How can you find an authentic hotel that lets you experience local history or immerses you in the landscape? Here are my tips.
Your hotel can be one of the highlights of your trip. An authentic hotel can charm you and connect you with the local community. And it can make the past come alive. It can make you feel at home even in the most unfamiliar city. Or it can be an experience in itself.
Here are my tips to find an authentic hotel:
1. Try a boutique hotel.
A boutique hotel can often offer a more unique experience than a chain skyscraper. Fewer guests mean the staff have more time for personalized service. And boutique hotels are often more unique since they don’t have to follow corporate standards. This original personality will make you feel like a local.
Boutique hotels don’t go beyond 100 rooms. And this means fewer noisy neighbours and less crowds filing past your door.
Here are some websites to help you find that one-of-a-kind boutique hotel:
Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) has some 500 independent hotels in more than 80 countries that promise distinctive experiences. The hotels are small and offer intimate charm. You can search by destination or by experiences like properties in UNESCO sites.
The Boutique Hotel Awards is an international awards organization dedicated to recognizing excellent luxury boutique hotels. Their website is great for browsing winners in categories like eco-friendly retreats.
All the hotels promise to transport guests into another world through the history or culture of the location.
Great Small Hotels offers a collection of 3,637 hand-picked small luxury hotels from around the world. Each promises to enrich your travel experience with something different. They offer a slice of local history or a unique sense of place. Founded by two Barcelona architects, the website launched when finding unique hotels wasn’t easy. However now with information overload, they say careful selection is essential.
2. Use Google Maps to pick your neighborhood.
Before your trip, get on Google Maps and map out all of your must-see sites at your destination. Then pick a hotel roughly in the middle of those attractions. This will let you explore more of the city on foot. You can wander the neighborhood and blend into its everyday life.
3. Listen to the expats.
Expats can give you valuable insight into their adopted cities and the most original hotels.
You can often find expat communities in Facebook groups. Make some friends and they’ll be happy to recommend an incredible hotel.
4. Use Pinterest to find blog posts.
Pinterest is a gold mine to discover local blogs with reviews of hotels off the beaten path.
5. Read the local media.
Read online magazines that give an insight into the city’s life. And they’ll help you pick the best up-and-coming hotel or hip ecolodge.