Jenny Lake Lodge
Address: N. Jenny Lake Jct.
City: Grand Teton National Park
A national park lodge should feel saturated with history and frontier spirit;
its structure should be grand but never more so than the surrounding scenery.
It should also nudge its guests out of doors and offer cozy respite at the end
of the day. Jenny Lake Lodge, in northwest Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park,
fulfills all of the above and offers top-drawer accommodations to match.
The popular yet peaceful Jenny Lake area offers a condensed version of the park's best assets, with boating, fishing, and swimming in the glacier-fed lake; a roving population of elk, bison, and antelope; plenty of hiking trails and picnic spots; and a prime spot at the base of the sharply serrated Teton range. Set back from the action, Jenny Lake Lodge borders a quiet wildflower meadow and comprises 37 rustic cabins - all outfitted with dark-wood floors, handmade quilts, and beamed ceilings (but no TVs) - scattered in lodgepole pine and aspen groves.
The crown jewel of this magnificent inn is its restaurant, likely the best at any park in the country. At breakfast, guests mingle over huckleberry pancakes; come evening, gentlemen don jackets and everyone sits down to a five-course dinner that might include buffalo carpaccio, wild trout salad, and veal cheeks alongside selections from a Wine Spectator-lauded vino list. Best season for value: fall. 2008 Smart Luxury Award winner
Great Value Alternative: The El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon National Park got a $4.6 million spruce-up three years ago, and set just 100 yards from the canyon's south rim, you can't beat the view. www.grandcanyonlodges.com
Tags: luxury | expensive | smart splurge | smart luxury winner