It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since we at Boutique Travel Blog shared our favourite hotels from amongst all the wonderful places we’d stayed in during the previous year. In 2017, as we searched to find the very best holiday accommodation worldwide. Visits included a treetop jungle retreat, a particularly opulent suite of rooms in Asia and a quirky beachfront boutique hotel in Africa, but which places most pull at the heartstrings, or stand out from the crowd, going above and beyond all expectations? They may not be the most luxurious but these are our favourite hotels from all those we stayed in last year. Lucy takes us to Canada, Kathryn to West Africa, Anna to Madeira, and Johanna, unable to pick a single favourite, takes us to both the U.S.A. and Cambodia.
Great George Hotel, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
My favourite hotel of 2017 was the Great George Hotel in Charlottetown, the capital of the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. This historic hotel is set on a street where Canada’s founding fathers once walked, and its main building dates back to the 1840s. Since it opened the hotel has spread across 17 old buildings on the same block, which have been restored to their former glory.
Each is different – my huge suite had a kitchen/diner and lounge upstairs and a bed and bath downstairs, as well as a big balcony with views over Charlottetown’s cathedral. There are lots of extras too like evening wine receptions by the fire in the lounge, and historic walking tours – making it more social than the usual hotel, and great for solo travellers. For more information visit, Great George Hotel.
Lucy Dodsworth, On the Luce
Mandina Lodges, Makasutu Forest, The Gambia
We featured this eco-lodge not that long ago in our round-up of our Top 6 Wildlife Lodges. However, as I was lucky enough to stay at Mandina Lodges again towards the end of last year on honeymoon, how could I leave it out of this selection? It is quite possibly my favourite place on earth.
Well away from the Gambia’s coastline and main tourist resorts, on a tributary of the River Gambia, you’ll find nine beautiful lodges surrounded by mangroves and forest. My personal favourites are the four wooden floating lodges that rise and fall with the tide. In the centre of each lodge there’s a double bed with views across the water.
There are few other furnishings, simply a wardrobe, a coffee table and a couple of chairs. No widescreen TV here. Entertainment consists of watching the river flow by and the boats of the occasional fisherman or oyster lady. A livelier distraction comes in the form of a troop of baboons that regularly run amuck through the resort. Guests are warned not to keep anything in their open-air bathroom as the baboons may well whisk away your shampoo or toothpaste. Read my review of my first visit to Mandina, A Night on the River in Makasutu Forest. For more information about the lodges visit, Mandina Lodges.
Kathryn Burrington, Travel With Kat
Quinta da Casa Branca, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
The last hotel we stayed in was our favourite of the year — saving the best for last. Quinta da Casa Branca, set amidst tropical plants, is an oasis of calm in the centre of Funchal. The hotel is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and is thoroughly charming. There are 40-odd modern rooms, all south-facing with sun-trap terraces.
There are also five suites housed in and around the manor house, each dripping with history and antiques. We found it really romantic and appreciated how sensitively a family home could be transformed into a hotel. Our villa rooms were immaculate, enormous and totally calming. The food here is a dream and the staff are some of the best in the business. Read my review in full, Quinta da Casa Branca or visit the hotel’s website, Quinta da Casa Branca.
Anna Parker, Travel with Penelope and Parker
The Edgewater, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
I love a hotel that helps create a sense of community. The Edgewater is one of those hotels. Madison residents and hotel guests alike enjoy the local food events, movie nights, concerts and festivals, yoga classes, skating parties and traditional Wisconsin Friday night fish frys. Most take place on the hotel’s huge lakefront patio. My ideal weekend includes, as well as the fish fry, a morning strolling through Madison’s fabulous Saturday farmers’ market and an afternoon at The Edgewater’s spa, capped off with a sunset drink on one of the hotel’s rooftop patios before cuddling up in the comforts of my Four Diamond room. For more information visit, The Edgewater.
By Johanna Read, TravelEater
Udaya Residence, Siem Reap, Cambodia
This family-owned and -operated boutique hotel in a quiet Siem Reap neighbourhood provides better service and facilities than their similarly-priced competitors.
The majority of the rooms surround Udaya’s elephant-decorated pool, where guests lounge on shaded sunbeds amongst fish ponds and tropical greenery. Meals are served at the poolside restaurant, which features my favourite breakfast in all of Siem Reap — fresh tropical fruits from the owners’ farm, proper croissants and pain au chocolat, plus a selection of hot western and Asian dishes on the buffet. I’m still craving their smooth coffee that tastes of chocolate. The rooms are large and comfortable with some featuring private terraces. In my idea of heaven, I’d enjoy Udaya’s fantastic traditional Khmer massage every day for the rest of my life. For more information visit Udaya Residence.
By Johanna Read, TravelEater
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Unique, boutique and eco-chic travel blog. Your guide to exceptional hotels around the world.