Rage Against the Machine

While we love a business hotel where we can stay effortlessly wired, when it’s time for a proper escape, the technology needs to be the first thing to go.

Yes, we make our living online. But we probably don’t have to sell you on the benefits of getting well and truly unplugged every now and then, either. (A week without reading the news, for example, would do wonders for most people’s mental health.) And while we love a business hotel where we can stay effortlessly wired, when it’s time for a proper escape, the technology — the internet, the TV, maybe even the phone — should be the first thing to go.


Phuket area, Thailand

Keemala - boutique hotel in Phuket

We seem to have a bit of weakness for hotels situated at the boundary between ocean and rainforest. Can you blame us when Keemala bills itself as an “all-pool villa wonderland?” That means, we’re proud to report, a just-right combination of hammocks, treehouse rooms, elevated soaking tubs, and yes, a private pool for every booking. No, we don’t recommend taking the laptop in the tub with you.


Travaasa Austin

Austin, Texas

Travaasa Austin - boutique hotel in Austin

Austin sometimes seems to sprawl without limit, but a short hop out of town deposits you in true-blue Hill Country, excellently suited to Travaasa’s self-improvement and bonding ethos. Learn to dance, ride a horse, whip up a meal, differentiate local flora — point is, put Wikipedia away and get your hands dirty. Then clean them in preparation for a homestyle feast at Jean’s Kitchen. You’ll have earned it.


El Otro Lado — Private Retreat

Portobelo, Panama

El Otro Lado - boutique hotel in Portobelo

We could leave this at “neighbors with a National Park,” but for the sake of the theme we’ll enumerate the rest of its virtues. There are only four units, remarkably, and that seclusion is reinforced by a thrilling coast-meets-rainforest backdrop. Who needs a flatscreen when the rooms come with original artwork and the infinity pool looks out over Portobelo Bay?


Sparrows Lodge

Palm Springs, California

Sparrows Lodge - boutique hotel in Palm Springs

The other Palm Springs, if you will, one wherein campfire camaraderie and drinks at the original barn take the place of Snapchat sparring. There’s something of a moratorium on screens, a policy which not-so-subtly ushers you outdoors to take in the woodsy views on foot or bike. Think of it as how you’d do summer camp over again, without all that teenage awkwardness.


Txai Resort

Itacare, Brazil

Txai Resort - boutique hotel in Itacare

You know it’s a keeper when jaded Cariocas and Paulistanos make it their destination of choice. Here, again, the joint grandeur of the lush rainforest and the Atlantic coast’s white sands completely outclass anything an LCD screen could muster. Heed the call of the waters — whether that means surfing lessons, fresh seafood, or both.


Chablé Resort & Spa

Chocolá, Mexico

Chablé Resort & Spa - boutique hotel in Chocolá

The Yucatán jungle is so reliably fascinating that we may as well just stick to pictures and call it a day; if the Mayan ruins won’t convince you, a sentence or two of ours certainly won’t. But it gets better, unbelievably: each guest works with staff on a dedicated relaxation regimen centered around yoga, spa treatments, bike treks, and the like. Presumably that includes a massage to alleviate Texter’s Thumb.


Papaya Playa Project

Tulum, Mexico

Papaya Playa Project - boutique hotel in Tulum

You know we love our design boutiques, but if there’s anything to remedy the hectic-electric daily grind, it’s Papaya Playa Project’s beachfront commune ambience. You won’t be smothered with service or bathed in wan blue light; even the modern casitas have electricity only for lighting. (You read that right — no outlets at all.) Instead you’ll make your way to the beach club for local eats and live music.


Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences

Mexilhoeira Grande, Portugal

Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences - boutique hotel in Mexilhoeira Grande

Design-wise, Areias Do Seixo’s rooms invite the outside in: sizable windows admit plenty of light, driftwood-chic furnishings attract the gaze, and stone surfaces predominate. It’s more or less rustic meets contemporary, an aesthetic suited better to a cheery fireplace than a screen on the wall. Sooner or later you’ll get a hankering to wander around the place, and that’s when you’ll discover the fireplace’s big brother on the beach: a nightly communal bonfire. Social media can wait.


Eremito Hotelito de Alma

Terni, Italy

Eremito Hotelito de Alma - boutique hotel in Terni

Here’s how it’s done: no TV. No phone. No fridge, no wi-fi. No worries, though, as monastic seclusion is entirely the point. You’re in the middle of an Umbrian forest living the simple (though not so austere) monastic life and it is perfect. Just let them try to find you.


Ma’in Hot Springs

Madaba, Jordan

Ma'in Hot Springs - boutique hotel in Madaba

The Dead Sea isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and thankfully, neither is its beauty. Flatscreens aren’t the point; that honor goes to the mesmerizing canyons and waterfalls, offset by inspired counterpoint in the hotel’s palatial architecture. Charged silence and serene privacy are the rules of the day.


Southern Ocean Lodge

Kangaroo Island, Australia

Southern Ocean Lodge - boutique hotel in Kangaroo Island

If you’re looking to tune out, Kangaroo Island should do the trick; hard to outdo a rugged, Southern Australian island in that department. Only family rooms have TVs, which fact you won’t mind at all with a private terrace and ocean views to keep you company. And how about that, another hotel bordering a National Park. Plenty of opportunity to brush up on the wildlife — and later, to share a tall tale or two over wine.