Escape to the desert with 15 remote homes on Airbnb across Texas, Utah, and the western US

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Best desert Airbnbs

  • A desert offers a dreamy backdrop for a secluded getaway amid nature, hiking, and stargazing.
  • Airbnb lists many unique homes in remote deserts and towns in Arizona, Nevada, and other states.
  • From Joshua Tree to Sedona, we rounded up the best Enhanced Clean Airbnbs near deserts under $600.

Think of the last time you looked up and saw a pitch-black sky speckled with stars. If a recent evening doesn’t come to mind, you’re due for a stay in a remote desert where stargazing and solitude are a nightly spectacle.

Desert landscapes also offer unrivaled hikes, historical landmarks, artisanal shops, and a crop of cool Airbnbs to add to your must-visit list.

I’ve driven across the country (twice), watching the trees become cacti and grassy terrain turn to sand, making stops in towns like Marfa, Texas; Palm Springs, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Sedona, Arizona, where I even stayed at an Airbnb on this list.

Though fall through spring is the best time to visit the desert, you can find cheaper prices during the summer if you’re willing to face the hot temperatures.

Browse all the best Airbnb homes in the desert below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

These are the best Airbnbs in desert towns, sorted by state and price.

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Colorful oasis in Palm Springs

Colorful oasis in Palm Springs
This colorful adobe’s walk-in shower leads to a heated backyard private pool.

Book this Palm Springs home with a pool on Airbnb

While Coachella is not until next year, you can still enjoy a trip to Palm Springs, which is about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles.

Within the Colorado Desert, this colorful abode is located close to the main downtown area and is a vibrant, plant-filled oasis. Pop art and vintage books pay homage to celebrities who owned homes in Palm Springs, like Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. 

Bright orange and teal colors cover the walls underneath vaulted ceilings, alongside an open-concept kitchen with funky, colorful appliances. The bedroom includes a Queen-size, memory foam bed, couch, TV, as well as a workspace.

A spacious bathroom with a walk-in shower leads to the backyard with a heated, private pool and hot tub bordered by mod lounge furniture, a grill, bikes, and mountain views framed by cacti.

Artist’s loft in Joshua Tree

Art Loft near Joshua Tree
This urban loft is an art space to gain inspiration and create while on vacation.

Book Joshua Tree loft on Airbnb

Joshua Tree National Park, named for the spiny, palm-like botanical tree that grows here, is where two deserts converge: the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. With no light pollution, you’ll be able to spend evenings admiring the stars and days hiking 100-plus miles of trails — just beware of extreme heat warnings and pack more water than you think you’ll need.

This art-infused loft is a creator’s dream haven and is located just north of a few eclectic restaurants and the national park’s entrance on Park Boulevard. The remote home boasts floor-to-ceiling windows to soak up desert views, as well as a fully equipped kitchen, two bedrooms with Queen-size beds, two bathrooms, and open-concept studio space. 

Work on large projects that can be spread across a work table on casters, surrounded by six bar stools. Art supplies are stored in a desk that spans 22 feet, and a vintage Dutch typewriter awaits poetic inspiration. A chalkboard wall also makes sharing ideas easy, while music from a record player provides the score for artistic sessions. 

When you’re not working, dangle from a transparent hanging bubble chair or peruse provided books about art, design, travel, and photography. In the backyard, find a hot tub, fire pit, lounge area, bocce ball court, and a custom cabana inspired by a 2006 Burning Man bamboo sculpture.

Off-the-grid house in Pioneertown

Off the grid House in Pioneertown
Step away from society in this eco-friendly home with minimal Wi-Fi and no TVs.

Book this Pioneertown house on Airbnb

Unlike lively Palm Springs or hiker-laden Joshua Tree, Pioneertown offers total remoteness. Out of sight in the California high desert, this sequestered refuge is a 10-minute drive from local favorites like Pappy & Harriet’s, a quirky bar, restaurant, and music venue that’s hosted musicians like Paul McCartney to Diplo. 

There are no TVs in this industrial home, only satellite Wi-Fi for emergency communication. Guests are meant to instead soak in views of the desert with floor-to-ceiling windows in almost every room. Not only is the architecture stunning, but the property is eco-conscious, powering energy and hot water entirely using solar panels.

The modern and minimalist design also includes a petite kitchen island next to an expansive dining table and a living room with a hanging fireplace that serves as a focal point. A shaded outdoor patio is set between this part of the home and two bedrooms, one with a King-size and one with a Queen-size Casper mattress, where you can enjoy panoramic views from bed.  

Travel Hotel Reviews Sub banners Nevada

Desert home near Death Valley National Park

Desert home near Death Valley National Park
This seemingly floating desert home is a remote retreat that’s 20 miles away from any civilization.

Book this Death Valley home on Airbnb

Set on 80 acres of land north of Las Vegas, this home is seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with the closest landmark being Death Valley National Park, 20 miles away. Designed by lauded architect Peter Strzebniok, the home was featured in The New York Times for its remoteness. 

The 1,200-square-foot marvel appears to be floating thanks to a concrete plinth that elevates the structure. There are two bathrooms and three bedrooms; the master has a Queen-size bed below a skylight for nighttime stargazing. In the office, a writer’s desk is set flush against floor-to-ceiling windows with desert views. 

The all-white kitchen, with pops of red from light pendants, is an open concept that flows to the dining and living rooms with a coffered ceiling. Glass doors slide open to a 900-square-foot deck with a sunken hot tub.  

‘Desert rose’ house in Las Vegas

‘Desert Rose’ house in Las Vegas
Take a therapeutic retreat from the city at this hacienda-styled home with a spa, pool, and massive tepee.

Book this Las Vegas home on Airbnb

A 10-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, this hacienda-style home in a residential neighborhood is nicknamed the “Desert Rose.” 

Stay in one of the master bedrooms and you’ll step out of a four-poster, King-size bed and onto cool ceramic floor tiles that lead to an en suite with two vanities, two shower heads, and a therapeutic copper bathtub. 

In the living room, a zebra rug and western throw pillows support a southwestern aesthetic, and the gourmet kitchen includes an expansive bar and two slot machines as a reminder of the home’s close proximity to casinos.

Outside, the large private backyard is an oasis with a garden veranda with barbecue grills and a picnic table. There is also a spa and pool with a water slide, chaise lounges by a Kiva fireplace, fire pits, and various seating arrangements. Finally, a tepee large enough to cover two rustic couches is an unexpected touch that makes this home stand out.

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner Utah

Desert townhome in Southwestern Moab

Desert townhome in Southwestern Moab
Near Arches National Park, this townhome embodies the surrounding desert in its earth-tone decor.

Book this Moab home on Airbnb

This townhome is a 15-minute drive from Arches National Park with its gorgeous natural sandstone arches, and a 10-minute drive from downtown Moab with restaurants, shops, and galleries.

The color scheme incorporates orange and beige shades inspired by the surrounding desert, as well as a green velvet couch complemented by a spiral Peruvian cactus. In the dining room, a rattan light fixture hangs above a sustainably sourced mango wood table, and a fully stocked kitchen has stools for additional seating. In the master, a Pendleton Escalante duvet is spread across a King-size bed under a clay and cholla cactus wall hanging. There’s also a bunk room with four twin beds. 

The front patio features a striped beach chair surrounded by desert plants, and on the back patio, a grill, accent chairs, and a hammock are set in front of expansive views. 

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner Arizona

Cowboy bunkhouse in Scottsdale

Cowboy bunkhouse in Scottsdale
A bunkhouse that feels like the Old West with its vintage cowboy decor and rustic charm.

Book this Scottsdale house on Airbnb

Scottsdale, nicknamed “The West’s Most Western Town,” is east of Phoenix, in the Sonoran Desert. While the area is known for upscale shops and dining, you’ll also find Frontier Town, which celebrates the city’s history with old-fashioned saloons, museums, and even gun show reenactments, which could have inspired the theme of this Airbnb dubbed the “Cowboy Bunkhouse.” 

The kitschy-cool, pueblo-style home takes design cues from the city’s heritage with wood-beamed ceilings and rustic, vintage furnishings. Decor includes cowboy hats and painted hanging bull horns, a painting of a cow, and barrel chairs with lattice woven bases.

In the master, buzzard statues perch atop a tree-branch headboard and in the guest bedroom, two bunk beds are stacked below cowboy dangling boots.

Outside, mariachi wire sculptures are set near a round dining table by a Kiva fireplace and a metal swing hanging from two trees.

Yucca Room at JTH Tucson

Yucca Room at JTH Tucson
This intimate lodge is set on a 40-acre compound in the Sonoran Desert.

Book this Tucscon lodge on Airbnb

The Yucca Room is a lower-level unit in the JTH Tucson, a five-suite inn on the outskirts of Saguaro National Park, near Tucson. The compound is set on 40 acres of the Sonoran Desert, peppered with cacti and native plants. 

The one-bedroom accommodations include a King-size bed below an exposed-beam ceiling and Tulum-inspired rattan light fixtures. Two rustic leather barrel chairs face a mustard-colored Kiva fireplace to create a comfy seating area, and on a private, shaded patio, twin chaise lounges and chairs also invite relaxation. There is also a bathroom, kitchenette, and a light breakfast of tea, coffee, granola, and fruit, served daily. 

To take full advantage of the property’s remoteness, be sure to stock up on groceries before arriving. Other common areas include a swimming pool surrounded by rock formations, a rooftop lounge, a yoga room, a fire pit, and a living room with a projector for movie nights.

Mountain-top getaway in Sedona

Mountain top Getaway in Sedona
Bask in this home’s panoramic views of the red rock mountains changing orange at sunset.

Book this Sedona house on Airbnb

Located in Arizona’s high desert, Sedona is surrounded by red rock mountains said to be where healing energies are palpable. I can’t attest to whether that’s true, but I can personally vouch for this property. 

I stayed here during a recent trip to Sedona, a small town where psychics and crystal shops line the streets. Inside, a desk is set up in the foyer between two bedrooms, one with a fireplace and King-size bed, and another with two Queen-size beds. A shared bathroom is tucked behind a staircase that leads to the open-concept kitchen with mint green cabinets stocked with organic tea, coffee, and oatmeal.

You’ll spot Buddha statues and quotes sprinkled throughout the house, a callback to the destination’s alleged spirituality, and an additional room that includes a pull-out couch for more guests. A full bathroom is attached to the living room, where a dark gray sectional and ottoman face a media console displaying guide books and board games. 

Best of all is the wraparound balcony with unobstructed views of red rock formations that turn bright orange as the sun sets. There are plenty of seats, including a dining table, plastic chairs, and a daybed, and the porch wraps around to more seating. At the back of the house, a gate leads to the National Forest that connects to Airport Mesa Trail, one of the 100-plus hikes to check out during your stay. 

Travel Hotel Reviews Sub banners Colorado

Resort-like adobe in Grand Junction

Resort like adobe in Grand Junction
This luxurious adobe styled home has views of the Colorado National Monument, Colorado Grand Mesa, and the Book Cliffs formation.

Book this Colorado house on Airbnb

See the Colorado National Monument, Colorado Grand Mesa, and The Book Cliffs formation all from this adobe-style home. The southeast patio has rocking chairs for reclining while taking in views, while an expansive patio with a pizza oven, grill, and fireplace is optimal for watching the sunset.

A well-lit master suite is outfitted with a King-size bed, sling-style leather seat, a hide rug, and ensuite bath with a tub and walk-in shower. Bed configurations include a Queen-size bed, a twin and double bunk, and a Murphy double bed in the office. 

There is also a full kitchen with a coffee station and margarita machine, a dining room, and a living room framed by bookshelves showcasing eclectic art and maracas.  

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner New Mexico

Casita de cacti in Albuquerque

Casita de Cacti in Albuquerque
This southwestern townhome is filled with earth-toned decor and desert plants everywhere.

Book this Albuquerque house on Airbnb

New Mexico’s largest city in the high desert state is home to this townhouse, nicknamed “Casita de Cacti,” filled with cacti and other desert plants. Red clay concrete floors, a gray stone fireplace, and natural woods are also incorporated to mimic the local landscape. 

On the lower level of this two-bedroom, two-bathroom property an all-white, full kitchen opens up to the living room, which includes a contemporary couch upholstered in an orange-red velvet that faces accent chairs, a round pouf, and a transparent coffee table. The dining room flows nicely to the patio, where guests can relax on two circular lounge chairs. 

The master bedroom has a Queen-size bed, ensuite bathroom, and a balcony that overlooks the backyard with a colorful mural.

Secluded home near Santa Fe

Secluded home in Ojo Caliente
While staying here, take advantage of area spa offerings.

Book this New Mexico home on Airbnb

Ojo Caliente is north of Santa Fe and is a natural spa destination, known for its concentration of hot springs. Between wellness experiences, retreat to this home with a King-size, four-poster bed that looks out into the living room with a wood-burning fireplace.

A four-person dining table is set behind the couch, and the marble-topped kitchen comes equipped with stainless steel appliances. 

The bathroom includes a walk-in marble shower and plush Frette linens, and the covered backyard patio features a gas grill and chairs facing the mountains.

Modern house in Taos

The Modern Taos House in El Prado
This modern bungalow is a summer and winter off-the-grid destination.

Book this New Mexico bungalow on Airbnb

Home to a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Taos preserves a pueblo with the only living Native American community in the U.S. The high desert area on the outskirts of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains experiences scorching hot summers and snowy winters, making it a ski destination. 

Whether you prefer the heat or cold, this off-the-grid luxury home is far enough away to feel totally secluded yet close to haunts like the Taos Mesa Brewery Mothership that’s just two miles away.

The 1,250-square-foot home has two bedrooms with King-size beds, two bathrooms, and a Queen-size sofa bed to comfortably accommodate up to six. In the living room, a brown leather couch and Papasan chair are arranged around royal blue ottomans in a modern, industrial setting. The kitchen includes a hand-polished concrete island and expands to the dining room table, which was custom-built to also function as a ping pong table.

The home runs on rainwater and solar power, which is possible because Taos experiences 283 sunny days on average per year.

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner Texas

Corte del Norte in Marfa

Corte del Norte in Marfa
This unique home is part of a three-home compound in the heart of this artsy town.

Book this Marfa house on Airbnb

The western Texas city of Marfa is an unexpected art hub. It draws travelers to pose in front of Prada Marfa, an art installation by artists Elmgreen and Dragset that depicts a life-size designer store replica in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert.   

Part of a three-home compound called Corte del Norte, “The Love House” accommodates up to six guests in an eclectic setting. Find Big Bend Coffee Roasters coffee in the kitchen’s vintage cabinets, and in the dining room, rustic blue walls complement an expansive wooden table. A TV room is complete with a large couch, cowhide rug, and marble coffee table. 

One bathroom stocked with Marfa brand soap is shared by two bedrooms with Queen-size beds and one daybed. The accommodations are quirky with accents by local artists, including a Woody Farris painting and a striped armchair by Constance Holt Garza.

Luxury yurt in Terlingua

Luxury yurt in Terlingua
A luxury yurt that has a 360-degree view of the Chihuahuan desert and mountains.

Book this Texas yurt on Airbnb

You’ll find this luxury yurt near the entrance to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, which is part of the Chihuahuan Desert. Encompassing 573 square feet, this circular, permanent structure is sealed to protect from extreme winds or rain, and provides both electricity and running water during your stay. 

The home boasts a King-size bed, a designer lounge chair and pouf, as well as a wood-burning fireplace and telescope. There’s also room for a dining table with four chairs, and a full bathroom with a walk-in shower.

Outside, plush Stori Modern furniture is set up on the deck for unobstructed, 360-degree views of the desert and mountains. Beyond is an outdoor campfire ring with two rocking chairs.

FAQ: Staying in the desert

When is the best time to visit a desert? 

Plan a trip to the desert during the fall through spring in order to avoid extreme heat warnings. In summer, temperatures skyrocket well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, temperatures can still dip low enough to spot snow on the mountains, too. No matter the time of year, evenings can feel brisk after the sun sets, so be sure to pack a jacket.

How much does it cost to stay in the desert?

Prices for Airbnb rentals in the desert will vary based on the location, the number of guests, and the time of year you plan to visit. During the off season in the summer, rentals can run cheaper than the more desirable months to visit in fall through spring.

What is the best desert town to visit?

When deciding which North American desert — Great Basin, Mohave, Chihuahuan, and Sonoran — to visit, choose to stay in a town that caters to your agenda: Joshua Tree, California, is an ideal hiking destination for the active traveler; Sedona, Arizona, is a retreat for the wellness-minded; Marfa, Texas, is perfect for the art enthusiast; and Taos, New Mexico, is attractive to those who want to go totally off-the-grid or ski. 

Why vacation in the desert?

Deserts offer stunning scenery and secluded stays, but there’s also plenty to do beyond relaxing and disconnecting. When visiting a US desert, you can visit hiking trails, holistic spas, historic landmarks, art colonies, quaint downtowns, artisan shops, and so much more. Plus, you can enjoy stargazing at night without any light pollution in the sky.  

Is Airbnb safe?  

The CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US.

Additionally, medical experts say that private Airbnbs are safe, perhaps even more so than hotels because they minimize interactions with other people. Plus, Airbnb hosts are required to follow enhanced cleaning procedures.

What should you look for in an Airbnb? 

When choosing an Airbnb, similar to the criteria we set above, look for a listing by a Superhost with a high rating and positive reviews, participation in the Enhanced Clean program and the amenities you may need during your stay, like access to Wi-Fi, a washer and dryer, parking, a full kitchen, and more.

When specifically looking for desert Airbnbs, think about booking close to a grocery store, or plan on stocking up on food and water prior to your arrival in order to enjoy the remoteness of the property. Also, be sure to ask your host about whether the property has air conditioning and how strong the cell service is before booking. 

What is Airbnbs cancellation policy? 

Each Airbnb property has a cancellation policy that’s been implemented by the individual host, causing stipulations to differ from home to home. To learn more about Airbnb’s cancellation policies, click here.

More remote places to stay on Airbnb

Private cabin with hot tub Next to Purg Resort colorado airbnb
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The best deals and sales happening on Amazon right now – save on the Kindle Paperwhite and Fitbit Charge 4

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Amazon Best Deals and Sales 2x1
Amazon Best Deals and Sales

  • We update this list of Amazon deals every day with the new discounts as they crop up.
  • You can sign up for a free 30-day membership trial to get Prime shipping along with other perks.

Amazon’s dynamic pricing strategy can make shopping tricky for the average consumer, but if you know where to look⁠ – and when to act fast⁠ – Prime members can save a ton of money.

We’ve gathered all the best discounts currently available on the retail giant. Below you’ll find one-day sales via Amazon’s Gold Box promotion, exclusive coupon codes, and, of course, deals ranging from tech, fashion, and gaming all the way to home goods.

Due to the unpredictable nature of online shopping, prices may change without warning. For more ways to save, check out our round-up of the best sales going on right now.

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Best deals on Amazon brand products

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Kindle Paperwhite (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Kindle Kids Edition (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Music Unlimited (medium)Subscription (medium)

Best Amazon tech deals

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The best online sales and deals happening now, including Headspace, Mirror, and Crest Whitestrips

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Best Online Sales Deals

We rounded up the best sales and deals happening online today, including discounts at Chewy, Madewell, and United by Blue.

Deals in this story are subject to change throughout the day. The prices listed reflect the deal at the time of publication. For even more deals and savings across the web, check out our roundup of the best deals from Amazon.

The best deals available right now

Meditation App (Yearly Subscription) (medium)The Original Workout Smart Home Fitness System (medium, Preferred: Mirror)Untitled Goose Game (medium)3DWhitestrips (Value Pack) (medium, Preferred: Crest)iPad Air 2020 (4th Gen, 64GB) (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)

The best sales and discounts happening right now

Get up to 60% off at Athleta

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Shop the Athleta Semi-Annual sale now.

If you’ve been looking for a chance to refresh your athletic wear, Athleta’s Semi-Annual sale is as good a time as any. Right now, you can knock up to 60% off a huge array of women’s and girl’s apparel including tops, leggings, joggers, and sports bras. Sales from the brand don’t come by often, so it’s worth checking out if you’re in the market for some athleisure. 

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Get up to 60% at United by Blue

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An apparel brand recommended by Insider for its mission rooted in sustainability and comfortability, United by Blue has essentials for every closet. From clothing to home goods, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Now through July 26, get up to 60% off sitewide and an additional 40% off sale items. 

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Chewy is known for its discounts, and right now it’s offering some solid price drops on our picks for your furry friend. From dog flea treatment to cat litter, several brands we trust are included in the sale.

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Backcountry is holding another great sale, this time featuring up to 30% off The North Face. The discounts include gear for every season, including tees, backpacks, jackets, and more.

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Shop the Madewell’s Secret Stock Sale or take a look at the deals we rounded up.

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Nordstrom’s Anniversary sale doesn’t start until July 28 this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prep ahead of time. All you need to do is make or sign in to your account (free to join), preview the deals, and add them to your wishlist for quick checkout the day of. If you’re a Nordstrom credit cardholder, you can even shop the sale now. 

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Lo and Sons is holding another great sale this season featuring up to 50% off select bags, including some of our favorites. The brand’s designs are durable and well worth the investment, especially with discounts this good. 

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The best dog buttons and training program to teach your pet to communicate

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  • Speech pathologists use recordable buttons to communicate with nonverbal individuals.
  • These buttons can also help dogs and other animals communicate their needs and wants.
  • Read more below about the best dog buttons and training program to teach your dog how to “talk.”

Cognitive scientists and speech pathologists have long used pressable augmentative and alternative communication buttons – each representing an action, place, or object – to communicate with nonverbal individuals. One pioneering speech therapist, Christina Hunger, discovered dogs can use the method, too. By pressing buttons onto which a word or sound has been recorded, a dog can learn to “speak” in simple phrases like “play” and “outside.” Give them enough buttons and they can communicate their thoughts on almost everything. Get started with a beginner’s set of four to six buttons. For this guide, we’ve selected the best options, including budget, fully customizable, and light-up versions.

Here are the best dog buttons in 2021

The best dog buttons overall

Fluent Pet Get Started Kit dog buttons
A dog button system developed by a cognitive scientist

Fluent Pet’s Get Started Kit comes with six buttons and three nonslip tiles for organizing words and actions.

What we like: Fully customizable, comes with tiles to keep buttons organized, batteries included

Fluent Pet’s Get Started Kit was designed by a cognitive scientist to foster better communication between verbal and nonverbal individuals. The battery-operated system works for dogs, too, as proven by Bunny, a canine learner who has amassed hundreds of thousands of social media followers. The kit comes with everything you need to teach your dog, including six buttons with microphones for recording words and 67 stickers to identify the buttons visually.

Valli Parthasarathy, board certified veterinary behaviorist at Synergy Behavior Solutions in Portland, Oregon, recommends starting with words that can be clearly paired with something your dog regularly sees or does. “More abstract concepts such as emotions and time would be more challenging to teach,” she said. The buttons fit into three nonslip hexagonal tiles: one for actions, one for objects, and one for places. The tiles can be put together in multiple configurations and easily disassembled or added to. The kit arrives ready-to-use with batteries and a starter guide.

The best budget dog buttons

learning resources dog buttons
Budget-friendly buttons to get you and your dog started

Learning Resources Recordable Answer Buzzers are an affordable way to begin teaching a dog to use their words.

What we like: Includes four buttons in different colors, easy to press, comes with activity guide

Learning Resources Recordable Answer Buzzers, a tool that speech pathologists use to communicate with nonverbal individuals, are an affordable way to begin teaching a dog to “talk.” How quickly they learn depends on a variety of factors, said Sara Scott, a professional dog trainer in Oakland, California. “A dog with a long history of training may pick it up really quickly, but a dog who is green might take considerably longer. It also depends on how efficient you are as a trainer and how much work you’re putting in.”

This set comes with four easy-to-press 3-inch-diameter buttons in four different colors. Each button is powered by two AAA batteries and can record up to seven seconds of sound. Batteries are not included, but the set arrives with an activity guide to help you get started.

The best customizable dog buttons

talking tiles dog buttons
A set that can be fully customized with sound and pictures

Talking Products Talking Tiles are fully customizable with transparent covers and up to 80 seconds of recording time.

What we like: Fully customizable, can record sound using a computer or smartphone, includes six buttons in different colors

According to Scott, you can either teach your dog new words one at a time or work on a few words with different meanings simultaneously. Talking Products Talking Tiles comes with six buttons that can be fully customized with audio messages and images. Each 4-inch-wide hexagonal button holds up to 80 seconds of audio recorded with a built-in microphone or via a smartphone or computer using the audio-input jack. Further customize each button by adding a picture or symbol underneath the transparent cover. Each button runs on three AAA batteries, which must be purchased separately.

The best light-up dog buttons

Ritioner's Learning Answer Buzzers dog buttons
An excellent choice for dogs who are hard of hearing

Galapara’s LED Voice Recorder Buttons play sound and light up simultaneously each time they are pressed.

What we like: Light-up buttons, easy to press, records up to 30 seconds of sound

Galpara’s LED Voice Recorder Buttons are durable plastic buttons that glow with LED light when pressed. While this feature can be a useful cue for teaching any dog to communicate, it may be especially helpful for those who are hard of hearing. A visual signal like a light should work the same way to help a deaf dog to communicate as sound does for hearing dogs, said Scott.

The flash of the light can be paired with an action like going outside or playing with a toy. For those that can hear, these four differently colored, easy-to-press buttons can also record up to 30 seconds of sound. Each buzzer runs on two AAA batteries, which are sold separately.

The best potty button

Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0
An indoor or outdoor potty button with 38 bell tones and 4 volume settings

The Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0 works indoors or out so your dog can communicate when they need to potty or when they want to come in.

What we like: Easy to press, 38 customizable bell tones, can be used indoors or out, 90-day money-back guarantee

Teach your dog how to communicate when they need to go outside with the Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0. The bell consists of a plug-in receiver and an easy-to-press activator button. The 2-inch-diameter wireless activator button can be placed anywhere within 1,000 feet of the receiver using a 3M adhesive strip. The water-resistant button can even be placed outside for dogs who need to let you know when they’re ready to come in. To adjust the sound of the bell, choose from four volumes and 38 different ring tones.

The Mighty Paw Smart Bell also comes with a training guide to help you get started and a self-charging battery is built into the device. Just be sure that you are responsive to the bell after your dog learns to use it. “Once your dog understands that they can ask to go outside, you need to make sure that you prioritize meeting your dog’s needs,” said Scott.

The best dog button training program

Talk to the beans website
A program that offers step-by-step instruction, training videos, and a member forum

The Talk To The Beans training program teaches guardians and their pets how to communicate using buttons.

What we like: 12 training modules with instructional videos, a members-only forum, additional resources

If you love the idea of dog buttons but aren’t quite sure how to get started, Talk To The Beans will show you how. The online speech button training program provides 12 training modules that include simple, easy-to-follow explanations and videos to guide you through each step, from choosing your first word to building a vocabulary. In the forum, members can ask questions, share experiences, and troubleshoot problems.

The program, which can be applied to any style of dog button, doesn’t just work for dogs. Cats, birds, guinea pigs and horses can also learn to use buttons using the Talk to the Beans method during daily 10- to 15-minute training sessions. The website also offers additional resources, peer-reviewed research on speech button training, and links to button users on social media.

FAQs about dog buttons

Do dog buttons work?

Yes. A dog can learn to communicate using buttons programmed with words.


Can dogs talk using buttons?

Yes, sort of. A dog can learn how to communicate using programmable buttons but their ability to “talk” is not the same as ours, Pathasarathy told Insider Reviews. “It is unlikely that dogs understand human language in the same way that we understand human language,” she said. “Dogs learn that certain words are associated with certain activities, situations or items.”


How many words can a dog learn? 

Current research suggests that the average dog can learn around 160 words.


Can cats learn to use dog buttons?

Yes, though no formal research has been done on the topic. “Cats are as good at making associations as dogs so it stands to reason that they can also learn to use the buttons and associate them with certain situations or activities,” explained Parthasarathy.


Do dogs need buttons to learn words?

No. If you’ve trained your dog to sit, come, or stay, you’ve already taught them to recognize human language. “Dogs also learn words and phrases that are associated with certain outcomes such as [when] ‘do you want to go out’ equals being let outside or ‘dinnertime’ means food will be put in the bowl,” said Parthasarathy.

How do I teach my dog to talk using dog buttons?

Before your pet can learn how to communicate using dog buttons, they have to learn how to push the button with their paw or nose, said Scott. Begin by recording a word like “treat” on a button. Press the button to make the word sound, then immediately reward your dog.

Repeat this 10 to 20 times so your dog associates the pressing of the button with the treat, then wait in front of the button for your dog to begin exploring it. If they make a movement toward the button, even if they don’t manage to activate it, quickly press the button yourself and reward them with a treat. Eventually, they’ll hit the button on their own. Each time they do, immediately reward them with a treat. When you’re not training, put the button away so that your dog doesn’t become frustrated when pushing it doesn’t result in a treat.

Once your dog understands the concept of pushing the button, you can begin pairing it with objects and actions that appear in their everyday life. “Some of the easiest behaviors to teach first would be patterns of routines you already have set in your life,” explained Scott. Some good words to start with include “outside,” “food,” and “play”.

Both repetition and reinforcement are essential to your dog learning a new word. If you want to teach the word “outside,” for example, record the word on a button and place it by the door. Ask your dog to press the button, then immediately open the door to let them out. If your dog loves to go out, the action acts as positive reinforcement. But, if it’s not an activity they love, offer them a treat after they’ve gone through the door. Repeat the sequence every time you go to let your dog out. In time, they will understand that pushing the button opens the door and will begin to do it on their own.

While it’s much harder for dogs to learn more abstract concepts like emotions, dog buttons can be used to address some problem behaviors, according to Scott and Parthasarathy. “Using these buttons can potentially be helpful in cases where a dog uses an undesired behavior such as barking at their guardian to obtain something they want,” said Parthasarathy. The button doesn’t have to be pressed by the dog in order to be useful, said Scott. A shy dog who’s startled by sudden movement, for example, might appreciate a warning that you are about to stand up from your desk. Pressing a button that says something like “up” before you stand lets them know what’s about to happen.

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I loved Coursera’s free online social work course from the University of Michigan so much that I decided to go to graduate school

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Emily Hein wearing a NYU t-shirt outside in New York City
The University of Michigan’s free online social work course (offered through Coursera) encouraged me to apply to grad school in the field. I applied shortly after finishing the class and will attend NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in the fall.

Table of Contents: Static

The decision to go to grad school is a daunting one: Committing time, money, and effort to a major career decision that won’t actually manifest until years later feels slightly terrifying.

I had been curious about how I could fuse my background in journalism with my passion for mental health advocacy, so I took to Coursera and discovered the University of Michigan’s Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack (one of the school’s many online offerings). I enrolled in the free, self-paced introductory course to help me decide if I wanted to commit to the full MasterTrack, which takes about 6-8 months to complete, or even a longer degree.

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change (small)

It was a small preview into the history and importance of social work, an opportunity for self-reflection and understanding my role in promoting social justice, and a test in balancing a full-time job with part-time learning. Three weeks later, I flew through nearly the entire intro course in two sittings – and felt ready to apply to part-time graduate programs in social work.

Sure enough, I recently committed to a part-time, on-campus Master of Social Work at NYU, and I feel exponentially more confident in that decision after taking the University of Michigan’s free online course.

Keep reading to learn about the free course, the University of Michigan’s social work MasterTrack program, and more:

Coursera Mastertrack

Course structure

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change breaks its instruction down into four main sections:

  • What Is Social Work?
  • Integrated Themes of Social Work
  • A History of Social Work
  • Privilege, Oppression, Diversity, and Social Justice

All modules include videos from practicing social workers, alumni, and faculty from Michigan’s School of Social Work. This was the selling point for me: Hearing firsthand how each speaker has used their experience in social work to better understand others’ perspectives, empower those they work with, and advocate for the communities they care so deeply about.

However, it’s important to note that the vast majority of the course is presented through these video accounts. The videos are accessible and include captioning, but there are far more of them than there are discussion opportunities, quizzes, or interactive materials (although there are multiple occurrences of these other learning tools as well).

Timing and cost

The course is estimated to take about 12 hours to complete, and when I enrolled, it was suggested that I dedicate one week to each module – or three hours each week – to learning. Because I found the course material very engaging, I completed more than half the course in four hours on a Saturday night. The remaining modules were completed in two smaller chunks on weeknights. It’ll depend on your learning style how you want to spread out your study time.

Coursera Social Work certificate

The course is free to audit, though you can also pay $49 for a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn or resume. I appreciated having the graded quizzes and certificate for accountability and career development, and the assessments were pretty straightforward – I enjoyed the quizzes and didn’t find them particularly challenging.

If you’re looking to pursue the Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack, then the certificate is worth it because its cost can be applied to the MasterTrack. If not, then the value of the certificate will depend on your career ambitions and learning style – it might just be worth it to audit the course for free.

Enrolling in the MasterTrack and applying to the MSW

Free University of Michigan courses 4x3

If you finish the course and would like to take the entire MasterTrack, you can enroll directly through Coursera with no required application. The MasterTrack is $2,000, and a detailed FAQ page explains the enrollment process.

If you’d like to apply to Michigan’s School of Social Work, you can submit an Eligibility Review Request to the university before enrolling in the MasterTrack. This form, which requires uploading your resume, is used to assess whether you’d be eligible to apply the MasterTrack certificate to an online or in-person Master of Social Work degree at UMich. It is not automatically supplemental to an MSW application and MasterTrack students are not guaranteed acceptance.

The completion of the MasterTrack certificate reduces the master’s degree from 60 credits to 45, potentially saving a significant amount of time and tuition costs. However, it’s important to note that the MasterTrack certificate is only applicable to Michigan’s MSW programs – it can’t be applied to other schools or programs.

Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack™ Certificate from the University of Michigan (small)

How the course informed my own career

I loved Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change so much that it inspired me to apply to MSW programs of my own, and I’m proud to be attending NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in the fall.

I’m NYC-based, and NYU’s Extended Program allowed me to enroll part-time in night and weekend courses while keeping my full-time job.

Though I could have enrolled in Michigan’s online program, I felt in-person courses were the right fit for me following over a year of work from home. For those who live in Michigan or prefer online learning, I’d still recommend the MasterTrack program.

The bottom line

If you’re curious about others’ professional experiences in social work, passionate about social justice, and considering social work as a career, I’d highly recommend this free course as a starting point. The engaging videos, varying perspectives, and powerful takeaways have already left a lasting positive impact on my future.

While working through it, I entered a much sought-after flow state of engagement, empowerment, and confidence that confirmed my suspicion that social work would be the right path for me. As I plan to begin pursuing my MSW in the fall, I’m grateful for the reassurance that I’ve made an informed career decision.

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change (button)

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The best online sales and deals happening now, including Crest 3D Whitestrips, AirPods Max, and Athleta

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Best Online Sales Deals

We rounded up the best sales and deals happening online today, including discounts at Chewy, Madewell, and United by Blue.

Deals in this story are subject to change throughout the day. The prices listed reflect the deal at the time of publication. For even more deals and savings across the web, check out our roundup of the best deals from Amazon.

The best deals available right now

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The best sales and discounts happening right now

Get up to 60% off at Athleta

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Shop the Athleta Semi-Annual sale now.

If you’ve been looking for a chance to refresh your athletic wear, Athleta’s Semi-Annual sale is as good a time as any. Right now, you can knock up to 60% off a huge array of women’s and girl’s apparel including tops, leggings, joggers, and sports bras. Sales from the brand don’t come by often, so it’s worth checking out if you’re in the market for some athleisure. 

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Get up to 60% at United by Blue

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Shop the United by Blue End of Season sale now

An apparel brand recommended by Insider for its mission rooted in sustainability and comfortability, United by Blue has essentials for every closet. From clothing to home goods, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Now through July 26, get up to 60% off sitewide and an additional 40% off sale items. 

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Get up to 30% off The North Face at Backcountry

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Shop Backcountry’s The North Face sale now.

Backcountry is holding another great sale, this time featuring up to 30% off The North Face. The discounts include gear for every season, including tees, backpacks, jackets, and more.

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Get up to 60% off at Madewell

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Madewell bestsellers are up to 50% off with code VERYMERRY.

Shop the Madewell’s Secret Stock Sale or take a look at the deals we rounded up.

Madewell is having a secret stock sale where you can save up to 60% current and recently added sale styles using the promo code PSST. Sale items are already marked down, but this sale is rare, as Madewell doesn’t do additional discounts on sale items very often. Signing up for Madewell’s rewards program can also save you money with year-round student and teacher discounts and other great offers you can hear about first as a Madewell Insider.

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Get ready for Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale

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Nordstrom’s Anniversary sale doesn’t start until July 28 this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prep ahead of time. All you need to do is make or sign in to your account (free to join), preview the deals, and add them to your wishlist for quick checkout the day of. If you’re a Nordstrom credit cardholder, you can even shop the sale now. 

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Lo and Sons is holding another great sale this season featuring up to 50% off select bags, including some of our favorites. The brand’s designs are durable and well worth the investment, especially with discounts this good. 

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HBO Max is a streaming service full of blockbuster movies and original TV shows. Now through December 14, new and existing American Express cardholders can save a bit on an annual plan. Here’s how it works: add the promotion to your card, buy the annual plan, then get a $25 credit applied to your next American Express statement. Learn more about the deal here

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New customers can get 15% off their first order of contacts from Warby Parker, one of our favorite places to buy glasses online. It’s a great chance to save on some daily essentials, and with brands like Acuvue Oasys, Biotrue, and Warby Parker’s own Scout, you’re sure to find the fit for you. 

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Now through August 1, Menlo Club is offering some huge summer savings. Shoppers can snag their first box for only $30 — a 50% discount. Just use the promo code MENLOTB30 to get the price at checkout. Whether you’re looking for styling help or just hate going to the store, Menlo Club is a great way to dress nicely without overspending.

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Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

 

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The best deals and sales happening on Amazon right now – save $45 on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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Amazon Best Deals and Sales 2x1
Amazon Best Deals and Sales

  • We update this list of Amazon deals every day with the new discounts as they crop up.
  • You can sign up for a free 30-day membership trial to get Prime shipping along with other perks.

Amazon’s dynamic pricing strategy can make shopping tricky for the average consumer, but if you know where to look⁠ – and when to act fast⁠ – Prime members can save a ton of money.

We’ve gathered all the best discounts currently available on the retail giant. Below you’ll find one-day sales via Amazon’s Gold Box promotion, exclusive coupon codes, and, of course, deals ranging from tech, fashion, and gaming all the way to home goods.

Due to the unpredictable nature of online shopping, prices may change without warning. For more ways to save, check out our round-up of the best sales going on right now.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Best deals on Amazon brand products

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Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

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The 8 best cheap hotels in San Francisco that cost less than $200 a night

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The best cheap hotels in San Francisco
  • San Francisco is an expensive city – but it has a surprisingly wide range of affordable hotels.
  • The city’s budget-friendly hotels have central locations, desirable amenities, and rates under $200.
  • We found the best places you can stay when budget is your most important factor.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

San Francisco is home to a world-famous skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, stunning parks, an exciting food and arts scene, and is a major seat of tech. It also happens to be one of the most expensive cities in America.

As such, San Francisco is also, unsurprisingly, home to many expensive hotels. Though don’t let that deter you from visiting. There is an enticing array of cheap properties too. You just need to know where to look.

Some of our top hotel picks in the city effortlessly merge convenience with comfort, clever design details, high-tech touches, and affordable prices.

Browse all the best cheap hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

These are the best cheap hotels in San Francisco, sorted by price from low to high.

Yotel San Francisco

Yotel San Francisco:Credit  TripAdvisor.com
Yotel is located in San Francisco’s historic Grant Building.

Book Yotel San Francisco

Yotel has 203 rooms known as “cabins” with a substantial range of options to suit various budgets. Located on Market Street, the location is fantastic to explore the city.

Located within San Francisco’s famous Grant Building (which survived both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes), the hotel design takes its cues from air travel, with the idea to keep everything close and convenient, such as airline-style self-service check-in kiosks. All cabins (the guest rooms) have smart TVs so you can connect your own devices and stream content, plus there is ample place for charging devices. We like the ability to customize rooms as guests can create their personal vibe through tailored mood lighting and adjustable memory foam beds. The rainfall showers are also a luxe touch.

The hotel is also home to Yotel’s signature Komyuniti Lounge concept, designed with spaces to co-work and socialize.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Cow Hollow Inn and Suites

Cow Hollow Inn and Suites:Credit  TripAdvisor.com
Cow Hollow Inn and Suites is a walkable location.

Book Cow Hollow Inn and Suites

Cow Hollow Inn and Suites is a centrally located hotel near San Francisco’s quaint Cow Hollow district, which is just over a mile to Fisherman’s Wharf and only slightly farther to Pier 39.

Comfortable and clean, rooms have a well-lit seating and work area with free internet, both wired and wireless. Covered parking is also complimentary, which is a rarity for this city and packs significant added value.

Travelers love the well-maintained and noticeably large (even surprisingly so) rooms here, with coffee and tea-making facilities and large TVs. The location is also a prime one. Walk to the Palace of Fine Arts in 15 minutes, and easily reach many bars, restaurants, and other tourist-friendly attractions in a short walk.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

The Inn at Union Square

The Inn at Union Square

The Inn at Union Square

This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Union Square, situated perfectly for sightseeing and business travel alike, with a highly walkable location. All stays are contactless, with a virtual check-in process and a keyless entry system. 

The Inn at Union Square San Francisco has 30 hotel rooms and suites, all with high-quality bedding, comfortable pillow-top mattresses, and dark wood furnishings. The decor is sophisticated, with framed wall hangings and elegantly striped wallpaper. Here, you’ll also get high-speed wireless internet, flat screen TVs, and spa-like robes. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Hotel Zeppelin

The bar at Hotel Zeppelin
Bold art and design features heavily at Hotel Zeppelin.

Book Hotel Zeppelin

Hotel Zeppelin is a Union Square property that serves as a nod to the city’s spirit of rebellion and counterculture and the whole place embraces an avant-garde look and feel. 

Starting at about 200 square feet, standard guest rooms have sleek black headboards, John Boos 36-inch work desks, blackout shades, luxurious bath amenities from ROIL, and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. Suites include vinyl on vintage turntables for an atmospheric touch.

Dining and drinking options include Rambler restaurant, offering California fare made with locally sourced ingredients, which is located in the space formerly occupied by Wolfgang Puck’s city institution, Postrio. The Mantel Bar is an intimate lounge near the lobby’s fireplace, just right for gathering with groups or a date. An array of formal meeting spaces are also available, ranging up to 4,000 square feet.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Hotel Del Sol

The exterior and pool at Hotel Del Sol in San Francisco.
Hotel Del Sol is a cheerfully decorated hotel in the Marina District.

Book Hotel Del Sol

Hotel Del Sol is a member of Joie de Vivre, the boutique line from World of Hyatt. It’s a charming, well-appointed stay from a trusted brand with the chance to earn loyalty points, too, and an easy walk to the buzzy bars, shops, and restaurants of the tourist-friendly Marina District.

Once a midcentury modern motor lodge, this hotel has been transformed to offer boutique amenities and service. Guest rooms are spacious, bright, and airy with orange-painted walls that feel like a California beach house, plush beds, and cheerful decor.

Indeed, we’re a fan of the bright and whimsical, modern concept decor such as palm trees, hammocks, and the colorful lounge furnishings that dot the pool area in the courtyard. The affordable price point also includes Wi-Fi, daily breakfast, and fun guest perks such as milk and cookies that are served each afternoon in the lobby.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Stanford Court

A guest room at Stanford Court San Francisco.
Stanford Court is a tech-forward San Francisco hotel.

Book Stanford Court

The 400-room Stanford Court hotel is meant to meet the needs of the digital-age traveler in a city known for tech innovation. A recent multi-million dollar renovation revamped the lobby, cafe, bar, porte-cochere, and fitness center. Look for a new modern color scheme and cool graphics, with design nods to the building’s history.

There’s a high-tech fitness center with Peloton bikes, Hydrow rowing machines, virtual personal training, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the only intersection of San Francisco’s famous cable car lines.

Other amenities include a tech loaner program, digital art installations featuring artwork by local artists, a Nod Hill sleep menu, a lobby lending library stocked with books on California and San Francisco, and a music room with vinyl from local bands and artists. 

Entry-level rooms begin at 220 square feet and have 49-inch HD televisions with HDMI and USB Ports, USB outlets, and a mini-fridge.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Orchard Garden

Orchard Garden:Credit  TripAdvisor.com
Orchard Garden is an affordable, eco-friendly hotel in San Francisco.

Book Orchard Garden

The Orchard Garden Hotel is an eco-friendly hotel with LEED and Green Seal certifications for environmentally conscious — and budget-minded — travelers.

Located near the Financial District, Union Square shops, and many museums and attractions, Orchard Garden is well-loved for its central location and reasonable pricing that includes breakfast with all room rates. Service feels personalized, offering friendly details such as flexible check-in times, pending availability. Standard rooms start around 230 square feet, and junior suites have about 374 square feet with a separate sofa.

Roots Restaurant is open for breakfast daily, and also hosts meetings and events. Or hit the hotel’s rooftop terrace for views of the famed San Francisco skyline.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Phoenix Hotel

Phoenix Hotel pool lit up at night
The Phoenix San Francisco is known for a rock-and-roll crowd and a pool scene.

Book Phoenix Hotel

Located in the Tenderloin District, the Phoenix is known for being a fun, lively destination especially popular among creatives. It’s a 10 minutes walk from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and caters to a musical crowd with a distinctly rock-n-roll atmosphere. 

There are only 44 rooms so there is also a strong boutique feel with rooms exuding vintage details like retro phones, midcentury modern furniture, and vibrant graphic artworks. Updated modern conveniences also include 42-inch flat-screen TVs with DirecTV and film channels.

Mostly, Phoenix Hotel is known for its pool scene (when San Francisco’s notoriously chilly weather permits), which I’ve frequented many times with friends. There’s even a mural from a local artist in the pool.

Guests also receive complimentary passes to the Kabuki Springs & Spa on weekdays, which is a San Francisco institution and offers an additional boon in value on top of the already cheap price. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

FAQ: Cheap San Francisco hotels

Are hotels open in San Francisco?

Yes, the state of California fully reopened on June 15, 2021. 

Where should I stay when visiting San Francisco?

San Francisco is a seven-by-seven-mile region, so you’ll never be too far from any attraction as the crow flies. Sightseers might want to stay around the Embarcadero, Union Square, or along Market Street, highly walkable locations where public transportation is also abundant and frequent.

Areas like Hayes Valley and North Beach are popular for shops and dining. The Castro is especially desirable for LBGTQ travelers, with a historic, trend-setting, and lively gay community and event calendar.

What should I avoid in San Francisco?

San Francisco has a substantial homelessness problem; there are currently about 8,000 unhoused people living in the small geographic area. Some of the associated issues — drug addiction, and yes excrement on the streets — are well known to locals, but may surprise visitors to a city with so much wealth.

Traffic is also a major problem throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and locals take pains to avoid rush-hour traffic patterns and event traffic such as related to ballgames and parades.

How much does it cost to stay at a hotel in San Francisco?

As the seat of much of the country’s tech money, the San Francisco Bay Area and its environs are notoriously expensive across the board, from the cost of living to hotel stays. While there are many pricey hotels in the city — ranging upwards of $1,000 and more — there are plenty of appealing, budget-friendly options on our list in the range of $200 and under.

When’s the best time to visit San Francisco? 

Maybe you’ve heard the quote attributed to Mark Twain: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” That is to say, it’s often cool and breezy in San Francisco at any time of year. Be prepared and always bring layers. It may surprise some visitors that the fall months offer some of the warmest temperatures in the city, and crowds are thinner, too.

Is it safe to stay in a hotel?

The CDC’s current guidance advises that fully vaccinated people can safely travel domestically. Hotels by their very nature provide opportunities for face-to-face encounters with staff and other guests in common spaces like check-in desks, lobbies, and dining venues. Still, experts say guests who exercise proper precautions can stay safely in hotels. Of course, no travel is completely without risk and we recommend following CDC guidelines as well as all applicable local protocols. 

More of the best hotels in California

Casa del Mar hotel pool with view of the beach
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34 thoughtful cookbook gifts for any occasion

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26 cookbooks for every type of home cook update 4x3

To me, there’s no better gift to give or receive than a great cookbook. A cookbook with beautiful photos, thoughtful narratives, and foolproof recipes can feed the imagination, transport your giftee to another city or country, and inspire them to get creative in the kitchen. There are cookbooks out there to suit every type of cook, whether novice or expert, and feed all interests from TV show cookbooks to comprehensive tomes on the science of cooking.

Every year, hundreds of new cookbooks make their way onto bookstore shelves. Here are our favorite cookbooks, new and old, to gift this year.

Here are 34 of the best cookbooks gifts for every type of cook:

For the traveler interested in culture and cuisine

Cook Real Hawai'i

“Cook Real Hawai’i” by Sheldon Simeon, $25.49 available at Amazon

A finalist in two different seasons of “Top Chef,” Sheldon Simeon co-authored a cookbook with Garrett Snyder, transporting readers to the tropical islands of Hawaii. The book dives into stories of Simeon’s family, as well as the state’s history and cultural traditions. With 100 recipes throughout the book, this personalized guide to Hawaiian cooking has something for beginners and advanced cooks.

For the friend who knows all the words to “Lady Marmalade”

LaBelle Cuisine best cookbooks 2021

“LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About” by Patti LaBelle, $26.99 at Amazon

Patti LaBelle is not only the Godmother of Soul and a musical icon, but she is also a New York Times bestselling author for her cookbooks. Her newest cookbook, “Labelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About,” has recipes centered around LaBelle’s family’s Southern roots. With comfort-food favorites like potato salad and peach cobbler, she showcases a variety of her recipes that are full of personal touches. 

For the cook always on the go

Full Plate best cookbooks 2021

‘The Full Plate” by Ayesha Curry, $15 at Amazon

Ayesha Curry and her husband, basketball star Stephen Curry, have three children and busy schedules. She created her newest cookbook with her energetic household in mind, and it features 100 recipes that take under an hour to make. “The Full Plate” is perfect for anyone who wants to spend less time cooking while still ending up with delicious meals.  

For the family member who watches “Fixer Upper”

Magnolia Table

“Magnolia Table” by Joanna Gaines, $16.59 at Amazon

Joanna Gaines and her family rose to reality-television stardom through the show “Fixer Upper.” The house-flipping matriarch released a cookbook highlighting 150 of her family’s favorite recipes, including garden-to-kitchen seasonal meals. Other recipes are from the family’s restaurant, Magnolia Table, in Waco, TX.

For the person who can’t get enough of Disneyland

The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook best cookbooks 2021

“The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook” by Ashley Craft, $11.99 at Amazon

Technically unofficial, this cookbook will transport you directly into Disneyland. You can replicate a variety of food found in Disney theme parks. It features 100 recipes of iconic Disneyland treats and snacks, including the famous Dole whip, beignets, and more. 

For the friend who cooks with the seasons

my shanghai betty liu best cookbooks

“My Shanghai” by Betty Liu, $31.79, available at Amazon

This debut cookbook from Betty Liu (who somehow found the time to author it amid her general surgery residency) is an homage to seasonal cooking and her family’s roots in the Chinese regions of Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. I picked up this cookbook up in my local bookstore and couldn’t put it down (and ended up bringing it home with me). The chapters are organized by season and explain the influence the weather, holidays, and traditions have on the recipes prepared throughout the year. I love the stories Liu relates about the inspirations behind her recipes, like climbing a mountain to eat Double-Mushroom Noodle Soup at a temple, foraging spring bamboo shoots for Oil-Braised Spring Bamboo, and the bowls of breakfast noodles her father would make her before test days. I’ve already made the Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cakes four or five times, and I can’t wait to dive into more of the recipes as the seasons progress. 

For the cook who wants to master their grill

rodney scott best cookbooks

“Rodney Scott’s World of Barbecue” by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie, $18.14, available at Amazon

My best friend (and fellow cookbook collector) recently texted me raving about this cookbook and the genius of Rodney Scott’s Loaded Pork Skin “Nachos,” Pit-Smoked Turkey, and whole-hog approach to Carolina barbecue. Scott’s positivity and passion shine throughout the book, and you’ll learn lots about southern foodways and the history of Carolina barbecue along the way.  

For the parent planning their next trip

dishoom best cookbook

“Dishoom” by Shamil Thakrar, $17.29, available at Amazon

Whether it’s London or Bombay that is your giftee’s next destination, “Dishoom” is required reading before they jet off. The popular Dishoom restaurants in London are inspired by the Irani cafes of Bombay and serve “tipples,” snacks, and mains like Mango Kulfi, Pav Bhaji, and Roomali Roti. In “Dishoom,” you’ll learn to cook the restaurant’s entire menu, and be taken on a tour of Bombay’s cafes (complete with a map) along the way. 

For the coworker who has *opinions* on babka

jew-ish best cookbook

“Jew-ish” by Jake Cohen, $15.79, available at Amazon

At Insider Reviews we have lots of opinions, especially about food, and a recent debate centered around the merits of cinnamon versus chocolate fillings for babka. I like Jake Cohen’s philosophy in “Jew-ish,” which is that babka is delicious no matter what you fill it with. “Jew-ish” is a thoughtful collection of recipes centered around Cohen’s Ashkenazi heritage, his own self-discovery in the kitchen, and the Persian-Iraqi traditions of his husband. Cohen celebrates the origins of Jewish dishes, while also putting his own twist on the classics. You’ll see this in action in his recipes for Cacio e Pepe Rugelach, Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies, and yes, You Can Go Your Own Way: Babka Edition.

For the family member intimidated by their new Instant Pot

instant pot best cookbook

“The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner, $10.78, available at Amazon

Insider Reviews reporter, James Brains, is currently testing Instant Pots and other multicookers for an update to our guide to the best electric pressure cookers. He’s been using recipes from this cookbook and reports that they’re easy to follow, have plenty of photos, and are delicious to boot. The book features more than 750 photos detailing step-by-step how to make the 100+ recipes, and makes a great gift for anyone who is curious about Instant Pots but hasn’t taken the plunge yet.

For the history buff

Jubilee cookbook

“Jubilee” by Toni Tipton-Martin, $20.07, available at Amazon

Toni Tipton-Martin’s personal collection of African-American cookbooks spans more than 400 titles and her knowledge of American food history is on full display in “Jubilee.” Through recipes and stories, she relates the history of Black folks who shaped American cuisine into what it is today, from those who cooked under the confines of brutal enslavement to the chefs who ran White House kitchens. “Jubilee” is a masterful work of American history, as told through food.

For the person who loves pie but fears making it

pie academy best cookbook gifts

“Pie Academy” by Ken Haedrich, $18.17, available at Amazon

A compendium of 255 pie recipes, “Pie Academy” is likely the last pie cookbook you’ll ever need. It has nearly a dozen recipes for different types of pie crust, a troubleshooting section for when things don’t go as expected, and chapters organized by seasonality and filling type. It’s guaranteed to be a hit with the pie lover in your life, especially one who is interested in making pies but has always found them a bit daunting. 

For the home cook that also loves to read

black white grey best cookbook gifts

“Black, White, and The Grey” by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano, $15.69, available at Amazon

While not a cookbook, “Black, White, and The Grey,” tells the story of one of the most celebrated restaurants in America: The Grey in Savannah, Georgia. Mashama Bailey, who is Black, and John O. Morisano, who is white, relate the story of how they turned a dilapidated formerly segregated Greyhound bus station into an award-winning restaurant. The dual memoir touches on race, community, and friendship, with some delicious food anecdotes along the way.

For the friend who wants to master the essentials

my korea

“My Korea” by Hooni Kim, $22.94, at Amazon

Michelin-starred chef Hooni Kim’s debut cookbook is a crash course in the essentials of Korean cuisine. The book’s tagline is “traditional flavors, modern recipes,” and that is an accurate summation of what you can expect to find in this cookbook — from Dolsot Bibimbap to Budae Jjigae to Hanjan’s Spicy Rice Cakes. When I first laid my hands on this cookbook, I wanted to make (and eat) every single recipe. If you’re looking for some solid foundation recipes, “My Korea” delivers.

For the person with quarantine cooking fatigue

Indian ish

“Indian-ish” by Priya Krishna, $18.25, available at Amazon

In her debut cookbook, Priya Krishna (contributor to Bon Appetit, New York Times, and others) offers up beloved favorite recipes from her Indian-American family, including Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar, Malaysian Ramen, and what her dad calls Indian Gatorade (Shikanji). The recipes are largely vegetarian, creative, fun, comforting, and guaranteed to inspire anyone who feels stuck in a rut with their cooking in 2021. 

For the person who spent 2020 mastering sourdough

new world sourdough

“New World Sourdough” by Bryan Ford, $14.17, available at Amazon

This was the year of the sourdough starter, and few people are as well-versed in fermented breads as Bryan Ford, blogger and baker. We’re not just talking about your classic sourdough boule; Ford is well-known for demonstrating the breadth of what you can do with a sourdough starter: from Sourdough Pan de Coco to Sourdough Discard Battered Fried Chicken.

For the cousin who’s just learning to cook

salt fat acid heat

“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” by Samin Nosrat, $16.67, available at Amazon

In this beautifully illustrated cookbook, chef and New York Times columnist Samin Nosrat outlines the foundations of cooking, from when to salt your chicken to how to make the perfect focaccia. All the information is presented in a fun, engaging way alongside original illustrations you’ll want to frame and hang in your kitchen.

For your family member who loves “Emily in Paris”

la buvette

“La Buvette” by Camille Fourmont and Kate Leahy, $14.25, available at Amazon

“La Buvette” is part cookbook, part guide to French living. Interspersed with recipes from the cookbook’s namesake cafe are beautiful pictures of Paris, tips about shopping in France’s vintage markets, and instructions on how to dry flowers. The cookbook is a lovely escape into Parisian living, perfect for any Francophile dreaming of a visit to the City of Lights. 

For your friend who knows all the best restaurants

xian foods

“Xi’an Famous Foods” by Jason Wang, $22.51, available at Amazon

Xi’an Famous Foods started as a small family-owned market stall in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. Its hand-pulled cumin lamb noodles have become so loved that there are now 14 locations all around New York City. In this cookbook, the son of the family and CEO of the business Jason Wang divulges some of the recipes that made his family business famous, as well as other classic dishes from Xi’an in western China.

For the fan of the ‘Great British Baking Show’

Baking Kim Joy

“Baking with Kim-Joy” by Kim-Joy, $14.89, available at Amazon

Fans of GBBO will likely remember series nine runner-up Kim-Joy’s adorable and creative bakes, like her giant chocolate planet filled with “space turtles,” or her “Silke the vegetarian mermaid” pie. Kim-Joy brings the same color and fun to her bakes in her debut cookbook, which includes Pigfiteroles in Mud, Tazhong Cat Buns, and a version of her Space Turtle Cake. 

For the person experimenting with a plant-based lifestyle this year

vegetable kingdom cookbook gifts

“Vegetable Kingdom” by Bryant Terry, $17.39, available at Amazon

James Beard Award-winning chef and food activist Bryant Terry offers 150 vegan recipes in his most recent cookbook. Instead of trying to imitate meaty dishes, Terry’s book celebrates the vegetable and all its parts: skin, husk, flowers, roots, and all. You’ll find recipes for Pea Shoot and Peanut Salad, Grilled Spring Onions with Lemon-Thyme Oil, Cornmeal-Fried Oyster Mushroom Po’Boys, and more. A special hallmark of Terry’s books is that they often contain a playlist to listen to while you’re cooking, and “Vegetable Kingdom” is no different, featuring recommended tracks by Duke Ellington, Santana, Björk, and more.

For the sometimes-vegetarian

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“Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, $19.75, available at Amazon

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi were both born in Jerusalem in the same year — Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This cookbook is a unique, cross-cultural homage to the vibrant flavors of the city in totality with more than 100 recipes. 

For the hummus lover

falastin

“Falastin” by Sami Tamimi, $19.59, available at Amazon

Longtime Ottolenghi collaborator (and co-author of “Jerusalem,” another of our cookbook picks), Sam Tamimi, crafted his latest cookbook as an homage to Palestinian food. The book is rich in recipes, from multiple variations of shakshuka and hummus, to verdant salads, and colorful dips. Along the way, Tamimi tells the culinary history of Palestinian food — from the home cooks feeding their neighbors in refugee camps to the restaurateurs cooking for tourists in Bethlehem.

For the friend who lives for the next Li Ziqi video

The Breath of a Wok

“The Breath of a Wok” by Grace Young, $27.28, available at Amazon

Grace Young, a self-described wok therapist and advocate for the future of America’s Chinatowns, has been teaching the next generation the ins and outs of wok cooking. I bought my first wok on her recommendation and it’s easily my favorite pan to cook in. Her book “The Breath of a Wok” outlines key techniques for cooking in this versatile pan, like making use of the hot and cool zones and using the large bowl of the wok for deep frying.

For the person who recently moved

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“Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm” by Molly Yeh, $19.54, available at Amazon

Molly Yeh is the star of Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm” and winner of the Judges’ Choice IACP Cookbook Award. “Molly on the Range” explores home, family, her Jewish and Chinese heritage, and Yeh’s Midwestern farm life. You’ll find recipes for Sufganiyot, Chicken Potstickers, Challah Waffles, and more.

For the person who gets all their news from Twitter

Chrissy Teigan book

“Cravings” by Chrissy Teigen, $15, available at Amazon

Supermodel, mom, and prolific tweeter Chrissy Teigen is also the author of two cookbooks. Her first, “Cravings,” is a celebration of all things comfort food and includes selections from her Thai-American upbringing (Jok Moo), recipes from her husband John Legend (John’s Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Butter), and favorites inspired by her travels to Italy and beyond (Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe). The book is filled with anecdotes and Teigen’s signature humor, and the recipes are delicious and approachable.

For the person who can’t get enough of “Cravings”

Pepper Thai Cookbook

“The Pepper Thai Cookbook” by Pepper Teigen, $16.63, available at Amazon

If your giftee already has and loves “Cravings” and “Cravings: Hungry for More,” they’ll be thrilled to know that Chrissy Teigen’s mom Pepper is getting a cookbook of her own. Pepper is a beloved fixture in both of Chrissy’s books, on her website, and on her YouTube channel, where she has her own mini-series: Pepper’s Corner. You can expect “The Pepper Thai Cookbook” to include dishes like Pad Korat (the version of Pad Thai served in her hometown of Korat), Pad Thai Brussels Sprouts, and Nam Prik Sloppy Joes. This cookbook is shipping in April, and already gearing up to be one of the most anticipated cookbooks of 2021.

For the pint-sized cook in your life

ATC kids book

“The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs” by America’s Test Kitchen, $11.49, available at Amazon

I worked for America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) for seven years and was privy to the care its team puts into each and every one of its cookbooks. ATK’s series of cookbooks for kids is the epitome of that detail and care; every one of the recipes in this volume was tested by pro chefs and kid cooks. The recipes are specifically designed with kids in mind, outlining when to get an adult for help with handling hot ingredients or sharp tools. This is the book I wish was available to me when I was a child, and I’ve gifted it and the kid’s baking book to every kid I know. I love getting reports from their parents about a new recipe they cooked or discovered.

For the person always posting pictures of their cheese board

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“Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion” by Shelley Westerhausen, $15.38, available at Amazon

In her best-selling cookbook, author and food blogger Shelley Westerhausen shares 40 casual yet chic spreads (complete with meat and drink pairings) that anyone can make and enjoy. It’s also a visual cornucopia that’s just as satisfying to flip through as to use when hosting get-togethers when it’s safe to do so.

For the friend who likes to Instagram all their food

ottolenghi flavor

“Ottolenghi Flavor” by Yotam Ottolenghi, $27.03, available at Amazon

Yotam Ottolenghi is owner and chef of some of London’s most beloved cafes and restaurants. His recipes are some of the most colorful and beautiful out there, and his latest cookbook is no exception. “Flavor” is filled with mostly vegetarian recipes that not only pack a punch visually but flavor-wise, too. Ottolenghi and his co-authors expound the building blocks of flavor in three sections: process, pairing, and produce. The result is more than 100 ‘gram-worthy recipes from Spicy Mushroom Lasagna to Iceberg Wedges with Smoky Eggplant Cream.

For the self-described dessert person

dessert person

“Dessert Person” by Claire Saffitz, $22.02, available at Amazon

Claire Saffitz may be known for her wildly popular Gourmet Makes series on YouTube, but she’s a pastry chef at heart and her affinity for baked goods is out in full force with her new cookbook “Dessert Person.” In this cookbook, you can find creative recipes for Babkallah (a babka-Challah mashup), Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie, Strawberry-Cornmeal Layer Cake, and Malted Forever Brownies. It’s sure to please the dessert lover in your life.

For the person who had to cancel their vacation last year

pasta grannies

“Pasta Grannies” by Vicky Bennison, $18.99, available at Amazon

Each episode of the “Pasta Grannies” YouTube series is an escape to a different region of Italy, where local grannies (or nonne) teach the audience to prepare and cook a regional dish — from classics like Spaghetti alla Carbonara to a pasta shape from Sardinia only three women know how to make. This cookbook takes some of the most popular videos from the series and turns them into tangible recipes you can cook at home. Between watching the video and cooking from the book, you can transport yourself to a little corner of Italy without leaving your home.

For the person homesick for their grandma’s cooking

In Bibi's Kitchen

“In Bibi’s Kitchen” by Hawa Hassan, $18.69, available at Amazon

This cookbook centers around grandmothers (or bibis) from eight south and east African countries. Throughout the book, we get to know the women whose recipes are featured and learn about their personal history and the history of their country. Along the way, you’ll find recipes for Eritrean Doro Wat, Tanzanian Date Bread, Kenyan Kachumbari, and more. It’s the kind of cookbook that makes think about your grandmother.

For the person who lives by a cookie-a-day philosophy

100 cookies

100 Cookies by Sarah Keiffer, $20.99, available at Amazon

A good ol’ chocolate chip cookie never goes out of style, but if you have a cookie lover in your life, consider gifting them this homage to baked goods. You’ll find recipes for the classics (including four different variations of chocolate chip cookies) as well cookies you’ve probably never had before, like Banana-Espresso-Cacao Nib cookies.

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The best desks for your office in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good desk should be ergonomic, giving you enough room to work without causing back or neck strain.
  • We consulted an ergonomist and an interior designer to find desks that combine comfort with style.
  • If you also need a supportive office chair, check out our guide to the best office chairs.

Whether you work from home or are back in the office, a good desk will help keep you comfortable and productive. A poorly designed desk can lead to back and neck strain, which will inevitably interfere with your day.

To find out what makes a great work desk, we consulted with experts in ergonomics and interior design to narrow down the hundreds of desks available at online retailers. We looked for desks that were between 23 and 29 inches tall for the best ergonomics (with bonus points going to products that are adjustable), as well as being stylish and made from high-quality materials. We explain our research methodology more at the end of the guide.

The best desks for your home office in 2021

The best standing desk

Fully desk with plants and office supplies on it.

The customizable Fully Jarvis Standing Desk provides a spacious work surface and an adjustable height, allowing you to position the desk to suit your frame.

From an ergonomics standpoint, an adjustable desk like the Fully Jarvis Standing Desk is the best option for most people since it allows you to change the surface height to match your frame and chair height. 

This particular adjustable desk comes in several widths and heights. We recommend opting for the “Extended Range” height option, which allows you to adjust the surface height between 24.5 and 50 inches. The metal frame is available in four colors, while the bamboo top comes in two finishes, and you also have the option to swap in a contoured tabletop on several of the larger sizes. 

The Jarvis has a toggle handset to adjust its height and lifting capacity of 350 pounds. While the base version of the desk is fairly simple, you can choose to outfit it with powered grommets, desk organizers, wire management kits, and more, creating a tailored solution to suit your needs. If you’re not satisfied with the desk, the brand offers a 30-day free return policy, as well as a 10-year warranty on desk frame components, mechanical parts, motors, and electrical components.

Read more about the Fully Jarvis in our standing desk guide, where we ranked it the best overall option.

The best desk for corners

Ameriwood L-shaped desk with a lamp, laptop, pencils, and a picture frame on top.

The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk has an L-shaped frame that offers more workspace than traditional desks.

The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk‘s L-shaped design will fit perfectly into the corner of an office, taking advantage of the extra space and providing a larger work surface than traditional desks. It’s just over 59 inches long and wide, and 29 inches tall. That may seem lower than most standard desks, but our experts say that 30-inch desks are too tall for most people to comfortably sit at. 

This corner desk has a black metal frame with a tempered glass top and faux cherry wood accents. The desk can support 60 pounds on each side and has two built-in storage shelves. The wooden corner piece and shelves are made from PVC laminate (a type of plastic), so they’re easy to care for.

The best desk for small spaces

Green Forest desk with laptop, photo frame, pen, and other office supplies on top.

The GreenForest Folding Desk is compact while still providing plenty of space for your work, and it can fold flat so it’s easy to store. 

The GreenForest Folding Desk can easily fit into a small apartment, dorm, or makeshift office, as it’s just 32 inches wide and 32 inches deep. The design features a lower desktop that can easily hold a laptop, notepad, or textbook, and there’s also a 6-inch upper shelf that’s ideal for a computer monitor or other desk essentials. 

This desk is supported by an X-shaped metal frame, and the desktop is made from medium-density fiberboard. There’s no assembly required, and when not in use, you can fold the desk flat and tuck it into a corner or behind a sofa.

The best desk for cable management

Union & Scale desk with white background.

The Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk features an integrated power strip with two USB ports, helping to streamline your workspace.

While its design may be simple, the Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk offers convenience for anyone who is regularly searching for an electrical outlet. It has an integrated power strip that you can access right on the desktop. There are two USB ports, allowing for easy charging for all your devices. The power cable for these outlets discreetly protrudes from the bottom of the desk’s back leg, helping to minimize the number of wires running behind your desk and reducing clutter in your space. 

This desk, which comes recommended by our experts, is 60 inches wide and just over 29 inches deep, and it has a 29-inch height that will be comfortable for most people. It’s supported by four metal legs and has a laminate top. You can choose between an all-white or faux wood finish to complement your decor.

The best affordable desk

Coavas desk with laptop, calendar, and pencils on top.

For a desk that won’t break the bank, the Coavas Computer Desk is a comfortable size and it folds down flat when not in use, making it easier to store and move. 

Despite its low price, the Coavas Computer Desk checks off many of the boxes for a comfortable, ergonomic workspace. The desk has an industrial-inspired design with a metal frame and faux wood top. It’s a moderate size at 40 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 28 inches tall.

Because of its shallow depth (a common feature among budget-friendly desks), it may not be the most comfortable to use when working on a computer, but it will work well for reading, writing, and studying. You can assemble this desk in a matter of seconds, and it’s equally easy to disassemble if you want to put it into storage or move it. 

This desk has a weight capacity of 200 pounds thanks to its metal frame. The top is made from medium-density fiberboard, which means you should avoid getting it wet or placing hot objects on the surface. While it might not last forever, the Coavas desk is budget-friendly and sturdy, making it a worthwhile choice for a temporary office.

The best minimalist desk

Ikea white desk.

The Ikea Bekant Desk has a simple design that adjusts to different heights, and it features an integrated cord management system to keep your workspace neat.

If you prefer a minimalistic appearance, the Ikea Bekant Desk is about as plain as they come with its monochromatic two-leg design. However, this desk is sturdy and functional, thanks to its adjustable height and built-in cable management system. 

The desktop is 63 inches long and 31.5 inches deep, and you can adjust its height between 26 and 33.5 inches to best suit your height and chair. The table has a weight capacity of 220 pounds, and it has a melamine surface that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. Additionally, there’s a net underneath the tabletop that allows you to tuck away unsightly cords, keeping your workspace tidy.

Just keep in mind that the Bekant doesn’t have electronic controls. To change its height, you need an Allen key (otherwise known as a hex key), so it isn’t the best choice if you want a desk you can adjust at the touch of a button.

The best extra-wide desk

Article desk with white background.

The Article Madera Desk gives you plenty of space to spread out thanks to its 71-inch width. The desk is crafted from durable solid wood and features a hidden cable management cabinet.

Need ample room to spread out all your work essentials? The Article Madera has a spacious 71-inch design that allows you to set up a computer, with plenty of space left over for documents, books, and other work essentials. This stylish desk is available in either oak or chestnut finishes, and it’s crafted from solid and veneered wood for a durable frame that will stand the test of time. 

The desk is 71 inches long, 30 inches deep, and 30 inches high. Its height means it might be best for taller people. The table has an industrial style with metal accents and exposed bolts, and the wood is finished with a wire brush for a naturally textured appearance. 

There’s a hidden cable management cabinet at the rear of the desk so you can tuck away charging cables and cords. For added storage, Article also offers a matching Madera File Cabinet to complete your home office.

The best wall-mounted desk

Pottery Barn Trenton desk with white background.

The Trenton Fold Out Table takes up minimal space thanks to its wall-mounted design, and you can install it at the appropriate height for an ergonomic workspace. 

If you’re hoping to turn any space into a makeshift office, the Pottery Barn Trenton Fold Out Table is an ideal solution. The versatile table mounts on the wall, and its solid pine surface easily folds down when it’s time to work. Once you’re done for the day, you can simply clear off the tabletop and fold it back up, freeing up valuable space in your home. 

This fold-out desk is 30 inches wide and just over 22 inches deep. Because of its shallow depth, it’s not the best option for working on a computer, but it will work well for reading and writing. Since you can mount it at any height, you can find the perfect spot to match your height and chair and keep your body ergonomically aligned. 

The desk’s frame is made from powder-coated steel for durability, and its kiln-dried pine surface is easy to maintain. You can use the steel brace as a magnet board, pinning up important notes and other documents in front of your work area.

The best writing desk

Pottery Barn Bedford white desk with 3 drawers on the left.

The Bedford Writing Desk from Pottery Barn is a well-made piece of furniture with a classic design, and it features a two- or three-drawer cabinet for all your storage needs.

Writing desks have a simple yet timeless design. Because they’re designed for note-taking, reading, and writing, they’re often not as large as computer desks. The tricky part when shopping for a writing desk is finding one that doesn’t have a pull-out drawer in the center that will interfere with proper ergonomics. With that in mind, one of the best options is Pottery Barn’s Bedford Writing Desk.

This desk is 52 inches long and 23 inches wide, giving you ample space to spread out with your papers. It’s crafted from kiln-dried pine and veneers with an antique white finish, and you can choose whether you want a two-drawer cabinet with two file drawers or a three-drawer cabinet, which has one file drawer and two small standard drawers for supplies. This cabinet tower fits on either side of the desk, allowing you to tailor the piece to your space. The back of the desk is finished in case you want to have it facing the room.

The best drafting desk

Zeny light brown desk with stool in front of it.

It’s easy to adjust the height of the Zeny Drafting Desk to suit your needs, and the top tilts to make it easier for architects and other creative professionals to draw. 

Drafting desks are a popular choice for architects and creative professionals, as the tabletop tilts to allow for more comfortable drawing, painting, or sketching. The Zeny Drafting Desk is ideal for any of these tasks. It has a spacious and adjustable workspace, as well as two storage drawers, a built-in pen container, and a side table for other supplies. 

The desktop measures 34 inches wide and over 23 inches deep, and you can adjust the height of the drafting desk between 28 and 36 inches. Additionally, the tabletop adjusts from 0 to 45 degrees, allowing you to tilt it to a comfortable angle. The desk has a steel frame and MDF surfaces, and it also comes with a matching stool.

What to look for in a desk

Two desks with one having a lamp, picture frame, pens, laptop, and other office supplies on it. The other is empty.

To develop criteria for evaluating desks, we consulted with two experts. We spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS-HFE, CPE, the principal ergonomist of Learn Ergo and a consultant with UC Ergonomics Research Lab, and interior designer Sherri Monte of Elegant Simplicity. Both regularly work with their clients to create comfortable, ergonomic, and highly functional home offices. They highlighted several important features that you should prioritize ahead of aesthetic appeal.

I used their guidance, as well as my background as a product reviewer for four years, when selecting desks for this guide. I used my experience testing household products to develop a comprehensive testing methodology. 

Height

While 30 inches is the standard height for many desks, this is actually too high for most people. “The correct height for your computer desk is your relaxed elbow height when you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor,” said Afterman. 

“It really depends on your own height and upper arm length, but the range that most people fall in is between 23 and 29 inches above the floor. I usually recommend a 28-inch tall desk if you can find it, but even that may be too high” said Afterman. She typically prefers height-adjustable desks, which allow you to find the best height for your frame. If you’re looking specifically for standing desks, check out our guide.

Depth

While desk width is a matter of preference, the depth of the surface can impact your comfort if you’re using a computer. If you plan to put a computer monitor on your desk, our experts recommend avoiding desks that are too narrow, which can cause back strain.

“I always recommend a 30-inch-deep desk,” said Afterman. “The problem with a shallow desk is that you cannot get enough distance between your eyes and the monitor when sitting relaxed back in the chair.” You end up resting your hands and wrists on the desktop when using the keyboard and mouse. “These postures can quickly fatigue the upper back and compress the soft tissue or nerves in the wrist,” Afterman said.

However, for those who don’t need a computer, a narrower desk may work just fine.

Thin table top without drawers in the center

Many desks include a drawer or two underneath the tabletop, but this type of design can cause strain on your body. Afterman explains that you increase the risk of bumping your knees on features like drawers, shelves, or panels, and they can interfere with your ability to set your work chair at an appropriate height. “When you have a drawer under the desk, you can only raise your chair so high without your legs bumping into the bottom of the table. This leads to shrugging your shoulders up to use the keyboard and mouse, which quickly leads to shoulder and neck soreness or pain,” said Afterman.

Material

The most common desk materials are wood, metal, glass, and manufactured materials such as medium-density fiberboard, frequently called MDF. Kiln-dried hardwood and metal are more durable choices, but they also drive up the price. If you only need a temporary solution to last a few years, MDF or other faux materials are budget-friendly, but they’re also more prone to wear, stains, and warping. 

Storage

There are many items you may want to keep on hand as you work, ranging from pens and pencils to files, books, and charging cables. If there aren’t other storage spaces nearby, you may want to look for a desk with a side tower of drawers or a built-in file cabinet, as long as they don’t protrude into your leg space

“Ultimately, a good desk provides you with the basic things you need for when you need them,” says Monte. “Maybe this desk has file storage built in or perhaps it’s just got a few basic drawers, but functionality matters.”

Design

Finally, there’s also the matter of choosing a desk that matches your aesthetic. This should be a secondary consideration after ergonomic requirements are met, but there is no shortage of desks to choose from, including modern, contemporary, mid-century, traditional, and more. We focused on ergonomics here in our guide and considered the design when choosing our top picks.

What type of desk do I need?

Four different types of desks in one photo.

There are several common desk styles that you will encounter, and the differences between them can be confusing. Here are the distinctions of each style.

Height-adjustable desks

Height-adjustable desks have gained popularity in recent years, as they allow you to set the exact height of the desktop to suit your chair and body. “A height-adjustable table can be used to optimize the desk height when you’re sitting and has the added bonus of providing a standing option as an alternative to mix into your day,” said Afterman.

These desks are often controlled by electronic panels (which means they need to be plugged into an outlet), but some budget options are manual. Others require tools, like an Allen key, which is more time-consuming.  

Computer desks

Computer desks are specifically designed to accommodate an electronic setup. These desks typically have larger desktops that provide space for a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other components, and they often have various cord management features, as well. 

Writing desks

When compared to computer desks, writing desks are typically not as spacious. They’re often not deep enough to comfortably use a computer monitor. Writing desks frequently have drawers on one or both sides, as well as under the desktop, providing space to store writing implements and notebooks. Some also feature a hutch on top for additional storage. Because they’re a more traditional style of furniture, you’ll find that many writing desks have a classic aesthetic.

Corner desks

Corner desks have an L-shaped design that fits into the corner of a room. They come in many different styles and materials, and they often provide more workspace than traditional desks. Some may also feature shelves, file cabinets, or drawers built into their designs.

Executive desks

Originally used by managers and other high-ranking professionals, executive desks are large and stately. Because they’re often arranged in the center of a room, they typically have finished backs. Many executive desks have a double-pedestal design, meaning there are file cabinets or drawers on each side. They naturally become the focal point of any space.

Drafting desks

Drafting desks, also called drafting tables or architect’s tables, are used for drawing and sketching. They’re defined by a tilting tabletop, which can generally be fixed at several angles. These desks often have large work surfaces that can accommodate oversized architectural plans or sketch pads, and there may also be drawers, side tables, and organizers for things like pens and paper.

How should you sit at a desk?

White desk with laptop, notebook, lamp on it and a black office chair in front.

In addition to having a desk that’s the proper height, width, and depth, you should also sit properly for comforot and ergonomics. “Foot support is critical to reducing back strain,” said Afterman. “Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest if your seat is raised. The knees should be even with, or slightly lower than, your hips.”

You’ll also want to ensure that your arms are in an appropriate position. “The arms should be supported with the shoulders relaxed,” said Afterman. “You can get support from the chair armrest or the work surface. Avoid resting on the elbows as this can compress the ulnar nerve. Instead, rest on the muscle area of the forearm to allow the shoulders and back to relax.”  

Finally, be sure to position your chair and computer monitor in proper locations to reduce strain. “You should sit close enough to the desk to keep the elbows near the body and avoid reaching forward,” says Afterman. “Set the monitor height with the top of the screen at eyebrow level (lower for bifocal wearers) and close enough to read while you relax back in the chair.”

How should you style a desk?

Desk with photo frame of puppies, black lamp, several books leaning together and flat on the desk as well.

It’s not always easy to arrange your furniture in a way that’s functional but also stylish, and it’s extra challenging when it involves a work desk in your home. “When arranging your desk in your home or office, you want to think about what the focal point of the space is,” says Monte. “When a room lacks a focal point, our eyes tend to bounce all over the place.”

If you have a designated room for an office or want to create a dedicated office space in a living room or bedroom, try creating a natural focal point with a rug. “Not only will this be soft under feet while you’re working, but it will also layer in a bit of warmth to any office,” said Monte. 

Monte recommends opting for a rug that’s significantly larger than your desk, as this will ensure your chair isn’t constantly rolling off the edge. If you’re looking for recommendations for office seating, check out our guide to the best office chairs.

Check out our other home office guides

Full photo of a desk with two monitors, various office supplies, a plant on the floor, and a lamp to the right of the desk.

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The best active seating for your office


The best office chairs


The best desk lamps for your office

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