We’ve been at this for a long time. Jaded old veterans we may be, but every year a new crop of hotels comes along and reminds us just what it’s all about.
Looking back over this year’s additions to Tablet — some new, some just new to us — we found plenty of hotels to be excited about in North America alone. (We’ll save the rest of the world for a future installment.) Today, ten boutique hotels in the US and Mexico that remind us why we’re still in the game.
The Watergate Hotel
In a town whose high-end hotels are conservative almost to a fault, the Watergate is refreshing for the fact that it’s not just luxurious, but visually decadent as well. Ron Arad’s interiors blend retro modernism with cutting-edge curves, and staff uniforms come courtesy of Mad Men designer Janie Bryant. The ideal venue for hosting a (hopefully not career-ending) scandal of your own.
Charleston, South Carolina
The eponymous developer spent the better part of a decade transforming this downtown landmark into a boutique oozing Southern charm and grandeur with a clean, contemporary finish. It’s the sort of place where the white tablecloths match the waiters’ white tuxedo jackets, and where sumptuous materials like travertine and Danby marble are de rigueur.
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The name pretty much says it all, but for the sake of form we’ll enumerate the attractions: flocks of peacocks, a working ranch where lavender grows abundantly in the fields, architecture by John Gaw Meem, and rooms replete with period details like wood-burning fireplaces and tin light fixtures. Los Poblanos still exudes old-fashioned Southwestern-style elegance after all these years, especially from its farm-to-fork restaurant. Tuck in and don’t be shy.
This stylish new boutique hotel was born out of Quirk Gallery, a mainstay in the city’s downtown arts district and a shrewd expansion in light of the recent revitalization efforts underway there. The Renaissance-style arches and vaulted ceilings preside over local artwork in a sunny, breezy series of public spaces, excellent accompaniments to locally brewed beer and coffee. And we can’t praise the rooftop scene highly enough: it’s an ideal venue for catching a breeze on a warm evening, cocktail in hand, conversation bubbling forth from a just-right ratio of townies and guests.
Hamptons, New York
Owned and operated by Swedes, the Maidstone is a little slice of the Stockholm archipelago within driving distance of New York — complete with a generous helping of eclectic, contemporary Scandinavian design, as well as a restaurant whose Scandinavian-influenced cuisine just happens to be perfectly on trend at this moment in the food world. Add in a library, a fleet of Kronan loaner bikes, and (let’s not forget) the beach for a reinvigorated Hamptons concept.
Pug Seal Boutique B&B Polanco
Mexico City, Mexico
An apt name — not exactly a boutique hotel or a B&B, Pug Seal feels more like a large and exceedingly design-conscious house. Contemporary cool meets the romance of the natural world inside, where stag-head busts share space with bold turquoise accent walls and gorgeous tilework. Especially considering its location in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world, Pug Seal is a consummate and necessary breath of fresh air.
Hotel El Ganzo
San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico
Just up the coast from the boozier, cruisier Cabo sprouts this urbane, adults-only hotel; “grown-up but not old” might as well be the motto, with divinely comfortable loft-style rooms that feel airlifted from lower Manhattan. Fear not: between the resident artist and musician programs, the rooftop vodka bar, and the pool parties, it’s hardly sedate. Just more suited to the kind of traveler who prefers to leave with memories of a good time intact.
Lone Star Court
Vintage Texan-style charm, gracious service, a live music venue on the premises: yep, this is an Austin boutique. More specifically, it’s a lovingly transformed motor court, every detail of the Hill Country hipster décor a fond throwback to the stylish road-trippers of yesteryear. Food trucks, strong cocktails, swaggering six-stringers… what more does the modern cowpoke need?
Ace Hotel Pittsburgh
With the advent of the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, it’s probably time to consider rumors of a Pittsburgh urban renaissance confirmed. An inspired selection of public spaces proudly showcase the contributions of local artists and creatives, doubling as an inviting option for office-less nomads and all manner of socializing. Leave it to Ace to nail the balance between honoring the neighborhood’s past and defining its future.
V Palm Springs
Palm Springs, California
With its laid-back communal spaces and retro vibe, the V Palm Springs isn’t your standard desert resort. It has to contend with the Coachella constant, firstly, and secondly it’s by nature a different proposition altogether from the pool-noodle archetype; think meditation classes, fire-pit camaraderie, and vegetarian plates at the cocktail bar. Style and substance: this former motel has come a long way.