Smith Travel BlogTravel tales and hotel news from the boutique hotel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith

Top 5: Budget boutique hotels around the world

Posted by Anthony Leyton on January 31st, 2009

To complete our budget boutique hotel blog trilogy (we’ve already covered cheap luxury stays in the UK, and budget-beating boltholes in Europe, in case you missed them), we’ve scoured the Smith collection for a selection of long-haul hotels that still leave you with cash to splash. Here’s our run-down of the world’s most romantic resorts and chic city pads that won’t leave scars on your credit card…

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The Drake, Toronto, Canada01 The Drake

TORONTO, CANADA

Style Cool, cultural cutting-edge
Setting Art and Design District of Parkdale

So what do I get for my money? Not only are the Drake’s hip bunk-ups fantastically priced but there’s every entertainment or eating and drinking requirement on your lap. Enjoy home-baked scones in the café, sample sushi and live jazz in the Raw Bar in the Lounge, or plump for a mean steak frites in the Dining Room, then head up to the Sky Yard for cocktails on the roof or down to the Underground for live bands or a cutting-edge club night.

Worth getting out of bed for This is a hotel heaven-sent for cutting-edge culture vultures. As well as all the museum uptown grand dames of Toronto, for a tour of more contemporary and buyable works, take a trip down Queen Street West, right here in the heart of the Art and Design Design District. Or escape all things urban and go for a great walk through the formal gardens or wooded thickets of High Park, just west of the city.

Any free extras? You’ll get bottle of Starving Artist house red or white wine waiting in your if you show your Mr & Mrs Smith membership card at check-in.

The bottom line From CA$189 ( £109) a night, including breakfast.

If you like this, you’ll like… Hotel Grace in New York; Hotel St Paul in Montreal

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Bon Ton Restaurant & Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia02 Bon Ton Restaurant & Resort

LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA

Style Authentic Malayan rustic
Setting Langkawi lagoon village

So what do I get for my money? This rustic retreat offers the unique opportunity to stay in genuine Malayan stilted wooden houses, most more than a century old, on a former coconut plantation. There’s more than cosy quarters to tempt you, however: the island-famed restaurant lures diners from other resorts with its innovative fusion cuisine, and owner Narelle’s pet project, the island’s animal sanctuary, is right next-door, providing an excellent afternoon’s diversion for kids and cat-cuddlers.

Worth getting out of bed for Given Langkawi’s lush landscapes, nature hikes and kayak trips are very popular; Bon Ton staff can help you arrange a guide to take you around the jungles and mangroves. Keep an eye out for the birdlife (Langkawi is a twitcher’s treasure).

Any free extras? Show your Smith membership card and you’ll each be treated to one of Bon Ton’s signature lime margeritas.

The bottom line From RM480 (£95), including Continental breakfast.

If you like this, you’ll like… The Shaba in Bali; Red Capital Ranch in Beijing

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Diamant Hotel, Sydney, Australia03 Diamant Hotel

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Style Back to black
Setting Club-side King’s Cross

So what do I get for my money? It may be that’s as smartly turned out as a city suit, but there’s a party spirit underneath this central Sydney hotel’s sleek black decor and hi-tech gadgetry (we’re talking in room iPod docks with remotes, huge 42-inch plasma-screen TVs with inbuilt internet, WiFi, et al). Diamant’s brilliantly positioned to take advantage of the growing gourmet scene around King’s Cross and, after knocking back Bellini’s in the hotel’s Penny Lane bar, you have the cream of teh city’s clubland spread before you.

Worth getting out of bed for Between May and early December, humpback whales gather around the Sydney coast – arrange an oceanic twitching trip with Whale Watching Sydney. If you prefer eating sealife to ogling it, the Sydney Seafood School can teach you more than throwing shrimp on barbies. For an insight into the city’s quirky history, ghosts, and, er, bondage parlours, you can take a guided Cadillac hearse trip with Destony Tours (call Allan, ‘the hearse whisperer’ on +61 (0)2 9943 0167).

Any free extras? With WiFi normally adding AU$35 a day to the bill, you’ll be glad to know that if you flash your Smith membrship card at the front desk, you’ll get it free.

The bottom line From AU$188 (just £86) a night, including tax.

If you like this, you’ll like… Townhouse in Miami

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22 hotel, Cape Town, South Africa04 22

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Style Colourful, cordial guesthouse
Setting Mountain-view Oranjezicht

So what do I get for my money? In brief, eye-grabbing good looks, both at the mountains surroundings and the exquisite interiors. A four-bed guesthouse designed in collaboration between the amiable live-in owners and local designer Nicola Townsend, 22 greets you with flashes of smoky pink and blue neon lighting, creating highlights of dramatic colour along the corridors and exterior walls, while each of the bedrooms has been assigned a core colour from which the soft furnishings and intricate wallpapers take their cue. Once you stop gawping, you can take time to enjoy the gorgeous gardens and the pleasures of the petite pool.

Worth getting out of bed for 22 is a short walk or drive away from the diverse eateries and drinking dens of lively Kloof Street. South Africa’s famous wine regions are about 40 minutes east of Cape Town – ask your hosts to recommend a bottle and visit the vineyard afterwards. Don’t miss climbing to the top of Table Mountain – or at least take the cable car.

Any free extras? Yep – to help with the latter suggestion, 22 gives all Smith members cable car tickets to the mountain top.

The bottom line From ZAR1,250 (£88), including breakfast.

If you like this, you’ll like… Derwent House, also in Cape Town and Schoone Oordt in the nearby Garden Route

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Etnia Pousada hotel, Bahia, Brazil05 Etnia Pousada

BAHIA, BRAZIL

Style Jungle gem
Setting Hipsters’ hang-out Trancoso

So what do I get for my money? Bahia’s peaceful fishing village of Trancoso’s been a choice destination for wanderlust-struck creative types since the Seventies, but Etnia Pousada ups the luxe a notch or 10, with eight woodland bungalows each styled with a different ethnic influence. In the hands of anyone other than the fashionista/design guru owners, it could all slip into kitsch, but smart, sensitive style prevails – together with an air of absolute serenity and back-to-nature bliss.

Worth getting out of bed for A trained masseur is on hand to soothe your joints with a Watsu massage (water therapy), and the hotel’s own personal trainer runs free Aqua gym sessions three days a week. Trancoso’s trendy centrepiece, the Quadrodo, is just a few minutes’ walk from Etnia and is lined with dining options, from traditional Brazilian to Japanese fare on offer.

Any free extras? Show your Smith membership card on check-in and you’ll nab yourself a bottle of champagne to start your stay

The bottom line From €137 (£124), including breakfast and transfers (tax is 12 per cent extra).

If you like this, you’ll like… Alila Manggis in Bali

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As with all great trilogies (Trois Couleurs, The Godfather, Free Willy…), it’s always sad to reach the end, but bear in mind that the 15 hotels we’ve highlighted this week are just a taster of Mr & Mrs Smith’s budget boutique hotel collection, and as soon as we unearth any more recession-busting retreats, we’ll, as ever, keep you posted…

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3 Responses to “Top 5: Budget boutique hotels around the world”

  1. great budget choices!

    as i’m from toronto, i can say that the drake hotel is a fantastic hotel. the area where it’s at used to be this grungy, seedy, and drug-laden district. but toronto knows how to clean up, and clean up well it did! the drake is now the epicentre of cool in the arts & design district of west queen west — as we call it. it single-handedly revived the whole neighbourhood to its current (hip) status.

    tip for guests: just keep going east. i assure you, there’s really not much else if you went farther west from the drake, pass the elevated railroad — it starts becoming grungy and seedy once again.

    By jen laceda

  2. [...] back later this week for our round up of the best UK hotels, and our top 5 budget hotels in the world (excluding Europe, of course, cos we just did [...]

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  3. Nice post, have you got an RSS feed I can subscribe to?

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