If big hotel chains lack the personality you want on vacation, but you still want the flexibility to earn and redeem hotel points at a variety of locations, maybe it’s time to consider a boutique brand. Here are our nine favorites.
The largest chain of boutique hotels in the United States, Kimpton has properties from California to New York. Most of the hotels in the Kimpton family are marketed under independent names (such as Surfcomber Hotel in Miami and Nine Zero Hotel in Boston), but all of them have a few perks in common: a free wine happy hour; a complimentary “Forget It? We’ve Got It!’’ program, through which you can get free essentials including hair straighteners, humidifiers, fashion tape, or heating pads from the front desk; and a yoga mat and free on-demand fitness TV in every room.
21c Museum Hotels
A distinctly Southern brand, 21c Museum Hotels began in Kentucky and has a focus on Southern hospitality. The chain has expanded throughout the country with locations in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Bentonville—plus 15 more to come in the next few years. All of the hotels double as modern-art museums, so you can soak up a city’s culture without ever leaving the property.
The Ace Hotel chain began in Seattle, which explains the hipster vibe that’s present in every location (London, Los Angeles, New York, Palm Springs, Portland, Seattle, and Panama). Ace Hotels are usually unique and often spring up out of quirky former spaces. For example, the Ace Hotel in Seattle used to be a Salvation Army halfway house, and the Palm Springs location was once a Howard Johnson motel.
Red Carnation Hotels
The Red Carnation Hotel Collection has 17 properties throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United States, all of which were awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2013. The luxury hotels feature “thoughtful touches,’’ such as welcome drinks, twice-daily maid service, in-room stationary exercise bikes (upon request), universal power points, free Wi-Fi, and pillow menus.
With properties on five continents, Grace Hotels covers a lot of ground as a boutique hotel chain. Each property is distinct and takes its design cues from its location—think whitewashed hotels in the Greek Islands and an “industrial chic’’ modern hotel in Beijing. Even the hotel’s restaurants get in on the local flavor, offering menus featuring local cuisine.
The Big Sleep Hotel
The Big Sleep Hotel chain has budget-friendly prices, design cred, and celebrity cachet (it’s co-owned by John Malkovich). The company bills its properties as design hotels that offer “Travelodge prices, but with more sex appeal.’’ Check it out if you’re in the United Kingdom.
Each of the six unique properties in the Affinia Hotels portfolio has a special focus, such as tranquility or wellness. All of the Affinia locations have common amenities, including custom-designed beds, pillow menus (with offerings that include a magnetic therapy pillow and a sound pillow with ultra-thin speakers for your MP3 player), ergonomic chairs, and programs for pets and families. Affinia Hotels has locations in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The Standard hotel chain has five properties in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, and each one is unique to its location. The Miami hotel, for example, has a hydrotherapy spa and a hammam mud lounge. The High Line hotel in Manhattan, on the other hand, offers a German biergarten and a discotheque.
Hotel du Vin
If you like wine, Hotel du Vin is the perfect boutique hotel chain for you. It was founded by a former head sommelier. The brand has 15 locations across the United Kingdom, and each spot has a bar offering an amazing wine selection.