While Airbnb has taken over the gravel industry, boutique hotels are a wonderful way to experience a place, with top notch service and a curated experience. There are some spectacular hotels around the world that will immerse you into the environment while providing a respite to relax and unwind at.
So, what exactly makes a boutique hotel? What separates it from a regular hotel? A Boutique Hotel is small. It should not have more than 100 rooms, because it has to offer a personal touch to every guest. It is an independent hotel, or part of an “only-boutique” chain. It is located in the city center or in a very trendy area, usually the main shopping one. While this is often true, there are more and more boutique hotels that are located in stunning natural locations, that are sometimes quite remote. The main defining feature is the scale and the lack of relation to a larger hotel chain, like the Hyatt or Merriot for example. They will make your experience more intimate and special, and probably more culturally accurate to wherever you go! Because so much thought and care is put into every detail, the architecture and design of these hotels is often very unique. So, let’s take a look at 20 of the most spectacular designed boutique hotels around the world.
1. Nobu Ryokan Malibu, California
Nobu Ryokan Malibu, which is owned by acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Iron Chef fame, takes the traditional Japanese ryokan experience and elevates it into a five-star experience that feels more like a retreat than a hotel. The property’s 16 polished rooms have a Zen-like feel, wooden soaking tubs, skylights, and fireplaces and/or patios. As you might guess, the beachfront property (upgraded rooms have ocean views) also has an upscale restaurant operated by chef Nobu and access to Malibu’s Carbon Beach, an exclusive spa, and a racquet club.
2. Byblos Art Hotel
A villa of the XVI century, that was inspired by the tradition of the Veneto region, been re-interpreted to become an elegant luxury hotel and host an impressive permanent exhibition of contemporary art. In the 15th century architect Michele Sanmicheli started from the ruins of a Roman ‘casa forte’ to design the central part of the villa in Venetian style. The current building, a work of architect Ignazio Pellegrini, dates back to the 18th century. Inside the villa paintings and original finds of both periods can be admired after careful renovations.
Villa Amistà is a combination of historic and contemporary pieces of furniture, resulting from the inventiveness of the well-know designer ALESSANDRO MENDINI, and with several artworks by world-famous artists, that have made the villa a real museum of contemporary art and design.
The originality of Byblos Art Hotel interior design is the result of the inventiveness of Alessandro Mendini, the architect and designer, who has merged in contemporary elements in the classic Villa Amistà.
Bright colors and plastic shapes are combined with paintings and marble elements in the 17th century rooms to create a unique and exclusive project: a permanent exhibition of some of the world-best artists and designers, such as Ron Arad, Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders, Ettore Sottsass, Eero Saarinen, Eero Aarnio and many more.
The project Byblos Casa by Mendini is to be inspired by the same philosophy: furniture and style objects representing a brilliant “Revival” style, starting from the famous “Proust’s armchair”.
Classicism and modernity are combined to create an atmosphere that is rich of memory and remembrances, yet blinking at the future. Byblos Casa connects the contemporary style of Byblos fashion label, which means colors, glamour prints and an innovative use of fabrics patchworks, together with the creative skills of atelier Mendini, which also includes the contribute of other important designers like Anna Gili, Bruno Gregori, Margarini-Morra, Beatriz Millar.
3. Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan
Inspired by the region’s historic farmhouses, this 12-suite Himalayan oasiscleverly blends traditional local design with luxurious modern amenities. Ornate woodwork, exposed beams, and Bhutanese-style pitched roofs are offset with freestanding soaking tubs, heated floors, and grand floor-to-ceiling windows that stare out to the expanse of the valley. Start your day with a pre-breakfast blessing and prayer at the 17th-century monastery followed by on-site cultural classes, including archery (Bhutan’s national sport), before retreating to your room for a rubdown.
A place where nature is revered and mountains, pristine rivers and lakes are believed to be the abodes of gods. Discover the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’. Gangtey Lodge is the culmination of an adventure that began back in 2003 by owners Khin Omar Win and Brett Melzer. Founders of the iconic Balloons over Bagan and the remote Malikha Lodge in Northern Myanmar, they were invited to Bhutan to explore the possibility of ballooning together with their Bhutanese partner Yeshey Norbu.
Instead, when they came across the spectacular and unspoilt Gangtey valley, the seed was planted to create a luxury escape that not only helped to preserve Bhutanese rural life, but followed their philosophy to bring opportunity, training and skills into this remote community. Taking their project management team from Myanmar, they embarked on a three-year journey to build a 12-roomed Bhutanese ‘Farmhouse’ that respectfully blended into its environment and enabled guests to connect with the natural surroundings and spirituality of Bhutan. Mary Lou Thomson took on the role of Architect for Gangtey Lodge, in what was to be her first totally independent hotel project. Together, they shared the same passion to create a unique lodge that reflected Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.
4. The Lalit London
One of the most unique accommodations in the city – aesthetically rich in luxury yet infused with the inimitable LaLiT style and sensibility. The luxury hotel rooms & suites are located on three levels with room categories ranging from Cosy Classrooms to the exquisite The LaLiT Legacy Suite. All guestrooms differ in design and layout, some of which boast of 30-feet high ceilings. Each room presents itself with outstanding volumes of comfort and relaxation, ensuring the most unforgettable hospitality experience in London.A room of spectacular opulence and sophistication. The restoration work involved the original fireplace, decorative ceiling, and woodwork, which has been retained to keep the Victorian feel alive.Indulge in a fine evening at the Headmaster’s Room with premium cognacs and champagnes for company. The LaLiT’s contemporary bar creates a classy setting, perfect for relaxed evening drinks and cocktails. Our Teacher’s Room menu features various international flavours.
5. Masai Mara
Part of the Virgin Limited Edition collection, Sir Richard Branson’s majestic safari camp in the Masai Mara is “just perfect,” according to one voter. The seemingly space-age tents somehow rise up out of the landscape and blend in with it simultaneously. Wildlife remains abundant in the surrounding bush — ideal for the twice-daily game drives — and the guides are extremely knowledgeable. One respondent raved about the “excellent service,” adding that “the hospitality provided at Mahali Mzuri resembles the name,” which means beautiful place in Swahili. Another reader says simply that it’s “the best luxurious camp to visit on the African continent.”
6. Hanging Gardens of Bali
The Hanging Gardens of Bali, a luxurious destination in the heart of the jungle. Situated near Payangan, a town village North of Ubud and resting in the centre of the magical island of Gods. Overlooking the Ayung River and ancient Dalem Segara temple, the award-wining resort stands on the edge of a stunning valley, surrounded by lush rain forests and pictu resque rice terraces. An award-winning destination, proudly holding the title, of the: “Worlds First Seven Stars Boutique Hotel” and designated as one of the World’s most desirable destinations to visit. This five-pearl resort is best known for its breathtaking main pool, which sits dramatically over jungle treetops and offers gorgeous vistas of the gorge below. With a secluded location about 30 minutes from Ubud, the hotel offers a peaceful, rain forest getaway, complete with a luxurious spa and dining options that range from an on-site restaurant, bar, and cafe, to romantic private dining experiences. Its 44 suites and private villas offer panoramic views as well as private pools and terraces.
7. Awarta Nusa Dua Resort & Villas
Hidden in a peaceful and prestigious corner of Bali, Awarta is a secluded sanctuary awash in lush greenery, striking water features, and elegant spaces that fuse indoor and outdoor living. Our resort was awarded the World’s Best Boutique Hotel for its combination of luxurious accommodation, exceptional dining venues, and warm, personalised service. Awarta means ‘treasure’, which is the perfect characterisation for this hidden gem that offers everything you need for an unforgettable stay in Bali. \Indulge in ancient healing techniques at the serene spa and savour authentic culinary delights at the alluring dining establishments.
Awarta Nusa Dua Resort & Villas was inspired by one of Bali’s most enchanting and enduring love stories. In the 12th century, the Balinese king Sri Jaya Pangus fell in love with a Chinese princess named Kang Ching Wie. Their marriage sparked collaboration between the two cultures that still exists today. It also created a new culture known as Indonesian-Chinese Peranakan. Our resort pays homage to the romance and rich legacy of this historical period. The name Awarta comes from our family surname, Siawarta. ‘Siaw’ is derived from our Chinese family surname ‘Siauw’ and ‘arta’ comes from the Indonesian word ‘harta’ meaning ‘treasure’. Drawing on our blended Indonesian-Chinese heritage, we have incorporated modern Chinese and traditional Balinese architectural and design elements throughout the resort, as well as personalised touches and warmth from the heart of the Siawarta family.
With an intimate collection of luxurious private pool villas and suites, bespoke services, and five-star facilities, not to mention a coveted location in the heart of Bali’s most prestigious resort area of Nusa Dua, Awarta has gained international acclaim and numerous awards including the World’s Best Boutique Hotel.
8. Casa Hoyos (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)
This 16-key boutique hotel is in one of my favourite towns in the world, San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. Casa Hoyos’ interior brilliantly weds Spanish colonial-style architecture and contemporary Mexican design. Celebrated mixologist Fabiola Padilla is at the helm of the hotel’s trendy rooftop bar, BEKEB. One of my favourite drinks is her Carajillo Allende, which consists of espresso, cacao liquor, and banana liquor.Being faithful to the genuine bohemian air that characterizes the city, Mexican designers and artisans captured its essence through materials, colors and textures where every detail is cared with passion and each space deserves to be discovered.16 rooms that establish a dialogue between colonial architecture and the vibrant contemporary vitality of Mexican design. The interior design project was carried out by AG Studio, led by designer Andrés Gutiérrez and his partner Mayela Ruíz.
The arrival of Julián Hoyos from Spain, the opening of the first foreign exchange house and his subsequent conversion into a grain and seed store, were the three moments that influenced the selection of materials and color of our palette that coexist in the same space and that give life to our hotel.Recalling the colonial mansions, the hotel has an open central patio lined with Andalusian-style balconies, reminiscent of a typical house in southern Spain.Reflecting the most deeply rooted religious traditions of the Iberian Peninsula, where the origins of the Hoyos family are found, we place the image of the virgin “Dolorosa de Loreto”, handmade with “talavera” tiles in Dolores Hidalgo. As a witness to the past, we placed what used to be the counter of the foreign exchange house under the virgin, restored it and gave it life again in the project.When you visit the hotel you will be surprised by the yellow color of our walls, remembering the old sale of grains in the house, they placed glazed clay tiles that symbolize an ear of corn. On the floor, you will walk on clay and black paste tiles, a material that you will also find in all the churches of the city because its beauty and resistance.
9. Casa Angelina
Casa Angelina is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever visited. Situated amongst the cliffs of Southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast, in a small fishing village called Praiano, this sleek boutique hotel offers unrivalled views of the Tyrhennian Sea. It stands out with a whitewashed, modern look that’s different from other properties in the area, which take on a more traditional Italian decor. Those who prioritize privacy should look at booking Casa Angelina’s Eaudesea rooms: fishermen’s cabins repurposed as luxe guest rooms, down the hill from the hotel’s lobby and right next to La Gavitella Beach—one of the only swimmable places along the area’s craggy coastline. Looking to take your rejuvenation game to the next level? I recommend the spa’s Amalfi Coast Sea Scrub—expect a blissful hour of nourishing aromatherapy and exfoliation treatments.
10. Home Hotel
Buenos Aires is one of my favourite places in South America. The city is a captivating mélange of Europe and Latin America: Beaux-Arts-style buildings in one neighbourhood that are reminiscent of Paris, colourful buildings of the southern continent’s vibrant and lively towns in another. I love the city’s Palermo Hollywood neighbourhood, which is full of chic Argentine boutiques and restaurants (you can look forward to eating the best steak you’ve ever had in your life). The lobby enthralls: clean lines, retro-modern Scandinavian furniture, shelves populated with endless books, and a vintage record player. Then it only gets better with the hotel’s outside terrace, which looks out at the property’s backyard garden and courtyard pool.
11. Annandale Scrubby Bay, Pigeon Bay, New Zealand
Warmly embraced on both sides by the surrounding hills, Scrubby Bay is a magical and completely private setting for gatherings of up to 14 guests. In life, it’s people that count, and this is the perfect location for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of family and friendship.
Either a spectacular helicopter flight or a breath-taking 40-minute 4WD transfer across the cliff-top farm tracks will bring you to this remote and private bay, which is in a spectacular valley on the outer reaches of the Annandale property. In this amazing and isolated location, it would be easy to imagine yourself one of the early pioneers but for the modern comforts to be found in the luxurious cedar-clad beach house. A sun-drenched deck, three ocean-front bedroom suites plus a bunk room that can sleep 8, and a huge open plan dining and living space, well stocked with books and games for all ages, mean there is plenty of space for everyone to relax and do their own thing, coming together as and when you choose. Whether you are marking a special occasion or just taking a break from the hectic pace of life, you will leave Scrubby Bay with a fresh perspective and a warmer heart.
A vernacular verandahed form belies its massive scale, the apex height is at 5.5 metre and its knee at 3.4 metre in a fully macrocarpa interior, traditionally detailed juxtaposed against black steel fittings. At the centre of the house is a stone fireplace, constructed from rock quarried from the station. The project incorporates mainly custom designed fittings, door hardware, furniture and lighting, oak grills and handles.The building shuts down during storms or when unoccupied and when opened sets up both seaward and leeward exterior environments. It is conceived of as a piece of slowly aging farm driftwood, in the future stock might come right up to the building.
12. The Green O, Montana
This adults-only addition to the iconic The Resort at Paws Up in western Montana is all about delivering customized and discreet service, starting with a pre-arrival survey that will help inform an on-property itinerary, which could include daily sound bathing in the forest and evenings fueled with sharp cocktails. Staying here should inspire hiking and mountain biking, but if traveling on four wheels is more your speed, each of the 12 “hauses” comes with its own Lexus. Named for an early rancher, Paul Greenough. On land that was a patchwork of homesteads, fields and woods, a scion by the name of Paul Greenough established a ranch here in about 1915. His father was a wealthy businessman in the mining and timber industries, but Greenough wanted to be a rancher. After acquiring the original 3,800 acres, he stocked herds of sheep, cattle and horses. A man with a well-known sense of humor, Greenough decided to brand his sheep by painting them with a big green “O.” Years later, the town of Greenough was named in his honor.Throughout the 20th century, the property was owned by several ranchers, including Land and Jon Lindbergh, sons of the celebrated aviator. The current owners purchased the land in 1997 and expanded the property to a total of 37,000 deeded and leased acres. It’s now a working cattle and bison ranch, as well as the home of two resorts ideal for Montana ranch vacations, The Resort at Paws Up and the green o.
13. Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa, Atacama Desert, Chile
The essence of the unforgettable Atacama desert landscape is at the heart of Tierra Atacama, while also making it both accessible and people-orientated. Our Atacama desert hotel is situated on the edge of San Pedro de Atacama, and has been voted one of the best all-inclusive San Pedro de Atacama hotels. The property was designed by some of Chile’s most renowned architects, with regional sensibilities, eco-friendly design and boutique comforts firmly in mind. Living spaces showcase San Pedro de Atacama locally made trinkets and crafts, fire pits on the outdoor terrace will keep you cozy during those starlit evenings, and a modern take on High Andean cuisine leaves you totally satisfied, ready to explore the best of this inspiring place.Your experience at our Tierra Atacama adventure & spa hotel is made all the more special through our personalized excursion plan, offering a huge array of activities from horseback riding to volcano hiking, as well as soothing sessions in the Uma Spa, complete with a menu of treatments influenced by the desert climate, native flora and ancient therapies. During your trip to Chile – come to Tierra Atacama, for experiences that will leave you feeling fully restored by the time you leave.
14. Le Roch Hotel and Spa, Paris, France
The art of simplicity rather than ostentatious splendour is the conception of luxury at this hotel. It was around this idea that Le Roch Hotel & Spa, a 37 room boutique hotel with the spirit of a home, offering a sincere welcome, was conceived. The interior design is the work of a true Parisian, Sarah Lavoine. With her aesthetic sense and superb craftsmanship she finds true expression in all aspects of creativity that interest and inspire her, whether that be colour, furniture and authentic objects, pure materials or simple lines. The hotel’s various living spaces are refined, yet warm and welcoming. It is a testament to her talent.
The welcoming atmosphere is immediately noticeable when you cross the threshold, leaving behind the bustle of the city to enter a lounge that could be your own, with a fireplace, shelves full of beautiful books, and comfortable chairs that embody an invitation to relax and revivify. Travellers passing through and Parisian insiders share more here than just a similar experience, while enjoying the care of a particularly attentive staff. For although Le Roch Hotel & Spa features inspired decor and upscale amenities, it is the guests and the team who are its real wealth. And, simply, they give it life.
15. Les Sources de Caudelie
Les Sources de Caudalie, located among the vineyards of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, a Graves great growth, was established in 1999. The concept behind Les Sources de Caudalie is inspired by the French Paradox, discovered over 20 years ago. It refers to a study proving that the French diet and lifestyle, particularly in Southwest France, is conducive to good health. Between vineyards and forests, at only 20 minutes from Bordeaux center, the architect Yves Collet created from scratch contemporary buildings from recycled local materials in tune with the surroundings.
Alice and Jerome Tourbier have managed Les Sources de Caudalie for the past ten years in keeping with the values they hold dear: well-being, generosity, authenticity, high-quality service, and emotion. Welcome to a universe where everything is devoted to nature, taste and senses. A stay in the hotel, with its 40 rooms and 21 suites, is the gateway to exploring an attractive region with a strong personality. The five cottages also revolve around the region’s rich, varied culture as reflected in paintings, antiques, and warm-coloured fabrics. Each of the 40 rooms (2 accessible to wheelchairs), named after aspects of the regional heritage, boasts a unique decor, featuring antiques, collectible furniture, and fine draperies. Most of them have a terrace or a balcony with a beautiful view on the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte’s vineyards or on the lake.
Set in a former orangery, modeled on an ornamental, 18th-century glasshouse, La Grand’Vigne restaurant invites you to savor the chef’s brilliant, well-grounded cuisine. On fine days, it is possible to enjoy lunch or dinner in the sunshine, on the terrace overlooking the lake and the vine-covered slopes. Chef Nicolas Masse has developed close relationships with local fishermen, livestock breeders, and market gardeners on the Atlantic coast and in the Graves countryside, who supply him with seasonal produce. Located in Les Sources de Caudalie, Caudalie’s Vinotherapie® Spa offers a Spa program of exclusive treatments in an environment of rare beauty. The refined atmosphere of the treatment rooms, the blend of noble materials uniting wood and stone, and the size of the building, reminiscent of an old tobacco kiln; all were designed to harmonize perfectly with the great landscape of the vineyards and give the relaxation lounges a distinctive style. Unique treatments combine the virtues of natural hot spring water drawn from 540 meters beneath the earth – rich in minerals and oligo-elements – with the most recent scientific discoveries of the benefits of the grape and the grapevine.
16. Zaborin, Niseko, Japan
Experience authentic ryokan traditions by unwinding within the serenity of nature, absorbing the minerals of a natural spring onsen, and indulging in exquisite Japanese haute-cuisine. Zaborin 坐忘林 is a contemporary luxury ryokan in Hanazono, Hokkaido, Japan. The award-winning kita kaiseki cuisine is a northern interpretation of the the ancient traditional Kyoto kaiseki dining, celebrating local produce and seasons. Each guest suite (villa) has its own private indoor and outdoor hot spring bath.
Born of a desire to capture the spirit of the ryokan in a new and relevant way, Zaborin combines contemporary Japanese luxury with an extraordinary ryokan experience, together with the heart of Japanese service (omotenashi). The design is an integral part of re-interpreting the meditative side of a ryokan but bringing with it modern comforts. Internationally recognized and winner of multiple awards (from Japan, Europe and USA), Architect Makoto Nakayama and talented Creative Director Shouya Grigg, have interwoven the old with the new, the perfect with the imperfect, light with shadows and blended it into its natural surroundings. And, unlike the more introspective designs necessary in Japan’s history, Zaborin is not only a part of its surrounding nature but extends the feeling of inclusion with unparalleled views.
Throughout history, traditional Japanese inns are destination experiences that include an evening meal of fine Japanese cuisine, an elaborate breakfast, and the restorative benefits of bathing in an onsen (hot spring). Zaborin’s dining experience includes the unique and award winning multi-course ‘kita kaiseki’.
17. Aman Venice Hotel
Aman Venice overlooks the Grand Canal and is located in “sestiere” of San Polo, the smallest of the six districts of the city and one of the most authentic and historical, known for its magnificent private houses, churches and markets.
The 16th century Palazzo, in which Aman Venice is housed, was built by architect Giacomo De Grigi, as commissioned by the Coccina family of Bergamo. In 1864 the brothers Nicolò and Angelo Papadopoli Aldobrandini purchased it. They entrusted the restoration of the ”piano nobile” – the largest living area of the Palazzo – in pure Neo-Renaissance and Rococo style to Michelangelo Guggenheim, a leading designer of the Scuola Veneta d’Arte. The Papadopoli brothers also decided to buy the adjoining buildings to create two gardens which today amongst the rarest and most carefully tended private green areas of the city. Today the decedents of the Papadolpli family also still live in of the building making the Palazzo in every respect sill a home.
Aman Venice offers 24 rooms and suites. Each is different from the next. All feature unique design, some with precious frescoes protected by the Belle Arti, stucco and details that reflect the splendor of art and architecture of past centuries including some the famed artist Givoanni Battista Tiepolo. The Venetian style is in harmonious contrast with the furnishings and the contemporary design of Jean Michel Gathy which reflect the aesthetic vision, the minimalism and the discreet luxury that characterize Aman around in the world.
19. Singita Mara River Tented Camp
Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the epitome of sustainable tourism and consciously seeks to eliminate the unnecessary use of energy and non-biodegradable materials. Inside the camp, bohemian chic sets the tone for cool relaxation; raw leather blends, Maasai colours and elegant art by young African designers and craftsmen.
In keeping with this philosophy, the camp operates “off-the-grid” and relies entirely on a custom designed solar system for its power and the use of recycled and natural materials wherever possible. Inside the camp, bohemian chic sets the tone for cool relaxation, where spun natural fabrics, canvas, stone and raw leather blend with Maasai primary colours and elegant art pieces by young African designers and craftsmen. The functional East African design encourages guests to embrace the outdoors and connect with nature.
20. Borgo Stomennano
Borgo Stomennano will appeal to those who want not just a holiday villa , but who would like to sheer 17th century style and traditional Italian elegance. Written documentation of Stomennano dates back to 1254 when a peace treaty was signed between Florence and Siena in this villa. The villa is located in a tiny village with it’s farm house, wine cellars, olive oil mills, carpenter and still a working estate of 250 hectares (about 625 acres) surrounded by olive groves and woodland. The Villa has belonged to the same family since 1700 and retains the air of a faded elegance of a family home with antique furnishings and frescoes ceiling. The Italian style garden facing a wonderful view of the old walled city of Monteriggioni and, in the distance, the towers of san Gimignano. To stay in this very special place is to take a step back in time. The Borgo can accommodate 34 persons in 5 different accommodations.