"Vacation Chasers" Host Rachel Rudwall's Top 10 Hotels Around the World - Article in About.com Travel

Travel expert Rachel Rudwall has journeyed to six continents on adventures for her weekly digital series How 2 Travelers. Having just wrapped the first season as co-host of the new HLN travel-planning competition show Vacation Chasers, we caught up with Rudwall to get the lowdown on her favorite spots to stay across the globe. 


JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa.

1.  JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa in Takua Pa, Thailand

 "If you’re looking to explore Thailand and want more full moon swim than Full Moon Party, the JW Marriott Khao Lak is the place to be. It’s located on pristine coastline just 60 miles from tourist favorite Phuket, but feels 1000 miles away due to its sense of calm. Walk down the beach and grab dinner with your toes in the sand at a local restaurant, or dip straight into Southeast Asia’s largest lagoon-shaped swimming pool from their pool-access rooms." 

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Victoria Falls River Lodge.

2.  Victoria Falls River Lodge in Zambezi National Park, Zimbabwe

 "Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfall—a 1708 meter-long sheet of flowing water. Because the Falls sit between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River, you have your choice of lodging AND country. My vote goes to Victoria Falls River Lodge on the Zimbabwe side. Your can go 'glamping' in luxurious tents along the river, and watch herds of elephants bathe while spray from the falls soars downriver. I suggest you order a G&T with each meal, because—hey—the Lodge is all-inclusive. Request tents two or twelve to guarantee the best views."  More »


Santa Barbara Autocamp.

3.  Santa Barbara Autocamp in Santa Barbara, California

"I’ve always gone googly-eyed for Airstreams. There’s something about the sleek, throwback feel of all that silver. If you want to play Airstream pilot without the driving, book a stay at Santa Barbara Autocamp. Autocamp’s five refurbished Airstreams act as boutique hotel rooms, all of which have been redesigned with the help of different designers. Hop onto the complimentary beach cruisers hanging from the front of your trailer for an adventure along the coast, then duck into Jimboz Lounge next door for a hole-in-the-wall nightcap."

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Oku-no-in cemetery. Getty Images

4.  Eko In Ryokan in Mount Koya, Japan

 "A stay on Japan’s Mount Koya—the center of Shingon Buddhism and a UNESCO World Heritage Site—stands in stark contrast to the rush of life in Tokyo or Kyoto. I adored my time at Eko In, a 1000 year-old Buddhist temple with guest rooms attached. After attending morning prayer and enjoying breakfast, brought to your room daily by monks, I recommend you venture out and explore Oku-no-in cemetery, or simply sip tea on the main street of Mount Koya. Don’t forget to return to your room in time for dinner—the included multi-course meal convinced me that I actually could be vegetarian if I had to."  More »


Hilton Budapest Hotel.

5.  Hilton Budapest Hotel in Budapest, Hungary

 "Budapest is easily one of my favorite cities in Europe for its history, architecture, unpretentious vibe, and burgeoning food scene. There’s no better place to stay than the Hilton Budapest Hotel located inside the old city of “Buda.” Request a river-facing room and admire the city as it unfolds beneath you, with the two halves of the city—Buda and Pest—straddling the Danube River. Start your morning early with a workout in the gym, which has an amazing view of the Parliament Building, then take a short stroll to two of the city's most popular sights: the historic Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion."

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Four Seasons Costa Rica.

6.  Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo in Culebra, Costa Rica

 "Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is known for beautiful beaches and excellent surf. However, that renown leads to crowding in spots like Tamarindo and Manuel Antonio. Removed from the bustle and situated on a private peninsula, Four Seasons Costa Rica works hard to give you paradise, from the amazing staff, to the delicious food, to the private surf trips to world-class spots like Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point. Take a dip at dawn, and watch the pelicans feast as turtles swim beneath your feet. You’ll be only one out as the other vacationers sleep through your perfect sunrise." 

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The Line.

7.  The LINE Hotel in Los Angeles, California

 "When you think of L.A.’s hip neighborhoods, you probably think of Silver Lake or Venice Beach. What you might not know is that Koreatown is an up-and-coming neighborhood with a buzz all its own, and The LINE Hotel is at the center of the hype. Not only are the rooms mod and funky; the hotel itself packs three completely different, mouth-wateringly delicious restaurants on site. I recommend you hit Commissary for breakfast, then spend the day lounging by the rooftop pool, and enjoy Chef Roy Choi’s take on Korean classics at Pot restaurant for dinner." 

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Tea estates around the Emerald Lake in Ooty. Getty Images

8.  Hotel Sherlock in Ooty, India

"India can be a beast to navigate. It’s a large country, densely populated, and usually pretty warm, too. For those reasons, a stay in Ooty (officially “Udhagamandalam”) will blow you away. With Hotel Sherlock as my base camp, I explored the once-British-occupied hill station, with its cool air, high elevation (7350 ft), and wide open agricultural lands. I took sunrise hikes and eucalyptus farm adventures with Sherlock’s manager, afternoon tea at the hotel (formerly a mansion), and leisurely dinners enjoying the best Indian food I’ve ever eaten. Make sure to hit the Tea Factory while you’re in town, and grab some of India’s famous export." 

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Hotel Zetta.

9.  Hotel Zetta in San Francisco, California

 "San Francisco is a traveler’s dream for many reasons, including the architecture, the Bay views, the culture, and the world-class food scene. What’s tough about San Francisco, though, is the sea of hotel choices that all charge and arm and a leg for the same old service. Hotel Zetta is not one of those hotels. Its guest rooms are modern and stylish, the lobby area includes a “Playroom,” complete with games, photo booth, and a 30-foot-high Plinko board on the lobby wall, and the bar makes a mean cocktail. When you stay at Zetta, duck into the stairwell instead of the elevator, and admire the 8 floors worth of street art, commissioned by the hotel." 

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10.  El Galope Horse Farm & Hostel in Colonia Suiza, Uruguay

 "Whatever you do, don’t be deterred by the word 'hostel'. El Galope isn’t some 16-person-per-room dorm complex—it’s a working farm that limits its guest count to 10 to ensure each guest gets the relaxation and attention deserved. El Galope is Uruguay’s answer to completely unplugging. You can spend your days hiking, horseback riding, enjoying the sauna, or doing nothing at all. The one thing you should do at El Galope is join the owners and fellow guests for homemade breakfast and dinner. The food, setting, and company are delightful." 

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(FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://hotels.about.com/od/uniqueandunusualhotels/tp/Vacation-Chasers-Ho...)