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The state capital of North Carolina is a big city with a surprisingly small-town feel - especially in the walkable downtown area, where oak-lined streets provide ample space for a lively restaurant and bar scene. Part of the Research Triangle, Raleigh is known as a center for education and commerce - and for its obsession with college basketball. Come to watch NC State take on Duke or UNC at the PNC Arena or to explore Raleigh’s impressive collection of art galleries and museums. In this article, we list the best accommodation options in the City of Oaks - from five-star spa hotels to affordable business picks.
Best Overall: Hilton Garden Inn Raleigh/ Crabtree Valley
Ranked on TripAdvisor as the best hotel in Raleigh, this Hilton Garden Inn is located a 15-minute drive from the city center, near popular Crabtree Valley Mall. Newly built and spotlessly clean, its colorful interiors are both welcoming and on-trend. The staff provides exceptional service and the contemporary guestrooms are well-equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay. Expect a 47” flat-screen TV, a Keurig coffeemaker and useful self-catering items including a microwave and mini-fridge.
If you’re visiting on business, make the most of on-site meeting rooms, a business center and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout. The 24-hour gym is a major perk for fitness enthusiasts, while the freshwater indoor pool is a highlight for children and adults alike. In the evening, head to stylish eatery The Garden Grille & Bar for modern American cuisine. The restaurant also serves a buffet breakfast and an a la carte lunch, and room service is available between 5:00pm and 10:00pm.
Best Budget: La Quinta Inn & Suites Raleigh Crabtree
Also a short walk from Crabtree Valley Mall, La Quinta Inn & Suites Raleigh Crabtree is an excellent budget pick. Although basic, it offers clean rooms and friendly service, as well as an impressive list of money-saving extras. All rooms include a coffeemaker, a microwave and a refrigerator, so that you can eat in rather than splurging on expensive restaurant meals. You’ll also have access to free Wi-Fi. Other in-room amenities range from a flat-screen TV with 30 HD channels to a comfy pillow-topped bed.
Free breakfast also adds to this hotel’s value, allowing you to start your day with waffles, muffins and all-you-can-drink coffee. In the height of the steamy North Carolina summer, cool off in the outdoor swimming pool or get your pulse racing in the on-site fitness center. Pets are welcome at this hotel, while corporate guests are catered for with a meeting room and a handy business center.
Best Boutique: The Mayton Inn
Raleigh is sadly lacking in boutique hotels, so for a more intimate experience, you’ll have to commute to nearby Cary. Still, The Mayton Inn is only a 15-minute drive from Raleigh city center and its charming blend of 1920s glamor and modern sustainability make the trip well worthwhile. Choose from 45 unique rooms and suites, themed around styles such as Classic and Art Deco. Some have upholstered headboards, while others have antique claw-foot tubs.
Whichever you choose, prepare to be spoiled by luxury touches such as triple-sheeted beds, plush bathrobes and a chocolate truffle turndown service. An HD TV and an in-room tablet keep you connected alongside high-speed Wi-Fi. In the morning, enjoy a complimentary full hot breakfast at Verandah, a restaurant known for its reinvention of Southern classics. There’s a spa and a 24-hour gym, while High Ball bar specializes in delicious craft cocktails.
Best for Families: Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh/ Cary I-40 (PNC Arena)
Located just west of Raleigh city center, this Hampton Inn & Suites hotel offers easy access to family-friendly attractions such as PNC Arena and Lake Johnson. The top draw for kids is the outdoor swimming pool, while gas grills allow for fun family cook-outs. The hotel can provide cribs and high chairs, while all rooms and suites are geared for basic self-catering with a coffeemaker, a microwave and a mini-fridge.
For a little extra space, choose a suite with a separate living room and full kitchen. There’s even a dishwasher, so that no-one has to argue over chores. Kids and adults can fill up every morning at the free hot breakfast buffet, and although there’s no restaurant, there are several family-friendly options within a few minutes’ drive. Other useful amenities include a laundry and fitness center.
Best for Romance: Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel
Part of the North Hills outdoor shopping and dining area, Renaissance Raleigh is ideally placed for romantic date nights. Book the Couples Getaway package for perks such as champagne and chocolates in your room, as well as a breakfast buffet for two. All rooms spoil with an ultra-comfortable bed and a 37” TV, but for special occasions, splurge on the Spa King Room. With a whirlpool bathtub big enough for two, it’s made with couples in mind.
Spend the afternoon relaxing by the indoor pool or indulge in a moment of pampering at one of the spas in the North Hills complex. The hotel also has a fitness center, for those who like to work out together. Casual yet sophisticated restaurant 41Hundred specializes in sharing plates and hosts live entertainment on Tuesdays.
Best Luxury: The Umstead Hotel & Spa
Another Cary hotel located a 15-minute drive from central Raleigh, The Umstead Hotel & Spa is the area’s finest five-star pick. It’s a veritable lakeshore sanctuary surrounded by 12 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland. For the most luxurious stay, book the Presidential Suite - complete with original artwork, panoramic views, a stunning balcony and a separate dining room and pantry.
The full service spa promises ultimate indulgence and includes a sauna and meditation courtyard. In the summer the outdoor pool tempts with private cabanas and a pool bar, while complimentary bicycle tours allow you to explore the grounds in style. Savor afternoon tea to the accompaniment of a live harpist or sample signature cocktails at the lounge bar. Forbes Five Star restaurant Herons serves impeccable farm-to-table cuisine.
Best for Nightlife: Aloft Raleigh
Aloft Raleigh is located on Hillsborough Street, a popular nightlife destination for students at nearby North Carolina State University. Its funky interiors appeal to young urban travelers, while the Re:mix lounge is a great place for drinks or a casual game of pool. Later, check out live DJs and musicians at W XYZ Bar. Open until 1 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the bar’s balcony overlooks the street below. There’s a 24-hour gym and in summer you can re-charge by the outdoor pool. Order light meals to go from Re:fuel at Aloft restaurant before getting ready for the next party in your room or suite. All rooms include free Wi-Fi, a 49” TV and Bliss spa amenities.
Best Business: Embassy Suites by Hilton Raleigh - Durham Airport/ Brier Creek
Located a seven-minute drive from Raleigh-Durham Airport, this Embassy Suites hotel is convenient for business in either city. It has several meeting spaces, ranging from an intimate boardroom to an outdoor verandah perfect for corporate galas. In the rooms and suites you’ll find a work desk and ergonomic chair, while free Wi-Fi keeps you connected. Other amenities include a King-sized bed, a 42” TV and a microwave. Prepare for a productive day with free breakfast, then unwind after work at the complimentary wine reception. There’s a restaurant, a fitness center and a heated indoor pool on-site.
Best Center City: Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh Downtown
In terms of location, it’s hard to beat Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh Downtown. Situated amidst the bars and restaurants of Glenwood Avenue and a short walk from the North Carolina State Capitol, it’s an excellent base for exploring the city center. All rooms and suites include the brand’s signature bed, free high-speed Internet and a complimentary hot breakfast. When you’re not exploring the highlights of the surrounding area, enjoy a dip in the indoor pool or an energizing workout in the fitness room.