Urban Oases: Our Favorite Boutique Hotels

The lobby at The Gramercy Park Hotel
The lobby at The Gramercy Park Hotel

During the last few weeks we've been compiling a guide to the best boutique hotels on our site, which will be ready for our readers' eyes in just a few days. And while boutique hotels can be found anywhere and everywhere, we've noticed that those found in urban settings are particularly near and dear to our hearts, as we love that they provide charming (and stylish!) respites to weary travelers exploring the big city. Below we'll tell you about 10 of our favorite urban boutique hotels in the country -- a preview of what you'll find in our forthcoming guide.

The Gramercy Park Hotel currently sets the bar for New York cool -- hence the celebrities in the lounge and the paparazzi on the sidewalk. It offers ultra-luxe but small rooms done up in high Boho-chic style, a gorgeous gym, and a young, attentive staff. True, even guests sometimes feel excluded from the glamour-fest in the bar. But the place is utterly unique.

The Book Room at The Jefferson
The Book Room at The Jefferson

After a massive renovation, this boutique recently reopened, and regained its place among DC's elite hotels. It's not as famous as the Hay-Adams, but its subtle blend of technology (TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic housekeeping buttons) and colonial charms (intimate library, working dumbwaiter) are second to none. All that's missing is T.J. himself. (Oh wait, no. Here he is. ... )

A 60-room hotel with exquisite service, a genteel but easy-going vibe, and a beautiful location in residential Beacon Hill, Fifteen Beacon blends historic New England elegance with modern, minimalist design and hi-tech amenities. A great fit for discerning business and leisure travelers.

This ultraluxurious, 110-room boutique one block from Union Square is an enclave of posh rooms and pampering service in a dense city. There aren't many features here -- just a gym and a small business center -- but its breadth of bespoke services and luxe room amenities make it one of the city's most special hotels.

Outdoor pool at The Setai
Outdoor pool at The Setai

Paradise doesn't come cheap. Striking but sober mood-lit design; impeccable service; huge, immaculate rooms; three pools, each a different temperature; and a prime beachside location make the Setai one of the best hotels in Miami. Its restaurants are more about design than food, but several of Miami's best restaurants are just half a block away.

A slick and inviting boutique hotel overlooking the Pacific, fresh off a $30 million renovation, with 71 exquisite rooms and lustrous interiors in an iconic Art Deco building that displays the curvy contours of an elegant ocean liner. For a modish and luxurious ocean-side getaway, the Shangri-La is mighty close to perfection.

The courtyard at The Greenwich Hotel
The courtyard at The Greenwich Hotel

This virtually flawless 88-room TriBeCa newcomer (opened in 2008 by Robert de Niro, among others) offers large, homey rooms, breathtaking design, and very attentive service. Even better: free Wi-Fi; free minibar snacks; and free Wii video games by request. Better still: an underground pool; Shibui Spa; premier gym; and the new Locanda Verde restaurant.

A beautifully designed hotel with pomp-free service at all levels -- from housekeeping to porters to private designated assistants -- Tides South Beach brings rarely seen substance to the price tag. Though the hotel lacks direct beach access and the small pool is less than breathtaking, the huge, immaculate rooms more than compensate.

Park View Room at The Huntington Hotel
Park View Room at The Huntington Hotel

This 136-room historic hotel in swanky Nob Hill has large, luxurious rooms, a warm and attentive staff, and a quiet, intimate atmosphere. A 2009 renovation has added contemporary touches to the old-world elegance. Plus, guests can use the indoor pool and other facilities at the excellent spa for free. All in all, one of the city's best boutiques.

Small, intimate, and beautiful, this Santa Monica hotel more than compensates for its lack of on-site features -- no spa, a long walk to the beach -- with great design in its large rooms, a welcoming atmosphere cultivated by personal service, and a relaxed, low-key vibe unmatched by its luxury rivals Fairmont Miramar, Shutters on the Beach, and Casa Del Mar.

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