5 Boutique Hotels That Feel Special

Avoid “same box, different city” syndrome.

Ignacia Guest House Mexico City


When it comes to hotels, bigger isn’t always better. Tiny hotels, which can be structured as houses, lodges or camps,  can be packed with big advantages. For starters, they can help it feel like you’ve arrived at a glamorous second home, not another in a long string of bland stopovers.

Looking for an intimate overnight experience with personalized and under-the-radar experience? Here are five to consider, from smallest to largest.

Ignacia Guest House, Mexico City

Perfect for design aficionados and anyone looking to blend into daily life in the beloved Colonia Roma neighborhood, Ignacia Guest House is a trendy eco-friendly bed and breakfast. Featuring just five unique suites, the hotel’s namesake is Ignacia, the housekeeper who took care of this 1913 colonial mansion for more than 70 years. Led by architects Factor Eficiencia and interior design studio A-G, the property restoration blends Mexican tradition with history and contemporary design. Opened in 2017, artists, architects, designers, photographers from all over have been drawn to the property for its internationally acclaimed award-winning design, décor, and style.

The hotel can only host 10 guests at a time, so you can expect privacy, personalized attention and truly superb concierge service. The chef modifies menus to guests’ personal specifications, from vegan to lactose-free. Each morning, the chef prepares fresh-baked breads, and complimentary signature breakfasts like chilaquiles, molletes and sopecitos are made from scratch along with fresh-squeezed orange juice and homemade orange marmalade from the garden’s two old-growth citrus trees, planted by Ignacia herself. All ingredients (fruits, vegetables, legumes, coffee, eggs, dairy, tortillas) come from small local producers, to guarantee freshness and quality, as well as support the local community. Guests return home to a complimentary garden cocktail hour, where the chef creates custom drinks, such as a mango-and-mezcal concoction and more.

Fun Fact: Guests can peruse the library, where a curated selection of Mexican design books and magazines live, along with a growing collection of cookbooks, books, poetry and photography from past artistic guests.

Insider Tip: Ignacia Guest House recommends learning about the street food scene with an insider tour by Eat Like a Local Mexico City, taking an authentic Mexican cooking class upstairs in Casa Jacaranda, or venturing on a hot air balloon ride over the Teotihuacan Pyramids. Or, join an adventurous itinerary curated by Wild Terrains, women-only group trips to Mexico City where guests support local, female-run businesses and creative activities, along with a stay at Ignacia Guest House (which is also female-owned).

If You Go: All guests receive complimentary Wi-Fi, breakfast, daily cocktail hour in the garden and more. Nightly rates for the suites range from $315-$440 USD. For more information, visit ignacia.mx or email hola@ignacia.mx.

Ignacia Guest House, Mexico City

Kichuguu Camp, Tanzania

Opened in June 2017, Chaka Camps’ newest lodge Kichuguu Camp’s 11 tents are situated in a quiet woodland between the Tarangire River basin and Silale Swamp, which provides excellent game viewing.

Kichuguu (which means ‘termite mound’ in English) Camp is a thematic representation of the termite mounds that dot the landscape. Hidden details and patterns of the intricate mounds appear in items like the bedside lamps, which resemble spires, and tables and lamps shaped like carved tunnels. Organic materials and shapes are used in artwork and overhead lighting, while open chimneys and vent holes replicate termite mounds’ ventilation.

Kichuguu Camp was inspired by the way termites use the surrounding environment to build a home. Owners partnered with sustainable design company Dunia Designs to recycle Arusha’s waste plastic into flooring, mirror stands and furniture filling. Along with distinctive décor, the camp features gourmet Swahili cuisine and warm Tanzanian hospitality. The Chaka Camps boutique collection includes three sustainable luxe tented camps: the original Chaka Camp, Kiota Camp and Kichuguu Camp, all of which deliver extraordinary wildlife experiences with comfort and style.

Fun Fact: Guests of Chaka Camps can find a small library at the camps with Africa’s traditional musical instruments; test out the mbira, a wooden board with metal tines for plucking.

Insider Tip: June-October is dry season, the best time to visit Tarangire National Park. During that time, the Tarangire River and Silale Swamp are among the only sources of fresh water in the region, drawing dense populations of wildlife including elephant, impala, giraffe, lion, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. Additionally, with more than 550 bird species, Tarangire is a birder’s paradise. Night game drives are also available.

If You Go: Rates start at $400 USD per double per night. Rates include all food and beverage, bottled drinking water and snacks, nightly fireside evenings with a mobile bar, complimentary Wi-Fi, toiletry supplies and more. Bush breakfasts and private dinners under the stars are also available. Full package safaris can also be arranged through partner company Duma Explorer, an adventure travel outfitter based in Arusha. For more information, visit chakacamps.com, email reservations@chakacamps.com, or call toll-free at 1-877-837-2367.

Kichuguu Camp, Tanzania Kichuguu Camp, Tanzania

Les Ilets de la Plage, Saint Barths

Saint Barths delivers full-speed glamour without the typical hotspot pretense. The island features plenty of ultra-posh hotels, but there are also down-to-earth, accessible private villa options for those looking for the privacy and relaxation of a beach escape.

An affordable way to vacation on the beautiful of St. Barths, the intimate, family-owned beach resort of Les Ilets de la Plage offers 12 private villas with direct access to the white sand beach and azure sea. Secluded yet central, Les Ilets de la Plage has been a well-kept secret for years, many guests return year after year to the same villa, leaving luggage and personal items with the staff for their next stay.

Beachside and garden villas offer luxe accommodations and all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel, combining the privacy and serenity of a villa with concierge service…at an affordable price. The attractive studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas are perfect for a romantic couples’ retreat, solo travelers, a friends’ getaway, or a relaxing family holiday.

In addition to gorgeous private beach access, there’s a private pool with cabanas and a sun deck. They also have full concierge service—fresh croissants, bread, pain au chocolats delivered to your door each morning, lunch and dinner reservations, grocery shopping, even childcare is easily arranged.

Fun Fact: Les Ilets de la Plage is a pet-friendly resort, so if you don’t want to leave your furry friend at home, find out what is needed to bring your pooch to Saint Barths. Pet amenities include cushions, bowls and treats to make furry visitors feel right at home!

Insider Tip: Want to stay active during your vacation? Try the wellness experience that combines relaxation with healthy initiatives like daily yoga, aqua pilates and/or island spa treatments. Hike the beautiful surrounding hills, power walk along the beach at dawn, swim in the ocean or do laps in the resort pool. Paddle boarding tones up muscles well, but guests also have unlimited access to a state-of-the-art gym in Gustavia with superb facilities and classes. Enjoy healthy, delicious lunches or dinners using the freshest Caribbean ingredients supplied by Mayas-to-Go.

If You Go: All villas have full kitchen facilities, air conditioning in the bedrooms, satellite TV, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout, daily maid service, and delivery of fresh breads and pastries right to the door. For more information, visit lesilets.com or email info@lesilets.com.

Les Ilets de la Plage, Saint Barths

Adler Lodge Ritten, Italy

Opening June 27th, 2019, ADLER Lodge Ritten, a sister to established properties like ADLER Thermae in Tuscany and ADLER Lodge Alpe, is a new 20-room hotel coming to the Dolomites region. The hotel is set on the Ritten plateau, a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers, overlooking some of  Dolomites’ most majestic mountain peaks, such as the Rosengarten and the Latemar. ADLER Lodge Ritten is committed to an eco-conscious existence, thanks to its sustainable construction and locally-inspired cuisine (here, farm-to-table isn’t a buzzword, it’s part of the chef’s philosophy).

The hotel consists of a spacious main building with reception area, lobby, bar, restaurant and spa. There are two additional structures, with 10 junior suites. Also scattered throughout the property will be 20 one- and two-story chalets, some set around a small natural lake. All rooms will have private bio saunas, balconies or terraces, and chalets will feature wood-burning fireplaces.

Fun Fact: ADLER Lodge Ritten has two saunas deep in the forest with a heated pool. (actual forest bathing), reached only by a short narrow path into the forest. Glistening peaks and old larch trees surround fragrant saunas and the steaming pool.

Insider Tip: Renon’s historic narrow-gauge railway, the Rittnerbahn, stops just 200 meters from the hotel at the Stella station, so rental cars aren’t needed. The thriving city of Bolzano is just a 12-minute ride away via cable car. Activities are designed to highlight the distinctive beauty of each season and might include skiing, snowshoeing, Nordic walking, wine tasting or cycling (the hotel offers complimentary electric-bike rentals). Or, if you can extend your vacation, from the dreaming meadows of the south Tyrol to the towering spires of Tre Cime, On Foot Holidays’ self-guided walk in the Dolomites of northern Italy is a longtime favorite.

If You Go: Rates start at 240€ per day per person or from 1,670€ per person for a week. The all-inclusive room rate includes all meals, soft drinks, wines and spirits. For more information, visit adler-resorts.com.

Adler Lodge Ritten, Italy

Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, Saint Lucia

21 Plus Salute!

Where an ocean view room really means RIGHT THERE. Calabash Cove Resort and Spa is one of the most popular all-inclusive, adults-only boutique hotels in Saint Lucia, a Caribbean treasure offering seclusion, beauty and mesmerizing views. With just 26 suites (only three are identical), old Caribbean charm is coupled with modern luxurious resort amenities. Highlights include the Windsong restaurant and lively C-Bar overlooking the infinity pool, and the peaceful Ti Spa. Chef Paul Odle leads the culinary team at Windsong Restaurant and accommodates any dietary needs and personal requests including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free and more. The unconditional all-inclusive covers all meals and beverages including room service, daily food specials including a daily lobster dish (when in season), premium drinks, a stocked in-room bar (with full size bottles), over 20 wines from the wine list by the bottle for breakfast, lunch or dinner, gratuities/tips and Wi-Fi. The only exception is the “Reserve du Patron” section of the wine list. Calabash Cove has a small Cybex cardiovascular fitness center and provides kayaks, paddle boards and snorkeling gear free of charge to guests.

Fun Fact: Saint Lucia is a magnet for destination weddings and honeymoons. Unlike other hotels on the island, Calabash Cove only confirms one wedding on any given day. A bride and groom will never have to wait for a gazebo to become free from the wedding prior.

Insider Tip: The hotel concierge can arrange an all-day private climb of Mount Gimie, Saint Lucia’s highest peak, a volcano covered in a lush tropical rainforest (3,117 ft). With a few days advance notice guests just need to bring good hiking gear and a backpack and Calabash Cove will arrange a private guide, lunch and a transfer to and from the mountain. The tour includes approximately 5-6 hours of hiking in steep terrain. This is not a run-of-the-mill experience, with guests trekking through two valleys, along a small creek and up and down on a barely visible trail.

If You Go: Rates for the all-inclusive start at $295.50 USD including taxes and service charges per person per night based on double occupancy. The resort also offers a rate for room with breakfast only. For visits of 7 paid nights or longer booked with the resort directly, Calabash Cove offers guests private car airport transfers. For more information, visit calabashcove.com.

Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, Saint Lucia

– Text and images provided by featured properties’ public relations. 

Leave a Comment

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.