5 famous Italian vineyards: The best wine cellar is your stomach

To truly understand the wine produced in Italy, you have to travel to the Italian vineyards. You have to feel the earth in your fingers, taste a sample straight form the barrel—all the while laughing and lingering with your Italian host. This is the only way to experience Italian wine the way it was supposed to be experienced.

This is what we learned on our recent five-week trip to Italy. We had the chance to explore the wines of Italy, and get to know the winemakers behind this ancient elixir. Here are some of our favorite stops throughout our journey:

 

 

Emidio Pepe

We met Emidio Pepe and the whole family at his famous Italian vineyard in Abruzzo. Chiara, Emdios granddaughter, showed us around and explained us in detail how they produce their wine: organic, eco-friendly for 50 years.

They even produced “Bio” wine, the European certification for organic production, before the certificate was invented. They pick any grape by hand and still stamp the wine by foot! They only use glass coated containers (no steel) to keep the wine as it should be without any ingredients or bitter tastes.

If the harvest of any season is not satisfying, they don’t even produce wine. They just sell the grapes! They don’t want any bad wine production in their 50 year production history. Their wine cellar stills contains vintage bottles from the last 50 years. In 2014 they had their 50-year anniversary.

 

 

 

Casa Sola

Fattoria Casa Sola is a gem in the heart of Chianti Classico, spreading out over the hills with 30 hectares of vineyards and 40 hectares of olive groves. The surrounding property is serene and lush, and two houses, tucked between cyprus trees, allow guests to enjoy classic farmstay accommodations.

The land here has been producing vines since ancient times, and the Gambaro family operates Casa Sola with a sense of tradition, passion and dedication that surpasses most. It is a highlight on any agrotourism trip.

 

 

 

Le Filigare

Le Filigare is a stunning hamlet on a hill in Chianti that was built back in the 17th century. It is a perfect setting for thriving vineyards, with a landscape that caters to the specific needs of the vines. Here, they have a limited production of the best quality wine, grown on 11 hectares of land.

At Le Filigare, guests can stay at apartments and villas outfitted with traditional Tuscan elements. Taste the incredible wines while you’re here and be sure to take a tour of the winery.

 

 

 

Avignonesi

Named after the original founders of this extraordinary estate, Avignonesi is defined by the Montepulciano terroir that gives the wine its rich, lively identity. The focus on the land and natural environment is reflected in the dedication of owner Virginie Saverys to biodynamic and organic farming of the vineyards.

It’s her philosophy that enjoying healthy wine that takes on the natural characteristics of the land where it’s grown is good for us and it’s good for the land. This is a unique and beautiful destination, and one of our favorites!

 

 

 

I Pastini

Located in the Itria Valley in Puglia, Italy, I Pastini uses traditional Italian winemaking techniques to produce some of the best white wines in the region. Genuine wine production is the philosophy here, with modern amenities to aid in the process.

Grapes are grown to perfection in this breezy valley, and the staff here are incredibly knowledgeable and expert wine connoisseurs. They lead guided tours around the beautiful vineyards where you can take in the stunning backdrop and sip the delicious wine.

 

 

 

What is your favorite Italian vineyard? And what makes it so special? We would love to hear back from you.

 

The 6 best places to eat in style on Iceland

The food on Iceland is so delicious. On your next trip check out these 6 stylish Nordic restaurants to eat in style on Iceland, in and around Reykjavik. Never mind, if you can’t remember their names, the Icelanders make it easy for you. The meat and fish restaurant is called Grillmarket, the fish restaurant is called MAR and the red house restaurant is… Yes, painted in red.

 

 

Grillmarket

The Grillmarkaðurinn is a stylish Nordic restaurant in Reykjavik. Our recommendation is the delicious 7 courses tasting menu. They also serve whale fish meat! @grillmarkaðurinn

 

Grillmarket in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Grillmarket in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Grillmarket.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Grillmarket Downstairs Reykjavik, Iceland

Grillmarket in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Grillmarket.

Grillmarket in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Grillmarket in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Grillmarket.

Grillmarket in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Grillmarket in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Grillmarket.

 

 

Kol

KOL restaurant is casual fine dining restaurant with a big bar in close to the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. The design concept is sleek, elegant and a mixture of warm modern Icelandic feel with international touch wherein furniture of designer Tom Dixon play the main role. The name “KOL in Icelandic” comes from the unique charcoal oven which lends a rustic flavour to the dishes. The restaurant serves burgers, lamb, beef, oysters and foie gras. @kolrestaurant

 

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik.

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik. Photo by restaurant.

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik.

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik. Photo by restaurant.

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik.

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik. Photo by restaurant.

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik.

KOL Restaurant in Reykjavik. Photo by restaurant.

 

 

Tryggvaskali

Tryggvaskáli is located in a former hotel with romantic private dining rooms, an hour drive from Reykjavik. They offer salmon, reindeer carpachio and gorgeous lamb filet. @tryggvaskali

 

tryggvaskali-6

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss. Photo by restaurant.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss. Photo by restaurant.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss. Photo by restaurant.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss. Photo by restaurant.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss.

Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss. Photo by restaurant.

 

 

Red House

Rauða Húsið is famous for its tasty lobster and the lamb with a crust. It is also an awesome place to watch the Northern Lights. @raudahusid

 

Rauða Húsið in Eyrarbakki, Iceland.

Rauða Húsið in Eyrarbakki, Iceland. Photo by Red House.

Rauða Húsið in Eyrarbakki, Iceland.

Rauða Húsið in Eyrarbakki, Iceland. Photo by Red House.

Rauða Húsið in Eyrarbakki, Iceland.

Rauða Húsið in Eyrarbakki, Iceland. Photo by Red House.

 

 

MAR

MAR is the best lobster soup restaurant in Reykjavik. Forget the soup at Saegreifinn! @marrestaurant

 

Amberlair crowdsourced crowdfunded boutique hotel - MAR restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland.

MAR restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo be MAR.

MAR restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland.

MAR restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo be MAR.

 

 

Dill

Dill offers culinary meals with fresh ingredients in a modern industrial chic atmosphere in the Nordic House in Reykjavik. @dillrestaurant

 

Amberlair crowdsourced crowdfunded boutique hotel - Dill restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Dill restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Dill.

Amberlair crowdsourced crowdfunded boutique hotel - Dill restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Dill restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Dill.

dill-restaurant-3-x

 

 

What is your favorite place to eat on Iceland and why do you love it? Let us know!

 

6 stunning design hotels that make you addicted to Iceland

Iceland is probably not the place where you expect boutique or design hotels. The country of glaciers, volcanos and hot spring is well-known for hiking or other outdoor activities. So why should I find stylish hotels there? However these design boutique hotels on Iceland exist and they are great, so great that they can make you addicted to the beautiful nature and the vibrating capital town of Reykjavik.

 

 

ION

The ION Hotel is the only hotel in the Þingvellir National Park. The Islandic owner Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir extended and renovated the old workers’ quarters of the Nesjavellir geothermal power station and turned it into a fabulous design hotel. (from 250 € – 45 rooms)

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - ION Iceland - design boutique hotels

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - ION Iceland - design boutique hotels

 

 

101

Right in the heart of Reykjavik the 101 Hotel is located. The owner and designer Ingibjörg Pálmadóttir has created a chic and cool design hotel out of an old office building from the 1930s. (from 270 € – 38 rooms)

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - 101 Hotel Reykjavik Iceland - design boutique hotels

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Bath at 101 Hotel Reykjavik Iceland - design boutique hotels

 

 

Kvosin

The Kvosin Downtown Hotel is located close to the Parliament in a square behind the Reykjavík Cathedral. It features modern rooms, most rooms have a kitchenette with a dining area, a fridge and a stove. (from 200 Euro – 24 rooms)

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Kvosin Reykjavik Iceland - design boutique hotels

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Kvosin Reykjavik Iceland - design boutique hotels

 

 

Black House

The black house in Borgarnes is situated at the base of mount Hafnarfjall right along the shores of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This traditional timber house was built in the authentic 18th-19th century style of country houses of the region and gets the tone and style just right. The interiors are modest in attitude but with a great combination of chic modern personality and old world style designed by Icelandic designer Rut Káradóttir.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel: 6 stunning design hotels that make you addicted to Iceland

The black house in Borgarnes in Iceland. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel: 6 stunning design hotels that make you addicted to Iceland

The black house in Borgarnes in Iceland. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel: 6 stunning design hotels that make you addicted to Iceland

The black house in Borgarnes in Iceland. Photo by hotel.

 

 

Budir

Hotel Budir is located in a remote area in Snaefellsnes, just a couple of hours drive from Reykjavik, at the edge of the Snaefellsjokull National Park. The little black church that belongs to Hotel Budir is in walking distance. Weddings are welcome here. (from 170 Euro – 28 rooms)

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Hotel Budir - design boutique hotels Iceland

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Hotel Budir Iceland - design boutique hotels

 

 

KEX

The KEX hostel (Islandic for Cookie or Biskuit) Hostel is the most stylish youth and backpacker hostel we have seen in a while, housed in an old biscuit factory in Reykjavik’s city centre. (from 90 Euro – 43 rooms)

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - KEX Hostel Reykjavik Iceland - design boutique hotels

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - KEX Hostel Reykjavik Iceland - design boutique hotels

 

 

The Architect’s House

When you head up to Akureyri, there is not much choice to find stylish accommodations. The architect’s house is the one. With an amazing view to the fjord Eyjafjörður, Jórunn’s stylish architect’s house is fully booked in summer. You’d rather reserve early. (from 80 Euro – 3 rooms)

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Architect House Akureyri Iceland - design boutique hotels

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Architect House Akureyri Iceland - design boutique hotels

 

 

Are there other fascinating hotels, we need to mention on Iceland? Let us know. In the next blog post we will write about our favorite places to eat in Iceland.

 

15 reasons why Iceland is the destination for your next vacation

Iceland, the arctic island of elves and trolls, is not only an awesome experience in any season, winter included. The temperatures are modest, the beaches are black and isolated, and the scenery is breathtaking. We visited Iceland twice, in summer and in autumn. Our next trip will be in the winter.

From the landscapes, to the food, to the incandescent Midnight Sun, here are 15 reasons Iceland is a truly special destination to be enjoyed year-round.

 

 

1. Aurora Borealis

During the winter, the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are a sight like no other. This glowing phenomenon in the sky only happens during the winter months, and you’ll have to be a bit lucky to catch it. Once you do, though, you can add it to the list of the most incredible things you’ll have ever seen.

 

Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights over trees at night in Iceland.

 

 

2. The sun voyager

The Sun Voyager is a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason. Located in an isolated area of Reykjavik, this sculpture is an ode to the sun and represents the hope and dreams of distant voyages.

 

Sun Voyager monument is located by the sea in the center of Reykjavik in Iceland designed by Jon Gunnar Arnason

 

 

3. The colorful landscape

During the summer, the landscape is painted dramatically, with deep, vibrant greens and bold blacks. In the winter, the snowy landscapes are stark, peaceful and quiet. Every season in Iceland is a great time to appreciate the natural beauty of this unique environment.

A waterfall close to Vik in Iceland

 

 

4. The hot springs

You may have heard of the hot springs in Iceland, and they’re truly everything you’d imagine. Crystal clear pools of warm water, ready for you to sink in and relax, these hot springs seem like they’re from a different world altogether. Iceland is a hotbed of geothermal activity, which makes it one of the most unique places to visit any time of year.

 

Hot Springs close to Reykjavik in Iceland

 

 

5. The midnight sun

This picture was taken at 1 a.m. in June. Though the sun disappears more often than not during the winter, the opposite is true during summer, when the Midnight Sun stays up throughout the entire night. Shedding light on Iceland almost the entire summer long, this sun is a sight to be seen.

 

The midnight sun close to Vik in Iceland

 

 

6. Visit the glacier lagoon in the evening without any tourists

Like many of the gorgeous natural sights in Iceland, it’s easy to visit the glacier lagoon without swarms of tourists. How? In the summer, it’s quite easy. Just pick a time in the evening when you should be in bed, and go then. This picture was shot at 10 p.m. when there were no other camera-toting tourists and still plenty of light.

 

The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland during a bright summer night

 

 

7. Drive hundreds of kilometers without seeing anybody

Iceland is not a highly populated place. With just over 300,000 people, it’s easy to drive for kilometers without seeing another car or pedestrian. If you like isolated drives and taking in the scenery without the bother of traffic, Iceland is for you.

 

Empty street in Icleand

 

 

8. The friendly, relaxed and helpful Icelanders

People in Iceland will generally go out of their way to be helpful and friendly. Often considered some of the happiest people on earth, all the Icelanders we met were warm and relaxed. We love them!

 

Fashion picture of Famers Market in Iceland

 

 

9. No need for a rain coat

Why bring a coat to Iceland when you can buy a traditional lambswool one while you’re there? Blend right in and keep dry and warm in one of these oversized coats, beloved by both tourists and locals alike. Go shopping for Icelandic lambs wool at Farmers Market / Geysir shop.

 

Lambs Wool coat in Icleand

 

 

10. Fleur de Sel from Nordur Salt

Salt straight for the Arctic Sea—can anything sound more natural than that? This sea salt has natural minerals that set it apart from regular table salt, and it tastes delicious. This is one of the most unique souvenirs you can enjoy while you’re there and bring back with you from your travels through Iceland.

 

Hand made Nordur Salt in Icleand

 

 

11. Stay at the architecture’s house in Akureyri

Akureyri is the so-called capital of northern Iceland. With its bustling urban life and its surroudning natural beauty, this is a place that shouldn’t be missed on any trip to Iceland. We stayed at an architect’s home with this gorgeous landscape as our backdrop within just a few minutes of our favorite waterfall in the whole country, Detti Foss.

 

Private home of an architect in Akureyri in Icleand

 

 

12. Iceland Horses — don’t call them ponies

These small Icelandic horses are distinct and hardy animals. Bred for the harsh winters, they seldom contract diseases and they are all too commonly used for leisure riding and national or local races held still today. They may look small but they are not—NOT—ponies. Don’t make the mistake of calling them that to an Icelander :-)

 

Icelandic horses - no ponies - Iceland

 

 

13. The black beaches at Vik

Vik is the southernmost town in Iceland, known mostly for its black sand beaches. These beaches, where you can see an abandoned plane that’s been stranded here for sometime, are such a distinct color thanks to the volcanic environment in this part of Iceland. Vik sits below a glacier atop a volcano, which means that, should the active volcano erupt, this town could be wiped out through flash flooding. In the meantime, residents and visitors can take in the incredible beauty of this stark black sand separating land from sea.

 

Old plane wreck at the black beach of Vik in Iceland

 

 

14. The awesome food

The food in Iceland is outstanding. Here, they go to great lengths to prepare such culinary wonders as to have visitors rave internationally about the dishes they tried here. Being an island, Iceland’s seafood is its most impressive. The lobster soup and salmon are fresh, prepared delicately and cooked to perfection. The lamb in Iceland is also worth tasting. Happy sheep herds roam the countryside here. And, though controversial, whale meat is served at many restaurants in Iceland, so it’s easy to taste this local specialty.

 

Delicious lamb filet in Iceland

 

 

15. Eat as much Skyr as you like, you won’t put on weight

Skyr is a popular (and delicious!) Icelandic food. It’s a sort of thick yogurt with two to three times more protein than regular yogurt. It’s a traditional Icelandic food, and you won’t find it many other places on earth, so it’s worth a try once you’re here. Trust us, you’ll love it! And, it’s healthy so you don’t have to worry about calories :-)

 

Famous Icelandic Skyr jogurt in Iceland

 

 

In our new blog posts we will tell you more about where to eat and where to sleep in Iceland. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading :-)

 

Where to stay in Italy in case you couldn’t find a boutique hotel

You love Italy. Yeah, we too! But what happens if you can’t find a proper accommodation in the region you are tempted to spend your holidays? You’ve already seeked persistently on the internet and couldn’t find a boutique hotel that would satisfy your high demands. So where to stay? Here is the solution. You have to downgrade a little bit, but that mustn’t mean less luxury. Luxury, especially while traveling abroad, is always a question of definition. In Italy an Agriturismo or a Masseria (farm house) can be a very good alternative to a Boutique Hotel. Most of them even sell their own home grown food and wine. Here are a few alternatives, well designed and with charm. You can bet there are more!

 

 

Patu in Corte

Patu in Corte is an old manor farm in the core of the village Patu in Puglia, close to the central square that was turned into two beautiful designed apartments built in an old olive mill. Daniela, the owner, refurbished the manor together with the architect Luca Zanaroli from Bologna. The apartments are located in front of the historical Piazza dell’Indipendenza.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Patu in Corte - Architect Luca Zanaroli

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Patu in Corte - Architect Luca Zanaroli

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Patu in Corte - Architect Luca Zanaroli

 

 

Cimbolello

Cimbolello (little unripe grapes) is a farm house near Citta della Pieve, a unique experience where you can relax and enjoy in the garden close to the vineyards. Francesco and Louisa, your friendly hosts make their own sheep’s milk cheese and joghurt, wine, olive oil, honey and you can join them for dinner with homemade pasta. They offer two beautiful rustic rooms with a chimney, Uvafragola and Leccio. In the next year they will extend their property by a new eco-friendly stone house with two new rooms. Of course everything handmade!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Cimbolello Italy Umbria airbnb

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Cimbolello Umbria Itlay Cheese airbnb

 

 

 

Abbazia dei Sette Frati

Abbazia dei Sette Frati is an old Abbey from the 11th Century in Umbria with an attached garden where you can pick your own vegetables, spices and herbs to prepare the best pasta in your own apartment. This is for people like us who like to cook on their own. Annalisa’s Abbey is also famous for weddings and events.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Sette Frati Abbey

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Sette Frati Umbria House

 

 

 

Trullo Aromatic Green

Trullo aromatic green is a 300 year old building with traditional trulli cones of the region of Puglia with a wonderful unobstructed view to the countryside. Isa’s trulli follows eco-friendly standards, using solar energy and recycled water. The architecture of the trulli is so designed to keep it cool in the summer season and warm in the winter season.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Ostuni Trulli Aromatic Green

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Ostuni Trulli Aromatic Green

 

What is your favorite retreat in Italy? Let us know!

 

How to survive Holi red-handed with your new Indian family

Munnar, Kerala is a famous destination for Indian honeymooners, which means it’s not really a place for making lifelong friends. Nevertheless, we met Jatin and Additi, a young couple who changed everything we thought we knew about hospitality, warmth and openness. After a brief five-minute conversation, the pair invited us to celebrate Holi with them. For a private celebration. In Delhi. With their family!

 

Our new Indian family at Holi in India.

Our new Indian family in Delhi, India.

 

We had never before received an invite as intimate as this, especially after only knowing each other for a few minutes, but in the spirit of Indian hospitality, we happily accepted!

So a few weeks later, there we were, on a rooftop overlooking the streets of Delhi, surrounded by a new family, covered in the colors of Holi. Both of us wondered how lucky we could possibly be to be experiencing this incredible memory. Out of the brightly colored chaos of the streets and into the warmth of an extended family home, we found ourselves fully immersed in the cultural ritual of Holi in India. And it was one of the greatest day of our travels!

 

Caught red-handed attending Holi festival. Delhi, India.

Caught red-handed attending Holi festival

 

For Hindus in India and around the world, Holi is a day of pure celebration, and it’s all about color, fun and joy. Families and friends flock together and to the streets to throw colored powder and water solutions onto each other, laugh, chit-chat, sing anud dance. Holi takes place in March of each year, at the last full moon before the spring equinox. It’s a day to ring in the springtime and saying goodbye to the winter.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Celebrate Holi in Delhi, India

 

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning on attending Holi:

  • Be safe when it comes to colors and be aware of the risks. Today, the issue of synthetic ingredients in some colors sold to the public for Holi celebrations is a real one. Metals and other harmful ingredients have created health issues for those who don’t wash the color away immediately. And as there is no regulation for the production or sale of colors throughout India and other Holi-practicing areas, it is tough to know which colors are safe and which are not.
  • Wear clothes that you don’t care too much about if you’re planning to partake in Holi festivities, as you will get dirty. Even if you’re not flinging colors, you won’t want to take the risk with clothes that you care about keeping clean.
  • Apply plenty of oil to your hair and even your skin so you don’t have to worry about stains. We saw plenty of people who weren’t as lucky as us and ended up with pink hair and red hands lasting days after the celebration was over. Actually, an added bonus here for avoiding chemicals: natural colors don’t stain. We lucked out with a chemical-free Holi celebration, thankfully. Our hosts used only vegan and organic colors. But we still applied oil (per the suggestion of our hosts) and we were able to wash the colors right off!

 

Stained, but well prepared for Holi in Delhi, India.

Stained, but well prepared for Holi

 

6 cool hangouts where you can sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Goa has long been a place that has enticed visitors. Latin influences, leftover from more than four centuries of Portuguese rule, pervade the culture, architecture, food, language and lives of everyday Goans. Locals will tell you it’s a place entirely separate from the rest of India–complete with its own mixed heritage that’s part Indian, part European. And, it’s expansive beaches and laid back, hospitable attitude have continued to draw visitors after independence.

In the sixties, it was hippies from America and Britain. Today, it’s everyone, including wealthy Indians from Mumbai and Delhi who have joined the trend of vacationing to Goa. Even celebrities flock to this tiny western Indian state, and where do they stay? At any of Goa’s wonderfully small luxury hotels.

Each hip hideaway has its own personality and taps into a different facet of Goan culture, environment and style. Hidden from the throngs of tourists that flock to Goa’s irresistible beaches, these secret pearls of hospitality are secluded and luxurious. Here are a few of the best boutique hotels where celebrities in Goa stay:

Nilaya

In Sanskrit, Nilaya means “abode in the blue” or simply, heaven. This hotel is a remote getaway with an eclectic mix of style that combines cozy French design, local Rajasthani natural elements and Moorish architecture. This was Goa’s first boutique hotel, opened in the 90s by hotelier Hari Ajwani and his French stylist wife, Claudia Derain. In their early years, they hosted stars as big as Mick Jagger. Today, visitors come to Nilaya to experience nature, wellness and spiritual bliss in a quiet, off-the-beaten path boutique hotel. (from 280 $, 11 rooms)

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Nilaya Hermitage, India - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Nilaya Hermitage in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Nilaya-2-x

Nilaya Hermitage in Goa, India. Photos by hotel.

Nilaya-4-x

Nilaya Hermitage in Goa, India. Photos by hotel.

Pousada Tauma

Pousada tauma translates to “resting place” in Portuguese. Designed by Architect Dean de-Cruz with local laterite stone, this boutique hotel is nestled into its natural surroundings with local colonial style. Lush gardens, open-air spaces and intimate suites surround the tranquil hotel pool, perfect for adult-only getaways to rejuvenate the mind and body. (from 250 $, 13 rooms)

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Pousada Tauma - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Pousada Tauma in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Pousada Tauma - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Pousada Tauma in Goa, India. -Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Pousada Tauma - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Pousada Tauma in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Siolim House

Siolim House is a classically restored Goan Portuguese mansion built in 1675, refurbished in traditional colonial style. In 2001, the hotel–which boasts of being “unlike a hotel in every way”–was a finalist in the Asia Pacific Awards for Restoration by UNESCO and received an Award of Honor. Siolim House maintains its identity as a true heritage house, attracting discerning travelers including super model Kate Moss. (from 70 $, 10 rooms)

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Siolim House, India - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Siolim House in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Siolim House, India - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Siolim House in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Siolim House, India - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Siolim House in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Presa di Goa

Edouard Speck from Luxembourg, retired from his job in the hotel industry, runs now his own Boutique Hotel as your friendly host. Designed in refurbished Indo-Portuguese style and furnished with traditional colonial furniture, this hotel is reminiscent of the complex and beautiful Goan history. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop at I95 Restaurant & Bar, which is a short five minute walk from Presa di Goa and is famous for their prime filet steak. Yes, they sell beef in India, but perhaps it’s only possible in the cultural melting pot of Goa. (from 80 $, 11 rooms)

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Presa di Goa, India - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Presa di Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Presa di Goa, India - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Presa di Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - 6 cool hangouts where you can sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Presa di Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - 6 cool hangouts where you can sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Presa di Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Elsewhere

Elsewhere is a dream location right on the beach, cut off from the mainland by a salt water creek where otters and baby sea turtles can often be spotted. Owner Denzel Sequeira restored the four beach houses: The Captain’s house, the Priest’s house, the Bakery and the Piggery. Recent celebrity guests include Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, alias Brangelina, with their children and world renowned author Amitav Ghosh. Location is secret until booking, but we know where it is :-)
(From 800 $ per week, 4 beach houses and 3 otter creek tents)

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Elsewhere - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Elsewhere in Goa, India. Photos by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Elsewhere - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Elsewhere in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Elsewhere - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Elsewhere in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Elsewhere - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Elsewhere in Goa, India. Photo by hotel.

Yogamagic

For travelers ready for a transformational detox, this is the hotel for you. This hip hideaway is home to four of the best yoga teachers in the world. The combination of daily yoga classes, sleeping under canvas tents and the delicious organic food makes it a true escape from the busyness and toxins of everyday life.
(from 150 $, 7 tents and 2 suites)

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Yoga Magic Retreat - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Yogamagic in Goa, India. Photos by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Yoga Magic Retreat - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Yogamagic in Goa, India. Photos by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Yoga Magic Retreat - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Yogamagic in Goa, India. Photos by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Yoga Magic Retreat - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

Yogamagic in Goa, India. Photos by hotel.

For more tips and insight into meaningful travel experiences in Goa and other Indian destinations, take a look at one of our favorite guides: Love Travel Guides by Fiona Caulfield.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - Love Travel Guide by Fiona Caulfield - Sneak a peek at celebrities in Goa

7 facts what a boutique hotel is NOT

There is no easy way to define boutique hotels. There are a number of qualities that these charming hotels of the world share, but they offer an experience that’s better understood in-person rather than by a definition. But, we can try to explain that “you’ll know it when you see it” feeling and where it comes from by first exploring what a boutique hotel is NOT.

 

If you’re staying somewhere that’s…

  1. Cookie cutter accommodations,
  2. Part of a chain,
  3. Dull, with inside-the-box design,
  4. Filled with too many rooms,
  5. Impersonal,
  6. All inclusive, or
  7. Pretty much just flat and soulless

 

…then you are not staying at a boutique hotel. Keep looking, though! These hip hideaways can be found almost anywhere in the world that visitors would want to go (we can personally attest to that…). In our travels, we came across more secret retreats and small luxury hotels than we can count, and while we do still believe boutique hotels are better defined through seeing than explaining, we’ve compiled a few traits they all share:

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel Dar Seven Marrakech

Photo by Dar Seven in Marrakech

 

Getting this out of the way: yes, a boutique hotel is tiny, with no more than 50 rooms and no less than ten (otherwise, it would be an inn or b&b). Their size gives these great small hotels a distinct air of intimacy and personal touch that large hotels just can’t offer.

A true boutique hotel is also one-of-a-kind and independently owned. These indie hotels are distinct from cookie cutter accommodations. They have a style and personality that is truly unique and enhance their guests’ experience of the destination. Boutique hotels tend to be hip, with trend-setting clientele and forward-looking design elements. Because the décor is unique to the independent owners, it is not designed to appeal to the masses but instead a specific crowd of adventurous travelers with a taste for authenticity.

These hip hideaways are dedicated to hyper-attentive service. Because they include personal touches that large hotel chains can’t match, the best boutique hotels in the world pride themselves on their top-of-the-line, personalized service. Providing an easy and at-home atmosphere for guests is essential to the charming hotel experience. They offer great, distinct options when it comes to food and beverage. With restaurants and bars that often draw in locals, you typically won’t lack for cutting edge meals and drinks when you stay at one of these independent hotels.

A boutique hotel is not mainstream, all-inclusive or bland. It’s authentic, stylish and exclusive, unique in design and architecture, trendy, intimate, cosy and inspiring. It provides a personalized service with a real focus on the customer. And most importantly, it offers a memorable experience in itself.

So there you have it! Our attempt at answering the question, “What is a boutique hotel?” But boutique hotel lovers will attest: you have to experience it in person to really understand what it all means. Tell us about some of your favorites and why you love them in the comments below.

 

We even crowdsourced our name: Amberlair

The name for our Boutique Hotel project was crowdsourced through submission on the German crowdsourcing platform 12designer. We chose it because it is a perfect embodiment of our Boutique Hotel.

 

Amberlair design drafts

 

Amber is a fossilized resin that looks like a precious stone, each amber stone is entirely unique. A lair is a secret retreat that has a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. The combination of “Amber” and “Lair” is exactly what we are looking to create with our Boutique Hotel project.

The winner, an Italian designer named Mercedes said:

“A valuable and sought resin that contains fragments of life, leaves or insects. Each piece of amber is different from another as your hotel. I used the word ‘lair’ to convey a feeling of warmth, safety and originality.”

Thank you so much Mercedes for the brilliant idea!
Marcus and Kristin

 

Crowdsourced - Crowdsourcing - Crowdfunding - Boutique Hotel