When life seems ordinary and monotonous, when a dose of whimsy calls, I go to Nimb, Copenhagen’s most extraordinary hotel. There, in a suite with a balcony that hovers — literally — above the hubbub of Tivoli Gardens, the world’s’ most unique and renowned amusement park, I feel both part of the action and exclusively removed from it in turns. Fancifully constructed as a Moorish-style castle hotel in 1909, Nimb brandishes restored versions of its original Taj Mahal-ish turrets and Venetian marble exteriors. What might be kitschy in another setting, enchants here in the heart of Copenhagen where Nimb, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World long has been a portal to the popular playground. Its quixotic architecture awakens something liberating, frivolous, and fantastical within, as if we’ve been invited into a fairytale. Of course, that makes sense. Denmark’s favorite storyteller Han Christian Andersen cavorted in this city, at Nimb, and at Tivoli too, ever reminding the world that indeed “life is the most wonderful fairytale.” 

We love small luxury hotels for their intimacy, privacy, ability to conjure sense of place, cozy opulence, and anti-corporate approach to hospitality. Read on to discover some of our favorite worldwide stays.

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Small Luxury Hotels
Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels

The vibe of otherworldly wonder holds true at meticulously restored and reimagined Nimb, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, where the interiors take the architecture’s soul-stirring sense of the sublime to another level. A jewel box of lavish design elements, stunning art, and eye-catching curiosities, Nimb has common areas and (17) suites that smack of wunderkammer-level amazements; each nook an adventure in awe in and of itself. With all the allure and amenities of a large hotel, from restaurants to a rooftop pool and subterranean spa, Nimb excels with the sort of impeccable attention to detail and gobsmacking touches (spa face masks for weary travelers as a standard bathroom amenity, Moooi’s desk lamps) that smaller hotels do best. 

Severin*s – The Alpine Retreat, Lech Am Arlberg Austria

Small Luxury Hotels
Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels

Lech, part of Austria’s mountainous Arlberg region,  has long held a ritzy winter sports tradition. A magnet for royals and jet setters for more than a century, this glamorous spit of Austria, a gathering place for the beau mode in winter time, prides itself on unpretentious, even earthy. luxury Severin*s, a member of Small Luxury Hotels, rises to the occasion with its impeccable version of chalet chic. Nine wood-clad rooms, replete with classically inspired Austrian design motifs — gray felt wool fabric and storied Wittmann beds — mingle with contemporary flourishes (stone sheared soaking tubs and Minotti furniture) include the two-level Residence, a chalet within a chalet, ideal for families. Enjoy heated ski lockers, classic Austrian specialities in the restaurant, and a restorative wellness center.

La Residence, Franschhoek South Africa

La Residence hotel
Courtesy of La Residence

With through-the-looking glass dreamy verve, La Residence delivers guests into a splendorous world of cosseting abundance. On a 30-acre wine estate, the 17-suite hideaway lies a bike ride away from charming Franschhoek, one of the world’s most idyllic wine towns. Here, enveloped amid an emerald wine-scape,  a helipad doubles for a croquet lawn, pygmy goats and miniature horses nibble on the verges, staff greet guests with posies of garden-picked flowers and glasses of house-made rose wine. Dramatic interiors seem like metaphors from Matisse paintings. Chinese screens, ruby red crushed velvet, curry yellow silk pillows, chandeliers from India, soaking tubs luring you mid room to tear off your clothes and grab sustenance from the complimentary mini-bar combine to make this one of the world’s most aesthetically pleasing stays.

Washington School House, Park City Utah

Courtesy of Washington Schoolhouse

Park City boasts absurdly stunning nature, skiable (and hike-able slopes) that rise from the center of town, and independent shops and restaurants aplenty. But, its rowdy history as a silver mining boom town sets it apart from most ski resorts. Palpable at Washington School House, the town’s past comes alive — albeit in a glamorous, artsy way. Ensconced in a former schoolhouse built in 1889, the landmark structure offers 12 rooms, each a unique hive. Common rooms set a mountain mood with design touches such as an antler chandelier laden with Swarovski crystals and personable service at every turn. An all season hotel, Washington School House as a ski concierge, a heated pool, and gourmet restaurant among other attributes.

SB Winemaker’s House & Spa Suites, Mendoza Argentina

Winemaker's House & Spa
Courtesy of Winemaker’s House & Spa

Opened in 2022 by peerless Argentine winemaker Susana Balbo in collaboration with her daughter, this design-centric wine hotel plunges guests into Mendoza’s verdant terroir. Surrounded by vine-carpeted nature, guests experience seven spa suites, each with a steam room, sensations shower, heated loungers, a massage table, and heated soaking tub — the exemplar antidote to a day of wine tasting. Four of the suites also feature a dry sauna. In-house wellness butlers facilitate wellness rituals, fueled by local herbs and traditions. The work of prominent Argentine and Brazilian artists set a contemporary mood, including a captivating piece, Tree of Life, by Argentine plastic artist Sergio Roggerone which references Balbo’s life story. Like being here as a privileged houseguest, a stay at SB Winemaker’s House is enhanced by LaVidA Restaurant’s Argentine cuisine and a breathtaking infinity pool. Don’t miss the unique luxury wine safari via seaplane or custom blending classes with Balbo.

Inkaterra La Casona, Cusco, Peru

Inkaterra La Casona
Courtesy of Inkaterra La Casona

Gorgeous Cusco, home to the founder of the Incan Empire and brimming with history, demands a hotel that tells stories and exudes the past. With bygone guests as illustrious as Spanish Conquistador Diego de Almagro and ‘Libertador’ Simón Bolívar this 16th-century manor home, a fixture on Plaza Las Nazarena is one of the city’s first Spanish structures. It boasts 11 suites. As a member of Relais & Chateaux, Inkaterra La Casona’s cuisine and libations take center stage, as showcased by the retreat’s complimentary Tea Time. The Yuca Therapy Room offers spa therapies centered around traditional Incan botanical ingredients as an afternoon escape from sightseeing.  Don’t miss the hotel’s legendary Pisco Sour, sipped amongst Peruvian rugs, original murals, and Colonial furnishings.

Wheatleigh, Lenox Massachusetts

Wheatleigh hotel
Courtesy of Wheatleigh

Ever legendary as the haven of literary and intellectual titans such as Edith Wharton. W. E. B Dubois, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau, Berkshire County in extreme western Massachusetts, two hours from Boston, draws wannabe authors hoping to snare some inspiration. Do that (or just be pampered) in historic Lenox at Wheatleigh, a fin-de-siècle mansion bordered by a Fredrick Law Olmsted–designed park and a slew of stately pine trees. Constructed in the style of a Florentine palazzo, this member of Leading Hotels of World holds 19 rooms, each a creative’s country house-style lair. Architectural buffs will swoon over the hotel’s many original details and motifs, while gastronomes will savor every bite at The Portico, helmed by Chef Jeffery Thompson.