It seems obvious in hindsight, but boutique public spaces weren’t always the hives of bustling activity we’ve come to expect. A heady mix of entrepreneurs-on-the-go, nervous first-daters, aspiring novelists, and touring performers gave rise to this trend; where will it evolve next?

South Congress Hotel

Austin, TX

South Congress Hotel Austin TX


The address and name nearly say it all, but lucky for us, these folks follow through on that potential. The lobby bar comes with a design and travel library, and a small family of dining outlets draw the local element with delectables for every palate. And what do you know, there’s a centralized courtyard to get the conversation going.


21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City, OK

21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City


Say what you will about Oklahoma City — sometimes you need to go there, and those are the times you’re most grateful for 21c’s artistic bent and straight-up style. The exhibition spaces are more than worth a wander, and Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge excels at the kind of refined-yet-accessible New American cuisine that the heartland so desperately needs.


Ace Hotel New Orleans

New Orleans, LA

Ace Hotel New Orleans


Leave it to Ace to scout out up-and-coming territory for those in the know; here they’ve planted a flag in the Warehouse District, effortlessly slotting their refined formula into the freewheeling street traffic. An in-house music venue certainly doesn’t hurt, and it’s safe to say they’ll mix you something strong in the city where cocktails were invented.


The Dean

Providence, RI

The Dean Hotel Providence RI


Providence, the “”Beehive of Industry,”” is remaking itself as a 21st-century creative capital, and the Dean has what it takes to host these new-breed worker bees — from stylish-yet-affordable rooms and a socialble, communal vibe to third-wave coffee, craft cocktails, and the city’s one and only karaoke lounge.


Downtown Mexico

Mexico City

Downtown Mexico


All the Habita hallmarks are amply evidenced here — vivid color to grab the eye, 17th-century period details to keep it entranced — in this centrally located Mexico City stunner. The brand’s devotees know exactly what they’re looking for, and that trust pays off when you snag a corner on the rooftop terrace and set about brainstorming. The ideas flow fast and thick.


Freehand Miami

Miami, FL

Freehand Miami


Let the rest of South Beach ensnare itself in a glam arms race; Freehand takes the wiser (and much more fun) course in these eclectic, funky, still-young spaces. The Roman & Williams design pedigree still bursts with buoyant energy, fear not, but the price point is perfect for fostering the type of curious, forward-thinking crowd Miami could use.


Hotel Emma

San Antonio, TX

Hotel Emma San Antonio


And sometimes Roman & Williams goes all out in a converted former brewery. Emma is more or less an institution, fascinating all comers in the company of a pair of farmer’s markets and (count ’em) 15 marquee restaurants. An adventurous cocktail program and a thrilling 19th-century sense of scale should make for many a memorable evening.


Nomade Tulum


Nomade Tulum


Here’s a beach hotel for those stricken with incurable wanderlust — and who dabble more than a little in meditation workshops and cold-pressed juices. Sand, palms, parasols, and captivating woven textiles conspire to eliminate all worries, the better to share honest conversation and mouth-wateringly fresh seafood.


Palihouse West Hollywood

West Hollywood, CA

Palihouse West Hollywood


The extended stay needn’t be a thing of shame or hapless necessity; Palihouse proves it can be pulled off with panache, and in this neighborhood, no less. Exquisitely well-curated design showcases just-right lighting and tilework throughout, with a splendid eye for patterns in particular. A scintillating backdrop for a series of nights with that new someone.


Quirk Hotel

Richmond, VA,

Quirk Hotel Richmond


Richmond’s own Quirk Gallery gave birth to this balanced, airy, invigorating boutique, a proud staging ground for local artists and artisans well worth the dedicated visit. And in case you need a benchmark, this is a rooftop bar done thoroughly right; mix and mingle there and you might just find your next collaborator.



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