|The eco-retreat of Bambu Indah in Ubud, Bali, part of the i-escape collection|
Whether it’s boutique B&Bs, budget pads, treehouses, or a glamorous hotel, these accommodation websites save you the trouble of trawling through endless internet listings
Boutique accommodation website i-escape has a collection of more than 1,500 hotels, B&Bs, villas and guesthouses (in more than 50 countries) with destinations as diverse as Argentina, Zanzibar, Malaysia and Montenegro and prices ranging from budget to luxury. The site maintains that quality, rather than quantity, is the main focus and of all the properties that apply to be on the site only a few – such as the gorgeous Bambu Indah in Ubud, Bali, (from £63 per room a night) – will make the cut. There is also a dedicated Kids’ Collection for travelling families.
Doris and Dicky
This is a new website offering a handpicked collection of 500 affordable-but-chic hotels. Its philosophy of boutique on a budget – the average price band is around £100 a night – applies to everything from European city breaks to South American adventures. Each property in the portfolio has been chosen on merit and assessed by a team of anonymous reviewers. There are luxurious bargains to be had, such as a room in the atmospheric Riad Al Jazira in Marrakech from £64.77. It’s the perfect site for anyone who wants affordable style without spending ages trawling through long lists of hotel results.
GoUnusual features 345 hotels ranging price-wise from free (it has two hotels that simply ask for a donation) to one that costs £16,000 for exclusive use. Geographically, it covers everywhere except Antarctica, though apparently it is chasing the McMurdo base to try and find a location there. Its motto, “life less ordinary”, has led its team of contributors and freelancers to seek out travel experiences that make guests feel part of an adventure or a story linked to the places they visit. If, for instance, you’re looking for a kip in an igloo in Finland orthis treehouse near Bilbao in northern Spain.
The clue’s in the name: Chic Retreats curates beautifully designed hotels, villas and guesthouses subdivided into helpful collections such as budget chic, eco chic and safari chic (not to mention “hide and chic” if you’re really keen to get away from the crowds). There are about 700 places from which to choose, with prices ranging from £50 to £1,500 a night, depending on whether it is a pousada in Brazil, such as Ilha de Toque Toque (£83 a night), or a luxury suite in Rome.
Mr & Mrs Smith
A company specialising in stylish boutique hotels, with a reputation for providing comfortable luxury, whether on a smaller budget or at a price. It only works with places that the team has visited personally. It was founded by London-based couple James and Tamara Lohan after they booked a romantic break and were disappointed with a characterless, uninspiring result. They decided to launch a booking service focusing on those quirky, charismatic, smaller independent hotels, such as Brody House in Budapest (£48.17 a night), which can be so difficult to root out amid a slew of internet listings.
Family-run company Sawday’s promises to provide more than just a bed for a night; its emphasis on hotels that champion the local, the personal and the authentic, as opposed to the bland and the corporate, is underpinned by a commitment to sustainability. Founder Alastair – who has now passed the baton to his son – was a Green party candidate and it shows. All the hotels and guesthouses on offer have committed to source the food offered to guests from local, independent producers. Prices range from around €60 a night into the hundreds, with locations in Britain, France, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Further Afield began in 2010 at the time of the furore around gay couples being denied B&B accommodation in the UK. Its aim has always been to create a stylish collection of places to stay: small hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation both in cities and off the beaten track, which welcome everyone – gay, lesbian or straight. Many, such as the Villa Mazamet in the traditional French market town of Mazamet in the Midi-Pyrénées, are affordably priced (rooms from £80 a night). Its collection includes more than 270 properties across the world but with a focus on the UK, France, Spain, Greece and Italy. Prices range from £75 to over £500 a night.
Chateaux and Hotels Collection
This site should be the first port of call for those who have always dreamed of a fairytale stay in a French castle. This collection of independently owned unique and boutique properties caters to all budgets, with prices ranging from €70 to €400 a night. The collection currently covers France, Italy, Mauritius, Germany, Maldives, Belgium, Austria, Spain, and Hungary – with most of the properties in France. For travelling gourmands, the site has also collated a network of top-class restaurants.
Boutique and Breakfast
“The definitive guide to the most desirable Bed and Breakfast and self-catering accommodation throughout the UK”, has 129 properties on its website. The majority are stylish B&Bs such as Old Whyly in Lewes, East Sussex, which is a Grade II-listed Georgian manor house complete with pool (from £85 a night). There is also a small selection of self-catering and sleep-and-dine properties. Price bands vary with rates starting from £55 to £325 a night and beyond. The site features properties throughout the UK but there is a concentration of properties in the south-west (Devon and Cornwall), the south-east (Hampshire and Sussex), Wales, the north-east and Scotland.
Paradores and Pousadas
The Spanish Paradores scheme was established by the government in 1928 and allows you to book hotels converted from fine historic buildings such as castles, convents, monasteries, fortresses throughout the country. The state maintains the buildings, the upkeep of which you contribute to with your fee for the room, as well as making a contribution to the local tourist economy. Pousadas are the Portuguese equivalent. Founded in 1942 on the Spanish model, though no longer owned by the state, they offer good value accommodation – often in spectacular or historic locations.
• parador.es, pousadas.pt
• parador.es, pousadas.pt