These dazzling boutique hotels and vacation rentals are easy on the eyes—and the wallet. Take a peek at a few of our favorite modern getaways across the globe that are sure to turn up the heat on February 14th.
San Francisco, California
Dubbed "the presiding grande dame of West Coast interior design" by The New Yorker, Kelly Wearstler has worked her magic yet again with the San Francisco Proper, a luxury hotel by Proper Hotels & Residences. The local firm Hornberger + Worstell recently repurposed the iconic building, transforming it into a 131-room boutique hotel. "I conjured an extensive backstory for the hotel. You’re in this cool bohemian woman’s home, and it’s like a series of living rooms," Wearstler explains. "This woman lives there with a black cat called Charmaine, who hangs out on the rooftop, and you are just lingering in her eclectic, artful salon—perhaps waiting for her."
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Set in a century-old, brick-and-industrial steel building that originally housed horse stables, the Annex is a hybrid hospitality concept that is part Airbnb, part boutique hotel. Designed by Toronto–based architecture practice StudioAC in collaboration with the Gauley Brothers and Moss, the carefully curated hotel reflects the local community: All of the spaces feature the work of hand-picked local artists, musicians, and chefs.
New Orleans, Louisiana
"Who doesn’t love a good makeover story?" gushes Tablet Hotels. "It wouldn’t be quite fair to cast the old Henry Howard House Inn in the role of ugly duckling, but the transformation of this Greek Revival mansion, at the hands of a pair of New York hotel developers, was a dramatic one. Now, the historic building gets its star turn, reopening its doors as the Henry Howard Hotel, an 18-room boutique that’s every bit as graceful as you’d wish from a long weekend stay in the Big Easy. Guest rooms and suites, too, mix modern and traditional. Some furnishings are custom-made, but many are antiques—you’ll find a tongue-in-cheek painting by a New Orleans artist above a delicate writing desk, and a hand-painted dresser or an old-fashioned armoire beside the geometric canopy bed."
North Adams, Massachusetts
"Tourists," says Tablet Hotels, "is a ’60s motor lodge reborn as a very modern, very hip little country boutique hotel. Its name was inspired by an old ‘Tourists Welcome’ sign, and the aim is to remove some of the stigma around the term—we can’t be locals everywhere. Its partners are drawn from several disparate worlds—from hospitality and development to chef Cortney Burns and Wilco bassist John Stirratt—who may be tourists in the hotel business but boast authentic cultural connections. The vibe is pared-down but stylish, with a modernist simplicity but a rustic edge, studiously avoiding urban opulence and midcentury modernist kitsch. In its eclectic acknowledgement of its disparate influences it feels somehow timeless, and strikes a balance between summer camp conviviality and the quiet you expect of a proper rural retreat."
Explore a new, stylish, and surprisingly affordable boutique hotel in Tulum, Mexico, that offers midcentury Miami vibes in the middle of the jungle. Once a quiet little Mexican fishing village, the town of Tulum in the state of Quintana Roo has evolved into a laid-back beach destination that has become the topic of many travel conversations. Located just one-and-a-half hours by car from Cancun International Airport, Tulum sees loads of visitors each year who come to enjoy its sunshine and sandy beaches.
"The Habita mini-empire, comprising Mexico City’s Habita and Condesa DF, as well as Playa del Carmen’s Deseo and Basico, expands yet again: This time to Veracruz, near San Rafael, a little beach town that makes Playa del Carmen look like the big city by comparison," says Tablet Hotels. "It’s the perfect place for another design-savvy eco-retreat, sort of in the same vein as the largely recycled Basico, only more basic—instead of post-industrial concrete and oil tanks, here we’re back to thatched-roof bungalows, albeit ones with crisp all-white contemporary bedrooms inside."
Design development firm ASH NYC has transformed an early 20th century Renaissance Revival building in downtown Detroit that once housed the famous Wurlitzer Company into The Siren Hotel. Opened in March 2018, The Siren has 106 colorful guest rooms, a carefully curated food, beverage, and retail program, and one of Detroit's only rooftop bars with views into Comerica Park. Each room has a private bathroom finished with colorful custom terrazzo tile and vanity, as well as a mix of vintage and custom furniture and lighting.
Isletas de Granada, Nicaragua
Foraging for mangoes, dipping into the pool, gazing out at a misty volcano—if any of this sounds like your idea of paradise, then a trip to Isleta El Espino on Lake Nicaragua is most definitely in order. Co-owned by brother and sister duo Andrew and Kristin Werner, this three-room property embodies idyllic luxury in an eco-conscious setting, offering the serenest of island experiences. El Espino is an intimate place to stay, home to just two thatched-roof treehouses and one bungalow. By the time you leave, everyone there will know you by name.
In Texas, where everything is bigger, Ryan McLaughlin is placing his bets on something small. Specifically, a simple 160-square-foot cabin that he hopes city-dwellers will book to get away, find some focus, and reconnect with nature. The result is a laidback, pitched-roof cabin in which every inch of space is thoughtfully allotted so that guests can spend the maximum amount of time outdoors. "Most tiny homes you see essentially replicate a normal house and downsize everything," says Ryan. "We wanted to work our way from the inside out."
After a thoughtful remodel, a boutique hotel outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, is now inviting guests to embrace its luxurious dosage of Southern charm. There is no doubt The Clifton has had a fascinating past. Originally built in 1799, the historic 100-acre estate once belonged to Thomas Jefferson’s son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
Husband to Jefferson’s oldest daughter, Martha, Randolph was a senator, delegate, and governor of Virginia, and used the land as an outpost for trade up and down the Rivanna River. Since the mid-1980s, the 1,850-square-foot historic building has operated as the acclaimed inn, The Clifton. Due to a recent change of ownership, the interiors have been beautifully revamped by Blackberry Farm Design to give the space a more contemporary aesthetic.
If you haven’t already caught the buzz, Eaton Workshop is a brave new hospitality brand focused on changing the world from the inside out. The company was founded by Hong Kong–born anthropologist Katherine Lo, who says her goal is "to create the ultimate gathering place for today’s artists, visionaries, activists, entrepreneurs, healers, and changemakers."
The company's first hotel, Eaton DC, opened in October 2018 in Downtown Washington DC. New York-based Gachot Studios designed the hotel’s 209 guest rooms, lobby, library, living room, rooftop bar, and cocktail bar. Each guest room is designed as a pied-a-terre with a residential sensibility. White oak plank floors run throughout the living spaces, and custom furnishings can be found throughout the hotel. The entry foyers are fully paneled in wood, which is a nod to DC's classic turn-of-the-century clubs.
Just a few steps off Paris' Grands Boulevards, Hôtel Bienvenue received a colorful and modern redesign by interior designer Chloé Nègre. Housed in the former Hôtel Villa Fenelon, the renovation of the century-old structure marks the first hotel project for Chloé Nègre, a former protégée of architect and designer India Mahdavi. Hôtel Bienvenue is the latest addition to hotelier Adrien Gloaguen’s portfolio, which also includes Hôtel Panache and Hôtel Paradis. True to its name, the hotel welcomes every guest like a member of the family.
Palaia, Tuscany, Italy
This unique agriturismo located in the heart of rural Tuscany combines holiday accommodation, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a non-profit art foundation. Originally serving as agricultural buildings, stables, or hunting lodges, each apartment has been renovated to be comfortable yet retain its original farmhouse functionality, making the most of the available light and ventilation with large shuttered windows, high ceilings and stone floors. Rooms are furnished with locally sourced vintage furniture, antiques, and recycled hand-painted fabrics styled by French designer Clarisse Demory. Fresh and uncluttered, these apartments offer the comfort of a holiday home and display original artworks from the Villa Lena Foundation collection.
"We’re all about sharing our time and our city with whomever drops by to pay us a visit," say the homeowners, "because we really take pride in where we live—from our apartments to our street to our neighborhood. Even a grumpy old woman carries a smile in her pocket and you will find most people will go out of their way to make you feel at home." Choose from several impeccably-designed apartments in this charming vacation rental in the center of beautiful Lisbon.
Founded by 24-year-old Russian entrepreneur Vasily Grogol, BURSA is a new hotel that includes a non-commercial art gallery, 33 contemporary guest rooms, a ground-floor restaurant, and a top-floor bar that opens onto a rooftop terrace. The 20,451-square-foot hotel complex was designed by local practice balbek bureau. "The idea was to link two old buildings with a modern block, where appreciation of history and tradition will co-exist with modern art, design, and innovation," says balbek bureau’s founder, Slava Balbek who worked with fellow architect Andrii Berezynskyi on the redesign.
It’s little wonder that South India’s most popular wildlife sanctuary, Thekkady, has long charmed both nature lovers and spice traders alike. Draped in lush greenery and cooling breezes, this misty haven for spices and wildlife is a beauty to behold, which is why Bangalore–based Kumar La Noce wisely took a sensitive approach to their recent renovation of the Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club boutique resort.
Tasked to design five cabins—as well as a pool and spa block—on a steep site, the architects strategized ways to enhance the dramatic views of the surrounding cardamom plantations, while preserving privacy and minimizing landscape disturbance. Although a minimal and elevated design was necessary, it was also important to balance those restraints with a luxurious touch befitting a resort.
Named for its perch in the mountainous region of Kumaon in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand, The Kumaon, which sits about 5,250 feet above sea level in the village of Kasar Devi, is a boutique hotel that enjoys magnificent views of the Indian Himalayas. Designed by Sri Lankan architects Pradeep Kodikara and Jineshi Samaraweera of Colombo–based Zowa Architects, the 10-room hotel is nestled in a sloping, terraced agricultural plot that overlooks uninterrupted views of undulating mountains and valleys.
Australia and Oceania
The Slow offers much more than boutique accommodations, steeping guests in a curated experience that blends art across several disciplines. The brainchild of George Gorrow, the designer behind streetwear label Ksubi, and his wife Cisco, a model, The Slow combines art, fashion, music, and food for an immersive experience that blends Indonesian and contemporary surf cultures.
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Built in 1915, Hotel Palisade has been revamped by Sibella Court for the building's 100th anniversary and turned into a unique eight-room boutique hotel. "The design pays homage to Hotel Palisade’s rich past but with luxurious finishes to remind you of the comforts of modern day living," says the hotel. "Jewel box bathrooms fitted with old-fashioned fixtures and indulgent products ensure a superior experience for your sleepover." The private rooms and communal spaces, such as the hotel's rooftop deck, offer sweeping views of the surrounding area. Hand-painted murals adorn the walls in cool shades as a nod to the building's portside location and seafaring past.
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
"Great hotels have stories that go beyond providing a bed for the night—they offer moments of discovery, unexpected adventures, encounters to be savored and retold," says The Calile Hotel, and we wholeheartedly agree. Careful consideration has been put into every detail of this pastel-hued oasis in the middle of Brisbane. Allow your mind to wander as you relax by the pool, lounge at the hotel bar, or simply enjoy the impeccably-designed interior spaces.
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