I’m dreaming about being able to travel again but there are going to be many changes to make to accommodate our new circumstances. I’m not so sure about spending time among hundreds of other tourists in crowded museums (impossible to social distance and I don’t like crowds anyway!) but there are plenty of options for travelling in a more relaxed way. Boutique hotels are the best option for releasing some of the stress accumulated over the past months and to avoid encountering hordes of other travellers. Most of these hotels are small family run businesses so as a guest, you’re helping entrepreneurs and investing in the preservation of these beautiful spots. Besides, who can deny that small hotels have the most charming, welcoming environment? I’ve gathered a few of my favourite boutique hotels for your next holiday, which will surely feel like a second home to you.
Run by Anja and Nando, this hotel emerged out of the redecoration of Nando’s architecture studio. The house was built in 1811 by order of sea captain Francisco de la Torra, who built a tower as a vantage point from which to control the harbour. Subsequent owners the Mercadal family and Sebastián Sapiña Femenies introduced some of hotel’s best architectural features. Now, in the interior courtyard surrounded by orange trees, you can indulge in a candlelit dinner. It also has magical spa and interior courtyard will make you forget the worries of the outside world. With sixteen rooms in two buildings, Jardí calls itself the yes hotel…and I can’t wait to visit.
Trasierra is located 80 km away from Seville, in the hills of the Sierra Norte among olive trees and orange groves and surrounded by a high wall that will give you a wonderful feeling of seclusion. Owner Charlotte Scott has created a haven of peace and quiet and offers everything from yoga with her daughter Amber to riding safaris with her son George. Group bookings mean that weddings, birthdays and family holidays can be enjoyed in total privacy with a real sense of being in a second home. The views are sensational, the food is wonderful and the whole atmosphere is one of total relaxation.
You will feel like a time traveller in this beautiful house which is a revival of a nobleman’s home in the 18th century. All modern amenities have been carefully disguised to provide a unique and authentic experience. Guests are welcome to dine in the gourmet restaurant or the old kitchen, where cooking classes are also organised. There are plenty of sites to visit near Avignon, including the lavender fields of Provence (gorgeous in June and July), the Pont du Gard,or the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is obviously famous for wine!
Oscar Wilde’s previous home sits in Paris’ Left Bank, the site of Parisian bohemian and cultural charm. Additionally, the live jazz performances in the bar mean that you don’t even have to leave the hotel to enjoy the French capital’s culture and vibrancy. The rooms themselves are also culturally significant, designed by Jacques Garcia who was one of the most celebrated designers in France. Rich fabrics and deep colours combine to create allusions to the city’s history and to figures like Charles X, Reine Hortense, and Oscar Wilde himself.
Sao Lourenço do Barrocal offers a full countryside experience. You can relax from the stress of the bustling city by taking part in the numerous activities on offer: horseback riding, family picnics, archaeological visits or olive oil and wine tasting. For a private, cosier experience the Yard Cottages are the best choice with their white-washed walls, wooden decorations, and ceramics (an interior nut’s dream). Alternatively you can choose to stay in one of the Farm Rooms, which have massive character and charm.
The secluded Porto Ercole is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, between Rome and Pisa. The hotel’s history is as emblematic as its location. In 1965, an American socialite and a her British aviator lover built a romantic hideaway in this cove, inviting groups of friends for glamorous parties. In 1979 it was purchased by Roberto Sciò; today it is his daughter who runs this charming hotel where you can enjoy the Tuscan countryside and the sparkling sea.
An enchanting Palazzo located twenty-four miles from Rome with a rich history. La Posta Vecchia has held many roles, having been a resort favoured by Roman emperors, a Renaissance villa for the Orsini family and home of John Paul Getty. The latter collected Italian art in the Palazzo so guests can have a unique experience living among the artefacts of Getty’s collection and will be able to access the ruins of a 2nd century Roman villa discovered during the restoration of La Posta Vecchia.
This hotel was built in the 11th century by a wealthy family who fell in love with Ravello while traveling through to Constantinople. It’s not hard to see why. Enjoy the gardens, a dip in the infinity pool or admire the frescoes after a day visit to Pompeii, Capri or Positano (see my travel guide to Capri and Positano here). The hotel even offers a daily complimentary boat tour around the Amalfi coast aboard a traditional wooden boat. Additionally, those travelling with children will find a wide range of activities on offer including pizza classes, film making and pottery.
Located in South Kensington, Number Sixteen forms part of a mid-Victorian white stucco terrace. It’s within walking distance of Hyde Park and the great museums (The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and V&A). Each of the hotel’s 42 bedrooms was individually designed and decorated by interior designer Kit Kemp (who is also the owner) giving every one of them a unique personality. Beyond the bedroom, guests can relax in two drawing rooms, an orangery or tree-filled garden. Additionally, the hotel offers an amazing afternoon tea.
In 1964 Myrtle and Ivan Allen opened their home as a restaurant before expanding to become a guesthouse. The historic country house continues to be run by the Allen family and is internationally recognised as the home of Irish cuisine and hospitality…as well as the famous cooking school. Ballymaloe offers a selection of rooms with unique charm; large rooms with views over the fields, garden rooms overlooking the river and cosy rooms in the eaves. The food is (obviously) fantastic and it’s a real Irish treasure.
The Elsensohn family have been running Hotel Enzian for 90 years. Possibly the friendliest, cosiest and most charming place in the Austrian Arlberg, it is the perfect slope-side hotel for family skiing and in the summer provides unparalleled views of the grass covered mountains. Situated in the cradle of the mountains and perfectly suitable for exploring nearby Lech and St. Anton, this is a place people return to for generations.
Located in the breath-taking Alpine region of Gstaad, Le Grand Bellevue was our family choice for a winter trip in January. The suites are beautiful (and perfect for those travelling with little ones like us), it’s ideally situated for piste access and the hotel organises activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides (you can see us on one here) or hot air balloon rides. My family and I have been coming here for years and I adore it.
Sir Savigny is located in Charlottenburg, Berlin’s literary quarter where thinkers and artists met at the nearby Romanisches Café in the 1920’s. The cultural experience extends to all 44 rooms which are decorated with works by the artist Katharina Musick. The hotel also offers handpicked experiences such as a German craft beer tour, a local culture tour and yoga sessions. If that wasn’t enticing enough, each room has a dial-a-burger button where you can order food from the hotel’s restaurant The Butcher.
Arijiju is a jewel embedded in the Kenyan landscape, partially built into the rock and camouflaged by a grass roof. The immersion into nature is total and complete with the 97,000 acres around the hotel dedicated to conservation and explorable via horseback, quad bike or helicopter. There’s also a spa and hammam, gym, tennis court and pool. A totally immersive treat.
Hotel Jerome opened in 1889 and has been the only Aspen hotel to survive since, making it the most authentic hotel in the area. The large rooms of Hotel Jerome feature floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a unique view of the breathtaking surroundings and the rooms are decorated to reflect this spirit; mounted wooden deer heads, tree-stump lamps and cowhide chairs. Most remarkable is the range of activities on offer; paddleboarding on the Colorado river, hiking, horseback riding and even an authentic Western rodeo are all options for the hotel’s guests.
If you’re seeking some ‘time off’ Azulik is definitely the good choice. Forty-eight villas have no electric light, air conditioning or television, providing an invaluable connection to nature that will definitely help you find tranquillity and peace. This is definitely the top choice for people needing a break from the outside world to rest, recharge and re-connect. I visited Tulum a few years ago and wrote all about it here.
You guys might remember that I wrote about Hotel Amparo when I stayed there about a year ago because I loved it so much. Located within the historical centre of San Miguel, Hotel Amparo lives up to its name, which means “shelter”. Guests can choose from five suites arranged around an interior courtyard and can also enjoy a variety of services from a homemade breakfast to happy hour on the terrace. Owners Taylor and Mariana could not be more welcoming. There is a state-of-the-art chef’s teaching kitchen and all guests can enjoy 24-hour access to the hotel’s private lounge area. It’s the perfect place to relax after strolling through San Miguel…and I can’t wait to go back. See my travel guide to San Miguel here.
Raas Jodhpur blends traditional with modern style; four original buildings sit alongside three contemporary structures, carefully embedded within the Indian landscape acknowledging the hotel’s past as part of the Walled City. Magnificent views are provided by the Mehrangarh, a 15th century fort that is lit up in the evenings and highlights the authentic beauty of Jodhpur. The hotel is located in the city centre, walking distance from many of the best sites. After exploring the blue city, relax in the heated pool and spa. Heaven.
Located on Seminyak Beach, The Legian boasts fantastic surroundings, a three-tiered infinity pool and full access to sun, sea and surfing. Additionally, if you’re looking to have a completely secluded and private experience, the hotel offers fourteen pool villas at The Club by The Legian Seminyak Bali where personal butlers will ensure that you enjoy a true first-class treatment. I think this one might be top of my list.
Keep an eye on the government health and safety guidelines for anywhere you’re planning to visit (including your own!) and hopefully we can find a bit of sun this Summer both at home and possibly abroad. What’s on your bucket list of boutique hotels for your next holiday?
Contributor: Pilar Eche