Travel 4 minutes 08 August 2023

Small Hotels You Can Have to Yourself

A collection of intimate hotels perfect for those who are looking for some separation — and looking to misinterpret Sartre’s famous phrase.

The hotels below are part of the MICHELIN Guide hotel selection. Each of the 6,000+ hotels in the selection has been chosen by our experts for its extraordinary style, service, and personality — and each can be booked on the MICHELIN Guide website and app.

In No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that “Hell is other people.” It’s an oft-misunderstood line that’s not quite as cynical as it sounds. Sartre wasn’t claiming, as most believe, that other people are awful. His point was that only when we are alone are we truly free to be ourselves. Free from judgment and expectation and from the prison of how others perceive us.

That said, who among us doesn’t occasionally relate to the more common interpretation?

Travel is a great way to discover new places and meet interesting new people. Sometimes, though, you’ve got no patience for strangers, and just want to be with your closest friends and family members. For those times there exist small hotels with no more than a few rooms, making it possible to book up the entire property for yourself (and for the handful of people you can currently stomach).

Kyo no Ondokoro Kamanza Nijo #2
Kyoto, Japan

Mere blocks from Nijo Castle, Kyo no Ondokoro offers the rare opportunity for Kyoto visitors to call a 150-year-old downtown house their home. Architects Yoshifumi Nakamura and Akira Minagawa have revamped the interiors of this distinctive two-story merchants’ house, resulting in a warm, airy collection of blonde-wood rooms, the two floors separated by a winding staircase.

Book Kyo no Ondokoro on the MICHELIN Guide →

Villa Sal
Lagoa, Portugal

The appeal of Villa Sal is almost too simple to effectively describe. It’s not one but two villas, set in the seaside town of Lagoa on San Miguel in the Azores, the Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic almost a thousand miles due west of Lisbon. And they get right to the point, looking straight out to sea from a south-facing clifftop setting.

Book Villa Sal on the MICHELIN Guide →

Cyprès Si Haut
Saint-Mexant, France

Safe to say we’ll never feature a hotel smaller than Cyprès Si Haut. Whether it’s a one-room hotel or a one-bedroom guest house is purely academic — what matters is the privacy afforded by this treehouse, perched four meters high in a stand of pines and larches in Corrèze. There’s a Jacuzzi on the balcony, a sauna, and room service that arrives via a pulley contraption, so you never have to touch the forest floor.

Book Cyprès Si Haut on the MICHELIN Guide →

Gistel, Belgium

Spoor 62 is a masterfully designed two-room b&b housed in a historic railway station in the countryside outside Bruges. It’s clear that great care went into restoring the old brick station, a stop on the storied Pullman Express line between Paris and the resort towns of the Belgian coast, and today it positively glows with warmth and an understated countryside glamour.

Book Spoor62 on the MICHELIN Guide →

Santorini, Greece

With just three villas, Vora is scarcely a hotel at all. The color palette is restrained, even by Greek standards, with some earth-tone accents in natural materials set against the cloud-white walls. It’s a substantially more refined look than what you’re used to here, even at the high end — and still the merest glance outside at the majestic caldera proves that nature is in no danger of being overshadowed.

Book Vora on the MICHELIN Guide →

Stratford, Canada

Few hotels are more clearly a labor of love than seven&nine. Set a scant minute’s walk from the Avon Theatre, one of the anchors of the annual Shakespeare festival, it was built as a private house, and an extraordinary one at that. Architects Shim/Sutcliffe were inspired by raw-concrete modernism, and the house is decorated with modernist classic furnishings and contemporary artworks to match.

Book seven&nine on the MICHELIN Guide →

La Valise
Mexico City, Mexico

Let the big chains scramble to outdo each other with bigger spas and restaurants, sparkling fitness centers and Olympic-sized infinity pools. An achingly hip little hotel like La Valise in Mexico City doesn’t need any of that. In fact, the three-suite property, located above a shop in a 1920s townhouse in the happening Roma neighborhood, makes a virtue of its small size.

Book La Valise on the MICHELIN Guide →

Casa Duro
Dallas, Texas

On Lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas is something genuinely surprising: a restaurant, Sister, and a café, Duro, both “Italianish” in concept, and both by the small but highly regarded Duro Hospitality Group. And upstairs from both is Casa Duro, a three-room guest house, or a trio of apartments, by the same owners, where their appetite for Italian culture is allowed to run wild.

Book Casa Duro on the MICHELIN Guide →

B&B Exclusive Guesthouse Bonifacius
Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is famous for its picturesque beauty, and places like the B&B Exclusive Guesthouse Bonifacius are exactly why. This delightfully ramshackle 16th-century restoration perches right at the edge of a canal, and its interiors are rich with antique character; in fact it’s a bit of a surprise to see fellow travelers in modern dress rather than period costumes.

Book B&B Exclusive Guesthouse Bonifacius on the MICHELIN Guide →

Roozen Residence
Prevelly, Australia

The name isn’t an attempt at hominess, but a matter-of-fact statement: the Roozen Residence was built as a private beach house for artist and surfer Ron Roozen, just outside of the Western Australian beach town of Margaret River. The architecture is stunning, as are the interiors, and the 180-degree ocean view certainly doesn’t hurt.

Book Roozen Residence on the MICHELIN Guide →

Tainaron Blue Retreat
Vathia, Greece

Housed in a centuries-old tower that was designed to keep intruders out, the fully restored guesthouse known as Tainaron Blue Retreat now welcomes visitors from around the globe, but not too many of them — there are just three suites, one at the base of the tower, another in its upper section, and a third in the adjoining tower house.

Book Tainaron Blue Retreat on the MICHELIN Guide →

3 Rooms
Milan, Italy

Milan’s 10 Corso Como is what you might call a mini-mall — this former warehouse has been transformed by gallerist Carla Sozzani into a venue containing a bookshop, a café, a restaurant, a roof garden, an exhibition space, and an upscale flea market. It’s also home to 3 Rooms, which is just what it sounds like: a three-room boutique hotel spanning the building’s upper floors.

Book 3 Rooms on the MICHELIN Guide →

La Maison d’à Côté
Pontarlier, France

The mountain town of Pontarlier is home to much of France’s pastis and absinthe production, and to La Maison d’à Côté, a truly minuscule bed and breakfast featuring a mere two rooms, spanning the top floor of a 19th-century building in the town center. The décor is somewhat rustic, and extremely eclectic; one room is more historical in style, the other rather more contemporary, but both are stylish and memorable.

Book La Maison d’à Côté on the MICHELIN Guide →

Avalon Coastal Retreat
Swansea, Australia

Barely a hotel at all, Avalon Coastal Retreat is a stunning modernist three-bedroom house on the east coast of Tasmania, midway between Hobart and Launceston. The sea views through the house’s glass walls are extraordinary, but the interiors give them a run for their money, thanks to the fine work of local architect Craig Rosevear.

Book Avalon Coastal Retreat on the MICHELIN Guide →

You already trust the MICHELIN Guide for restaurants. Now you can trust it for hotels.

Book the best hotels you can imagine — for every style and budget.

Top image: Vora — Santorini, Greece


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