The ultimate boutique hotels

Time-honoured boutique beauties where the building is your perfect bed-partner

The ultimate boutique hotels Arizona Biltimore
By Yolanda Zappaterra

Who's not bored with hotels that seem to think twee toiletries, muted hues and smooth linen are the acme of a traveller's experience?


Arizona Biltmore

Just 27 miles away from the stunning Taliesin West, home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, is a hotel where the input of America's greatest architect has created  a truly remarkable building. The Biltmore's actual architect was Albert Chase McArthur, but certain aspects of the building – in particular the lobby – are pure Wright. The fact that so many others aren't, or are later additions designed by students from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, adds hugely to the pleasure of staying here.

Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, 2,400 East Missouri Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85016 (+1 602 955 6600/ From $319.

La Posada

Until Zaha Hadid designs an entire hotel (instead of just a floor, as at Madrid's Hotel Puerta America), we have to make do with just one woman architect on our list. Mary Colter designed La Posada for the Santa Fe Railway in 1929 as one of the great railway hotels, filling the public spaces and private rooms with warm, decorative local arts, crafts and materials. A sad 40-year closure came to an end a decade ago when it was rescued by Colter fans Allan Affeldt and his artist wife, Tina Mion, who are painstakingly restoring the hotel to its former glory. Arrive by plane into Winslow and you get to see the only Lindbergh-designed airport in the world as an added bonus.

La Posada, 303 E 2nd St (Route 66), Winslow, AZ 86047 (+1 928 289 4366/ From $99.


The Atlanta

Something of an institution, this idiosyncratic hotel – 'a small resort for sleaze-free and wholesome tourism', proclaims the quirky website – has Thailand's oldest swimming pool, constructed in 1954. It's still there, little changed, as is a wondrous foyer that's often used for film sets. This detail would surely have pleased its designer, Berliner Dr Max Henn, whose influences included central European theatre architecture and set designs of the 1920s and 1930s.

The Atlanta Hotel, 78 Soi 2 Sukhumvit Rd, Bangkok 10110, (+ 66 2 252 6069/ From 425 baht.


SAS Royal Hotel

If it's Danish it must be Jacobsen, and while the great modernist designer lives on through countless classic furniture designs, the SAS Royal is the only way to stay in a Jacobsen hotel. Back in 1960, Jacobsen designed the hotel and everything in it, but refurbishments over the years buried much of his work. Room 606, however, has been restored to what Jacobsen's original would have looked like, down to custom-designed carpets and wenge wood chairs reupholstered in an exact facsimile of Jacobsen's original fabrics. If you get to stay in it you receive a unique large-scale postcard of the room. If you don't, you can enjoy the soaring Jacobsen foyer and hopefully sneak a peak into the room when it's being cleaned.

SAS Royal Hotel, Hammerichgade 1, Copenhagen (+45 38 15 65 00/ From DKK 1695.


Burgh Island Hotel

Britain doesn't do adventurous architecture very well, so you need to head back to the 1930s for something special – with prices to match. Burgh Island is a fanciful but gorgeous example of art deco, located on its own tidal island (meaning you can't get off it once it's high tide, so choose who you want to spend a weekend here with carefully). It has maintained its quality and appeal by refurbishing regularly to keep standards in the twenty-first century, without compromising on any of the period detail. Simply sumptuous.

Burgh Island Hotel, Bigbury-on-Sea, South Devon, TQ7 4BG (01548 810 514/ From £355.


Coral Gables Biltmore

A resort bearing classic Italian, Moorish and Spanish architectural influences in the middle of Florida? Amazingly, it works so well that the Coral Gables, opened in 1926, has achieved National Historic Landmark status. Architect Leonard Schultze and  contractor/developer S Fullerton Weaver had already worked on a number of prestigious projects – most notably Miami's Freedom Tower – but in this hotel they created a building that has remained an extraordinary example of Mediterranean architecture despite numerous refurbs.

Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134 (+1 305 445 8066/ From $179.


Barceló Formentor

Going on for 80 but maintaining its effortless good looks and chic appeal, the Formentor's traditional Spanish style has attracted a number of stylish luminaries in the past, among them Winston Churchill, Charles Chaplin and Laurence Olivier. They presumably came for the stunning beauty of the peninsula, but the hotel's pretty stunning too. A lovely, understated example of classic Iberian architecture, the Formentor is in total harmony with the park surrounding it.

Barceló Formentor, Playa de Formentor, 3 07470, Port de Pollença, Majorca (+34 971 899 100/ From €170.


Hotel Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier's grand paean to communal living, the Unité D'Habitations, or Cité Radieuse, is a glorious example of the way his stark, sleek lines could work with colour. The building is out of bounds to tourists (though occasional free guided tours of the public areas and an apartment are organised by the tourist office), so staying in the third floor hotel enables you to explore to your heart's content, from rooftop gym and crèche down through the bar and canteen to the colour-flooded foyer. Definitely the one to stay in when you head for Marseilles in 2013 for the Capital of Culture jamboree.

Hotel Le Corbusier, 280 boulevard Michelet, 13008, Marseilles (+33 4 91 16 78 00/ From €59.



If the functional simplicity of twentieth-century modernism leaves you cold, warm up in a classic example of art nouveau. The six-storey wood-framed Paxmontana was built in 1896 and from the outside looks like a Swiss version of the terrifying Overlook hotel from 'The Shining', all imposing grandeur plonked incongruously in the middle of central Switzerland's majestic scenery. But inside, last year's refurbishment following the hotel's original designs has resulted in a hotel whose rich fittings and warm colours capture the spirit of the belle époque perfectly.

Paxmontana, CH-6073 Flüeli Ranft (+41 41 660 22 33/ From SFr190.



In 1945, Czech immigrants Guillermo and Catalina Pollack commissioned renowned Chilean architect Jorge Elton to build them a hotel between Lago Villarrica and the eponymous volcano. Elton was a fan of Bauhaus  and his creation, Antumalal – 'corral of the sun' in the native Mapuche tongue – is a perfect illustration of the harmony  of form, natural environment and function. The 22-room hotel is in the heart of the Chilean lake district and behind the cool exterior are the essentials of a log cabin:  each of the bedrooms is panelled in wood and stone and is made cosy by an open fire. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the lake  and the hotel's well-kempt lawns.  Guests  have included Queen Elizabeth II and Neil Armstrong.

Anumalal, Casilla 84, Pucón (+56 45 441011/ From $217.


Parco dei Principi

Italian modernist Gio Ponti's stunning 1960s creation is set in a suitably dramatic location, overlooking the Neopolitan riviera cliffs in Sorrento. Making the most of the natural backdrop, Ponti set the hotel right on the cliff's edge, necessitating a sci-fi-style lift descent through cliffs to get to the hotel's tiny private beach. But it's the interiors that really stand out, from the lobbies with glass and tile mosaics through to the 170-odd rooms, all decorated with their own unique blue-and-white mosaic tiled floor, classic modernist furniture and a private balcony that gives you stirring sea views.

Parco dei Principi, Vita Rota 1, Sorrento 80067 (+ 39 081 8784644/ From £130.