Luxury Retreats: The 17 Best Boutique Hotels for an Unforgettable Stay

Luxury Retreats: The 17 Best Boutique Hotels for an Unforgettable Stay

Luxury Retreats: The 17 Best Boutique Hotels for an Unforgettable Stay banner

Straddling the divide between large, nondescript chain hotels and intimate inns with just a few rooms available, boutique hotels are becoming the preferred choice among travelers searching for an immersive vacation experience. Those studying the hospitality industry and learning more about the best practices in hospitality management should keep an eye on the latest boutique hotel trends because they are sure to shape the industry for years to come.

What Is a Boutique Hotel?

The definition of a boutique hotel may vary based on the destination, but for the most part, all boutique hotels share similar characteristics. According to, some of the most common characteristics of boutique hotels include:

  • Smaller size, with most boutique hotels having fewer than 100 rooms
  • Distinct character and atmosphere that cannot be found at chain hotels
  • Located in vibrant neighborhoods and areas of cultural importance within a community
  • Personalized experiences for guests to provide memorable stays

Historical Background

During the period of economic growth and development that followed World War II, the leisure travel industry took shape, and chain hotels became all the rage. These hotels offered low room rates, consistent service and reliable appeal — travelers knew exactly what they were getting when they stayed in a chain hotel, no matter what city they were in. 

However, by the 1980s and 1990s, sophisticated and experienced travelers who were looking for a more authentic experience began to grow tired of this sameness. Rather than staying in a chain hotel with bland decor and unremarkable amenities, they were looking for an accommodation that would provide them with a personalized experience. From there, the concept of the boutique hotel was born, and it quickly rose in popularity. 

While the first boutique hotels showed up in cosmopolitan cities, such as New York City and San Francisco, they can be found in nearly any destination that you are visiting today. 

Distinctive Characteristics 

Boutique hotels set themselves apart by being entirely different from the chain hotels that can be found on nearly every corner. Typically blending a touch of history with a hint of luxury, these hotels strive to provide guests with a distinctive experience that is not easy to find anywhere else in the city. To achieve this, boutique hotel operators work to create aesthetically pleasing decor, often working a theme into their interior design. According to Planet, boutique hotels often pride themselves on incorporating locally-sourced furniture and artwork into their interior design plan, as this helps add to the authenticity of the experience. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan) 

Although The Ritz-Carlton in Kyoto has the backing of the premier luxury hotel chain, this boutique hotel offers anything but a standard experience. At this hotel, you will find just more than 130 guest rooms, all of which highlight the beauty of the traditional Japanese culture. Described by many guests as a peaceful sanctuary, this hotel is located on the banks of the Kamo River, and its amenities include a luxury spa that specializes in traditional wellness techniques. 

Belmond Hotel Caruso (Ravello, Italy)

There are few words that truly capture the essence of the Amalfi Coast; breathtaking, serene and even intoxicating are a few that come to mind, though. In order to fully absorb the magic of this destination, you need to stay in a hotel that offers some of the most captivating views of the impossibly blue waters and colorful landscape. Located inside an 11th-century palace, the Belmond Hotel Caruso allows you to live out your own Italian fairytale. With original frescoes on display and vaulted ceilings adding a sense of romance to the atmosphere, this boutique hotel showcases the importance of weaving history into modern luxury.

The Greenwich Hotel (New York City, USA)

Described as a luxury wellness hotel, The Greenwich Hotel is one of the few places where you can escape the eternal buzz of New York City and truly find a sense of peace and relaxation. Within this hotel, you will find that there are 88 rooms — and each one features its own unique amenities and interior design touches, such as soaking tubs or in-room fireplaces. Guests enjoy the fact that this hotel is situated in the heart of Tribeca, giving them access to the best that Manhattan has to offer.

Amangiri (Canyon Point, Utah, USA)

Many travelers who visit Canyon Point are looking to spend their days exploring the towering red hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park or the impossibly wide canyon of Zion National Park. Though their days may be filled with outdoor adventures, their nights should be a time of restoration and rejuvenation, which is why Amangiri is considered the premier luxury boutique hotel in the region. Its modern aesthetic allows it to blend in with the desert landscape naturally while helping guests feel one with nature as they indulge in luxurious amenities. 

Taj Lake Palace (Udaipur, India)

Surrounded by the calm and still waters of Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Palace is an exclusive heritage hotel in Udaipur, India. It was once the summer home of a Maharana who built the palace during the 18th century, but today it shines as an intimate boutique hotel that features 65 luxury guest rooms as well as 18 suites. Travelers from abroad who want to experience the vibrant beauty of the Indian culture along with its flavorful cuisine will find that this is one of the best places to stay during their trip. 

Fogo Island Inn (Newfoundland, Canada)

Famously known as the hotel that is on an island off an island, the Fogo Island Inn is at the far reaches of the Earth — quite literally. This boutique hotel is located on one of the four corners of the Earth, and it is home to just 29 guest rooms, so every traveler enjoys an intimate and personal experience. The owners of this hotel are notoriously committed to sustainability and cultural preservation, and they want their guests to soak in the unimaginable views the hotel has to offer. Each room at this hotel features floor-to-ceiling windows, giving an uninterrupted view of some of the most powerful and dramatic waters on the planet. 

Katikies Hotel (Santorini, Greece)

Situated on the top of Santorini in the tiny town of Oia, Katikies Hotel has the benefit of being located on the most romantic corner of this beautiful island. Furnished in the traditional style of the Greek Isles, this hotel seamlessly blends in with the blue domes and white buildings that define the Santorini landscape. Guests will not only enjoy Caldera views, but they also will be able to soak up the luxurious touches that are found in each guest room, such as outdoor soaking tubs and private infinity pools. Favored among couples searching for legendary romance, this hotel is an idyllic honeymoon destination.

La Mamounia (Marrakech, Morocco)

With an atmosphere that is often described as mysterious and bedazzling, La Mamounia is more than just a luxury hotel in Marrakech — it’s a palace where all guests are invited to begin their own timeless fairy tales. The interior design of this hotel weaves modern design with traditional touches, giving guests an immersive experience allowing them to take advantage of the magic of Morocco in a way that is genuine and authentic. Around every corner, guests will find secret gardens that are filled with the soundtrack of local birds or bubbling fountains that add a sense of serenity to the location.

L’Hotel (Paris, France)

Famously known as the world’s first boutique hotel, L’Hotel in Paris sets the standard for all hotels of this caliber. It can be found on the shores of the Left Bank, giving all guests premier access to the sophisticated and stunning arts scene in the city, and allowing them to experience the true beating heart of Paris. There are 20 guest rooms in the hotel, all of which were designed by Jacques Garcia to be completely unique from one another.

Six Senses Zighy Bay (Oman)

With the dramatic mountain ranges of the Musandam Peninsula defining the landscape, the Six Senses Zighy Bay hotel is less of a boutique hotel and more of an independent village. Guests can choose from villas, suites or beachfront rooms, all of which include a private pool and access to the award-winning spa. Known for its infusion of local cuisine, this hotel gives guests an opportunity to live like local villages in Oman.

The Datai Langkawi (Langkawi, Malaysia)

The Datai Langkawi hotel in Malaysia is tucked away in the lush confines of the Langkawi tropical rainforest, giving visitors an opportunity to truly escape from it all. It has just more than 120 rooms available, and every guest enjoys personalized service and care during their stay. While rainforest views are nearly irresistible, guests often find themselves captivated by the meals at this resort. With an emphasis on traditional Malaysian cuisine, the dining opportunities highlight the flavor and culture of the region.

Fasano Hotel Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

The Fasano Hotel Rio de Janeiro shines as one of the best places to stay along the Ipanema waterfront, effortlessly blending the tradition of Brazilian ideals with the revitalized energy of Rio de Janeiro during the 1950s and 1960s. With a sleek modern design, each room in the hotel offers a private balcony that overlooks the sparkling waters below, providing travelers with their own space to soak up the gorgeous views that Brazil is known for. For translation of their website, simply click on the three dots and scroll down to find the option to “Translate” the page, allowing you to explore the hotel details in your preferred language.

Rosewood London (London, UK)

The Rosewood London can be found just steps away from Covent Garden, and though it features an upscale design that is anchored in modern luxury, it takes pride in being one of the most welcoming boutique hotels in London. There are 245 rooms available at the hotel, which makes it larger than most boutique hotels, yet its personalized experience gives it the atmosphere of a charming inn. Not only can guests delight in the sights and sounds of the city, but they also can escape within the confines of the hotel to enjoy its wellness experiences.

Borgo Santo Pietro (Tuscany, Italy)

Within the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, amid miles of vineyards and charming cottages, you will find the Borgo Santo Pietro, one of the most charming boutique hotels in Italy. Heralded as a five-star hotel, this property boasts the atmosphere of an authentic Tuscan escape. Guests enjoy on-site restaurants that offer homemade Tuscan dishes, access to a holistic spa and organic skincare products inside their rooms. 

Nihi Sumba (Sumba Island, Indonesia)

While many other boutique hotels feature a collection of expertly-designed hotel rooms, Nihi Sumba has 27 towering villas with unparalleled views of the Indian Ocean. In addition, this wellness retreat offers guests the chance to book adventurous excursions, such as swimming with Sumba Sea horses or embarking on a paddle tour on rivers that meander through Indonesian villages. 

The Siam (Bangkok, Thailand)

Self-described as an urban sanctuary, The Siam Hotel in Bangkok is a boutique hotel that is known for its extensive collection of fine art and antiques from the local area. By intertwining history with modern expectations of luxury, this hotel is equipped to offer all guests a truly memorable experience.

Singita Sasakwa Lodge (Serengeti, Tanzania)

There is a stillness that permeates the air at the Singita Sasakwa Lodge, which is located in the vast expanse of the Serengeti in Tanzania. The lodge itself is designed as an Edwardian manor house, but the experience itself is authentically African. Guests are able to soak up the sweeping views of the savannas, where they can enjoy a first-hand glimpse of Africa’s most majestic wildlife. Whether you want to spend your day on enlightening bush walks throughout the savannas, or you want to relax in splendor at the lodge’s award-winning spa, you will find that there’s no other boutique hotel like this one in all of Africa.

 Learn How to Infuse the Local Culture With the Hospitality Industry at Johnson & Wales University

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