Brave New World

Once upon a time, we thought we might someday finish our list of the world’s finest hotels. But year after year, they’re opening faster than we can add them to our selection.

After fifteen years spent scouring the world for the finest hotels, you’d imagine we might get a bit jaded. The truth is, we once thought we might get to the end of the list — but still, year after year, amazing new hotels are opening faster than we can add them to the site. Last week we shared our new favorite hotels in North America, and this week we’re bringing you the rest of the world: the most inspired — and inspiring — hotels of the year so far.

Tierra Chiloe

Patagonia, Chile

Tierra Chiloe - boutique hotel in Patagonia

This destination hotel was adopted by the Tierra Hotels group, specialists in catering to the needs of adventurous travelers with sustainable luxury hotels in Chile’s far-flung reaches. It’s all about views of the pristine waters surrounding the island, whether you’re lying in bed, relaxing with a glass of Carmenère in the glass-encased lobby lounge, or boarding the Williche, the hotel’s very own boat. This is how you put a northern Patagonian archipelago on the map.


Cooking & Nature Emotional Hotel

Alvados, Portugal

Cooking & Nature Emotional Hotel - boutique hotel in Alvados

The name helpfully spells things out for you: emotions in this otherworldly stretch of limestone hills, shadowy grottoes, and colossal underground caves run the range from Adventure to Romance to Saudade, each reflected in individualized room design. And it’s not just the cooking you’ll eat, it’s the cooking you can do under the guidance of a modern Portuguese chef, exploring the character of local cheese, olive oil, and wine en route to a knockout series of plates.


Off Paris Seine

Paris, France

Off Paris Seine - boutique hotel in Paris

Occupying a gently bobbing twin-hulled barge moored to the Left Bank, Off Paris Seine is an eclectic and charming experiment for this who feel that Paris could do a bit more with its river. Hardly a novelty, thankfully, as traditional hospitality expertise drives the cozy luxury and buoyant style of its rooms and suites. It’s perhaps at its best above decks — there’s a summer terrace with a plunge pool as well as a bistronomic cocktail bar.


Phum Baitang

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Phum Baitang - boutique hotel in Siem Reap

This strategic gateway to Angkor Wat was once a village, believe it or not, a fact which Phum Baitang aims to channel with an immersive fantasy of thatch-roofed wooden villas on stilts amid landscaped gardens and paddy fields. It’s a five-star treatment of the traditional Cambodian colonial aesthetic, emphasizing open-plan layouts and quality materials among the towering palms and mirror-like pools.


Hotel Des Dromonts

Avoriaz, France

Hotel Des Dromonts - luxury boutique hotel in Avoriaz

The quirky building, angular and pyramid-like, was inspired by Le Corbusier’s designs for economic urban dwellings, maximizing vertical space and providing great views from every room. Makes a ton of sense in the French Alps, and moreover it makes for a wintry good time downstairs, aprés-ski drink in hand, luxuriating next to the fireplace. Did we mention it’s ski-in, ski-out?


Villa Extramuros

Arraiolos, Portugal

Villa Extramuros - luxury boutique hotel in Arraiolos

With just five guest rooms and a sleek, down-to-earth aesthetic, Villa Extramuros is a minimalist getaway surrounded by olive groves and oak forests that invite a late-afternoon wander. This part of the country is still quiet and comparatively remote, a godsend for those in search of deep relaxation sans the bothersome itineraries some hotels seem to think necessary. Sleep in, feast on a leisurely breakfast, catch a few rays beside the infinity pool, maybe catch up on that book you’ve been trying to read for ages.


The Wheatsheaf

Northleach, England

The Wheatsheaf - boutique hotel in Northleach

The Wheatsheaf is as true as can be to the classic, slightly utopian ideal of a public house as a welcoming place for a drink, a delicious bite to eat, and an attractive, comfortable room for the night. In authentic coaching inn fashion, ancestors of today’s pubs, the restaurant’s contemporary take on classic English country cooking is the celebrated centerpiece. Pull up a chair in the dining room, a temple of casual elegance, and see what the chat’s all about.


The Old Clare Hotel

Sydney, Australia

The Old Clare Hotel - luxury boutique hotel in Sydney

We’re doubly hooked — we’ve been fans of the Singaporean hotelier Loh Lik Peng since the beginning, and we’ve been following Sydney’s evolving hospitality scene for quite some time. The result is roughly one part lovingly preserved historical patina and one part ultra-modern, ultra-tasteful luxury, an impressive achievement and one that puts the Old Clare at the top of a lot of design junkies’ must-try lists.


Hotel Goldgasse

Salzburgh, Austria

Hotel Goldgasse - cool boutique hotel in Salzburgh

Hotel Goldgasse’s contemporary design bent upends a few fusty stereotypes about Austria’s opulent sensibilities, all the better because it’s centrally located in Old Town near the riverbank. Some heritage remains, to be sure — antique stone floors, ceiling beams in the restaurant — but on the whole, a healthy dose of bright and livable contemporary design makes for a hospitality experience grounded in the here and now.


Castel Porrona Relais

Cinigiano, Italy

Castel Porrona Relais - luxury boutique hotel in Cinigiano

“Converted Tuscan castle hotel,” as a phrase, does its own advertising just fine, but we don’t mind expounding the virtues of this 900-year-old noble dwelling. They’ve kept the original architecture, and many of the loveliest details within it — smooth stone and red brick, terra-cotta tiles, exposed wooden beams — perfect complements to the verdant landscape, from old olive groves and vineyards to cheerful sunflower fields. Go ahead, act like royalty for a day — if you can’t do it here, then where?