Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and it turns out there’s nothing like an enforced holiday hiatus to induce plans for escape. But with the wanderlust comes a sharper focus on what we want from a trip – be it streamlined service, under-the-radar destinations or a more intimate and personalised approach.

We’ve chosen four of our favourite hotel groups, all rooted in contemporary design, that are quietly changing the way we travel. From a start-up that blossomed into a hospitality brand to a family-run chain blurring the line between hotel and home, these are the boutiques to book for something a little different...


hotel chains
Mr Tripper

Maisons Pariente

What’s the idea?

Founded by ex-fashion entrepreneur Patrick Pariente – of Naf Naf fame – and his daughters Leslie Kouhana and Kimberly Pariente, this family-owned French hotel group has a knack for five star properties that feel more like private homes.

Where is it?

Its trio of chic hotels neatly showcase the different faces of French travel. Hôtel Crillon le Brave is a labyrinth of stone buildings on a Provence hilltop, there are sunny, retro-tinged rooms at Hôtel Lou Pinet in Saint-Tropez and Le Coucou, designed by Pierre Yovanovitch, has injected skiing mecca Méribel with some much-needed fun.

hotel chains
Mr Tripper
hotel chains
Mr Tripper

Why should I stay?

For total refuge. There’s no copy-paste concept here, so expect a different personality at each property, but there are a few guarantees – expansive natural surrounds, carefully curated art collections and plenty of personalisation. The whole experience is designed as an antidote to the standardised service of the large luxury chains.

What’s next?

A much anticipated Paris property in the heart of Le Marais. Promising to offer something different in the family’s native city, Le Grand Mazarin is due to arrive next spring with 63 rooms and suites, an all-day dining restaurant concept and an underground bar. maisonspariente.com


hotel chains
Life House

Life House

What’s the idea?

This US-based group started life as a tech startup for the hospitality industry, before co-founder and CEO Rami Zeidan decided to put his insider knowledge into practice. Running their own bespoke software, which automates everything from housekeeping to room upgrades, means brilliantly efficient and affordable design hotels.

Where is it?

Culturally rich neighbourhoods, but not always the conventional option. First up was a pair of Miami properties in buzzy Cuban district Little Havana and South Beach, and they’ve since opened a 16-room Victorian homestead in Denver’s Lower Highlands and sensationally revamped the oldest continually operating inn on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

hotel chains
Life House
hotel chains
Life House

Why should I stay?

For old-world charm with a new-world spirit. Vintage pieces are sourced locally and there’s a real sense of reverence for its historic buildings, while smart ideas include a social network for connecting with fellow guests. It’s a modern way to stay, but without the impersonal interiors and chaotic coworking spaces.

What’s next?

Expansion was always set to be pacey. Up next is a second hotel in Miami Beach, plus new openings in Brooklyn, New York, Tennessee’s Chattanooga and The Berkshires in Massachusetts. They’re also taking the concept to the tropics of Seminyak, Bali, for the first international Life House. lifehousehotels.com


hotel chains
Puro

Puro

What’s the idea?

This growing group of design-conscious hotels calls itself ‘Poland’s first lifestyle hospitality brand’. It’s an apt description, we say – these are lively, informal hubs with serious style credentials.

Where is it?

Name a major Polish city and there’ll probably be a Puro. First was Wrocław, followed by openings in Gdańsk, Łódź, and Poznań, and two in Kraków. Almost all are the handiwork of British designers, from Conran and Partners to Blacksheep, SuperFutures and DeSallesFlint. Most recently, it’s tasked up-and-coming Polish firm Paradowski Studio to overhaul the Kraków old town property, which now includes a spectacular wooden bas-relief in the lobby.

hotel chains
Paradowsku Studio
hotel chains
Puro

Why should I stay?

For the city centre locations, and the cool but convivial atmosphere – at the heart of the Puro formula are airy, open-plan areas that merge lounges, bars and all-day restaurants. It was the first hotel in the country to introduce self check-in.

What’s next?

Let Puro lead you to Poland’s lesser-known gems. Next up is an opening in the once industrial city of Katowice in the country’s south, with an expansive roof terrace and glass façade that pays tribute to the area’s interwar skyscrapers. Founder and CEO Rune Askevold has hinted at plans to go international. purohotel.pl


hotel chains
Ioanna Roufopoulou

The Modernist

What’s the idea?

It’s all in the name. Aimed squarely at the discerning urban traveller, these cosmopolitan Greek boutiques combine contemporary Danish design with mid-century and art deco details. They pride themselves on collaborations with cool local creatives and staff that know the area inside out.

Where is it?

The first property opened in Greece’s second city Thessaloniki – founder Kostis Karatzas’s hometown – in 2018. Last year, The Modernist arrived in Athens with a second hotel housed in the city’s former Canadian embassy, replete with a rooftop garden that doubles as an open-air cinema.

hotel chains
Ioanna Roufopoulou
hotel chains
Ioanna Roufopoulou

Why should I stay?

For the well-picked partnerships. Athens is not short on stylish boutiques, but surely few hotels have cocktails created by Nikos Bakoulis, co-founder of The Clumsies – currently at number three on The World’s 50 Best Bars – playlists by Athens-based DJ Palov and workshops and talks with guest artists. Local makers are behind everything from the staff uniforms to the custom espresso cups in the restaurant, which are available to buy in the lobby shop.

What’s next?

This is only the beginning for the brand, says Karatzas. There are plans to open in other European cities, but there might be more Greek hotels on the horizon first. Watch this space. themodernisthotels.com