Travel and lifestyle writer Katie McElveen discovered the joy of wandering when, as a teenager, she made a wrong turn in rural South Carolina on the way to a family vacation and ended up taking back roads nearly all the way to the beach. Since then, she hasn’t stopped exploring, although she now travels with a map and more than $3.00 in cash. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Katie has shared her discoveries through her work in magazines such as Real Simple, Business Traveler, Modern Bride, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Town & Country, Southern Living, Spa and Tennis.
Kathleen Pierce is a journalist by trade and temperament. She has covered travel, tech, business, food, arts and culture for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Taste of the Seacoast and most recently the Bangor Daily News. She lives south of Portland, Maine on an artfarm.
I have misspent my life staying in luxury hotels. It started in 1975 on my post-college Eurailpass pilgrimage, when I stayed in a cheap place on the rue Gay Lussac in Paris—in a room with five other guys I didn’t know. Wandering the city, I stumbled upon the Hotel de Crillion, went into the lobby (despite my shabby dress), and decided that this was where I belonged. That determined my career. As the editor-in-chief of Departures, Expedia Travels, Luxury SpaFinder, and ForbesLife, I stayed in more than 200 luxury hotels, including the Crillion. And what I realized is how much depends on getting the right room. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive room—Presidential Suites are boring—but one with view, décor, or architecture that makes a stay worth the money.