This year, as we researched this list of boutique hotels we love from around the globe, a theme emerged. Nearly all of our hotels exist in harmony with their surroundings. Some of those surroundings are natural – vast African wilds, thick Southeast Asian jungles, towering seaside cliffs. Some surroundings are more human-made, like the posh high streets of London or beachy LA avenues. Regardless of where they are located, these boutique hotels have been purposefully and authentically built, in-sync with that location. The result? You, the traveler, get more than just a night at a hotel. You get an immersive experience.
Casa Cook Rhodes
The Greek Island of Rhodes is home to picture-perfect beaches, ancient ruins and steep hillsides spotted with Greek-white residences – if you’re into that sort of thing. Casa Cook is the perfect introduction to the island, with its boho vibe and laid back but on-style decor. Meet at the pool for a dip, a sip or a full-on multi-course meal, and revel in the sounds of a local DJ. Then, hop on one of the hotel’s bikes for a zip down to the nearest beach.
Naxian on the Beach
This private and secluded gem on busy-for-good reason Plaka Beach is a bohemian getaway perfect for couples and groups. Sip cocktails and munch on Greek pastas at sunny oceanside cabanas and then retreat to your modern room outfitted with natural touches in sandy hues. Naxian on the beach is a getaway inside a getaway.
Sophia Luxury Suites
Sophia Suites climbs a Santorini cliff, painted white with the homes of locals. This sky-high retreat seems to overlook the entire world, and you can too when you dip into one of the cool blue pools or sip a cold glass of white on your private terrace.
Back in Santorini, we can’t leave out Perivolas, the mid-century hotel that was built into a cliff with 300-year-old cave dwellings and some of the best views on the island. Caves have become luxury accommodations, decked in the signature bright white of Santorini, and shouldn’t be missed.
Imagine the cloud-white of Santorini, and you’ll begin to understand what it’s like to stay at Kirini. Surrounded by clean, heaven-like interiors with windows open to the eye-popping views of the sun and sea beyond, you may feel like a Greek gods or goddesses. Local food and wine are served at the terrace restaurant overlooking eternal ocean blues.
Maison La Minervetta
A colorful retreat tucked away up an impossibly steep Italian cliffside, Maison La Minervetta is the darling of Sorrento. Quirky nautical decor and floor-to-ceiling windows give you the sensation that you’re in a flying ship, high above the Bay of Naples. Pull yourself away from the window for a break for an al fresco aperitif and a pool with a view.
Nina Trulli Resort
This Puglian treasure fuses relaxed luxury with rustic history for the perfect southern Italy escape. Experience all the space of a traditional masseria in a vineyard, and take in the authentic stone trulli spotting the property. Get lost in grapevines and olive trees at Nina Trulli or go explore the historical Valle d’Itria, just 5 kilometers from the sea.
Here, modernity and structure are balanced out by a natural warmth. Villas and rooms with tall walls of windows make up the accommodation options at Sublime Comporta. You’ll find yourself somewhere between a natural retreat and a luxury resort when you visit this Portuguese getaway. Perhaps the most sublime of all is the hotel’s organic spa where you can customize your body work.
We love London. And we love the quiet style of South Kensington, home of the stylish Blakes Hotel. Each of its rooms has its own British version of je ne sais quois, from country-home chic to palatial opulence to Eastern-influenced minimalism.
Aire de Bardenas
Located in the Bardenas Reales, Aire de Bardenas is a natural retreat that incorporates the semi-desert surroundings modern luxury. Bring the outside inside with open-air bathtubs in this boutique hotel’s double rooms, cubes and suites or reserve a bubble room set underneath a vast sky of stars. The experience is completely tailored to you, with packages available for everyone from food lovers to just lovers.
The ideal spot from which to explore the Kenyan Highlands, Arijiju is a sanctuary for lovers of the wild. With a full 97,000 of open land and helicopter and quad safaris to explore it all, this boutique hotel was built into the landscape with humility and respect for its eternally wild surroundings. Arijiju has wellness-centric menus and a pool that overlooks a watering hole beloved by local elephants and giraffes.
Leobo Private Reserve
Open space distinguishes Leobo Private Reserve. Expansive rooms and an more expansive property (20,000 acres, to be exact) give you the chance to breath in the serenity of the African wild. Leave time for endless daytime adventures – from cave hiking to hippo camping (which is as wild as it sounds). Groups can reserve the award-winning Observatory Bush Villa, which sleeps six adults and three children.
Matetsi River Lodge
Just a short drive from Victoria Falls, this riverside lodge effortlessly brings you into the natural surroundings of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wildlife viewings are only the start of the adventures at your fingertips at Matetsi River Lodge. Its contemporary, organically airy decor and bush dining will draw you back in after a day of water- or land-safari.
Possibly the best jumping off point from which to see the World Heritage site Angkor Wat, Phum Baitan is luxury built into the Cambodian jungle. Incorporating natural elements in design and decor, this hotel offers airy accommodations and world-class local cuisine that will paint your stay with local cultural and natural elements.
Ahilya by the Sea
Overlooking Dolphin Bay and miles away from Goa’s bustling beach crowds, guests can settle into cozy rooms with at-home warmth and expansive sea views. There are rooms in three villas and one banyan tree house to choose from. Dine outdoors, take a dip in one of two pools, or share a cocktail in the common living room – whatever it takes for you to relax as if you’re in a friend’s home. That’s the Ahilya philosophy.
Palihouse Santa Monica
Here, a hotel that’s been in continuous operation since 1927. Palihouse brings all the authenticity of its namesake SoCal beachside neighborhood. Fitting comfortably in that imperceptible space between a luxury residence and a boutique hotel, Palihouse feels like a home far away from home.
Villa Marie Saint-Barth
Happy tropical getaways are par for the course on Saint-Barth, but Villa Marie takes this to unprecedented levels. With its cheery yellow-highlighted interiors and windows open to endless views of palm trees and sand, this hotel boasts rooms, villas and bungalows for guests to choose from.
We’re curious what are your favorite boutique hotels around the world?
Let us know in the comments section below!