Seven Small But Charming Boutique Hotels To Visit in Europe

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Seven Small But Charming Boutique Hotels To Visit in Europe

Words by Ms Nicole Trilivas

9 February 2023

Intimate. Individual. Homey. There’s a lot to like about small hotels, with only a handful of rooms to reserve. Exclusive by virtue of their size, these mini hotels are often family-run, adding a built-in layer of local personality and authenticity that’s sometimes hard to pin down in the big-name and big-sized hotels of Europe. From rustic rural retreats set far from the glare of the city lights to chic urban haunts that coolly fly under the radar, these extra-small hotels prove that good things come in small packages.

01. Syros, Greece

Hotel Aristide

Housed in an art-filled neoclassical mansion on the Cycladic Island of Syros (just a short high-speed ferry from Mykonos), the nine-suite Hotel Aristide is designed for those in the know and with an appreciation for aesthetics. An on-site gallery plays host to rotating exhibits from resident artists, while the ritzy restored mansion is an aristocratic masterpiece in its own right with pistachio-green walls, dizzying Doric columns and Pentelikon marble – the same material used in the Acropolis. Tucked right into the romantic heart of the pastel-hued, cliff-top capital of Hermoupolis, Hotel Aristide is less than 10 minutes from both the city’s main Miaouli Square as well as the beach; however, Aegean views can also be found closer to home, at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar.

What to pack

02. London, England

Henry’s Townhouse

If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to live inside a Ms Jane Austen novel, check out Henry’s Townhouse, the six-key hideaway once occupied by Austen’s older brother, the eponymous Henry. Quaint, curious and characterful with candle-lit snugs and no shortage of velvet, this intimate Marylebone townhouse first opened in 2020 as an exclusive-use rental property. However, starting this year, it’s now available to book by the room. Each room takes its personality from a member of the Austen clan (with duck-egg blue walls and roll-top tub, our pick is Cassandra). Spend your stay sipping English cuvees in the Georgian-style pantry; playing backgammon in the red-and-white striped drawing room; or catching up on the classics in the reading room, which is, of course, named after Jane.

What to pack

03. Normandy, France

La Planque en Perche

In a centuries-old stone farmhouse in the petite Norman commune of Bellou-le-Trichard, La Planque en Perche isn’t so much a boutique hotel as it is a restaurant with rooms. There are just three chambres d’hôtes to choose from (with a new addition coming in the summer) at this warm rural refuge just two hours from Paris, but with pared-back, country minimalism (see: exposed beams and wide windows overlooking beds of wildflowers and farmland freckled with horses), you cannot choose wrong. Then there is the 35-cover restaurant, an absolute must with garden-fresh fare and biodynamic wines. The menu – cooked up by the owners – changes every week, but the highlight is always the seasonal produce, sourced right from the vegetable patch and nearby farmers’ market.

What to pack

04. Kraków, Poland


Kraków might not be at the top of your travel list, but it should be. A jumble of castles and cathedrals, bars and boutiques, this is a buzzy university town with an old soul that translates seamlessly into 21st-century cool. The place to stay? The new Warszauer (with six rooms and four apartments), opened in early 2022 by jewellery designer Ms Marta Gajewska. A modern townhouse of concrete, terrazzo and steel located in the hip and creative historic Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, this boutique bolthole feels more like a gallery than your average hotel. The geometric, Picasso-esque artworks are custom creations by local Polish artist Mr Tomasz Opaliński, while the sculptural furniture – with Wassily chairs and industrial lighting – makes for an original and completely contemporary backdrop. Take the two-floor penthouse apartment in Room 41, with views over the rooftops and a bathroom swirled in marble.

What to pack

05. Kent, England

Boys Hall

In the town of Ashford on the scarp edge of the North Downs, the wisteria-tangled Boys Hall – named for the prominent Boys family who acquired the property in 1616 and lived there for five generations – is not short on stories. It’s said that Charles I made a stop there while on the run from Mr Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians. Underground tunnels were discovered in the cellar, likely used by wool smugglers from nearby Romney Marsh and during renovations in the 1970s, 17 gold coins were found under the floorboards, several of which now reside at the British Museum. These days, as a newly opened hotel and restaurant by husband-and-wife team Ms Kristie and Mr Brad Lomas, Boys Hall is entering its next chapter. There will be 10 rooms open by the end of the year, but with a freestanding soaking tub framed by light-filled mullioned windows, the already-open Ernest room will be hard to top.

What to pack

06. Lisbon, Portugal

Montecarmo 12

Portugal has become ultra-trendy over the last few years, with Lisbon leading the charge as one of Europe’s coolest capitals. A soulful, red-roofed city of winding alleys and cobblestoned hills, there are plenty of little pockets to discover on your next trip, such as the leafy and historic neighbourhood of Príncipe Real, site of the new Montecarmo 12 property with 10 rooms spread over three floors. Taking its name from its location on the quiet Travessa Monte do Carmo, just off the main drag and the four-hectare Botanical Garden of Lisbon, the minimalist hotel is a real refuge in the city. Local lioz limestone features prominently, giving the property an unadorned, monastic feel while a spiral staircase uncoils at the hotel’s heart. A custom scent of geranium, lavender, lemongrass and rosemary refreshes the space and the intimate restaurant, with shared kitchen table, creates community among the guests.

What to pack

07. Lake Garda, Italy

Eremus Relais

Pinned to the top of a cypress and vine-covered hill overlooking Lake Garda in Northern Italy, Eremus Relais is a new hotel with heritage dating back to the 16th century. If you had to describe it in one word? Peaceful. Occupying a one-time convent for Capuchin friars, each of the seven private apartments (with two more on the way) are quietly stylish with vistas across the lake and hillscapes. There are natural wood accents and original architectural features dating back to its time as a convent, such as the private porticos in the ground-floor apartments. Breakfast of fresh pastries and fluffy cappuccinos can be taken in the deconsecrated church with surrounding terracotta-roofed cloisters. There’s also a rather divine infinity pool and bar (the perfect spot for a sunset spritz) and serene garden, teeming with citrus trees and frilly fronds of lavender.

What to pack