Travelling and discovery go hand-in-hand. Sometimes this means getting lost in a city’s backstreets, other times it’s opting for somewhere low-key to rest your head. If less really is more, these seven understated hotels certainly deliver.

Hotel Emblem, San Francisco

Hotel Emblem in downtown San Francisco is a creative haven for the conversationalist. Featuring 96 uniquely decorated guest rooms and a cocktail-centric restaurant, there is plenty to keep guests occupied here including the bar inspired by the Beat Generation and the plethora of inspirational quotes and book dotted around the building. The hotel is, of course, situated in the most theatrical and creative district in San Francisco, so while the rooms are cosy the hotel sure has a big personality.

Hotel Mistral, Paris

Nestled in the backstreets of Paris’s 14th arrondissement lies Hotel Mistral, a haven for those who love to be at the city’s core. It’s hard to decide which feature makes this hotel most distinctive – it could be the breakfast buffet of fresh, local produce, the beautiful garden courtyard or the fact that Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre’s open relationship flourished between these walls. The rooms themselves are bright and comfortable with twin, triple, adjacent and family rooms accommodating virtually every type of traveller. Location-wise Hotel Mistral is hard to beat; Montparnasse is rife with patisseries, nightlife and everything in between.

Baglio Giammaccaro Bed & Breakfast, Sicily

If there’s one hotel that epitomises the rich diversity of Sicilian culture, Baglio Giammaccaro Bed & Breakfast is it. Its distinctive feature is without doubt the glorious architecture, most of which is reminiscent of the island’s Arab influence, and gives the stylish accommodation an exotic feel. Coupled with the extraordinary views of the sea and mountains – and the array of exotic plants within the vicinity of the hotel – a stay at Baglio Giammaccaro will have you wondering if you’ve stepped off the plane somewhere in the tropics. Wander through the vineyard and pick seasonal produce or bake dinner in a traditional stone oven, watching the sun set over the Santa Margherita Bay.

  • +39 335 706 5749
  • Go to Website
  • Contrada Frassino 1

UMI Hotel, Hvolsvöllur, Iceland

UMI Hotel in Southern Iceland could be the poster girl for all things Scandi. Sleek and modern, its futuristic edifice sits in the middle of a windswept plain, awe-inspiring and yet wholly inviting. The 28 elegantly designed rooms aim to connect guests with nature, which isn’t difficult considering UMI is within easy reach of an impressive range of waterfalls, volcanoes and black beaches. Give Breki the hotel dog a pat on your way to the bar or marvel at the majestic views of the Westman Islands while making full use of the restaurant, which is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

BnA Hotel Koenji, Tokyo

Tokyo is full of sleek, exclusive hotels, but this hidden gem based in residential Koenji is for those looking to step out of their comfort zone. The functional rooms double as art installations, meaning with every stay the artists, architects, textile designers and carpenters benefit financially – it’s a win-win situation. The bar, gallery and rooftop lounge inside the complex host various events, which guests are encouraged to participate in throughout the year, so while the neighbourhood may not be a tourist hotspot, it’s still buzzing with life.

Hotel de Windketel, Amsterdam

Windketel is a free-standing octagonal brick tower, originally built in 1897 as part of Amsterdam’s waterworks. Today it’s a trendy apartment spread over three floors and is surrounded by a charming garden. The kitchen and dining-room are on the first floor, while the living space takes up the second and a romantic spiral staircase takes guests up to an attic bedroom illuminated by a skylight. This discreet hotel is located in the Westerpark neighbourhood, which buzzes with events year round, while historical Jordaan is also close by.

SiloStay, Little River, New Zealand

For a truly one-off experience, SiloStay is the place to be. The area of Little River is isolated and tranquil, and guests are encouraged to seek and discover personal introspection while enjoying the eco-friendly amenities. With LED lighting, bamboo pillows, wool-powered insulation to a revolutionary septic tank (yes, we really know how to sell a place) the SiloStay is perhaps what our subconscious craves – the chance to escape society yet maintain a community-focused and environmentally friendly way of life. Freshly baked ciabatta can be delivered directly to your silo, and if that isn’t persuasive then we don’t know what is.

  • +64 3 325 1977
  • Go to Website
  • State Highway 75
    4243 Christchurch Akaroa Road
    Little River 7591
    New Zealand

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