Where you kick up your feet at the end of each day and arise the next morning to begin your next adventure, is an opportunity to immerse yourself into a truly authentic travel experience. What better path to discovery is there than to be welcomed by hosts in an abode that reflects the beauty of the locale and the charm of its people? Boutique hotels offer unique, intimate spaces conveying local culture through genuine hospitality. Their small size creates a space where you find more personalized service and opportunities to make deeper connections to people and places you visit, and you can rest comfortably knowing that small is beautiful and more sustainable. Drawing from over 30 years of travel experience, we've selected this exclusive list of our favorite "wild-style" boutique accommodations. We've chosen these 15 properties because they deliver charm, luxurious amenities, and native warmth, all while conserving their surroundings and enriching their communities. We invite you to let these hosts guide you on your next Wildland Adventure where you will be treated like family, whichever adventure you choose!
1. Estancia Rincon Chico - Península Valdés, Argentina
Discover your inner naturalist at Estancia Rincon Chico, a private, sustainable ranch and exclusive accommodation hidden away on the remote northeastern corner of the Atlantic Patagonian sea coast. Constructed in the style of old English houses of the late 19th century, this traditional Patagonian ranch house is the perfect base for observing the wildlife of the region. The spacious living room overlooks the vast Patagonian steppe and offers a varied library of books on local flora and fauna; the perfect place for guests to immerse themselves in the spirit of Patagonia. Delicious home cooked fare is served in the common dining room adjacent to the wine bar and living room, all decorated with antique furniture that belonged to the family. It's located within walking distance to prime wildlife habitat and beaches on the property with amazing photographic opportunities guided by resident naturalists, as well as horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, identification of native flora, bird watching, and opportunities to observe and even participate in ranch livestock activities (in season), as well as learn about Estancia Rincon Chicos conservation efforts.
2. Hacienda Zuleta - Otavalo, Ecuador
Immerse yourself in the hospitality and history of Ecuador in this country home, located on 4,000 acres of working estancia, offering tranquility and authenticity in the spectacular Andean highlands. Hacienda Zuleta is the former home of Ecuadorian President Galo Plaza Lasso, and retains its original elegance, decorated with period antiques as well as beautifully embroidered linens, many from Zuleta's on-site workshop. Delicious meals come from the hacienda's own organic gardens and cheese-making facilities. Mountain biking and horseback riding are excellent means of exploring the lush lands and surrounding eucalyptus forests, allowing guests to travel further into the back-country to discover Zuleta's Andean Condor rehabilitation project or even pre-Incan remains! Hacienda Zuleta's foundation, started by the Plaza Lasso family, supports education, conservation, and socioeconomic development programs in Zuleta.
"Hacienda Zuleta was really beautiful, comfortable and scenic. The staff were all very nice and helpful. We would have liked to stay another night." - Eric Anderson
3. Hotel Yemaya - Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Reinvent yourself on Little Corn Island, off the vibrant Caribbean coast of Nicaragua at Hotel Yemaya, declared by Forbes Magazine as "the most beautiful island luxury lodges in the world." This delightful eco-friendly hotel offers eco-chic oceanfront suites that are generously sized, and feature one-of-a-kind indoor/outdoor showers, luxurious bedding and handcrafted furnishings made from Nicaragua hardwoods that add to the sense of comfort. Their award-winning on-site spa features a variety of services and guest also have access to a variety of water activities such as snorkeling and paddle boards. Two on-site restaurants feature local farm-fresh organic produce and fresh seafood that is sure to intoxicate your taste buds.
4. Hotel Sol y Luna - Urumbamba Valley, Peru
Nestled in the middle of the Urumbamba Valley, the Hotel Sol y Luna is not only a Relais Chateaux property but also one of the most unique and character-filled hotels in the Sacred Valley. Surrounded by 25 acres of whispering eucalyptus, blooming gardens, and the majestic mountains of the Andes, round casitas made of adobe, wood, and stone are nestled throughout the property. The focus on traditional construction is continued in the decoration and design of the hotel. Each casita is decorated with murals by local artist Federico Bauer and you'll find traditional weaving throughout. Sol y Luna also features stables of Peruvian Paso horses and an exceptional restaurant with the welcoming warmth of an open fireplace, featuring typical Peruvian dishes as well as international plates. Sol y Luna's foundation funds a school for local kids in the surrounding community.
For more information about trips to Peru or Hotel Sol y Luna contact Kelsey, our South America expert, or read her blog Top Five Experiences on our Inca Trail Trek and Amazon Adventure.
"Hotel Sol y Luna was the nicest hotel we stayed at on our trip and the service and grounds were exquisite." - Scott Vroubel, Wildland Alumni
5. Uman Lodge - Lakes District, Chile
Uman Lodge overlooks 500 hectares of farmland and waterways; the perfect combination of relaxation and adrenaline for Patagonia adventurers. Offering panoramic views of the valley and rivers, the modern and warm architecture integrates with its surrounds and offers a friendly refuge with its spacious decoration of indigenous wood and local designs. The farmland, "La Confluencia," is owned and ran by Uman Lodge and is dedicated to sustainability, designed to protect and conserve the native forest. Located right by the world renowned Futaleufu River, one of the most famous white water runs in the world, rafting, hiking trails, biking, and local communities make this the perfect base for adventure. At the end of the day guests can relax with a glass of Chilean wine in hand and enjoy the delicious farm sourced food.
6. Tamarind Village - Chiang Mai, Thailand
A trip to Thailand wouldn't be complete without staying at Tamarind Village, a unique and charming property nestled in the heart of historic Chiang Mai. Surrounded by ancient temples and quaint shopping streets, it takes its name from the magnificent 200 year-old tamarind tree that shades the hotel and offers a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Set around a series of exquisite garden courtyards, the 45 green certified rooms and suites reflect the rich ethnic diversity of northern Thailand by using fabrics and patterns drawn from various tribes of the region. Guests can choose from a myriad of cultural excursions to meet locals and learn about Thailand such as visiting artisan studios, exploring local markets, rural villages, or national parks. A number of complimentary hotel-based activities also include flower garland making, umbrella painting, bamboo waving, banana & lotus leaf folding, Tung 'flag' making and more.
7. Ka'ana Resort - Belize City, Belize
Ka'ana Resort emulates the natural beauty and spirit of Belize, located right in the heart of the jungle. From the clean minimalist design to the paths weaving through perfectly manicured gardens lined with candles in the evening, the resort exudes comfort and luxury. Offering 5 different room types to fit any group size, Ka'ana also offers highly curated experiences that are authentically Belize, such as exploring Mayan ruins, jungle excursions and more. Their organic garden provides fruits and vegetables for the kitchen, which serves up delicious local fare, along with boasting the largest wine cellar in western Belize. Ka'ana believes in giving back and invests in and supports many local community projects.
For more information on vacations in Belize or Ka'ana Resort contact Grettel, our Belize expert, or read her blog 7 Wild Things Not to Miss on a Belize Family Adventure.
"Ka'ana had excellent service, very nice staff, good food, good accommodations." - Margee Falk, Wildland Alumni
8. Kura Design Villas - Uvita, Costa Rica
Kura Design Villas is an exclusive, couples only, hotel on the southern coast of Costa Rica. Its' ultra-romantic, spacious rooms feature ocean views, perfect for watching the Costa Rican sunsets. Perched remotely on a coastal ridge above the shoreline, the elevation allows for cool breezes, panoramic views of the ocean to the west, and deep jungle views to the east. Designed by the owners, an architect and biologist, every aspect is well thought out. From the restaurants locally sourced, organic tropical ingredients to the fire in the middle of the pool that lights up at night, a feeling of intimacy and eccentricity flows throughout. The hotel is committed to sustainability using photovoltaic solar panels for electricity, a rainwater collection system, and a waste-water treatment plant. Guest can experience the local culture by visiting nearby beaches and villages.
10. Aristi Mountain Resort - Aristi, Greece
Declared by Nat'l Geographic as one of the "Unique Lodges of the World," Aristi Mountain Resort does not disappoint. Offering views into the spectacular Vikos Gorge and a starting point for hikes to the enchanting Zagorochoria villages, the resort allows guests to absorb the nature surrounding them while retaining the highest levels of comfort. Designed in the local style and built with regional materials, wood and natural stone are dominant throughout, with special attention paid to lighting. Salvia Restaurant emphasizes local produce, melding traditional dishes with neo-culinary vision, while local wines complement each dish. Guests can pamper themselves at the spa, participate in different wellness activities or hike in the surrounding hills. Designed and operated to minimize its impact, the hotel has been green certified, a high standard to attain!
11. Cape Cadogan - Cape Town, South Africa
Converted from a farmhouse in 1912, the stately Cape Cadogan Hotel was declared a national monument in 1984. This Victorian style hotel is comprised of 12 luxurious bedrooms, each individually decorated with a mix of contemporary chic and a touch of yesteryear. Designed for comfort and tranquility, the public areas include a welcoming lounge, a garden and pool area, and a library where you can relax and read or enjoy a cup of tea. Located just off Cape Towns' bustling Kloof Street, it's the perfect location to explore the city or relax and join other guests for high tea or aperitif and canapes at sunset. The hotel showcases Cape Town at its finest - with beauty, sophisticated charm, and quirky personality.
For more information about travel to South Africa or Cape Cadogan Hotel contact Chris, our Africa expert, or read his blog 5 Things that really excite me about Kruger National Park in South Africa.
"Cape Cadogan was a small oasis in a perfect location!" John Caplan, Wildland Alumni
12. Rawla Narlai - Narlai, India
Ralwa Narlai sits off the beaten path, in the countryside between Jodhpur and Udaipur. Formally a hunting lodge for the Jodhpur royal family, it's full of character, comfort, and luxury, while maintaining its' original character. It's still owned by members of the Jodhpur royal family and features 32 well-appointed rooms adorned with hand block printed lining and vintage furnishing. Guests can enjoy a fabulous meal on the rooftop or by the 16th Century Baori (Step-well) for a uniquely Indian experience. The hotel also offers a variety of culture activities and excursions such as walking tours, hiking to temples, village visits or even leopard spotting.
"Ralwa Narlai was amazing; I wish I lived there! Try to spend 2 nights there if you can, there is a lot to do in the village." - Billie, Wildland Alumni
13. El Convento Boutique Hotel -Antigua, Guatemala
A gem in the heart of Antigua, a historic UNESCO city, the luxurious and elegant El Convento was once part of an 18th-century convent. Each of its 24 spacious rooms feature distinctly Guatemalan design elements and a unique carved wooden door that depicts the name and style of each room. Many of the suites have fireplaces and some feature romantic outdoor terraces and Jacuzzis. Its' restaurant cuisine fuses traditional Antiguan dishes with Italian and French gastronomy as well as fine wines from its own exclusive wine cellar.
"El Convento is cozy, warm, and enchanting! Everything is so colonial and colorful, It's like staying in the country house of your rich grandma!" - Grettel Calderon, Wildland Central America Director
14. The Peech Boutique Hotel - Johannesburg, South Africa
The Peech Hotel, awarded Johannesburg's "Travelers Choice Award 2017" by TripAdvisor, is situated in the upmarket suburb of Melrose in Johannesburg. Surrounded by tall trees in a one-acre garden, it is hard to believe this gem is in the middle of the city. The hotel features 16 rooms and suites, spacious and chic, some overlooking the landscaped gardens with private patios or balcony, and house rooms located in the original old residence. All the rooms are modern, understated and sophisticated, with natural African furnishings. The hotel is Fair Trade Tourism certified and has environmental policies and practices that are industry leading, as well as giving back through supporting different community projects.
15. Paseo 206 Botique Hotel - Havana, Cuba
Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel is a 1930's classic Cuban mansion in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. Carefully restored to its' former glory, this eight-room retreat feels like you've stepped back in time to your very own mid-century residence. Hallmarks of retro Havana flow through each unique room with vintage furniture and pastel colors reminiscent of the water, beaches, and the tropical forests of Cuba. While the architecture evokes Vedado's decadent, high-rolling past, the friendly staff exude the hospitality and warmth of present day Cuba. Located conveniently near Plaza de la Revolución, guests can enjoy an aperitif in the library, while listening to the sounds of a Cuban trio before they head out to explore the nightlife of Havana.
For more information on trips to Cuba or Paseo 206 contact Grettel, our Cuba specialist, or read out blog Frequently Asked Questions on New Cuba Travel Restrictions.
"We aim to bring the charm of the époque houses back to life, and give guests the comfort of a luxury hotel while staying in a Vedado mansion." Diana Sainz, owner
Is your vacation destination not on this list? With over 30 years of adventure travel experience we can help you find the perfect accommodation wherever you want to go. For information on any of these hotels just give us a call. You can also check out our Top 10 Ecolodges/Camps for Adventurers blog.