From African safari lodges to town house hotels in London.
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Gangtey Lodge, in Bhutan
Credit: Ken Spence/Courtesy of Gangtey Lodge

As the adage goes, big things come in small packages. And this couldn't be truer for the following 15 small luxury hotels, where room counts are under 20 but thoughtful service and high-end amenities defy expectations. Considered design schemes make these hotels feel larger than life, too, but fewer guests mean intimacy and privacy of the highest order. Here, our picks for 15 of the best small luxury hotels with fewer than 20 rooms.

Nordelaia, Italy

Exterior of Nordelaia
Credit: Riccardo Gasperoni/Courtesy of Nordelaia

Piedmont is full of incredible landscapes, plus unforgettable food and wine experiences, and this brand-new 12-room hillside inn lives up to those lofty standards. Surrounded by five hectares of rolling vineyards, Nordelaia itself is a tightly contained operation. The rooms are thoughtfully designed — one is dramatic with a four-post bed and heavy yellow drapes while another is made more whimsical with a fresh coat of mint paint and a beautifully molded ceiling. Two different pools, a gorgeous spa, and two restaurants (a casual bistro concept and a fine-dining space) from chef Charles Pearce make Nordelaia feel like a mini-resort that you never need to leave.

The Green O, Montana

Exterior of a glass cabin at The Green O
Credit: Courtesy of The Green O

This adults-only addition to the iconic The Resort at Paws Up in western Montana is all about delivering customized and discreet service, starting with a pre-arrival survey that will help inform an on-property itinerary, which could include daily sound bathing in the forest and evenings fueled with sharp cocktails. Staying here should inspire hiking and mountain biking, but if traveling on four wheels is more your speed, each of the 12 "hauses" comes with its own Lexus.

Villa Bokeh, Guatemala

One of Central America's newest luxury hotels, this 15-room property on the outskirts of the colonial city of Antigua will make discerning travelers add Guatemala to their 2022 travel wish lists. A decades-old building modeled after Tuscan villas is now a genteel hotel that highlights Guatemalan creatives and makers. There's always a sculpture, a photograph, colorful textile, or furniture to admire that was made by local talent. The culinary program is also decidedly Guatemalan, from the in-room coffee to the chef's tasting dinners featuring cheese, fish, and produce sourced exclusively from the country's farms and waters.

Beaverbrook Town House, London

The entrance hallway at Beaverbrook Town House
Credit: Courtesy of Beaverbrook Town House

Nestled on the border of Chelsea and Knightsbridge, the city sibling to the Surrey country estate of the same name thoughtfully folds modern conveniences into its Old World bones. Designer Nicola Hardingt transformed two 18th-century Georgian town houses with a vibrant art deco aesthetic. A crayola box of colors was used to give every room its own personality and then elevated with sculptural light fixtures, mix-and-match ceramic tiles, and framed artworks from all over the world. If you can't be pulled away to explore London's vast culinary scene, the on-property Japanese restaurant is ready to spoil you with a languorous 20-course omakase.

Posada Ayana, Uruguay

Exterior of Posada Ayana, a new hotel in José Ignacio, Uruguay
Posada Ayana, a new hotel in José Ignacio, Uruguay.
| Credit: MARCOS GUIPONI/COURTESY OF POSADA AYANA

The tony, lively beach town of Jose Ignacio welcomed this rustic-chic, 17-room bolthole in December 2020 — but only locals were allowed in. It's since opened its arms to the rest of the world as travel restrictions are eased, which was celebrated in November with the unveiling of a freestanding James Turrell Skyspace installation, the first in South America. The seaside-inspired hotel is swathed in plenty of sunshine-evoking yellows, easy-breezy paper-thin curtains, and furniture made of warm wood and bare concrete — all of which allow for a truly relaxing stay.

Mahali Mzuri, Kenya

Mahali Mzuri luxury safari tents
Credit: Courtesy of Mahali Mzuri

The best safari lodging options out there are rarely very big, but Richard Branson's 12-tent camp in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in southwest Kenya is so special it was voted the No. 1 hotel in Travel + Leisure's 2021 World's Best Awards. Handsome interiors that combine chocolate leather, striking artworks, clawfoot tubs, and plenty of outdoor spaces elevate the glamping experience. Plus, a fabulous culinary program (featuring locally sourced ingredients and fine wines) guarantees high-quality dining even in the most remote corners of the bush.

Pine Cay, Turks & Caicos

Aerial of a beach suite at Pine Cay
Credit: Kira Turnbull/Courtesy of Pine Cay

Previously the owners' exclusive hangout, this dreamy, car-free Caribbean island recently opened up its 12 rooms to travelers — joining Relais & Châteaux as its only Turks & Caicos property. It's all about enjoying a carefree holiday here, starting with the nearly all-white rooms and their three separate showers (two are outdoors) and direct beach access. Nightly happy hours with the owners add a fun social atmosphere for guests, but plenty of space (as well as dedicated tiki huts on the beach) ensures plenty of privacy, too. Worth noting: Children under 12 are not permitted on the island.

Da Licença, Portugal

Exterior of Da Licença
Credit: Francisco Nogueira/Courtesy of Da Licença

This nine-room refuge might be hidden away deep in Portugal's bucolic Alentejo region, but it's as sleek and stylish as any boutique hotel in a big city. Owners Vitor Borges and Franck Laigneau re-imagined a former olive mill into an artsy retreat with museum-quality decor — from marble pieces in a rainbow of colors (sourced from local quarries) to sculptural furniture from the Jugendstil movement. Everything beckons to not only be studied but also touched. The nine guest rooms were meticulously decorated and each features a unique architectural blueprint, which means one comes with a massive pink-marble bathroom while another has a private plunge pool.

Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan

Gangtey Lodge, in Bhutan
Credit: Ken Spence/Courtesy of Gangtey Lodge

Inspired by the region's historic farmhouses, this 12-suite Himalayan oasis cleverly blends traditional local design with luxurious modern amenities. Ornate woodwork, exposed beams, and Bhutanese-style pitched roofs are offset with freestanding soaking tubs, heated floors, and grand floor-to-ceiling windows that stare out to the expanse of the valley. Start your day with a pre-breakfast blessing and prayer at the 17th-century monastery followed by on-site cultural classes, including archery (Bhutan's national sport), before retreating to your room for a rubdown.

Cours des Vosges, Paris

The exterior of Cour des Vosges
Credit: Guillaume de Laubier/Courtesy of Cour des Vosges

When it comes to luxury hospitality, Paris might be better known for its opulent palaces. But smaller boutique offerings are just as iconically Parisian, especially this intimate 20-room pied-à-terre in the heart of the fashionable Marais neighborhood. Opening onto Square Louis XIII and its pink-brick houses, the rooms and suites tucked into this discreet 17th-century building are designed to look more like a modern apartment rather than a hotel room soaring ceilings, metallic accessories, pale blue textiles, and mix-and-match art pieces. There's also a charming tea room for first-thing-in-the-morning coffee and croissants, because what's more Parisian than that?

Ignacia Guesthouse, Mexico

Interior of a room at Ignacia Guest House
Credit: Leandro Bulzanno/Courtesy of Ignacia Guest House

Discreetly located on a tree-lined street in CDMX's trendy Roma district, this design-forward guesthouse is the perfect hideaway from the capital's thumping buzz. Ignacia offers quietude and tranquility without sacrificing style or indulgence. The building itself is full of architectural flourishes like the stunning molding on the ceilings, and decor-wise, every nook features layers of texture, from marble to velvet. The best part of Ignacia, however, might just be the courtyard around which the five rooms' full-glass walls look out to. Landscaped with succulents, this pretty, relaxing garden is the ideal site for an end-of-day mezcal cocktail.

Tenku, Japan

Set on a lush 148-acre property with nothing but forests and mountains to look at, serenity and solitude come easy at this five-villa hotel in Japan's Kagoshima prefecture. Accommodations are considered and minimal, encouraging guests to explore the great outdoors. The natural splendor that surrounds the property is what makes this a truly unforgettable stay. Staff can organize everything from one-of-a-kind meals set against the lapping waters of the Amori River and outdoor massages using freshly pressed sesame oils to helicopter rides to view the landscape from above. But don't forget to take advantage of the on-site onsens.

Espacio, Oahu

Espacio Waikiki
Credit: Courtesy of Espacio Waikiki

If you've had your fill of Waikiki Beach's energetic can-do-it-all resorts, opt for the unique sense of privacy and unimaginable space available at Espacio, where each of the nine 2,250-square-foot suites occupy an entire floor. Globally inspired interiors (Italian marble and Moroccan metalworks mingle with bright handmade carpets from China) highlight next-level amenities like fully equipped chef's kitchens, balconies big enough to fit jacuzzis, and in-room saunas. The spa, however, leans more local with treatments like lomi lomi massages and scrubs featuring volcanic clay. The 2019 opening of Espacio also elevated Honolulu's dining scene with the unveiling of Mugen, a fine-dining concept from renowned Hawiian chef Jason Yamaguchi.

Deplar Farm, Iceland

Deplar Farm retreat Iceland Eleven Experience Northern Lights hot tub jacuzzi
Credit: Courtesy of Eleven Experience

This converted sheep farm in Iceland's remote Troll Peninsula is cloaked in black timber and then crowned with a moss-covered roof, so that it can seamlessly blend into its stunning natural surroundings. (You'll even find sheep wandering around the grounds.) The area's rugged terrain is ideal for outdoorsy excursions (from skiing to sea kayaking to whale watching), but 13-suite Deplar Farm has been kitted with modern creature comforts to serve as the ideal post-adventure resting place. Think: Isopod flotation tanks in the spa and a geothermal pool from which to watch the Northern Lights. There's also a small hill out back that can't be touched or removed as local lore has identified it as a potential troll hill.

Virunga Lodge, Rwanda

Aerial view of Virunga Lodge in the mountains
Credit: Blackbean Productions/Courtesy of Virunga Lodge

This 20-year-old, rustic-chic hilltop hotel is best known as a jumping off point for gorilla trekking. But the property itself has also become a beloved destination for its warm hospitality, locally inspired style, and unforgettable views. Half of the 10 suites (or bandas) face the craggy Virunga Volcanoes while the other five look out to the glistening silver waters of Lake Burera. A 2021 renovation improved every facet of the hotel experience. There's now a workshop and sewing center, which shows off Volcano Safaris' sustainable design practices. There's also a brand-new spa, in which each guest is treated to a daily massage — the perfect reward for a grueling day of mountain trekking.