What We're Reading: Most Romantic Hotels in the U.S. and Caribbean, App for Germaphobes, More

Welcome to What We're Reading, our new weekly look at the most insightful, useful, and entertaining travel-related stories from across the information superhighway.

No time to browse hundreds of travel sites and blogs to get to the good stuff? Consider us your personal fascinating-story search engine. This week, we unearthed the answer to the germy remote-control conundrum, a roundup of dreamy hotels close to home, Budget Travel's Pick for the coolest small town(s) in the States, and more.

Germaphobe? There's an App for That!

My inner Howie Mandel let out a squeal of delight upon seeing this post on Travel Kit at msnbc.com. Harriet Baskas reveals the perfect solution for those of us grossed out by the never-washed hotel-room remote control: Simply download a free app and use your phone to control the TV. It's genius! Now, if only there were an app to do something about bedbugs.

Picture Perfect Petra

We picked Petra, Jordan, as one of the World's Best Ruins last spring, so we’re happy to discover others agree. Says photographer and blogger Jen Pollack Bianco, Petra "lives up to the hype." Bianco proves her point with a series of experimental photos and panoramic pictures, and even a video of the amazing rose-colored ruins, taken using various iPhone apps. Those of us who don't own fancy camera will be delighted to see the gorgeous photos Bianco shot with a simple smartphone.

Why Don't You Stay?

As Valentine's Day creeps closer, scores of amorously-themed travel stories are popping up all over the Web. Some are duds, whereas a few offer interesting ideas for future trips—be it a passionate getaway with your soul mate or, well, just a regular vacation. Take a look at Fathom's collection of the most romantic hotels in the U.S. and the Caribbean. It's a list of historic manors, bucolic campgrounds, and glamorous urban inns, punctuated with some pretty cool photos. Altogether, this is a tempting roundup of beautiful places to stay in a variety of destinations, no date required.

The Talk of the Town

The results are in. Budget Travel's Coolest Small Town of 2011 is Beaufort, North Carolina. But wait. Hammondsport, New York, came in a tight second, with both towns snagging 36.2 and 36 percent of the vote respectively. The voting was so close that Budget Travel graciously declared a tie between the two towns; however, not everyone agrees with this decision. Hundreds of readers—locals from the winning locales and otherwise—are weighing in and getting a little feisty on Budget Travel's Blog. Accusations of foul play flow freely. Seeking a side of controversy with your lunch break? Check it out.

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