Half of the fun of traveling is having an excuse to enjoy the great outdoors in a new setting. Check out these fun hotels that are perfect staging grounds for alfresco adventures to admire exotic gardens, wander through landscaped parks and cruise along lake shorelines.

Beijing, China

Explore the Beijing Historical Conservation Zone from the Citycourt Hotel, a tranquil traditional siheyuan with air-conditioned rooms arranged around a central courtyard.  The friendly English-speaking staff services the restaurant/lounge and arranges for bicycles, taxicabs and tours.  Climb to the rooftop of the Gulou and Zhonglou (Drum and Bell Tower) built by Kublai Khan for incredible views of Beijing.  Take a tour of  Beihai Park to wander  the Imperial Gardens built around three inland seas with elaborate bridges connecting pagodas (bell shaped roofs) and dagobas (circular roofs) and pavilions (upswept roofs).


Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.07.41 PM

Vancouver, Canada

The modern facilities at the North Vancouver Hotel accommodates families as well as business travelers who want to be near downtown yet in easy reach of outdoor attractions.  All guest rooms have well-stocked private facilities and some have kitchenettes with living rooms.  Take the Capilano Hiking Trail for a nice 2-hour walk from

Ambleside Park at the mouth of the Vancouver River,  passing the salmon hatchery and reaching  the Cleveland Dam before returning through the forests of Grouse Mountain.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.08.29 PM

Manhattan, New York

Although outdoor activities in Manhattan’s concrete jungle are limited, as a guest of the budget-priced Marrakech Hotel NYC you’re close enough to Central Park for a leisurely through the 840-acres that includes wooded hiking trails, numerous lakes and grassy playing fields.  This interesting Upper West Side hotel has a distinctly Moroccan atmosphere and air-conditioned rooms offering sumptuous beds dressed with European linens. It’s quite a nice property and can be found and booked on HostelBookers.com with only a 10% deposit.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.08.50 PM


St Petersburg, Russia

Even though located in the historical district, the Mini Hotel PIO – Nevsky offers a distinctly international experience with complimentary English breakfast and cleverly named Italian-style rooms.  Spend days walking through the Saint Petersburg three-dimensional park system that includes the Mikhailovsky Garden that borders the Russian Museum, the Summer Garden adorning the palace of Peter the Great and the commemorative statues surrounding the Field of Mars.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.09.12 PM

Zurich, Switzerland

Experience the zany atmosphere of the Hotel Otter where the reasonable rates include complimentary breakfast and an outdoor café that borders on a pedestrian-only street.  Colorful décor creates a fun atmosphere and the shared bathrooms are clean and well-stocked.  The unconventional staff delights in pointing out nearby outdoor activities like the four-hour steam boat ride along Lake Zurich to the historic town Rapperswill.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.10.28 PM

Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

Go native at the eco-friendly Lime n Soda Beachfront Resort where the Moon parties (full, have and new) have become the stuff of legends.  The tidy beach bungalows have free Internet, private showers and ceiling fans and you can even get room service.  The café showcases Thai cuisine with its signature dish known as “Hot Pot.” The travel desk arranges taxi service for Moon parties where over 10,000 people enjoy fire spinners while dancing to tribal beats.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.10.46 PM

Paris, France

The clean, modern Hotel Armstrong  has very comfortable rooms with private facilities, free Wi-Fi and double-glazed windows for soundproofing.  In the common room, guests are treated to complimentary hot beverages and use of the pool tables.  The helpful travel desk has tips on shopping for antiques at the Porte de Montreuil flea market held on weekends just around the corner.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.11.13 PM

Sydney, Australia

Amid the Woolloomooloo district’s wooded streets and bay views, the Springfield Lodge provides sleek modern accommodations with cosmopolitan extras like a nightclub, restaurant and self-catering facilities.  Walk to the Royal Botanical Gardens where you’ll always find something interesting going on, from free music under the stars to hands-on classes in gardening in horticulture.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.11.42 PM