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Coming to a City Near You: 9 Boutique Hotel Upstarts for the Design-Minded Traveler

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Coming to a City Near You: 9 Boutique Hotel Upstarts for the Design-Minded Traveler

February 20, 2019

There are certainly perks to staying at a luxury chain like the Four Seasons or the Ritz-Carlton, but on the whole, we prefer boutique hotels that are more unique, local-centric, and intimate. Here, eight upstarts in the hospitality industry that prioritize style over size and well-being over high-living. And good news: These hotel groups are expanding (each has either just launched a new location or is opening one or more later this year).

The Line Hotels

The Line Hotel in D.C. is housed in an loading=
Above: The Line Hotel in D.C. is housed in an 110-year-old church. The interiors are appealingly eclectic, but the coolest thing about it may just be that the hotel has its own internet radio station.

Managed by the Sydell Group, Line Hotels has three locations: Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and its newest in Austin, which opened its doors this past summer. All three hotels are in historic buildings that have been meticulously restored and upgraded. (The Sydell Group is also responsible for the super-chic Freehand Hotels; see Freehand Hotel: A Storied Manhattan Haunt of Poets and Artists Gets a Revamp for 2018).

Lokal Hotels

The sleek kitchen in one of the units in Lokal Fishtown, which opened earlier this month. The interiors are designed by True Hand Society. Photograph by Heidi&#8
Above: The sleek kitchen in one of the units in Lokal Fishtown, which opened earlier this month. The interiors are designed by True Hand Society. Photograph by Heidi’s Bridge for Lokal Hotels.

If you want the flexibility afforded by staying at an Airbnb and the reliable consistency offered by a hotel, then you’ll want to consider a Lokal joint. The Lokal group has three hyper-local outposts, two of them in the Philadelphia area and all of them equipped with a kitchen. Their motto: “We like design. We like feeling at home. We like doing what the locals do when we travel. We don’t like to be bothered. But we do like curated, expert advice. We also like good coffee and nice towels, sheets and beds.” (See Steal This Look: A Boldly Blue Kitchen in Philadelphia by Jersey Ice Cream Co. for details about its Old City location.)

Eaton Hotels

 A guest room in Eaton Hotel D.C., which opened last year; a location in Hong Kong also debuted a few months ago. Up next: openings in Seattle and San Francisco.
Above: A guest room in Eaton Hotel D.C., which opened last year; a location in Hong Kong also debuted a few months ago. Up next: openings in Seattle and San Francisco.

Eaton Workshop is not content to be just a hospitality company. From its website: “[It] is a purpose-driven company at the intersection of culture, media, hospitality, wellness, and progressive social change.” Founded by Katherine Lo, the hotels in the group have been designed with the progressive, design-minded millennial in mind, complete with communal workspaces, a member’s clubs, and wellness centers. Think of it as a socially-conscious version of Soho House.

Hoxton Hotels

La Neta Restaurant in the loading=
Above: La Neta Restaurant in the 119-room Hoxton Portland, which opened just a few months ago.

If Ace Hotels is the scrappy, hipster nephew, Hoxton Hotels is its quirky, more sophisticated uncle. The British-owned hotel conglomerate, which already has four European locations, recently crossed the Atlantic, first landing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where it’s quickly established itself as the cool place to stay. A Portland location opened a few months ago, and a Chicago branch opens in April.

Moxy Hotels

Moxy&#8
Above: Moxy’s newest hotel opened this past fall in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. The boutique chain is known for its clever small-space storage solutions, like this peg rail-lined wall in a guest room at Moxy Hotel Chelsea.

We deliberated the inclusion of Moxy Hotels on our list because of its mass-market roots (it’s owned by hospitality behemoth Marriott), but it does budget, no-frills, small-space design so well that it feels like a fresh upstart. (See 7 Small Bedroom Ideas to Steal from NYC’s Moxy Hotel.) Geared toward tech-savvy millennials, Moxy’s first hotel opened in 2014 and since then, their expansion has been rapid-fire. There are now dozens of Moxy Hotels across North America, Europe, and Asia, and many more are on the way; in the U.S. alone, seven new locations are slated to open this year.

Mighty Union

The public lounge area at the Carpenter Hotel in Austin. The hotel is in a former union hall.
Above: The public lounge area at the Carpenter Hotel in Austin. The hotel is in a former union hall.

The Mighty Union is an Austin-based hospitality company that specializes in effortlessly hip restaurants and hotels. We’ve written before about the Suttle Lodge, their cabin-chic lakeside resort (see The Suttle Lodge: A Hipster-Rustic Retreat in Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest). And now they’ve added another hotel to their resumé: the Carpenter Hotel in Austin, which opened this past November.

Proper Hotels

Proper Hotels aim to bridge the gap between the luxury hotel and the indie boutique markets.
Above: Proper Hotels aim to bridge the gap between the luxury hotel and the indie boutique markets.

Here’s a new hotel group with a formidable pedigree. Proper Hotels was started by the founder and former CEO of Viceroy Hotels and counts style maven Kelly Wearstler as its interior designer. So far, Proper Hotel is up and running only in San Francisco, where it’s made a splash (“San Francisco’s Proper Hotel is maximalism at its best,” says a review in the S.F. Chronicle). But there are four more locations—Portland, Austin, and two in Los Angeles—on the horizon.

Atelier Ace

 The 67-room Maison de la Luz is across from the original Ace Hotel New Orleans.
Above:  The 67-room Maison de la Luz is across from the original Ace Hotel New Orleans.

Our list wouldn’t be complete without Atelier Ace. In addition to their Ace Hotels, the hipster hospitality chain that arguably launched the whole design-centric boutique-hotel movement, the company is now expanding beyond its namesake hotel: Maison de la Luz, their new venture in New Orleans, opens this spring (see Maison de la Luz: A Luxe New Guesthouse in New Orleans, by Atelier Ace), around the same time that Sister City, their new hotel in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, debuts.

Graduate Hotels

The color purple features heavily in the Graduate Seattle&#8
Above: The color purple features heavily in the Graduate Seattle’s color palette, a nod to the University of Washington’s school colors. (See A Master Class in Art Deco at the Graduate Hotel in Seattle.)

Graduate Hotels gets an A+ for smart business plan. The hospitality chain will grow its empire of collegiate campus-based hotels to 12 more locations by 2020 (it currently has 13 locations open), including a foray into the Ivy League this year with openings in Providence and New Haven. Its goal is to have a total of 100 properties in its portfolio in the next 10 years.

Find a few more recently opened hotels here:

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