If staying at typical hotel chains during your travels is starting to wear on you, consider checking into a boutique hotel. The difference between the two is dramatic, as there's more attention paid to design and aesthetics, the settings are much more unique, you'll feel more pampered and catered to, and the atmosphere is much more private and intimate. There are boutique hotels all across the country, but a select few stand out for their impeccable service and style.
Here are five of the top boutique hotel chains in the U.S.
1. Ace Hotels
Locations: Los Angeles, New York, Palm Springs, Portland, Seattle, London, and Panama
The great thing about Ace Hotels is that the brand turns abandoned buildings into amazing properties full of modern style. The chain's first location, Ace Hotel Seattle, used to be a halfway house run by Salvation Army until it was turned into the chic property that it is now. Each location is decorated and furnished to suit the vibe of the area around it, which means you'll never see two Ace Hotels that look the same way inside or out.
The Palm Springs location was a Howard Johnson, but you'd never recognize it as a HoJos now. King's Highway, which is this particular location's on-site restaurant, was a Denny's before the team at Ace Hotels got their hands on it. Another fascinating location is Ace Hotel Portland, which was the historic Clyde Hotel. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and inside is an incredible selection of decor. At other Ace Hotels you'll find pools, bars, restaurants, and amenities that are unique to the brand. Locations typically offer guest events year round, such as yoga classes, as well as live music performances in the evening.
2. The James
Locations: Chicago, New York City, West Hollywood
If you're looking for boutique hotel chains that offer incomparable luxury, definitely consider The James. It's one of the most pampering boutique hotels around and if you demand a high level of service you can't go wrong staying there. Inside is a wealth of luxuries and sumptuous decor that looks fantastic. The Gym at The James is a guest favorite that's much more than your typical fitness center. It offers world class equipment, classes and programs, and the hotel has partnerships with top personal trainers who come on-site to work with guests.
The James' spa is also noteworthy, and you'll find a menu of rejuvenating offerings there. Massages, facials, and European style treatments are just the beginning, as the atmosphere and aesthetic of the spa itself is incredible. You won't have to go off site for meals while you're a guest at The James, as the chain offers in-room dining 24 hours a day. Meals are prepared by renowned chefs and are created to suit each guest's specifications. You can order just about anything you have a taste for and get it, which represents a level of service practically unheard of among non-boutique hotels.
3. Joie de Vivre
Locations: 27 locations across the U.S. including San Francisco, Chicago, Santa Clara, LA, NYC, Baltimore, Miami, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans
The first in the lineup of Joie de Vivre's properties was the Phoenix Hotel in 1987, and since then the brand has launched a number of other iconic establishments. If you're looking for boutique hotel chains with locations in California, definitely consider this one as Joie de Vivre has more luxury boutique hotels in the state than any other brand. Each hotel has its own unique atmosphere and look, and the decor style leans towards being eclectic.
On-site are a number of great amenities including restaurants, spas, and lounges. The chain's San Fransisco location, Hotel Rex, is known for its Library Bar which has a well-done bookish theme. From the decor to the furnishings and menu items, everything is library inspired and it's an amazing place to have an afternoon drink or meet with friends. Other Joie de Vivre locations sport themed areas and host live entertainment for guests.
4. 21c Museum Hotels
Locations: Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville, Durham, Lexington, Oklahoma City, Nashville
The founders of 21c Museum Hotels are collectors and preservers of contemporary art, so it's no surprise that this boutique hotel chain doubles as a museum. Everything about 21c Museum Hotel properties is artful and carefully curated, from the pieces on the walls to the plate presentation at its on-site restaurants. Guests at the hotel can enjoy browsing the on-site art collections and museums, fitness center, steam room and sauna, gift shop, and health and fitness classes.
The rooms are gorgeous and filled with amenities including complimentary Wi-Fi, Nespresso coffeemakers, luxe designer toiletries, 42 inch HDTVs, and rooftop terraces. 21c Museum Hotels offers upgraded suites that have separate sitting and dining areas as well as full kitchens.
Locations: over 65 locations including Salt Lake City, Dallas, Austin, Cleveland, Denver, Portland, Winston-Salem, San Diego, and Savannah
Kimpton is the largest of the nation's boutique hotel chains, and its properties have independent names -- you may have heard of Boston's Nine Zero Hotel or Miami's Surfcomber Hotel. Each is part of the Kimpton brand, as is a slew of other gorgeous properties. Though each location has its own style of decor there are several things you can expect when checking into a Kimpton property, and these perks are one of the things that keeps people coming back to the chain again and again.
There's always toiletries and essentials available in case you forget yours at home, including heating pads, flat irons, and humidifiers. The complimentary wine happy hour is a guest favorite, as is the free yoga mat and free on-demand fitness channels available in each and every room.
The on-site spas at Kimpton hotels are top notch, and you can choose to go to a treatment room or receive spa services in your hotel suite. The variety of dining options is also impressive and largely consists of innovative dishes prepared by expert chefs. Sustainable, locally sourced cuisine is the focus, and the wines and cocktails on each hotel's menu are excellent.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker