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Mr & Mrs Smith’s Ten Best Boutique Hotels on a Budget

Who says you can't stay somewhere spectacular without breaking your holiday budget?

By Mr & Mrs Smith
January 06, 2014
By Mr & Mrs Smith
January 06, 2014

It’s time to stop fishing behind couch cushions and shaking piggy banks; the boutique hotel-hunters at Mr & Mrs Smith have unearthed 10 budget-conscious escapes that won’t need a second mortgage. These ten wallet-friendly stays made the shortlist for ‘Best Budget Hotel’ in the inaugural Smith Hotel Awards, which just took place in London. Want to know the winner? You’ll have to keep reading.

Best for bona fide bohemia: Brody House, Budapest, Hungary

Smith’s ‘Best Budget Hotel’ is more like the private designer digs of a swish friend than a hotel. Brody House is bursting with creative inspiration and can add sometime-host to film and fashion shoots to its artistically inclined resume. Each room has its own unique style — some feature freestanding gold bath tubs — and is named after the artists whose works adorn the walls. The Brody House Bar is open to the public and keeps pouring as long as guests keep sipping; there’s also an honesty bar, so you can tap into your inner mixologist. An in-house chef prepares simple and seasonal Hungarian fare that changes daily and is best enjoyed in the picturesque courtyard.

Best for pool-side hedonism: Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs, United States

Escape the desert heat and hop into the cool cocktail that is Ace Hotel & Swim Club: a reinvented hotel haven, luring in pleasure-seekers, bohemian-beauties and the hipster-chic. Designed with an organic, laidback ethos, some rooms have garden patios and fireplaces, record players and old vinyl. Brave the heat by renting a candy-coloured Vespa or booking a horse-riding lesson. Those reluctant to venture away from the cool comfort of air-conditioning may prefer languidly lying in a hammock and working through the bar’s cocktail menu. The King’s Highway restaurant (formerly a roadside Denny’s diner) dishes up classic American fare with dashes of the unexpected, such as kurobuta pork chops and roasted halibut cheeks.

Best for culture vultures: Home Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Click your heels and escape to Home Hotel, a green dream hidden away in an ivy-entwined structure in residential Buenos Aires. The eco-design and open-air pleasures – an outdoor passageway leads to the restaurant overlooking the gorgeous grounds – extend through to the rooms, which are tricked out with retro Scandinavian furnishings and vibrant vintage wallpaper in pretty florals. Take in an obligatory tango performance and a Lloyd Webber-inspired stroll to the grave of Eva Perón, before succumbing to the nimble-knuckles of Home’s in-house masseur, Luis.  Don’t go back to your actual home without sampling delicious tapas and a Bloody Mary at the bar.

Best for a romantic rendezvous: The Reading Rooms, Kent, United Kingdom

Tucked behind a classic Georgian facade, The Reading Rooms is dotted with antique furnishings, preserved features and nooks for rekindling romance or igniting a new flame. Each of the three rooms occupies a floor of the restored townhouse and has antique wooden floors fit for a foxtrot, high ceilings and views over a peaceful tree-lined square. Begin days by dining on the in-room breakfast spread — bacon and sausage sandwiches, just-baked croissants and fresh fruits — before exploring Margate’s vintage boutiques and the picturesque Kent coast.

Best for a rural romance: Borgo della Marmotta, Umbria, Italy

Peer over the high stone walls at Borgo della Marmotta to find clusters of beautifully converted 17th-century farmhouses and stables, olive trees and views of Spoleto Valley. There’s no flash and pomp here; instead, expect a simple spin on luxury: rustic cobblestoned passaged leading to charming rooms and pockets of lush garden, pots of lemon trees casting shadows on the terrace and vibrant bunches of wisteria hanging from pergolas. Rise early to snag a table outside for a breakfast feast of sweet croissants, conserves, cheeses and cold cuts, before whiling away Umbrian sun-soaked days by the glittering blue pool.

Best for artistic inspiration: The Cullen, Melbourne, Australia

One for art aficionados and the creative coterie, The Cullen is inspired by the eye-catching and contemporary works of Adam Cullen — the hotel even has its own dedicated art curator, who has the lowdown on the top exhibitions around town. The gallery-worthy aesthetic continues to the rooms, where cartoonish prints adorn the walls and glass showers are engraved with Ned Kelly-esque horses and bushrangers — the views of Melbourne’s skyline aren’t half bad either. After a day of pedalling between Prahan’s fashionable boutiques — bespoke red Swedish Kronan two-wheelers are available to rent — don your newest designer duds and head downstairs to one of the eateries off the hotel’s ground floor. Gramercy Bistro brings a taste of New York to Melbourne, serving Reuben sandwiches, buttermilk pancakes and six cuts of steak to knock your oversized sunglasses off; Hutong dishes up dumplings and delectable duck.

Best for a weekend wind-down: The Wheatsheaf Inn, the Cotswolds, United Kingdom

Having played host to Kate Moss, The Wheatsheaf Inn has gone from traditional British coaching inn to bang-on designer den. Paintings of historic British tobacco barons keep a watchful eye over the Inn’s dining room, an inviting and lively eatery where seasonal produce is the star in a daily-changing menu and the all-day weekend brunch is best washed down with a Buck’s fizz. Between feasts, shooting — of the real and clay-pigeon variety — is up for grabs near this rustic retreat or, if you prefer something with fewer bangs, meander around the wallet-tempting boutiques of Northleach.

Best for beach bliss: Mia Resort, Nha Trang, Vietnam

A sojourn at Mia Resort — once a sugarcane plantation — will certainly leave a sweet taste in your mouth. This sandy getaway is neighboured by imposing mountains, lush greenery and beyond-blue waters, where days are spent moseying barefoot between the turquoise pool, sun loungers and Xanh Spa. Sea-frolicking is thirsty work and Mojitos bar serves at least eight varieties (if we miscounted, blame the rum); sip your way through ginger, whatijo (watermelon), lemon and lychee libations. Nab a spot on the sugar-sand beach for a sunset picnic, complete with a hamper groaning with sandwiches, cupcakes, a cheeseboard and carafe of fruit juice — just make sure to book ahead.

Best for palatial paradise: Baudon de Mauny, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Walk through the heavy, centuries-old wooden front door at Baudon de Mauny and into the quiet cobbled courtyard to feel instantly at ease. Sprawling rooms are coupled with vintage-inspired furnishings and contemporary cool to create an escape with style so sophisticated, it could only be French. After exploring the local markets and brocantes, recline on the antique scarlet sofas in the first-floor salon, a glass of Faugeres in hand.

Best for coastal calm: Chapman House, Nantucket, United States

Forget ships in glass bottles and cliched beach-themed interiors: at Chapman House, nautical stripes have been replaced with pops of teal, coral and ikat prints. A kingly Continental breakfast is served each morning — fresh-baked breads and croissants, homemade muffins, fruits, cheese and granola parfaits — the perfect preface to a stroll around the harbour town or a series of aquatic adventures, including sailing lessons, whale watching, fishing excursions and sea kayaking. You don’t need a reason to return to boutique base-camp but Chapman House gives you one anyway: freshly baked cookies are your afternoon treat here.

For more Mr & Mrs Smith boutique hotels, visit or call the expert Travel Team on 1300 896 627. Smith guests enjoy exclusive extras at all stays.

Published on January 06, 2014 by Mr & Mrs Smith
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