Close your eyes and imagine the perfect getaway. What did you see? If you were in a stunning location surrounded by your favorite people — and only your favorite people — then we’ve got the hotels for you.
Jean-Paul Sartre famously wrote that “Hell is other people,” and while it’s an extreme stance, you don’t need to be a hardcore existentialist to sympathize with his basic point. Sometimes you just want to be alone with no more than a few friends or family members. For those times there exist small hotels with only a handful of rooms, making it possible to book up the entire property and be the master of your domain.
San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge
San Lorenzo, Italy
The original charms of this 16th-century hunting lodge are timeless, but the current owners didn’t want to rest on their laurels — a hydrotherapy whirlpool and underfloor heating signal that it has been thoughtfully updated for the modern traveler. And with its four bedrooms only available to a single party at a time, those lucky guests will have San Lorenzo all to themselves.
Mexico City, Mexico
La Valise is a hip little hotel — bigger than a suitcase, but not by much — in Mexico City’s happening Roma neighborhood. Inside a 1920s townhouse you’ll find three spacious and beautifully outfitted suites, led by La Terraza, the most lavish of the three: the king-sized bed rolls from the bedroom to the open-air terrace, which is equipped with a movie projector.
1864 The Sea Captain’s House
With its terraced homes cascading precipitously down the cliffside, Oia is probably Santorini’s most picturesque town. That’s where you’ll find the Sea Captain’s House: four suites presenting what’s essentially an idealized, luxe version of Oian village life — the all-white, minimal, Greek-island vacation norm made to feel residential with a more lived-in, antique-inspired design.
Port Fairy, Australia
A few years ago Port Fairy, with its historic style and splendid coastline, was voted “most livable town in the world.” Coincidentally, we’d happily argue that Port Fairy’s own Drift House, with its four apartment-like suites divided between a classic Victorian house and an uncompromisingly modernist addition, just might be one of the most livable small hotels in the world.
Residenza Ruspoli Bonaparte
Considered one of the loveliest buildings and most desirable addresses in Rome, this one-time home of the Bonaparte family is now a three-suite hotel for you and your family. These glamorous apartments all have high moulded ceilings, polished parquet floors, gilded chandeliers, original artworks, and four-poster beds. The Emperor’s Suite is, of course, on another level entirely.
The Lodge at Tikana
Southland, New Zealand
Cozy doesn’t even begin to describe the one-suite Lodge at Tikana — the floors are heated, the living room has a wood-burning fireplace, and the windows provide panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Your hosts Donna and Dave elevate the experience by providing meals that are made from local ingredients and personalized to your tastes and dietary requirements.
Kiya has many of the features that give the ryokan experience its well-deserved reputation. But what makes it unique among its peers is that the entire house is booked as a single unit, sleeping up to eight. Founded in 1911, it has a long history of hosting Japanese literary figures, and a recent restoration has modern details coexisting quite impressively with the traditional elements.
You may be surprised to learn that Riad Due has four suites, not two — due being Italian for two, of course. But it’s certainly no surprise that Riad Due’s Milanese owners have turned this traditional Marrakech courtyard mansion into an exceedingly chic and stylish riad, complete with a location, right by the medina’s central souk, that places you in the thick of it all.
Grove Lodge is a mile or two down the road from the Royal Crescent, the city’s grandest landmark, and it has just three apartment-style suites. Each of the suites has its own design theme — choose from Georgian, Roman, or Chinese — as well as a drawing room, unobstructed garden views, and a dedicated dining space where the hotel staff serves a proper meal each morning.
Here’s what you’re in for at Cora Apartments: just three sedate, stylish apartments in a 19th-century Wilhelminian villa, outfitted with everything you’d want as a permanent resident of Leipzig, from a full kitchen and a luxurious balcony to details like a Nespresso machine and free wi-fi. Like its sister, Berlin’s Gorki Apartments, it’s among the most authentically residential apartment hotels we’ve ever seen.
Safe to say there’s nothing else quite like Private Mansions, on Tablet or anywhere else. The moody and eclectic Mayor Manor was the first, a one-room hotel above an events and performance space in the heart of Amsterdam — and it’s paired with the nearby Secret Chapel, another one-room hotel made from an 18th-century Catholic church.
Small but mighty at just four rooms, this converted townhouse — a collective effort by some of the city’s most relentlessly inventive designers, architects, and general-purpose creative types — clearly demonstrates the wisdom of investing in hometown pride. Unique features like bay window nooks and private balconies are woven into a unified statement in clean minimalism.
Spoor 62 is a masterfully designed two-room b&b housed in a historic railway station in the countryside outside Bruges. It’s clear that great care went into restoring the old brick structure, a stop on the storied Pullman Express line between Paris and the resort towns of the Belgian coast. Today it positively glows with warmth and an understated countryside glamour.