Let's celebrate this era of luxury-for-less

Something to declare

We all define luxury differently, and what we deem tasteful is subjective. Yet it's pretty hard for anyone to argue with truly great design. And, while we're at it, surely we're all suckers for a little fun too? The thing is, even those of us who may be fully literate in hotel design don't necessarily have the budget to pander to our snootiest inner aesthete. This is when the new crop of hotels – where form matches function, without eye-watering room rates – is most welcome.

Discerning travellers want the destination to sing at their chosen hotel. These days, they're also proving that they're happy to ditch all the bells and whistles offered by a corporate hotel chain (bell-hops, trouser presses and the like) in return for personality at a great price. Take, for example, the New Hotel in Athens. Its slick, contemporary art, central location and great value for money have been pulling in creative types since it opened in 2011. In Marrakech, Fellah Hotel lays on local culture (even for children) as part of the room rate; there's an extensive, multilingual library and artists-in-residence programme. Similarly, Brody House in Budapest nurtures artists and musicians by showcasing their work and even signing bands to record in its studios. For those who enjoy eye candy, see Fellah's yellow taxi parked under a treehouse and Brody's chic, upcycled furnishings and vintage handwritten letters as decoupage.

It's all part of the modern evolution of hotels. Former nightclub impresarios André Balazs and Ian Schrager gave city-stays swagger back in the 1980s. Their designer dens were sexy and sociable and launched this era of hip hotels. We all started to crave individuality from our homes-away-from-home, as well as a sense of place. After that, even the big, non-boutique boys started doing designer. As well as being chic, they threw in fancy fixtures and amenities. By the time we reached the era of global financial crisis, the budget element finally kicked in. Hoteliers had to reinvent a winning formula all over again.

Now everyone wants style, service and surprises from their hotel – and they want it without breaking the bank. Even hostels have got in on the act. Add Instagram to the mix and your hip hangouts have to be photogenic as well. From Portland to Panama via NYC and Shoreditch, Ace Hotels are a pertinent example of that winning formula of edgy-and-relatively-affordable city stays, thanks to their rock 'n' roll spirit and a street-smart look and feel. We've come a long way since the label "boutique" gave hotels licence to up the price tag, and happily today "budget" needn't be shorthand for soulless.

Juliet Kinsman is the editor-in-chief of Mr & Mrs Smith hotel guides (mrandmrssmith.com)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk