Between us, the team at Boutique Travel Blog have stayed in some pretty special hotels around the world. Here we bring you a collection of our favourite boutique hotels, from charming riads in Morocco to elegant contemporary hotels in England.
Our Top Ten Boutique Hotels in the World
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Albion House, Ramsgate, Kent, England
by Jaillan Yehia, SavoirThere.com
A good boutique hotel ought to be a destination in its own right, not merely a place to lay your head in-between sightseeing, and this distinction can only be accomplished by attention to detail.
Albion House, a delightfully British seafront bolthole in a Regency building overlooking the UK’s only Royal Harbour, offers just this welcome focus on the little things in life. It offers the correct (and very comfy) weekend cocktail of relaxed but plush and luxurious yet quirky surroundings. All the small touches like dog friendly rooms, leisurely brunches, oodles of good design and tempting mid-afternoon cakes are combined with the fact they’ve got the big things just right too.
The bed is better than my own (no mean feat after I forked out for a Four Seasons Hotel mattress), and the bathroom, packed with White Company goodies, is a vast expanse of marble filled with natural light that pours in from the English Channel.
It’s just about worth leaving this textbook staycation sanctuary for local attractions like the longest stretch of chalk cliffs in the country — synonymous with 18th century smuggling legends — or the fascinating underground war tunnels and mysterious Margate Shell Grotto. Just make sure to be back in time for tea.
The Yeatman, Porto, Portugal
By Suzanne Jones, TheTravelbunny.com
The Yeatman opened in Porto in 2010 making it a vintage year for hotels. With 82 rooms the hotel is just small enough to make it into the boutique category. A member of Relais and Châteaux, the luxury property sits on a hill overlooking the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s surrounded by the red rooftops of port cellars with sweeping views over the river to the tiled facades of Porto’s charming Ribeira.
To reflect its port-wine location everything in the Yeatman is wine themed. From the decanter-shaped infinity pool (there’s a second indoor pool) to the Caudalie Vinothérapie spa. It’s clearly a wine hotel through and through.
The hotel is terraced, much like the Douro Valley which means all the rooms have stunning river views and private terraces. Each room has been designed by one of Portugal’s wine producers with elements characterising their own particular winery. Rooms have large bathrooms with twin basins and bath tubs. Beautifully comfortable king-sized beds mean you’ll be loath to make it to breakfast in the Orangery. But on the other hand, that view and the excellent breakfast menu mean you’ll not want to stay in bed too long either. Decisions.
The spa treatments are all grape-based and range from barrel bath immersions to merlot seed scrubs. I had an indulgent full-body massage and walked on air for the rest of the day feeling quite light-headed. I’m still not sure if that was due to the excellent massage or the grape-based products…
The two-Michelin starred gourmet restaurant is impressive and serves Portuguese cuisine tasting menus. Food is paired with a choice of wines from the 1300 bottles on the wine list. If you prefer more casual eating or cocktails head to Dick’s Bar and that fabulous view.
Corridors are lined with wine-related works of art. You could even learn about the history of corks whilst waiting for the lift. The wine cellar is home to a 20,000 plus bottle collection where guests can take sommelier-guided tours. Next door is Taylor’s port lodge which is worth dropping by for a port wine tasting and cellar tour.
Yeatman is probably the best wine hotel in the world celebrating everything vine, wine and grape. The attention to detail is spot on and it’s owned and run by family with family values. I’ll raise a glass to that.
Alma Histórica, Montevideo, Uruguay
By Johanna Read, TravelEater.net
Montevideo is a capital city that celebrates its culture, arts, and history. Appropriately, this boutique hotel in the city’s historic centre celebrates them too.
Alma Histórica’s sweeping curved staircase in the lobby first welcomes you to this renovated historical building. Each of the 15 rooms is dedicated to a different Uruguayan artist. Paintings, old-fashioned typewriters, sculptures, instruments, sheets of music, books, and ceramics situate you to learn more about each artist and make each room unique. Modern touches like 320-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens, exquisite bathrooms, a rooftop hot tub, and a discrete elevator complement the traditional.
Perfect omelettes and a selection of fruits and pastries are served every morning next to a window of potted plants. Nightcaps are best enjoyed on the rooftop terrace, watching the sun setting over the Rio de la Plata. Staff know all the new and hot places in the city for speakeasy-style cocktails, incredible dining, shopping for antiques or new fashion, and the city’s wonderful collection of museums.
Berkeley Suites, Bristol, England
By Heather Cowper, HeatherOnHerTravels.com
At Berkeley Suites in Bristol, you can move into an elegant Georgian terrace and pretend you’re staying in a rather stylish friend’s apartment rather than a boutique hotel. There are original fireplaces, velvet and linen sofas and a bathroom behind a panel of glass, but it’s the details that really impress. A cupboard in the living room opens up to reveal a compact kitchen, and a miniature decanter of Bristol cream sherry awaits with an Alice in Wonderland label reading, “Sip me”.
This is a home away from home where you can take your freshly brewed coffee out to the lawn on a sunny morning, but you’re a stone’s throw from all the bars, restaurants and shopping of Park Street.
The suites are part of the same hotel group as the Berkeley Square Hotel around the corner in a leafy square, where you can use the member’s club and coffee lounge for work meetings and relaxing. The Square restaurant serves delicious food, with the emphasis on modern British cooking with local and seasonal flavours. From Berkeley Suites you can walk up the hill to elegant Clifton Village or down the hill to the Harbourside — either way, you’ll get a flavour of the best Bristol has to offer.
Read Heather’s full review on her blog, HeatherOnHerTravels.com.
Dar Roumana, Fès, Morocco
By Johanna Read, TravelEater.net
The treasure of Dar Roumana is hidden behind a wooden door in a small alley on the northern edge of the massive medina of Fès. The five suites of this traditional riad are built around a large courtyard which turns into one of the best restaurants in the entire city in the evening. French chef Vincent Bonnin creates magic on a plate using the farm-fresh produce of Morocco and his Michelin star skills. The restaurant is fully booked most nights, but lucky guests are asked if they want a table held for them.
Dar Roumana is managed by Australian Vanessa Bonnin. Her experience as a traveller shows in the hospitality she brings —every need has been thoughtfully catered to. Canopied beds welcome, deep tubs help you soak away your fatigue, the library and salon tempt, and the two-tiered rooftop terrace is ideal for breakfast and an afternoon nap. Staff are amongst the kindest and most professional in the entire medina.
Gately Inn, Entebbe, Uganda
By Johanna Read, TravelEater.net
Near the shores of massive Lake Victoria, in Kampala’s airport suburb of Entebbe, is Gately Inn. At this small boutique hotel, you can stay in one of six garden cottages or in one of the five rooms in the main house (the luxury family room is a popular choice). Regardless of which room you choose, you’ll adore the complimentary breakfast. I particularly enjoyed the stack of caramelised banana pancakes, served with fresh juice and the Inn’s famous coffee.
Gately Inn is a convenient choice because it is just 10 minutes from Uganda’s main airport. Guests arriving from afar don’t need to fight Kampala’s notorious traffic before they can settle into their rooms and relax in the garden-filled grounds (keep an eye out for brightly coloured birds and even blue tree lizards). People come back to Gately because of the warm hospitality they receive from the South African manager and her excellent staff.
There’s a sister property — Gately on Nile — in Jinja, where guests can see the source of the Nile, participate in adventure sports like bungee jumping and whitewater rafting, and depart on more traditional safaris.
Palacio Ramalhete, Lisbon, Portugal
by Anna Parker, TravelWithPenelopeAndParker.com
Finding a place in the city that has charm and history is always ideal for a mini-break. The Palacio is tucked away and full of Portuguese tiling, high ceilings and gorgeous furniture. There’s a selection of lounges to enjoy an afternoon in and for the summer, even a small swimming pool and garden terrace.
Discover more on Anna’s blog, TravelWithPenelopeAndParker.com
Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin, Ireland
by Alison Abbott, GreenWithRenvy.com
Ireland is famous for its cultural heritage and easy going hospitality. Dublin’s Fitzwilliam perfectly embodies the Irish way of combining charm, friendship and personality.
This five star luxury boutique hotel is in the heart of the city, right across from St. Stephen’s Green, a 22 acre park with miles of accessible pathways. The River Liffey, Trinity College, the National Gallery and the Temple Bar area are all within walking distance.
Rooms are bright and sophisticated with modern décor. Many overlook a green oasis in the middle of the building. The country’s love of seaweed as a sustainable resource is reflected in the eco-luxe brand H20 spa products.
Onsite is chef Kevin Thornton’s award winning restaurant, Thornton’s, is credited with putting Dublin on the map as a foodie destination and his farm-to-table ethos is visible in every dish on the menu.
There is much to explore within the city limits. A stay at the calming elegance of the Fitzwilliam will surround you with a warm welcome in this enchanting city.
Read more on Alison’s blog, GreenWithRenvy.com.
Riad Dar Maya, Essaouira, Morocco
By Lucy Dodsworth, OnTheLuce.com
Riad Dar Maya is tucked down a tiny narrow street in Essaouira’s bustling, historic Medina. And although the thick wooden door of this boutique hotel looks like it’s been there hundreds of years, inside the riad is light, bright and surprisingly modern.
When British owner, Gareth, bought the site it was derelict, so he rebuilt it from scratch using the traditional riad design but incorporating modern comforts. There are only five rooms spread over three floors around a central courtyard. Each comes with a fireplace, marble bathroom and underfloor heating. Everything is decorated in muted, relaxed colours, using traditional tadelakt polished plaster.
There’s lots of communal space too, with a lounge, library, courtyard and a roof terrace with a plunge pool where you can have breakfast looking out over the rooftops to the sea. Gareth can also arrange for a chef to cook you a private tagine dinner and the riad has a small hammam where you can get scrubbed and steamed clean before a blissed-out massage in your room for extra relaxation.
Read more on Lucy’s blog, OnTheLuce.com
Su Gologone, Sardinia, Italy
by Kathryn Burrington, TravelWithKat.com
A few years ago during a road trip around Sardinia, there was one hotel I was particularly looking forward to staying at, Su Gologone in the interior of the island, well off the beaten path. Sadly, I was only there for one night but, having explored the hotel as it tumbles down the hillside and tasted the fabulous food here, it came as no surprise that, despite only being a four star hotel, Madonna once booked the whole hotel and Richard Gere reputedly once stayed here.
As well as the magnificent setting in the mountains and the resulting wonderful views, I loved the typically Mediterranean whitewashed walls accented with lively shades of blue, pink, purple and green using traditional textiles and quirky ceramics.
The traditional Sardinian feast that we enjoyed in the well-renowned restaurant was superb, as was the local Cannonau wine. The next morning the setting for breakfast was equally enchanting and I was sad to be on my way again so soon.
Read Kathryn’s full review, BoutiqueTravelblog.com.