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This year, small is big in travel – from smaller cities to smaller hotels in secondary markets. Contributing Editor Kate Maxwell shares a few of her favorites from the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards.
Best U.S. city: Charleston, S.C.
This small Southern city of 125,000 is known for its nice people and great weather. It’s beautiful, easy to get around and has top-notch food. "This is the third time in a row for Charleston," Maxwell said. "It's really got it all."
Other favorite cities to round out the top five: Santa Fe, N.M.; San Francisco; Honolulu; and Chicago.
Best hotel in the mid-Atlantic: The Inn at Perry Cabin, St. Michaels, Md.
Located in a Victorian resort town on the Delmarva Peninsula's Miles River, this nautically themed inn was inspired by the Commodore's cabin on the USS Niagara. Think Ralph Lauren meets Norman Rockwell.
This charming colonial mansion sits among beautiful gardens and on the waters that reach down to Maryland tranquil shores. The beautiful setting includes an infinity-edge pool in a brick-walled garden.
Rooms are $240/night in off season (late fall and winter) and $450 during peak fall travel.
Best resort in the Midwest: American Club, Kohler, Wis.
This is the best place to go in the Midwest for golf, plus a great spa for relaxation and luxury. The golf has been compared to Scotland's historic courses. It's the closest you can get to old world European ambiance in Wisconsin.
The 241-room hotel has a beautiful and luxurious water spa with a glass-enclosed roof deck with whirlpool, fireplace and lounge. Kids can participate in Kohler Kidz activities like outdoor yard games and dinner and a movie on Saturday night for an affordable price, $15 per child.
Rooms start at $161 with a discount for AAA members.
Best hotel in New Orleans: The Roosevelt New Orleans
New Orleans has been one of the big "comeback" stories in the travel industry over the last several years. The Roosevelt was shuttered after Hurricane Katrina and re-opened in 2009 after an 18-month, $170 million restoration, and it has earned the No. 1 spot of Best Hotel in New Orleans.
As a destination, New Orleans is always known for its Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, and it's incredible food - from oyster shacks to four-star meals.
The Roosevelt is a classic hotel with all the modern amenities, right next to the French Quarter. It boasts its own John Besh restaurant, Domenica, and the legendary Sazerac bar. Last year, The Roosevelt was ranked No. 30 in New Orleans. Rooms start at $189/night.
Best hotel in Las Vegas: Wynn and Encore Las Vegas
A repeat winner for Conde Nast Traveler readers, the Wynn and Encore Las Vegas are the places to stay in Las Vegas.
The hotel facilities include multiple pools, a spa and fabulous restaurants that keep Conde Nast Travelers readers voting it top spot. And if you're a high-roller, the suites are meticulous about every detail -- floor-to-ceiling windows with skyline views. Encore rooms start at $275.
Best mid-size cruises: Crystal Cruises
This fleet only has two ships -- but they are exceptional in many ways. Crystal Symphony has 461 cabins, more than half with balconies.
It sails in Europe, New England, and off the coast of Canada. They've recently extended their itineraries to Antarctica, Alaska and West Africa. Excursions include local volunteer programs, helicopter rides, and on-board activities include the best lecturers and most interesting personalities.
The restaurants are true standouts, which are all complimentary, including a specialty sushi bar from a Nobu-trained chef. Rooms are under $250 per person, per night, for an outside cabin. Itineraries are all-inclusive, including complimentary wine and spirits and prepaid tips.
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