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Top 5 Boutique Hotels in the World

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GAYOT's Top Ten Boutique Hotels in the world are intimate, comfortable and often eccentric in the best of ways. They range from a converted eighteenth-century Italian palazzo, to one of Austin's original parlor manors. Selected for their small size and individual style, the boutique hotels on GAYOT's exclusive list ensure unique travel experiences around the globe. Enjoy GAYOT's Top Ten Boutique Hotels Worldwide.

ITALY
Florence
Relais Santa Croce

An eighteenth-century palazzo converted into a luxurious boutique hotel, this ornate property sits within walking distance to some of Florence's most treasured historic sites. Lavish public spaces showcase original architectural details such as elaborate frescoes, and the 24 elegant guest rooms and suites feature views that overlook picturesque rooftops and/or the Santa Croce Basilica. The Old World atmosphere is paired with excellent service, and the house restaurant, Guelfi e Ghibellini, will remind you why Tuscany is one of the world's most popular destinations for those who love to indulge in fine food and wine.

U.S.A.
Austin, TX
Hotel Ella

One of Austin's original private manors, the Goodall Wooten Mansion is a local treasure. Travelers wanting a true taste of local history will be thrilled to learn that it has been transformed into a luxury hotel with just 38 guest rooms and ten suites. Tasteful modern décor provides an attractive contrast to the building's historic architecture, and highlights include artwork and sculptures that reflect Austin's history. Adding to the hotel's appeal are a tranquil courtyard pool lined with cabanas, and on-site Goodall's Kitchen and Bar, serving global dishes crafted from local, seasonal ingredients.

Photos and complete review of Hotel Ella

CHINA
Hong Kong
The Upper House

Despite being nestled within Pacific Place, a bustling commercial and retail complex, this intimate property offers the feel of a private residence. Asian chic best describes the style -- a subtle blend of neutral tones, clean lines and Oriental accents. Starting on the 38th level, the guest rooms are notably large and feature walk-in rain showers, freestanding bathtubs and panoramic harbor or island views from both the bedrooms and bathrooms. As for the thoughtful details, they range from espresso machines to personal iPod touch systems stocked with suggestions for local attractions. The menu at the 49th-floor Café Gray Deluxe emphasizes organic produce, while the Sky Lounge (on the same level) offers a dramatic setting for evening drinks. Those seeking escape from the over-stimulating streets of Hong Kong need look no further than the sixth floor, home to a quiet garden with a grassy lawn.

SWEDEN
Stockholm
Berns Hotel

Part of the House of Berns, which dates back to 1863, this spectacular property keeps things fresh with house concerts in its intimate music hall, multi-media events at Berns Gallery 2:35:1 and a cocktail club on the private rooftop terrace. A secret entrance has ushered in the likes of the Dalai Lama and Bill Gates, but you're more than welcome to stroll right through the front door. Standard guest rooms blend clean Scandinavian style with whimsical details, while signature rooms and suites feature imaginative artwork and original accents, such as a tiled stove and bay windows. For fine wining and dining, Berns Asiatiska serves Asian cuisine in a glamorous nineteenth-century hall, and Berns Bistro and Bar showcases classic French cuisine.

UNITED KINGDOM
London
The Soho Hotel

While Ian Schrager continually gets props for his role in shaping the boutique hotel world, we have a soft spot in our heart for Kit Kemp, whose Firmdale hotels are true lessons in originality. This quirky little property combines sleek lines, residential glamour and playful colors and patterns to create a unique collection of 91 guest rooms, suites and apartments. Though the hotel is small, its offerings are big in scope. REFUEL Restaurant and Bar is one of the hottest gathering spots in the city, and two screening rooms (complete with cowhide-covered chairs) ensure a regular stock of celebs on the hotel guest list. As for the location, it's ideal, on a quiet side street in the heart of London's trendy entertainment district.