with clear, calm, and shallow waters protected by the great Banco Chinchorro reef, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers alike. Balamku offers free use of kayaks, and opportunities for hiking, birding, and exploring Mayan ruins abound.

Rooms: Balamku has two single and four double palapas with private terraces overlooking the Caribbean Sea. All guestrooms are attractive and well maintained, tropical in theme and in fact. In order to protect the nearby coral reef, each room has a shower and sink fed by captured rainwater that flows out to a constructed wetland, as well as specially designed composting toilets (looking at them, you would hardly guess) which eliminate the need for septic tanks. In addition, Balamku uses natural cleaning products and provides aloe vera based toiletries.

Food: A full breakfast is served in the main inn and features organic fruit from the property, homemade granola, a selection of egg dishes, and organic Chiapas coffee. Balamku also offers a light lunch menu of sandwiches, soup, quesadillas, and shrimp tacos. For dinner, several restaurants are in and around the town of Mahahual, and two are within walking distance of the inn.

Vibe: Balamku is totally laid-back and serene. Just reach for another cerveza or herbal iced tea, relax, and enjoy.

Read more. See the map.



Posted June 7, 2010


green tree lodge green tree lodge green tree lodge green tree lodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Green Tree Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia
Nominated By: Zimba Mission Team (Joan, Joan, and Janet), Lusaka, Zambia and Memphis, Tennessee, December '09


Price Range: (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Green Tree Lodge so Darn Good? Hector, the owner and manager of Green Tree Lodge, is an amazing and gracious host. He makes each guest feel at home and gets to know everyone personally. Hector's crew makes a scrumptious breakfast, and the Lodge provides a peaceful setting with clean and modern rooms. The Lodge is within a fifteen minute drive of Victoria Falls, considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Location: The Green Tree Lodge is in a secluded location just off the main roads through Livingstone - removed from the town's hustle and bustle, yet just a fifteen minute walk to town center. The Lodge is an excellent base for excursions to Victoria Falls and the Mosi-oa-Tunya Game Park, or a white water rafting trip on the Zambezi River.

Rooms: The individual guest chalets are simple but modern and provide basic luxuries such as air conditioning, television, and hot showers. Lush, tropical fruit trees supply shade in the garden so guests can relax in comfort by the lovely swimming pool. We were delighted by the guinea fowl, guinea pigs, and bunny rabbits roaming the grounds.

Food: A tasty English-style breakfast, served with fresh fruit and fruit juices, is cooked to order and served on the back veranda overlooking the pool. Guests may also order lunch and dinner at the Lodge's restaurant and bar, which is exclusively for guest use.

Vibe: The Lodge offers friendly and personal home-style service in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.

Keep in Mind: You might want to plan to stay awhile, as it is very peaceful here.

Read more. See the map.



Posted May 24, 2010


Traveler Favorite - December '09

Pousada Enseada das Conchas, Ilha do Mel, Parana, Brazil


Why so darn good? "The owners, Carlos and Sueli, are lovely hosts. The ambiance is quite welcoming and the rooms are very comfortable compared to island standards. The location is quite good, with easy access to Praia do Farol and in a quiet corner, close to a small village with some restaurants. The lighthouse is just meters away. And the best, it is not expensive at all!!!"


Location: "The pousada is located near Praia do Farol on Ilha do Mel. Trees and a field lie between the guesthouse and beach. The pier of Brasilia is just a twenty minute walk. "


Rooms: "All four rooms are charmingly decorated in different colours. Each has a mini-bar, television, private bathroom, and a double and single bed."


Food: "Breakfast is great, and includes fresh made bread, different jellies, cheese, ham, salami, fresh juice, and cake."


Vibe: "The pousada is a place to have a good time and relax on the hammocks or sit on the porch. There is wi-fi internet, so that some guests can work or keep in touch in this friendly environment."


Keep In Mind: "Sueli loves cats, so if you mind cats, this is may not be the right place for you."



Posted May 24, 2010


Traveler Favorite - December '09

Hotel Moderno, Madrid, Madrid, Spain


Why so darn good? "The Hotel Moderno has the best location in Madrid at about US$100."


Location: "Overlooking La Puerta del Sol, the hotel is three doors away from Kilometre Zero in Madrid."


Rooms: "The rooms are simple and very clean."


Food: "The Moderno offers an excellent breakfast (although not included in most room rates)."


Vibe: "The employees go out of their way to help you."



Posted May 24, 2010


Traveler Favorite - April '10

Hostel Celica, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Why so darn good? "A converted prison, this friendly, colorful hostel offers clean and simple cells for its guests to lay their head. Parking is included too."


Location: "The Hostel Celica is in Slovenia's capital city of Ljubljana and within walking distance to most of the city."


Rooms: "The rooms are small, former prison cells and still have bars on the windows and second door (there is a regular solid door and a door with bars for an authentic feel). The property includes an outdoor patio/small yard and dining area. Guests may check out boardgames from the front desk and the hostel is wireless-internet friendly."


Food: "Breakfast is included and in buffet style with limited, but acceptable options. You may eat outside or in the dining area."


Vibe: "The hostel is friendly and hip with an international flair."


Keep in Mind: "Finding the entrance to the parking lot is a bit challenging, so get detailed directions before arrival. While the hostel does not have private baths, there is a communal bathroom with several showers on each floor."



Posted May 24, 2010


Traveler Favorite - April '10

Seng Hout Hotel, Battambang, Cambodia


Why so darn good? "The Seng Hout is a new, tidy, and spotless hotel owned by a very proud owner and local man. The rooms are cheap, and the hotel has a very friendly staff."


Location: "The hotel has a central location, just a couple of minutes walk to the market and main part of town."


Rooms: "The rooms are smart, simple, and clean. The Seng Hout has fantastic chilling out areas, including a rooftop terrace and plenty of outside patios."


Food: "No food is available at the hotel, but the location is very close to all restaurants and the market."


Vibe: "A friendly vibe."



Posted May 23, 2010


rikitikitavi rikitikitavi rikitikitavi rikitikitavi

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Rikitikitavi, Kampot, Cambodia
Nominated By: Andrea, Queensland, Australia, April '10


Price Range: US$30-$60 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Rikitikitavi so Darn Good? What makes Rikitikitavi so good is the service, which is simply the best we have ever come across in our travels through Southeast Asia! With their welcoming rooms, delicious food, and helpful suggestions for what to do around town, Denise, Dom, and their staff ensure that their guests are well taken care of throughout their stay. Rikitikitavi is spotlessly clean, comfortable, and quiet, and has a perfect location right on Kampot's riverfront.

Location: A rich collection of colonial architecture and a riverside perfect for strolling make the small town of Kampot in southeastern Cambodia an appealing destination. Several beaches along the Gulf of Thailand, such as those of Kep and Rabbit Island, are nearby, but the area's biggest draw is Bokor Hill Station, a 1920's era retreat built by the French high up in the Elephant Mountains forty kilometers from Kampot. Rikitikitavi is on the town's Riverside Road, within walking distance to the taxi stand and bus station.

Rooms: Situated in a renovated wooden-framed rice barn, Rikitikitavi has well appointed rooms decorated with Khmer silks and pillows, rattan furniture, and local art. The beds are comfy and the showers are hot. The Inn has an extensive DVD library so guests can watch movies on the DVD players in their air conditioned rooms. Double rooms have four poster beds and private patios.

Food: Meals at Rikitikitavi are served on the rooftop restaurant and bar which has gorgeous views overlooking the river. The chef uses very up-market fresh food which is wonderfully presented and cooked to perfection. I highly recommend Beef Saraman! Breakfast includes baguettes, crepes, and fresh fruit salad.

Vibe: Staying at Rikitikitavi is like visiting old friends, and this is one reason the hotel is so special. Whether in our room or upstairs in the restaurant, we felt incredibly welcome, comfortable, and relaxed.

Keep in Mind: Book well ahead because this is a popular place. Also, make sure to reserve a table for dinner in the high season, and ask for Bory the tuk tuk driver.

Read more. See the map.



Posted May 10, 2010


longboard inn longboard inn longboard inn longboard inn

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Longboard Inn, New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Nominated By: Allison and Michael, Brooklyn, NY, March '10


Price Range: US$115-$150 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: no (or not really)


What makes the Longboard Inn so Darn Good? This historic Craftsman Style bungalow has been lovingly restored by its friendly owners, John and Dee, with a surf theme and an eye for detail. Our room was fun and inviting and we enjoyed the delicious home-made breakfast served in the Inn's colorful dining room.

Location: New Smyrna Beach is an old-Florida style beach town on the state's northeast coast less than ninety minutes from Orlando. The Inn is within walking distance to historic Canal Street with a few antique shops and restaurants, but the real action is a five minute drive across the bridge to Flagler Avenue and the beach. Filled with ice cream shops, swimwear boutiques, and eateries, Flagler Avenue is an excellent place to stroll after a day of surfing or relaxing in the sun.

Rooms: Longboard Inn has eight lovely themed rooms and suites, each distinctly decorated with original fabric paintings, ceramics, and stained glass by local artists. The Sky Blue room, where we stayed, has cheerful blue walls, an enormous bathroom with soft towels, and French doors opening to the Inn's impressive wrap-around porch. We dug the colorful bedspread and whimsical pillows.

Food: Breakfast is a real treat at the Longboard Inn. Ours started off with a selection of freshly baked breads, including pecan cherry, wild berry, and gingerbread, and ended with fluffy blueberry flapjacks draped in an apple brandy compote. For dinner, we want to give a shout out to Maloney's Oyster Bar a few blocks away where we enjoyed an evening of steam kettle cooking, good beer, and live music.

Vibe: The Inn is laid back and mellow. John spent a good deal of time giving us the low-down on New Smyrna Beach, things to do, and places to eat. Even though the Inn usually has a no child policy, John welcomed our four year old off-season and was super-friendly to him.

Keep in Mind: While the Inn is not on the beach, it is in a historic residential neighborhood and makes for a great base for exploring Florida's northeast coast.

Read more. See the map.



Posted May 10, 2010


villa la bella villa la bella villa la bella villa la bella

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Villa La Bella, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Nominated By: Jen Schenkel, Brooklyn, New York, March '10


Price Range: US$120-$230 # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: no


What makes Villa La Bella so Darn Good? Villa La Bella is a colorful six room bed and breakfast on the small island of Isla Mujeres, a short ferry ride and a world away from Cancun. The Villa offers a peaceful adults-only getaway with a low-key vibe away from the tourist crowds. Ashley and Curtis, the on-site owners, are gracious hosts, not too intrusive, but available for any questions about the island or your stay.

Location: Villa La Bella is on a quiet coastal street, just an hour and a half from the Cancun airport and a five minute taxi ride to the main town and Playa Norte, a popular white-sand beach. While the Villa is not on the beach itself, it is right on the coast, and you can walk along the rocks and find great sea glass. You can also walk to a few restaurants, including a phenomenal taco joint, but you are definitely not in the center of the action.

Rooms: Once through the Villa's front door, you'll find yourself in a carefully thought out gorgeous space. The bed and breakfast has an outdoor living room (with free wireless if you can't unplug), a pool and hot tub surrounded by hammocks and lounge furniture, a swing bar, a covered area with tables and chairs where breakfast is served, a lending library with books and DVD's, and a path to the sea. The rooms are fairly simple, with the more economical accommodations off the pool, and a few larger suites upstairs (complete with swing beds hanging from ropes - not for everyone). The Villa has no televisions or phones, but plenty of breezes, space, light, and cool touches like carved lanterns and shell sculptures. Some rooms have air conditioning.

Food: Villa La Bella serves a yummy breakfast every morning except Monday. The coffee is strong and the portions are generous. For other meals, you can head into town, walk to one of several local, very casual and delicious taco places, or have Mayan chicken delivered when you feel too lazy to leave. A little bodega is also very close where you can buy happy hour snacks to go with the mixed drinks and Mexican beers available at the Villa's bar.

Vibe: The Villa is quiet and relaxing with funky decor. Unlike many B&B's, you don't have to talk to the hosts or other guests unless you feel like it - there's enough space to do your own thing or to make friends, depending on your mood.

Keep in Mind: While Isla Mujeres has been developed more than some other parts of the Yucatan coast and the beach can be crowded at times, the Villa is a darn good getaway that's not far from a major airport.

Read more. See the map.



Posted April 23, 2010


camellia inn camellia inn camellia inn camellia inn

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Camellia Inn, Healdsburg, California
Nominated By: Nina Vemac, Olga, Washington, USA, January '10


Price Range: US$129-$299 # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly:


What makes the Camellia Inn so Darn Good? Located in the town of Healdsburg in the heart of pricey Sonoma County, the Camellia Inn beckons with a cozy “Budget Room” that blends vintage style with modern amenities. The inn is within walking distance to the historic town plaza, great restaurants, and several wine tasting rooms.

Location: With its small town charm, nearby wineries, and surrounding nature, Healdsburg is the hippest town in the California Wine Country. Brimming with bookstores, coffee shops, boutiques, and art galleries, the town has plenty to keep you busy when you are not visiting any of the more than one hundred wineries within ten miles of the Inn. Giant California redwoods and the beautiful Pacific coast are both within an hour's drive.

Rooms: Housed in an 1869 Italianate Victorian home, the inn has nine distinct guestrooms with period architectural details like marble fireplaces, inlaid hardwood floors, and ceiling medallions. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, except the Budget Room, which has a private bathroom including a huge tub just across the hallway. Guests can take a self-guided walking tour of the gardens, which boast more than fifty varieties of camellias and surround a lovely swimming pool.

Food: The full breakfast buffet includes a warm dish, fresh seasonal fruit, breakfast meats, granola, yogurt, pastries, and smoothies. On Thursday mornings, the Inn offers a chocolate-inspired breakfast as part of its chocolate-covered Wednesday theme, which also includes chocolate treats upon check-in, chocolate port in the evening, and chocolate body paint and soap in the rooms. The inn offers wine, sometimes from their very own winery, and cheese every evening by the pool or in the parlor.

Vibe: The Camellia Inn, a three decade old family business, is comfortable, fun, and warm, but not fussy or cloying.

Keep in Mind: The Budget Room is very popular so make sure to book in advance.

Read more. See the map.



Posted April 23, 2010


hotel deluxe hotel deluxe hotel deluxe hotel deluxe

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Hotel deLuxe, Portland, Oregon
Nominated By: Shelley Seale, Austin, Texas, November '09


Price Range: # of Rooms: 130 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Hotel deLuxe so Darn Good? I felt as if I'd just stepped into a David O. Selznick set when I entered the doors of the Hotel deLuxe in Portland, Oregon. I have stayed in many boutique or theme hotels, and many luxurious hotels, and while the Hotel deLuxe is certainly all of these things, it exudes a certain joie d vivre all its own, and is sure to whisk any guest back in time to the glam of mid-century movie royalty.

Location: The location is just blocks from the Pearl District, trolley and light-rail stations, and within easy walking distance to numerous Portland attractions, shops, and restaurants.

Rooms: Although the era lends a certain old-fashioned glitz to the vibe of the hotel, it is anything but stuffy, and rooms have clean contemporary lines and the latest in amenities. With buttery yellow walls, high ceilings, and an abundance of windows, the rooms are modern and airy. Choose from king or queen deLuxe rooms, premier suites, or go all out for the Marlene Dietrich Suite, with the only circular bed in Portland, spanning eight feet across. The attentive but unobtrusive guest services include a “Make It So” button on the phone, from which guests can request anything from their choice of a dozen styles of pillows to their religious book of preference.

Food: Facilities at the deLuxe are no less stunning than the rest of the hotel. In the swanky Driftwood Room bar, it seems entirely plausible that Frank Sinatra or Marilyn Monroe might saunter in while you sip your classic cocktail. I had the “Elizabeth Taylor”, the hotel's signature drink of champagne and crème de violette. The place is almost unbearably hip, and popular among Portland locals. Gracie's Restaurant serves stylishly presented comfort food in a chic setting of white and gold walls, black upholstered seating, and crystal chandeliers.

Vibe: Hotel deLuxe is a contemporary tribute to Old Hollywood that tastefully balances art deco and art moderne styles, for a mix of timeless sophistication and serene comfort. The lobby is understated and elegant, with 1930's modern decor, original gilt moldings, and crystal chandeliers. The focal point of the room is a large projected vintage film still that changes daily. All the design and detailing is based on the architectural and decorative arts of the 1920's through the 1940's. The hotel also gives a respectful nod to the filmmakers of the day and a historic stroll for guests: along the corridors of each of the eight floors are about 350 black-and-white photos of film stars, grouped by their legendary directors such as William Wyler, Ingmar Bergman, and Frank Capra.

Keep in Mind: While the hotel is only a six minute walk from downtown, it is on the other side of the submerged highway and not right in the heart of the city.

Read more. See the map.



Posted April 14, 2010


bayaleau point cottages bayaleau point cottages bayaleau point cottages bayaleau point cottages

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Bayaleau Point Cottages, Carriacou, Grenada
Nominated By: Sophie Stewart, London, UK, February '10


Price Range: US$65-$145 # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Bayaleau Point Cottages so Darn Good? Staying at Bayaleau Point Cottages is like staying with friends, incredibly creative and nice friends who live in one of the most amazing spots in the world and who enjoy taking you on boat trips around the Grenadines.

Location: Carriacou is a small island in the Grenadine Archipelago and is reachable by a twenty minute flight or a ninety minute high speed boat ride from Grenada. Carriacou is possibly the sleepiest island in the Caribbean and if you really need to get away from it all, then the Bayaleau Point Cottages are the place to stay - no TV, no air con, no problem. The Cottages are set on a quiet hillside on Carriacou's Windward Bay and are within easy walking distance to the small fishing and boat-building village of Windward. The property has a little beach suitable for swimming, and the island has several sandy beaches ripe for exploring.

Rooms: The four colorful cottages are small and simple, but gingerbread pretty and are decorated with Caribbean art. The red, yellow, and green cottages were hand-built by Dave, the owner, and the blue cottage, which has a baby blue annex perfect for teenagers, was an original slave dwelling. Each cottage can sleep four and contains a full kitchen, and the property has a communal deck overlooking the sea where guests can relax or enjoy a meal.

Food: Happy hour drinks, such as the magical Magic Elixir, and evening meals, such as fresh grilled fish followed by home-made ice cream, are served out on the deck and are available with advance notice. In addition, Carriacou has several restaurants, super shops, and a daily fruit and vegetable market, and Windward itself has a few small stores within walking distance to pick up the essentials.

Vibe: It's another way of life and oh how I miss it! You can chill in a hammock, chat with locals, or get busy by helping to build a boat. This is prime Grenadines territory and an excursion on Mostly Harmless, the Inn's own home-built boat, will transport you to such honeypots as the Tobago Cays and Mayreau for snorkeling, swimming, a picnic lunch, and rum punch.

Keep in Mind: While the location of Bayaleau Point Cottages is fairly isolated, the local bus service on the island is surprisingly good. Rental cars are also available if you choose.





Posted April 12, 2010


Traveler Favorite - December '09

Mi Casa en Lisboa/My Home in Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at whl


Why so darn good? "The owner of the house, María, is very, very, helpful. Every suggestion is the right one! She will make you discover a different Lisbon."


Location: "Great location in the Graça neighbourhood."


Rooms: "All the rooms are so special, simple but very cozy. The garden is magical! It is the best place to have breakfast or just get some rest."


Food: "They only serve breakfast and it is delicious! Fresh juice, fruits, and local products..."


Vibe: "Laid back and very special."


Keep in Mind: "This is not a hotel. This is Maria's place and a very special place to stay. Forget about the 'typical' concept of accommodation."



Posted April 9, 2010


Traveler Favorite - March '10

Hostel in the Forest, Brunswick, Georgia


Why so darn good? "It's unique to this region of the Southeast. The treehouses are wonderful. The communal kitchen cooks up food from the organic garden for all the guests. There is a "Chicken of the Week" feature on the hostel website and domes designed by Buckminster Fuller. Any guest may join in the Lakota-style Sweat Lodge. The amazing staff, knowledgeable about many things, is always willing to help make your stay whatever you need it to be. The Hostel in the Forest is a good place to go for a spiritual retreat, whatever that might look like for you. It is a one-of-a-kind haven."


Location: "In the forest!"


Rooms: "Treehouses, common areas, and regular huts."


Food: "Vegan and vegetarian, organic, natural, healthy whole foods."


Vibe: "Earthy, friendly, eco- and down-to-earth, tolerant and peaceful retreat."


Keep in Mind: "Not for the jet-set crowd. You gotta be willing to let your hair down!"



Posted March 12, 2010


hotel rural cuartamenteru hotel rural cuartamenteru hotel rural cuartamenteru hotel rural cuartamenteru

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Hotel Rural Cuartamenteru, Poo de Llanes, Asturias, Spain
Nominated By: Michael, Brooklyn, New York, January '10


Price Range: # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Hotel Rural Cuartamenteru so Darn Good? The Hotel Rural Cuartamenteru is an immaculately maintained small hotel in Asturias, only a few kilometers away from spectacular beaches and a five minute drive to the lively beach town of Llanes. The hotel has its own micro-sidreria, which the owner gave me a tour of within ten minutes of our arrival - including my first taste of the Asturians' beloved hard apple cider.

Location: Cuartamenteru is perfectly situated between the northern coast of Spain and the stunning Picos de Europa mountains in the little hamlet of Poo de Llanes (that we affectionately called Poo in English). Poo has its own gathering place at the crossroads of the main road, but the real action is in Llanes, at least during the summer, where we enjoyed the weekend carnival atmosphere and the enticing old town packed with restaurants, shops, and sidrerias.

Rooms: Our room was modern, clean, brightly painted, and decorated with hanging masks from Asturian mythology. The bathroom had all the amenities one would expect at a luxury hotel, even including toothpaste and shoe polish. A second one story cottage adjacent to the main building housed a very comfortable glass-enclosed sitting room along with the sidreria and breakfast area.

Food: Fresh pastries, cereal, yogurt, as well as juice, coffee and tea were all included in the continental breakfast. We ate in the colorful breakfast room because it was a bit chilly in the mornings, but there was also seating on the outside porch overlooking the grassy yard and the mountains.

Vibe: The vibe was quiet and friendly. Not only did the owner introduce me to the local cider, but he also gave us many very helpful suggestions on which beaches, towns, and sites to visit.

Keep in Mind: Poo de Llanes is not Llanes, but Llanes is only a short drive away.

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Posted March 1, 2010


Traveler Favorite - December '09

Woodlyn Park, Waitomo, North Island, New Zealand


Why so darn good? "Three reasons this hotel is SO DARN GOOD. Number one: It is a hobbit hole with a round door, round windows, and a sloped ceiling. Number two: A mule and pigs eat the grass on the roof above your head. Number three: The bed is incredibly comfortable and the kitchen facilities are quite nice."


Location: "Located on a farm in Waitomo, New Zealand, the motel overlooks a huge rolling hill and is within a three minute drive to the Waitomo caving operations."


Rooms: "Hobbit-like furniture makes the room feel rustic and comfortable. The curtains are simple canvas hung on large wooden sticks and the round windows and round door add a nice touch to the room. The kitchenette is compact but fully contained, and a round wooden table, comfortable queen sized bed, and weirdly-colored modern purple sofa finish the main room. A side room contains four bunk beds."


Vibe: "Relaxing and low-key."


Keep in Mind: "In addition to the hobbit motel, Woodlyn Park contains motel rooms in an airplane, ship, and train."



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Posted March 1, 2010


Traveler Favorite - December '09

Pousada do Capao, Sao Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras, Minas Gerais, Brazil


Why so darn good? "Owners Peter and Marcinha make everyone feel like the most welcome guest in their home! Beautiful cottages, great food, and they will facilitate any sort of sightseeing, transportation, or guides that you need."


Location: "On the outskirts of a small village, along the historic Estrada Real, 30 km from Diamantina."


Rooms: "Mostly individual cottages with private bath, plus a few rooms with shared bath. Decorated with local crafts. Beautiful grounds, lovely native plants, and mountain views."


Food: "Excellent! Co-owner Peter Edwards is a former chef, and the food combines Brazilian and American traditions."


Vibe: "Relaxed, friendly, and helpful."


Keep in Mind: "No night life! If you're into that, stay in the city."



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Posted February 27, 2010


Traveler Favorite - January '09

Race Brook Lodge, Sheffield, Massachusetts


Why so darn good? "Race Brook Lodge is one of those places where it just feels great to be there from the minute you show up. From the kooky but super helpful family that runs the place, to the hammocks and trails that dot the property, to the range of barn-like, rustic rooms, to the tavern that serves delicious local fare, to the range of indoor and outdoor gathering spaces -- including a barn that can be rented out for group retreats or events -- Race Brook Lodge is a fantastic all-season getaway (though particularly cozy in the fall and winter). Plus they take dogs and kids, and attract a very groovy brand of independent, progressive travelers."


Location: "Race Brook Lodge is in the southern Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts, a 3 hour drive from NYC and 2.5 from Boston. The Lodge is located directly on a country highway, but once you come in to the drive you are a world away. It's about 7-8 minutes into the cute little town of Sheffield, and 15 minutes into the vibrant town of Great Barrington. All the cultural riches of the Berkshires are easily accessible, should you decide to leave the property."


Rooms: "The 32 rooms are located in a couple of different buildings, including the main lodge, the coach house (which also houses the tavern), and a few other cottages forming a motel-like structure. Rooms are all decorated with a hodge podge of mismatched antiques and rugs, and most if not all have wood plank floors and beamed ceilings. The brook of the lodge's name runs along the property, and you can hike right from your door up a trail to a lovely waterfall. There are hammocks and picnic tables to lounge on, as well as cozy common spaces inside the lodge to gather in. Some people complain about the amount of cars parked and "stuff" around the grounds, including the owner's old boat, but to me, that just added to the spirit and uniqueness of the place. The room where I stayed with my best friend for a 40th birthday retreat was the coach house cottage mentioned, with its own porch, kitchen, and living room area."


Food: "Breakfast is included in the room rate, and is a great, help-yourself affair of strong coffee in mismatched mugs, various organic breads for toasting, fruit, yogurt, granola, peanut butter, and a dish of the day (eggs, pancakes, etc...). There is an honor bar in another sweet little space that has beer and wine and snacks. And then there's the Stagecoach Tavern on site, which serves locally-sourced, delicious dinner Thursday - Sunday in a low-ceilinged, candle-lit, relaxed space. You never need to leave!"


Vibe: "Offbeat, quirky, low-key, communal, and rustic but very comfy. The Race Brook Lodge is a place where you can be with great friends or family in privacy and nature, and if you so choose, meet like-minded travelers with interesting stories."


Keep in Mind: "The property is right off the road, so there isn't that "off the beaten path" feel. You have to like the aesthetic of junk store antiques, low ceilings and small spaces in order to really groove on the whole feel of the place. They also book group retreats and weddings in the barn space, so it's worth seeing what's happening, if anything, when you are planning your trip."



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Posted February 26, 2010


ambassador garden home ambassador garden home ambassador garden home ambassador garden home

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Ambassador Garden Home, Kathmandu, Nepal
Nominated By: Sherry Ott, New York City, January '10


Price Range: 33-65 Euros # of Rooms: 18 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Ambassador Garden Home so Darn Good? In the middle of the craziness of Thamel, Kathmandu's bustling tourist district, sits this gem boutique hotel. What made staying here so unforgettable was the staff who made me feel as if I were a member of the family. The owners called me by my first name and frequently joined me in the garden, assisting with any travel needs I had and introducing me to other guests at the hotel.

Location: Thamel is one of the busiest, noisiest, and most crowded neighborhoods in Kathmandu and the Ambassador Garden Home is located at one of its main intersections. However, the hotel is set back from the road, and once you step onto its grounds, you are amazingly transported to a peaceful oasis. The hotel provides transportation from the airport for ten Euros, as well as complimentary rickshaw rides to nearby tourist sites and old Kathmandu.

Rooms: The entire hotel has been recently renovated, and its eighteen modern rooms are decorated with class. Cultural and family relics can be found throughout the hotel, including the wooden garden doors and an old wooden staircase in the lobby. Surrounded by a classic brick fence, the Nepali garden is one of the hotel's highlights. Here guests can eat meals or simply relax reading a book with the fountain dribbling in the background.

Food: The Ambassador Garden Home has an on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dhal bhat plate, Nepal's most popular dish, was fabulous. Breakfasts were also great, and I personally loved the French press coffee brought to the table!

Vibe: The Ambassador Garden Home feels like a boutique hotel melded with a family hostel. The owner and manager came out at night and ate dinner with guests in the garden; they introduced travelers to each other, creating a wonderful open communal feel.

Keep in Mind: While peaceful, the hotel is still in the heart of Thamel, and the live bands playing next door and throughout the neighborhood can be heard in the evening. Also, the hotel does not have an elevator.

More information.
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Posted February 8, 2010


esbelli evi esbelli evi esbelli evi esbelli evi

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Esbelli Evi, Urgup, Cappadocia, Turkey
Nominated By: Lynsey, Washington, D.C., December '09


Price Range: US$140-$300 # of Rooms: 13 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Esbelli Evi so Darn Good? Esbelli Evi is pure heaven and it is worth going to Cappadocia just to stay there! We stayed in the enormous and beautiful junior suite, and my favorite experience was soaking in our big tub with a glass of delicious Cappadocian wine, complimentary with our room. The staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful without being intrusive, and they arranged a taxi for us to see all of the attractions, as well as a hot-air balloon tour of the area (do this!).

Location: Esbelli Evi is in Central Turkey in the town of Urgup within walking distance to many restaurants and shops. The location allows for easy drives to all of Cappadocia's main sites, including the area's famous cave churches and underground cities.

Rooms: The hotel is constructed from several traditional Cappadocian stone houses and the 6th-century caves behind them and has ten rooms and nine suites, each one different from the next. All rooms have hardwood floors, modern bathrooms with marble showers, Ottoman-style furniture, kilim carpets, and traditional lace curtains. Some also have fireplaces or naturally formed chimneys. Our room was elegant and luxurious, yet felt authentic, and we appreciated the outstanding wifi.

Food: Breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy excellent views of the surrounding countryside. The food is delicious, and includes freshly baked breads, cheese, olives, tomatoes, boiled eggs, and fresh orange juice. The hotel also puts out such treats as cookies, wine, and juice all day long.

Vibe: Esbelli Evi is a welcoming, peaceful retreat and a stay there is both a luxurious and cultural experience.

Keep in Mind: Rooms are all different sizes, so be sure to ask for a larger room if you need one.

More information.
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Posted February 8, 2010


Traveler Favorite - January '09

Hotel delle Rose, Mestre, Venice, Italy


Why so darn good? "The rooms were immaculately clean and comfortable, and the service was great. The Hotel delle Rose is Just outside of the main tourist area of Venice. I had a great evening watching a soccer game in the lounge with the staff and other guests!"


Location: "The hotel is away from the main tourist area."


Rooms: "The rooms are clean and simple."


Food: "Delle Rose provides a good breakfast in the morning."


Vibe: "Quiet."


Keep in Mind: "The hotel is in Mestre, on the mainland, so you need to take a boat ride to the main tourist areas in Venice."



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Posted January 19, 2010


Traveler Favorite - January '09

Al Campaniel, Venice, Italy


Why so darn good? "Located in central Venice a minute from the San Toma vaporetto stop and an easy walk to the Rialto bridge, Al Campaniel just might be the best deal in Venice. The owner was friendly, our room comfortable, and the price felt like a steal at 60 Euros a night in June."


Location: "Al Campaniel is in a quiet residential neighborhood away from the tourist crowds, yet within easy walking or water bus distance to anywhere we wanted to go in the city."


Rooms: "Our standard double room was fairly small, but it was well- kept and comfortable. Our private bathroom was just across the hall. Al Campaniel also has superior doubles and triples with en-suite bathrooms."


Food: "The inn provides a little basket of pre-wrapped pastries."


Vibe: "The owner, Marco, was friendly and helpful in answering all of our questions."


Keep in Mind: "Al Campaniel is in a residential neighborhood a bit off the beaten path."



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Posted January 19, 2010


Traveler Favorite - January '09

Hostal Poblenou, Barcelona, Spain


Why so darn good? "Mercedes, the owner, is incredibly nice and sweet. She has a natural warmth that made us and our three year old feel very welcome. We appreciated the hostal's large, comfortable rooms and its location just off the Ramblas in the lovely neighborhood of Poblenou."


Location: "A ten minute walk to the metro, and just a few stops from the city center, Hostal Poblenou isn't far from Barcelona's main sites, yet the neighborhood has a feel all its own. We enjoyed coming back from a long day of site-seeing to wander along our neighborhood's tree-lined mini-Ramblas, relax at one of its many open-air restaurants, and people-watch while eating gelato. The Parc del Poble Nou and the beach are at the end of the Rambla not far from the Hostal."


Rooms: "The rooms are large with high ceilings and tile floors. They are painted white with white linens and have splashes of bright color coming from the rugs and artwork on the walls. The hostal has ten rooms on three floors of an atmospheric 1930's apartment building. The front rooms have little balconies overlooking the street."


Food: "Hostal Poblenou offers cereal, baguettes with butter and jam, juice, tea, and coffee for breakfast. For five extra Euros, guests can order a fresh fruit salad, meats and cheeses, and/or eggs. Breakfast is served on a lovely rooftop garden in warm weather, and inside a small dining area at other times."


Vibe: "The hostal has a friendly, down-to-earth, and warm vibe, and we well understood why we met so many return vistors at breakfast."


Keep in Mind: "Mercedes has some cats that wander outside on the terrace or in the halls. Also the apartment building is a walk-up with no elevator."



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Posted January 16, 2010


camilla house camilla house camilla house camilla house

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Camilla House, Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Nominated By: P Dubrow, San Mateo, California, December '09


Price Range: £38-£85 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly:


What makes the Camilla House so Darn Good? The inn has friendly and helpful owners and an excellent location just a block from the town's sea-front promenade.

Location: In its heyday at the turn of the century, Penzance was a fashionable seaside resort, and some relics of the town's colorful history remain, most notably the open-air Art Deco style Jubilee bathing pool just a few blocks from the Camilla House. Today, Penzance's seaside promenade, art galleries, and historic architecture continue to make the town a popular summer destination. Penzance is the westernmost town in England in the County of Cornwall, and is a good base to explore the area's rugged coastline, Celtic ruins, and medieval castles.

Rooms: Each of the eight rooms in this Georgian townhouse is tastefully decorated and comes with fluffy white towels and bathrobes. Our “classic” room looked out on a green churchyard, but all “superior” rooms have views of Penzance promenade and Mount's Bay. Guests can also relax in the inn's lounge or small bar which has a selection of Cornish beers and malt whisky.

Food: Camilla House offers many choices for a full English breakfast and uses locally-sourced ingredients and seasonal produce whenever possible. House favorites include the platter of fresh fruit, local Cornish cheeses, and natural yogurt; and the locally smoked haddock poached with an egg. For excursions along the coast or into the countryside, the Camilla House will provide packed lunches or picnic hampers, and for quiet evenings at home, the inn serves light dinners in its dining room. In addition, several restaurants and pubs are within easy walking distance.

Vibe: The Camilla House is very relaxing, and Simon and Susan, the inn's friendly hosts, greet guests with a pot of tea, maps, and an informative introduction to the area.

Keep in Mind: Penzance is easily reachable by public transportation from London and has several busses to surrounding towns. Camilla House loans out bikes and will drop guests off at points along the South West Coast Path.

Get more information (map and online bibliography).
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Posted January 8, 2010


Traveler Favorite

Riad Diana, Marrakech, Morocco


Why so darn good? "Riads are a wonderful way to experience Moroccan life and culture. Many of these old homes have been lovingly restored. They are small and have the feel of a bed and breakfast. The Riad Diana has a more modern design than other riads, with cleaner and simpler decor, but it was very luxurious and upscale." Read more.

- Dee Andrews, Boulder, Colorado, December '09




Posted January 5, 2010


meridiano sur meridiano sur meridiano sur meridiano sur

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Meridiano Sur, Santiago, Chile
Nominated By: Sarah Lavender Smith, Piedmont, California, USA, November '09


Price Range: US$58-$260 # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes Meridiano Sur so Darn Good? Meridiano Sur is situated in a beautiful old house just off Providencia Avenue, a lively street with many popular restaurants, bars, and shops. We appreciated the hotel's modern, simple, and tasteful rooms, fresh and filling breakfasts, and friendly feel.

Location: Santiago, Chile's modern capital, sits at the foot of the majestic Andes just an hour from the sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean. The hotel is located on a quiet street in Santiago's stylish Providencia district, a five minute walk from the closest subway station. The grassy pathways and gardens that line the Rio Mapocho are nearby, and one mile away is the entrance to the amazing Parque Metropolitano, with its spectacular views, hiking trails, and national zoo.

Rooms: Meridiano Sur is a grand old home with early 19th century architectural details. The hotel has five double rooms, two singles, and a loft that sleeps five, all with private bathrooms and thoughtful design touches such as hand-lettered poetry decorating the walls. A lovely garden and library add to the hotel's charm.

Food: Meridiano Sur provides a good continental breakfast of home-made breads, cereals, cheese, and fresh fruit and juices. A couple of excellent restaurants for lunch and dinner are just down the street.

Vibe: The hotel attracts friendly and hip international travelers as well as vacationing couples.

Keep in Mind: The single and double rooms are not very spacious.

Map and Online Bibliography
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Posted December 30. 2009


Traveler Favorite

Goat Hostel, Budapest, Hungary


Why so darn good? "Very inexpensive rooms, with five beds or fewer, housed in an old apartment building with high ceilings and a once grand sweeping, circular staircase. The beds are comfortable and the showers were clean. However, this is definitely more hostel and less private bed-and-breakfast. Plenty of breakfast things, sunny windows, and a comfortable living room with DVD's, television, and computer made this a comfortable place to stay in busy Budapest." Read more.

- Sara Courson, Charlottesville, Virginia, December '09




Posted December 30. 2009


gamirasu cave hotel gamirasu cave hotel gamirasu cave hotel gamirasu cave hotel

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Gamirasu Cave Hotel, Ayvali, Cappadocia, Turkey
Nominated By: Dee Andrews, Boulder, Colorado, December '09


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at whl


Price Range: 68-350 Euro # of Rooms: 25 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Gamirasu Cave Hotel so Darn Good? We arrived late in the evening in a very small and remote Turkish village. The night was dark and we felt some trepidation, but once we walked onto the grounds, it was just magical. We felt like we were in another world with the caves lit up around us, and the lights sparkling in the trees. The rooms are very luxurious, the staff is friendly, the food is great, and the views and atmosphere are so different and unique. Gamirasu is truly a very special place.

Location: The Gamirasu Cave Hotel is in the small village of Ayvali, a tweny minute drive south of Urgup in the heart of Cappadocia. Located in central Turkey, Cappadocia is a popular tourist destination known for its distinctive rock formations, cave churches and houses, and underground cities. The closest airport in Nevsehir is 45 km away, and the hotel will pick guests up free of charge.

Rooms: Gamirasu is a combination of seven ancient troglodyte cave houses with twenty-five rooms, each one amazingly restored and different from the next. All of the rooms are decorated with traditional Cappadocian rugs, and many have traditional sitting corners and fireplaces. Part of the hotel is located in a thousand-year-old Byzantine monastic retreat, and some of the rooms were actually monk cells.

Food: The breakfast buffet is wonderful and plentiful with such treats as home-made jams, locally dried apricots, and fresh cream. We did not eat dinner at the hotel restaurant, but we did have an impromptu lunch one afternoon which was perfect. The kitchen did a great job meeting our quick requests, especially the Turkish grilled cheese for our two daughters! Ayvali has one restaurant, the neighboring town of Mustafapasa has a few more, and Urgup has a bustling nightlife and restaurant scene.

Vibe: Gamirasu is mysterious, exotic, luxurious, and historical.

Keep in Mind: Some of the sites are a bit of a drive from the hotel. Guests who pay in cash receive a 10% discount.

Get more information (map and online bibliography).
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Posted December 29. 2009


Traveler Favorite

Villa Huinid, Bariloche, Argentina


Why so darn good? "Paradise in Patagonia -- Villa Huinid overlooks the Andes foothills and Lago Nahuel Huapi, just a couple of kilometers outside of Bariloche in Argentina's Lake District, so the views are spectacular. The property features a modern hotel and spa as well as several comfortable cabañas. Our family of four rented a one-bedroom cabaña for two weeks (the kids slept on sofas in the living room that convert to beds), and it felt like a ski resort condo with a sort of Ralph Lauren-meets-Martha Stewart style of knotted pine, plaid duvets and gingham window treatments. With a cabaña, you also get hotel amenities such as a breakfast buffet, daily maid service, and use of the pool and fitness center. The service was excellent, and the concierge was exceedingly friendly and helpful. Our kids (ages 8 and 11) loved the property's game room, pool and open space, which includes a play structure." Read more.

- Sarah Lavender Smith, Piedmont, California, Nov '09




Posted December 22. 2009


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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Beyin Beach Resort, Beyin, Ghana
Nominated By: Matt Beatty, Provo, Utah, December '09


check availability, get rates, and reserve online at hostelbookers


Price Range: # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: yes


What makes the Beyin Beach Resort so Darn Good? Gorgeous and tidy, the Beyin Beach Resort has oceanside bungalows with doors that open wide to the sea. Seashells and sand dollars wash up all day, and an abandoned 18th century fort, Fort Apollonia, lies a few hundred yards down the beach in Beyin, where young boys play football nearby.

Location: The small resort sits in a coconut grove alongside a beautiful white sand beach on the Atlantic coast of southwestern Ghana. Six hours from Accra, the tiny beachside village of Beyin is close to the famous Nzulezo Stilt Village and the Ankasa Nature Reserve.

Rooms: The resort has four “luxury” chalets with flush toilets (royalty in Ghana!) and wide bamboo doors that open out to the ocean, as well as three “economy” rooms with a shared bath. We slept soundly to the swishing of the sea all night.

Food: An open-air restaurant serves delicious traditional Ghanaian dishes, as well as standard American and Italian staples.

Vibe: Beyin Beach Resort is mellow and low-key, and Patrick and Nina, its proprietors, are kind and soft-spoken. In an effort to raise awareness and provide protection for the endangered marine turtles that nest along the shore, they have joined with local fishermen to found the Beyin Turtle Conservation Project . From August through March, guests who book a “Turtle Conservation Holiday” can assist in the gathering and re-nesting of eggs, the monitoring of hatcheries, and the releasing of baby turtles into the sea.

Keep in Mind: Definitely keep the doors open at night. Nothing beats the curtains billowing in the sea breeze. Also, ask to eat breakfast or lunch in the small concrete "room" down *in* the beach.

Map and Online Bibliography
Comment on Beyin Beach Resort



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