B&B Bargains for Fall (From $99)

By The Budget Travel Editors
October 18, 2016
Union Gables B&B, Saratoga Springs, NY
Courtesy Union Gables

It's no surprise that our friends at BedandBreakfast.com know how to celebrate B&B month (a.k.a. October) with spectacular deals across the U.S.. We're seeing B&Bs to suit every traveler's taste, and the best part is that each of these eight standouts is well under $200/night (one even starts at $99).

Katrina's Cabin, Fredericksburg, Texas

A historic cabin in the heart of Fredericksburg, Katrina's Cabin has a private hot tub, a front porch and back porch, a fully stocked kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a loft, a dog-friendly attitude, and plenty of character. A light breakfast is included in your stay. The house sits on a beautiful shaded lot, just across from the famous Fredericksburg Herb Farm. Rates start at $99/night.

Union Gables, Saratoga Springs, New York

Experience old-world hospitality with exceptional service, charm and elegance. Union Gables, built in 1901, is a romantic mansion restored to its original beauty with modern amenities. All rooms are unique in style and have antiques, gas fireplaces, 43-inch flat screen televisions, most have king size beds, and complimentary wireless internet service. The grounds are gorgeous with a garden oasis, heated outdoor pool and wrap around front porch. Enjoy a full gourmet breakfast cooked fresh to order each morning. Complimentary wine every evening, and fresh baked cookies. Rates start at $125/night.

Buchanan Lofts, Lafayette, Louisiana

This is your artsy stay in the heart of Cajun Country. Built in a renovated warehouse, Lafayette's Buchanan Lofts is the studio you wish you were creative enough to own. Each loft is unique, with quirky touches, creative furnishings, and stacks of art magazines on every polished surface. Seventeen-foot-high ceilings soar over airy rooms furnished in a minimalist-industrial style. Guests can enjoy super-cool inclusions like fiber-optic Internet, fully fitted stainless steel kitchens, and Blu-Ray players before heading out for Lafayette's stomping music scene and Cajun eats.  Rates from $100/night.

Villa D' Citta, Chicago

At Villa D'Citta, innkeeper Cathy Hartman expertly brings Tuscany to the Windy City. Luxurious rooms and modern amenities (DirecTV, high-speed Internet) marry well in this Chicago mansion smack-dab in the middle of Lincoln Park. Come for the massive suites and jetted tubs, the pillow-top beds and Juliet balconies, the steam rooms and fireplaces. But the reason you'll return is stored inside a Subzero fridge: Italian charcuterie, eggs, ham, and freshly baked Italian breads, perfect for a midnight panini. True Italian hospitality makes leaving near impossible. Rates from  $129/night.

Rainbow Hearth Sanctuary and Retreat Center, Burnet, Texas

On nine lakeside acres in Texas Hill Country, you’ll find a treehouse yurt with king-size bed and domed ceiling. Rainbow Hearth offers an on-site spa and lakeside organic dining, and is pet-friendly. Rates start at $139/night.

Glendeven Inn Mendocino, Little River, California

Glendeven is a luxury, eight-acre, ocean-view farmstead overlooking w meadows and lush forests. Its four buildings are developed around a fully restored 1867 New England-style farmhouse where a typical room is a suite with wood-burning fireplace, ocean views, a view balcony, queen or king bed and a private bath. A full three-course hot breakfast is served in-room each morning; complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres are available in Glendeven's own Wine Barn, which is Mendocino's only wine purveyor serving and selling only local Anderson Valley wines by the bottle. Stunning botanical gardens, grazing llamas, and 100 laying hens contribute to Glendeven's feeling of a luxury ocean view farmstead. Rates start at $175/night.

The Owl's Perch, Robbinsville, North Carolina

This uniquely decorated remote 200 square foot one room rustic guest house with private deck overlooks beautiful Squally Creek nestled in the tree tops of Nantahala National Forest. It's definitely off the beaten path, located on a bumpy graveled old logging road but accessible by car and experienced motorcyclist. Rates from $105/night.

Craftsman Inn, Calistoga, California

Napa Valley's Craftsman Inn provides an affordable way to explore Calistoga and the surrounding region without sacrificing amenities. Outfitted with touches like L’Occitane bath products and sleek subway-tile backed waterfall showers or Jacuzzi tubs, the eight guestrooms balance English and American antiques with a modern. The icing on the cake: Craftsman Inn’s lavish daily Champagne breakfast is lauded by guests near and far. Rates start at $149/night.

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"The Crash Detectives" Are Travel's Unsung Heroes

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Speculation on crop circles, what went on in Roswell that night in 1964, and where Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart vanished to still occupy the collective mind all these decades later. Arguably one of the greatest mysteries of our present moment is what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the airliner that fell disappeared on March 8, 2014 and is believed to be in the Indian Ocean. Terrorism? Technical malfunction? Those questions dogged Christine Negroni, a longtime aviation reporter for media outlets ranging from ABC News and The New York Times to Air & Space magazine. She covered the disappearance of MH 370 for ABC News. She weaves the findings of her intense inquiry and study together in the “The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters,” which was released by Penguin in September. Part of what makes the book such a thrilling read is that it broaches technical engineering factors, but not too technically; she takes you into the quick-thinking minds of pilots and investigators, but not in a cheap-thrills way; she details high-profile disasters, but not in a sensational way; she takes a probing look at conspiracy theories and gives them rational consideration without, for lack of a better term, coming across as paranoid. We caught up with Negroni to talk about air travel, investigative reporting, government agencies, conspiracy theories, and what it’s like to experience oxygen deprivation. BUDGET TRAVEL: One of the things that makes this such a gripping read is that in addition to giving us the nitty gritty details of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 incident, you essentially chronicle a whole evolution of aviation engineering and progress. Was that your intention? CHRISTINE NEGRONI: I thought the book would be focused on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but as I wrote it, various avenues would lead to other things. MH370 inspired larger questions, it raised all these conspiracy theories but in some cases, there are legitimate alternative theories. That was eye-opening for me. And I’ve been an aviation safety writer for 20 years. BT: Can you tell me an example of something that was particularly eye-opening that you learned? CN: I think it was about the National Transportation Safety Board, for one. They’re the geeks who show up and solve the mystery when US airlines or aircraft are involved in a disaster. The more I looked at other crashes, the more I realized the NTSB investigators were subject to the same political and economic pressure as other bureaucrats and investigators in other countries. They’re not always the heroes They might misconstrue the facts. That’s surprising and disappointing. It felt like, “Christine, smell the coffee! Why should the NTSB be different from any other agency?” BT: In this day and age, emotions can run pretty high when it comes to air travel. People who’ve never feared flying might be worried about getting on a plane given all the threats. And the stress around all the rigamarole of checking in and going though security doesn’t help. When people hear about a book on airline crashes, it might unnerve them, but “The Crash Detectives” has plenty of positive takeaway. Can you explain the beneficial takeaway of the book? CN: The point is you can learn from each accident and if you don’t learn, why do it? A disaster is really a lesson, we can learn from, that’s why investigate in the first place. What near-accidents show us, like with Sully Sullenberger and the "Miracle on the Hudson flight," is that people can save the day, they can do what machines cannot do. They can do something novel and be innovative. Sully is just one of many who’ve done this sometimes in dramatic ways, and sometimes in subtle ways that even they may not even know. The end of the book is sort of a testament to how, by learning from mistakes, we can excel and not just in aviation, but in the way we perform in all sorts of ways. BT: You say that MH370 and the Miracle on the Hudson flight are yin and yang. What do you mean by that? CN: In MH370 and the “Miracle on Hudson,” the accidents are the opposite, In MH370—if my scenario is correct, and the crew did in fact suffer hypoxia, they were unable to make intelligent decisions--there was no human controlling the plane that could fly. On the other hand, Sully had a plane that couldn't fly, so this was a case of humans stepping in and using their intellect to save the day. BT: One of the interesting things to me about covering aviation versus another hard news realm, like technology or politics or the economy, is that it’s a huge industry, but each and every individual flight can physically affect each person differently, and in some cases that’s what accounts for an accident. You’ve made an effort to do really immersive research. Can you talk about some of your experiences? CN: I went to flight school with Lufthansa pilot cadets. I did flight training at a private air school in New Zealand and I went through flight attendant training with Emirates in Dubai. I did hypoxia training with the pilot cadets from EVA, the airline of Taiwan. We did altitude training at 25,000 feet to familiarize ourselves with the symptoms of hypoxia, oxygen starvation. Hypoxia is sometimes called the "happy death" Because it makes you feel drunk and very happy, silly, stupid, a feeling of well-being. BT: When I board a plane, it feels like I’m putting all my trust in the hands of the captain. A lot of people board an airplane and feel really helpless CN: Every time there's an accident there's so much misinformation on television. It’s a joke, if it were not a disaster, it would be laughable. Pilots and lawyers do a lot of this. Pilots may know how to fly a plane, but they don’t know safety necessarily. It is also important that passengers recognize their own role in safety. There are very common sense things travelers can do. The most super-powered executive will get on a plane and surrenders. Maybe the airlines encourage it will all the rules, but it’s like for most passengers, their free will has been beaten out of them. If something unexpected happens, the dynamic is that everyone gets passive, they’re not sure what to do or how to act. But you’ve got to own your own safety, you’ve got to be able to respond if something happens. Passengers should start by listening to what the flight attendants tell you to do. Count the number of seats there are to the closest exit, and don’t leave things on the floor so that the person next to you will trip if they have to get out in an emergency. BT: Despite all the horrific details of the headline-making disasters, it’s still pretty incredible to think about the many thousands of flights that take off and land around the planet every day. It never ceases to amaze me that we can travel halfway around planet Earth in 14 or 16 hours. CN: The fact is that there's more risk riding a bicycle in New York City than flying to New Zealand. There are 100,000 flights a day worldwide. Flying is amazing. I wish people would look out the window and see how gorgeous it is out there. They can see shooting stars sometimes and the moon. The other day I took picture of a sunset from a plane, it was so beautiful, I almost cried. People climb mountains to see that kind of sunset. But we get on a plane and look at our devices or movies or whatever. I wish everyone would enjoy that special gift that is flying.


Locals Know Best: Providence

When Curt Columbus moved to Providence from Chicago to become artistic director at the renowned Trinity Repertory Company, he wasn’t sure what to expect, coming from one of the cultural capitals of the country and all. What he found, however, was a place that's "rich with cool, funky, fun hangout places,” he says. With an abundance of creative and exciting cultural, historical, and dining options, some neighborhoods have enough to do to fill an entire afternoon without having to get in a car. And some of these places are spots locals tend to keep to themselves. Despite its small size, it’s a huge destination. “Part of what’s so great about it is that you can easily get to the woods for hiking, or to the beach and Newport and all that other stuff. People can come and spend a week because there’s a huge range of things to see,” he says. “And Providence great just a great wander city. People like to stroll and stop in places, have a drink in one place, eat in another, and have dessert in another.” We asked him for some of his top recommendations for anyone looking to explore the city beyond the standard guidebook highlights. He had a lot to suggest.  WALK: Spend an afternoon strolling Providence’s scenic East Side. The main thoroughfare, Blackstone Boulevard, is three miles end to end and back.  First fortify yourself at Three Sisters, an ice cream paradise with daily specials. that in the past have included extravagances like maple brownie peanut butter. By the time you’ve walked that off, you’ll be ready for dinner. In keeping with Curt’s suggestion of breaking up a meal at different venues, hit Garden Grill, which specializes in vegan and vegetarian fare for light and delicious apps. Two doors down is Rasoi, an Indian restaurant where the food is “just off the charts,” he says. Finally, just paces away is Wildflour, which also offers vegan treats that Curt recommends even if you’re a full-on carnivore.  In the Downtown area, Westminster Street is an historic strip that seems designed for wandering. Along the shop-lined corridor are must-sees like Symposium Books, which features records amid the bookshelves. Next door is Small Point Café, a spot where locals gather over espresso, soups, and sandwiches. Follow along to Arcade Providence. The oldest indoor shopping mall in the US, a national historic landmark, features only-in-Providence shops like the HP Lovecraft store, devoted to all things of the cultish cosmic fiction writer who called Providence home. Refuel—or relax-at New Harvest Coffee, a coffee roaster and whiskey bar. If you stay through the evening, you’ll want to have dinner at Sura, a Japanese/Korean restaurants that’s popular among discerning yet budget-minded students. Finish up with a nightcap at The Eddy, a cocktail bar with a selection of classic and creative modern cocktails. DINING: Chez Pascal: Though it’s a high-end restaurant, they have an option that won’t break the bank at Wurst Kitchen, a window in the front where, in the evenings, you can walk up and order some of the finest house-made wursts and hot dogs and slather them with amazing relishes. Foo(d): AS220 is an arts space that serves as a lively hangout spot for creative types. It makes sense, then, that there’s an eatery here, too. The airy restaurant specializes in locavore fare designed to feed artists, Curt says, so you’ll find huge portions for the budget-friendly price of $10. Curt grabs an order of the popcorn-like crispy chickpeas ($2) a few days a week.  CULTURE: Despite it being one of the area’s top regional theaters, Trinity Rep offers $20 ticket deals for every show. Also, it’s affiliated with Brown University, which offers student performances for $5 to $10. But these are no scrappy affairs. “It’s like going seeing an actor before they were famous. You’ll catch actors that you’ll see for years to come," he says. AS220 is a local favorite located between Brown and Trinity. To hear Curt talk of it, it’s “an un-juried and uncensored place for artists, from visual to performance art to music to slam poetry. There’s a ton of programming and rotating gallery exhibits in three downtown spaces. You’re absolutely seeing people as coming into their own.” It’s located near Swan Point Cemetery, a 200-acre garden cemetery home to HP Lovecraft’s resting place.  Rhode Island School of Design has its own museum with collections that Curt says are nothing less than “awe-inspiring.” Unlike most museums, he explains, they curate paintings, furniture, home items, clothes, and costumes all in the same space. “You’ll have a Jackson Pollack next to a Corbusier chair next to a Nick Cave jacket. It’s just so interesting to see how all art is interconnected. Fashion is painting is theater is music. It’s all influenced the same way,” he marvels. Sit down and take it all in when you’re done at Bolt Coffee, the adjacent coffee shop with plenty of sandwich offerings. 


Live Like a Local in Italy

When it comes to traveling in Italy, Budget Travelers have always been big fans of “living like a local.” That means eating where the locals eat, visiting the off-the-beaten-path galleries and museums that tourists often miss, and hitting the best trails for cycling and hiking, many of which are not well known to Americans. That’s where Tourissimo got our attention. The bespoke cycling and hiking tour operator takes travelers into a super-local world of cycling and hiking in Italy, immersing them in the interests that are most important to them. When I sat down recently to chat with Tourissimo’s founder, Giuseppe “Beppe” Salerno, I was inspired by his enthusiasm, passion, and know-how. These are truly unique, customized travel experiences that manage to elegantly combine world-class service with a sense of adventure and discovery (not always easy to do). Bespoke tours offer a variety of potential experiences. Starting at $2,500 per person, tours may be escorted or self-guided private tours; tours include an excellent guide-to-guest ratio of 1:9, choice of activities (including wine tasting, cycling clinics, cooking lessons, and much more), bikes and equipment, and 3-4 star accommodations (with the option of an agriturismo lodging experience on a working farm). Tourissimo guides have personal connections to the regions where they travel and deliver a true locals’ point of view, including cultural immersion, traditions and customs, and the opportunity to meet local food and wine producers. Maybe because my great-grandmother was born in Palermo, I’m especially excited about Tourissimo’s upcoming “Sicily Magnifica Cycling Tour,” which explores the storied island’s historic past and vibrant present, including a stop in the town of Corleone, where novelist and screenwriter Mario Puzo set portions of The Godfather. Touring Sicily by bike is the kind of brag-worthy vacation most of us would love to check off our list. To learn more, visit Tourissimo.