Travel

9 Amazing Boutique Hotels That Won't Break the Bank

Have your complimentary espresso and drink it, too
Photo: Adrian Gaut

If you're reading this, odds are you've spent countless vacation-planning hours seeking out the perfect hotel, one loaded with idiosyncratic character and steeped in meticulously composed aesthetics. But your penchant for experiencing the finest restaurants and bars a city has to offer is also likely front and center—and that doesn't always come so cheap. That's why striking the right balance between luxurious digs and enough leftover funds to feed a foie addiction is crucial for all of us with limited means and a whole boatload of wanderlust.

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These nine extraordinary boutique hotels represent the best, brightest and most budget friendly on the market. So be sure to check 'em out before checking in.

Arlo Hudson Square 

New York City, NY
Arlo Hudson Square, along with its sister property, Arlo NoMad, is a welcome 325-room addition to the ever-crowded NYC hospitality scene. Located on the border between Tribeca and Soho, it's admittedly a bit off the beaten path, but that's exactly what makes it so special (and, most likely, so affordable). Enjoy a free wine tasting in the cozy lobby bar, then grab a table at Harold's Meat + Three, former Commerce chef Harold Moore's on-site Southern barbecue joint that's been attracting buzz since opening last year (the menu is also available at the rooftop bar). The rooms, most of which run under $200/night if reserved far enough in advance, are both efficient and ripped from the pages of Dwell (the king beds come aloft in a fully canopied, smooth wooden enclosure fit with inlaid flat-screens), and the simple, built-in furniture reflects a lovely midcentury aesthetic. And though the least expensive rooms definitely err on the smaller side, it's New York City, man—get your butt outside.

Photo: Courtesy of Arlo Hudson Square 

Boro Hotel

Long Island City, NY
Escape Midtown's slack-jawed masses and head across the bridge to this cutting-edge Long Island City gem. The neighborhood is up and coming, sure, but with its close proximity to Manhattan and North Brooklyn; a smattering of hipster-friendly restaurants, bars and craft breweries; and breathtaking, panoramic cityscape views, we promise you won't miss the foot traffic. And starting at under $100 a night, Boro's airy guest rooms, downright enormous bathrooms complete with luxurious soaking tubs, private balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows and a sleekly designed lobby library truly seal the deal. And, hey, if all the cool-hued, industrial-chic decor and perfectly steamed lattes have you itching for a little touristy excitement, Times Square's blinding neon is only a Lyft away.

Photo: Floto + Warner

Hotel Sorrento

Seattle, WA
Permanent residents aren't the only ones benefiting from Seattle's status as one of the country's most liveable cities. Visitors can get in on the action, too, especially when it comes to standout, wallet-friendly accommodations like this recently revived classic atop Downtown's First Hill. The posh institution first opened in 1909, a favorite among VIPs like President William Howard Taft (rumored to be the first guest, in fact) and local couple Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein. Plush velvet couches and turn-of-the-century mahogany moldings in addition to the lobby's ornate, forest-green-tiled fireplace pay homage to the inn's storied past, as do the ample dining options. The Dunbar Room's seafood-driven menu blends European traditions with Pacific Northwest flair for a memorable, farm-fresh experience, while the Fireside Room's cocktail program is undoubtedly one of the town's best. Check into one of the 76 tastefully updated rooms (yours for around $161/night) and head downstairs to wait out the fog at the daily guided wine hour, set to the jazzy tune of the lounge's baby grand piano.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Sorrento

Lone Star Court

Austin, TX
There's no denying Austin's allure. The blueberry in a solidly cherry pie, this lively college town draws in folks from all walks of life with its electrifying arts scene, nightly live music, and off-the-charts mix of highbrow and lowbrow culinary hits. Lone Star Court is packed with vintage dude ranch-inspired furnishings, like a deer-horned desk lamp, a 50s-style Smeg not-so-mini fridge bursting with Texas-born treats and a sliding barn door that leads into the bathroom (all that for around $150/night with a little lead time). The plot is Texas sized, too, with enough space for an almond-shaped pool, outdoor fire pits and several different buildings to explore. Hungry? Traipse on over to the handsomely outfitted Watering Trough bar and café for smoked brisket tacos and a mason jar full of booze, or hit up the Feedstore, the neo-motor lodge's permanently parked food truck (yes, it's that Austin).

Photo: Courtesy of Lone Star

Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm

Albuquerque, NM
As its name might suggest, this ultra-unique pastoral retreat is so much more than just a place to lay your head. Legendary Pueblo Revival architect John Gaw Meem constructed the North Valley property back in 1932 as a private home for a local political power couple, and many of his design touches—Moroccan tiles, curving adobe walls, stunning frescos, hand-carved woodwork—have been gracefully restored to their original glory. Guests currently have their choice of two different buildings, each lusher than the next: Meem, a hacienda offering hand-plastered wood-burning fireplaces, and Farm, an understated mix of white stucco and pitched tin (there's also Field, which features private patios and in-room wet bars, and is set to open in summer 2017). Strewn with wandering peacocks, the 25-acre lavender farm is nestled within the Sandia Mountains, so you know the views are top-notch, and the celebrated in-house restaurant epitomizes the farm-to-table movement. If that already sounds too good to be true, here's the kicker: A night in paradise starts at a measly $175.

Photo: Sergio Salvador Photography

Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer

San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, with its serene landscape and laid-back California ethos, has always been a welcoming place for wanderers of all kinds, and Charlie Palmer's Stockton Street hotel is a celebration of that hospitable history. Housed in a renovated landmark property—one of the only in the area to survive the great quake of 1906—the 82-room boutique hotel is big on historical details, like the original cage elevator and the Burritt Room + Tavern, the pre-Prohibition-era-style whiskey bar stashed on the second floor. Personal touches, like in-room honor bars stocked with local artisanal treats and a dimly lit, loungy common area also harken back to the hotel's genial disposition. If you book far enough in advance, $150 to $200 gets you a standard room, complimentary breakfast and a whole lot of love.

Photo: Aubrie Pick

PUBLIC Chicago

Chicago, IL
If it's simple, contemporary elegance you're after, you'll find it here. PUBLIC has been keeping Chicago's chichi Gold Coast classy since late 2011, when prolific hotelier Ian Schrager (of Studio 54 fame) transformed the formerly ritzy Ambassador East Hotel into this modern design lover's paradise. The interior's all-white-everything motif is complemented by streamlined furniture in beiges and browns, creating a calming vibe that extends from the marble-hearth fireplace to the 285 surprisingly spacious guest rooms, with their imported 300-thread-count Frette linen sheets, custom minibars and soaking tubs. Nightly rates can dip as low as $120 depending on the season—all the more reason to order a second martini at the Pump Room, the hotel's eclectically outfitted, beautifully restored version of the Ambassador East's 1938 haunt.

Photo: Courtesy of Public Chicago

The Liberty Hotel

Boston, MA
At this nine-year-old Beacon Hill boutique, it's not so much about the room decor as it is about the building itself: A 19th-century landmark prison, the lobby is a legitimate, albeit fully renovated Foucauldian Panopticon with soaring brick walls, custom iron chandeliers and two bars (as well as three stellar dining spots) to supply a little liquid courage. Thankfully, the modern, comfortable guest rooms, which start around $185 a night, are a definite departure from the jailhouse ambiance, and while Scampo, the in-house Italian Mediterranean restaurant, fits the bill decor-wise, the cuisine is head and shoulders above mess hall gruel. There's more charm than chill, sure, but what else would you expect from the city that brought us heart-warmers like the Boston Strangler and The Departed.

Photo: Courtesy of The Liberty Hotel

The Line Hotel

Los Angeles, CA
At the Sydell Group's (NYC's NoMad, Freehand Miami) vibrantly youthful L.A. outpost, it's all about location, location, location—specifically ultra-hot, ultra-revamped Koreatown, home to the City of Angels' highest concentration of restaurants, bars and nonstop nightlife. Snug, cheery rooms come outfitted with crispy framed photographs, Southwestern-style accents, rustic concrete walls, trim platform beds and giant windows overlooking the sprawling metropolis. And none other than hipster chef extraordinaire Roy Choi heads up the culinary program, with two smartly appointed restaurants on-site: Commissary, which serves innovative cuisine inside a poolside greenhouse, and casual hot pot emporium POT. As of early  2017, you can still score a room in the $175 range, but that's sure to jump as the property ups its cool-kid cred, so get booking, bruh.

Photo: Adrian Gaut

  • New York City: Arlo Hudson Square

    Arlo Hudson Square, with its cozy $200/night rooms and decor ripped from the pages of Dwell, is a welcome addition to the ever-crowded NYC hospitality scene. Treat yourself to a bellyful at Harold's Meat + Three, former Commerce chef Harold Moore's buzzy on-site Southern barbecue joint, before rolling upstairs to bed.

    Photo: Courtesy of Arlo Hudson Square

  • Long Island City: Boro Hotel

    Escape Midtown's slack-jawed masses and head across the bridge to this cutting-edge Long Island City gem, showcasing breathtaking skyline views and rooms that'll run you less than a Friday-night bar tab.

    Photo: Floto + Warner

  • Seattle: Hotel Sorrento

    Plush couches and original mahogany moldings set the tone at this recently revived classic, once a favorite of VIPs like President William Howard Taft and local couple Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein. After checking into your tastefully updated room (yours for around $161/night), conjure the cultured spirits with a cocktail from the historic Fireside Room.

    Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Sorrento

  • Austin: Lone Star Court

    This quirky Austin ranch is packed with vintage-inspired furnishings like an in-room 50s-style Smeg not-so-mini fridge and a sliding barn door leading into the bathroom, all for around $150/night with a little lead time. Hungry? Grab a bite at the Feedstore, the neo-motor lodge's permanently parked food truck.

    Photo: Courtesy of Lone Star

  • Albuquerque: Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm

    Designed by legendary Pueblo Revival architect John Gaw Meem, this incredibly unique retreat is an architecture buff's dream, starting at just $175 a night. And, as the name indicates, the celebrated in-house restaurant epitomizes the farm-to-table movement.

    Photo: Mike Crane Photo

  • San Francisco: Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer

    Housed in a renovated landmark property—one of the only in the area to survive the great quake of 1906—this 82-room boutique is a celebration of SF's warm, storied history. And with rooms ranging from $150 to $200, you can indulge at Burritt Room + Tavern, the second floor's stellar whiskey bar, guilt free.

    Photo: Aubrie Pick

  • Chicago: PUBLIC Chicago

    Simple, contemporary elegance; comfy beds; and top-notch eats are what makes PUBLIC one of Chicago's swankiest—and most astonishingly affordable—boutique hotels.

    Photo: Courtesy of Public Chicago

  • Boston: The Liberty Hotel

    This Beacon Hill boutique is actually a renovated 19th-century landmark prison, its lobby befit with soaring brick walls, iron chandeliers and two bars to supply a little liquid courage. Thankfully, the modern guest rooms, which start around $185/night, are a definite departure from the jailhouse ambiance.

    Photo: Courtesy of The Liberty Hotel

  • Los Angeles: The Line Hotel

    Southwestern-style accents, rustic concrete walls, trim platform beds, giant windows overlooking L.A. and rates in the $175/night range make this a sure bet for budget-conscious travelers. Oh, and hipster chef extraordinaire Roy Choi heads up the culinary program, so get booking, bruh.

    Photo: Adrian Gaut

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