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We scoured the globe for the 20 best new boutique hotels. You'll meet the owners; you'll kick back on your own private balcony; you'll eat homemade granola each morning; you'll never want to leave.
Hotel Boca Chica
Long before Cancún or Cabo, Acapulco was the king of Mexican resort towns—and the Hotel Boca Chica was its crown jewel, drawing everyone from Elvis to the Rat Pack. Now, after a three-year remodel, the Boca Chica has regained its former sparkle. The 36 rooms are lacquered white and flooded with light, and all have private balconies. Meanwhile, old Hollywood touches throughout—like lamps made from conch shells and latticed brickwork—serve as ever-present reminders of its storied past.
hotelbocachica.com, from $95.
When owners Nana Simopoulos and Caryn Heilman set out to restore a 19th-century brick boardinghouse in the Berkshires, they didn't just strive for eco-conscious design—it was more like eco-perfection. Nearly everything in the eight-room Topia Inn is organic, from the breakfast of banana bread, spinach quiche, and fair-trade coffee to the plush mattresses made of chemical-free cotton. Even the walls are plastered with bright, earth-friendly clay, which makes them cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and inviting all year long.
topiainn.com, from $125.
Oxygen Jungle Villas
The 12 cabins at Oxygen Jungle Villas were constructed with a singular goal: to make you feel like you're the only person for miles. Blissfully isolated among barriers of tropical plants and vines, the one-bedroom villas come off like Swiss Family Robinson tree houses. Each has a private sun-deck, a sharply angled roof, and glass walls to maximize views of the Pacific Ocean a mile away. And considering the adults-only hotel never takes more than 24 guests at a time, it's hardly a stretch to believe the jungle is yours and yours alone.
oxygenjunglevillas.com, from $139.
The Pantone Hotel
What's so weird about this pint-size property in Sweden? At first glance, the one-room hotel appears to be a cheery red house in the middle of the lake—yes, it's in the middle of a body of water but how strange is that, really? Don't be fooled: The room isn't actually in the house; it's 10 feet underwater. It's also the only functioning underwater hotel that started out as an art installation. Designed by artist Mikael Genberg, the 10-year-old inn's sole room consists of two twin beds with panoramic windows on all sides. There is no electricity, but there is lighting and a portable gas heater. When ready to come up for air, guests can relax on the deck or take the dinghy out to one of the nearby uninhabited islands.
The Mosaic House
Part stylish hotel, part traditional hostel, the Mosaic House is an experience all its own. Inside the six-story 1935 building, guests can opt for one of 64 private rooms (from $26) or one of 30 shared spaces—for nearly half the cost (from $15). While the atmosphere skews toward the casual (think board games and beanbag chairs in the lounge), the decor is more upscale: Each room is done up in chocolate brown, burgundy, and gold, and is accented with quirky touches like closet rods made of tree branches and tables fashioned from salvaged-wood beams.
mosaichouse.com, from $15.
Cornwall's rugged cliffs, manicured gardens, and 300-plus public beaches have drawn British vacationers since the 1800s. Now the seaside retreat, four and a half hours west of London, has one more draw to add to the list: the Nearwater. At this whitewashed B&B in the town of St. Mawes, owners Tim and Amelia Whitaker have transformed a simple home into one of the area's sweetest small hotels. Bamboo floors, Danish teak furniture, and a mirror made from driftwood give Nearwater a light, nautical look, while the three rooms' beds are covered in sailor-striped wool blankets. Added to that, Amelia's homemade granola and pancakes are the perfect start to a day spent taking one of Tim's famous guided walks along the coast.
nearwaterstmawes.co.uk, from $131 with breakfast.
The last thing you'd expect to find in Vietnam's hyper-kinetic capital is a tranquil French retreat, but such is the pleasant surprise of Ma Maison. Run by Natasha Long, a Saigon local, the inn is housed in a 70-year-old colonial villa remodeled to evoke French country life. Walls are painted in soft yellows and greens, while the 12 rooms have blond-wood beds and desks with gold-leaf details. The hotel's bistro completes the vibe, with a menu full of French fare such as braised chicken with mushrooms. Add to that thoughtful touches like the complimentary mobile phones with free local service and an affable cat, Mr. Sushi, and you'll be feeling like family in no time.
mamaison.vn, from $70 with breakfast. 20. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Sojourn Boutique Villas
TThe Sojourn Boutique Villas is the rare resort that soothes your body and soul all at once. The 10 red-and-white bungalows are just a few miles from the iconic temples of Angkor, so guests can spend their days wandering among 12th-century Buddhist ruins and their evenings soaking in the palm-tree-fringed saltwater pool. All that relaxing comes with the peace of mind that Sojourn donates a portion of its proceeds to clean-water initiatives and English lessons for residents of the nearby Treak Village.
sojournsiemreap.com, from $100 with breakfast.
Hotel Spa Granada
It's one thing to stay in the heart of a Spanish colonial city—and quite another to stay in a Spanish-colonial mansion. Located smack in the middle of Granada's historic district, the sprawling 19th-century Hotel Spa Granada has five garden courtyards, a lagoon-like swimming pool in the center, and 15 expansive guest rooms (some with ceilings as high as 18 feet) that are decorated with handicrafts from a local artisan. A free spa treatment is included with every night of your stay, but the rates are so shockingly affordable—a 60-minute massage is $20, an aloe facial is $10—that a full day of pampering hardly qualifies as a splurge.
hotelspagranada.com, from $49 with breakfast.