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When the Best Hotels Are the Smallest Hotels

It’s easy to be wowed by the world’s biggest hotels and resorts. At Tablet, though, easy doesn’t cut it — we prefer the singular, the authentic, and the inimitable when we travel. Many of our favorites come in modest packages, which makes us appreciate their design genius, their personable atmosphere, and their outstanding service all the more. Let’s hear it for the little guy.

Inn at Irving Place
New York City
Inn at Irving Place

“Inn” feels quite appropriate for these two 1834 townhouses at the conjunction of Gramercy and Flatiron; period design junkies have a real haymaker on their hands here. Expect intricately carved furniture, cherrywood flooring, elaborate statuary, and artfully placed mirrors everywhere. A bit reserved, yes, though you’d be hard pressed to find a statelier approximation of life as a well-to-do 19th-century merchant.

The Heywood Hotel
The Heywood Hotel

The Heywood showcases present-day Austin’s calling card: obsessively local, gorgeously hand-crafted materials in rooms capacious enough to show them off. Swank lighting fixtures, beautiful hardwood flooring, and vivid wall treatments make for a contemporary and buoyant aesthetic, and the East Austin location doesn’t hurt, either. Grab one of their free bikes and take it all in.

The Charlie
Los Angeles
The Charlie

This handful of British-style country cottages in West Hollywood really slathers on the charm: handsome exposed beams, cross-hatched windows, and copious floral accents make for a truly transportive stay. Chaplin himself owned the lot way back when, and each cottage pays tribute to a Marilyn or a Marlene, among others, tipping the hat to that old Hollywood glamour. Crucially, they still abound in Hollywood’s other great necessity: uninterrupted privacy.

404 Hotel
404 Hotel

404 as in its address on 12th Avenue South, not the HTTP error code. Rustic chic meets minimalism in this smart guesthouse, a five-room concern between Music Row and downtown. Come for the original artwork and bespoke furnishings, stay for the 404 Kitchen next door, a breakout farm-to-table hit situated inside a converted shipping container.

Stonehurst Place Atlanta
Stonehurst Place Atlanta

Bed and breakfasts can sometimes suffer in comparison to “proper” hotels, it’s true, but Stonehurst Place goes quite some way towards overturning the stereotype. Mainly via its masterful ratio of the old to the new: many of its elegant 19th-century details survive, including delicate millwork and window muntins, but they don’t get in the way of 21st-century amenities and comforts. It’s a thoughtful update on one of Atlanta’s classics, all its charm still very much in evidence.

Private Mansions
Private Mansions

What do you get when you cross a 15th-century convent with a startling array of gothic-noir set pieces? This sui generis hotel, that’s what; in a joint like this, the distressed wood and vintage bathtub almost read as tame compared with, say, the gilt altarpiece bedchamber or the pitch-perfect candelabra. Romance, research, or ritual, the potential uses of such a singular space boggle the mind.

Old Parsonage Hotel

CasaCau has done an outstanding job of capturing the essence of an apartment — clean, bright, welcoming, and smartly styled, each of the handful of units on offer here preserves the remarkable illusion of a contemporary Roman home. They’re eminently refreshing to return to after a daytime ramble through the Trevi district, and the proprietors also own a pair of Michelin-starred eateries within easy access of the hotel.

Casa De Las Olas
Casa De Las Olas

If you’re in search of low-impact, high-reward Caribbeanism, there’s little to rival Casa de las Olas: just five beachfront rooms, each an exercise in eco-sustainability and natural exposure. The polar opposite of Cancún’s glitzy full-service resorts, in other words, and the very definition of going directly back to nature. Some landscapes (and seascapes) work best when nothing gets in the way.

Ett Hem
Ett Hem

There’s more to Scandinavia than austere, razor’s-edge minimalism. Case in point: Ett Hem, whose 12 rooms play up an eclectic and period-spanning homey vibe, though a home many of us could only hope to establish, we must say. No matter; the idea is to rediscover Swedish tradition of livable charm. Best of all, a series of inviting and well-curated public spaces naturally make for extraordinary conversation.

Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio
Jose Ignacio
Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio

A humbling and museum-worthy collection of contemporary artwork has a way of making something monumental out of a small hotel. Sleek glass and cement play large in the interiors, the better to show off an expansive collection of paintings, sculpture, photography, and mixed-media artwork liberally sprinkled throughout. Yet lest that imply a certain chill factor, many elements still convey traditional South American hospitality: afternoon barbecues, earthy brick and wood surfaces in the bedrooms, and of course its 4,000 acres of bracing Uruguayan terrain.

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  • We will be going to New Orleans in October. My son’s wedding will be there. Do you have an idea that is small that I can recommend to our guests?

    Thank you.
    Marry s Becker

    marry s bFebruary 6th, 2017
  • Hi Marry!

    Tiffany from Tablet Hotels Customer Service here. We love New Orleans and can help you find a perfect hotel. Our team will be in contact via email shortly.


    Tiffany NguyenFebruary 10th, 2017

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