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
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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: