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Be Our Guest: Best Boutique Hotels

When it comes to lodging, big-name brands are taking a backseat. Boutique hotels—smaller (oftentimes less than 100 rooms), more intimate inns with a focus on stylish, destination-centric décor; above-par amenities; and personalized service—are where travelers seeking something off-the-beaten-property path prefer to check in. We rounded up four of our favorites and provide all the know-before-you-go info here.

1202 Ski Run Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, 530-544-4451,

Black Bear Lodge


Check Out: Entering the lobby of Black Bear Lodge, one of South Lake’s hippest boutique hotels, you’ll immediately feel the warmth—from both the staff and the environs. Fresh from a facelift, the stylishly adorned space—which includes five guestrooms and four cabins—evokes a rustic, woodsy vibe with a touch of mountain-inspired class. Come for the plush beds, soft sheets, and stone-façade fireplaces; and stay for the abundance of amenities that run the gamut from an outdoor hot tub to unplugged activities (board games, books, and DVDs). Feeling famished? An on-site menu offers light bites and a bevy of award-winning beers and wines from the region’s top tasting rooms.

Black Bear Lodge


Why We Love It: Besides the central location (approximately half a mile from the lake, one mile to the Heavenly Gondola, and steps away from an array of eateries), the property itself is clean, cute, and cozy while boasting plenty of beauty. For travelers who can’t decide between a hotel or vacation rental, Black Bear Lodge offers the best of both at reasonable rates.

Black Bear Lodge, Thai on Ski Run


Eat Here: When it comes to comfort food, Thai cuisine tops the list. Dig into a bowl of the sweet-spicy-savory tom kha soup or the yellow mango curry packed with fresh produce and your pick of protein at Thai on Ski Run ( and prepare to be impressed. The best part? It’s a two-minute walk from the hotel!

242 Powell Street, San Francisco, 415-397-7080,

Hotel Stratford


Check Out: Modern and minimal, this eight-story property was originally constructed in 1910, so behind the seriously sleek décor, the modern walls hide a storied past. The newly renovated building—sited against a buzzing backdrop of Union Square and the Powell Street cable car line—features 95 micro rooms designed for complete comfort with plenty of urban pizzazz. A coffee and tea bar in the luxe lounge, contactless check-in, richly hued palette of dark blue, black, and brass, and industrial design make for a property that’s both fashionable and functional.

Hotel Stratford


Why We Love It: Leave your car keys behind, because you’re within walking distance to San Francisco’s top spots to eat, drink, and explore, including Bartlett Hall (—the hotel’s sister establishment that makes house-brewed beers, barrel-aged cocktails, and uniquely crafted bites that certainly satisfy. Whatever brings you to the city, be it shopping, sightseeing, or imbibing, Hotel Stratford is the primo jumping off point with a price that’s right.



Eat Here: Step into ONE65 (—a six-story culinary hub with French flair—and order one of everything: gourmet desserts, house-made frozen treats, daily fresh pastries, hand-crafted chocolates, cocktails, Michelin-rated tasting menus, and more. Luxurious without being pretentious, the years-in-the-making dining destination from James Beard Award-winning Chef/Partner Claude Le Tohic is truly magnifique!

5 Westminster Avenue, Venice, 310-912-6488,

Venice Hotel


Check Out: Historically hip (the building, formerly known as the Waldorf, was built in 1915) with an oceanfront address, Venice V is the place to stay if you appreciate creative design, quirky period details, and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. With three distinct, design-driven room styles—breezy, beachy boho; urban surf/skate; and introspective artist—expect A+ amenities like Aesop bath products alongside walk-in showers, crisp linens, in-room Nespresso machines, and fluffy down pillows. 

Venice Hotel


Why We Love It: Edgy and urban, just like Venice itself, this hotel is as cool as they come. Once hosting Hollywood hotshots like Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, and the Doors, it’s the primo place to soak up the So Cal sunshine while exploring the strand’s boho boutiques, lively boardwalk, and—of course—the beach.

The Win-Dow


Eat Here: Fans of fried chicken sandos, smash burgers, handspun milkshakes, and above-average grain bowls won’t want to miss The Win-Dow ( Just a short jaunt from the hotel, this LA hotspot is a no-frills locals’ favorite.

103 Coast Highway One, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3525,

The Lodge at Bodega Bay


Check Out: For travelers seeking a sanctuary by the sea—one that’s perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and truly reflects the wild, rugged spirit of the Sonoma Coast—look no further than The Lodge at Bodega Bay. Nearly all 83 secluded rooms feature private patios, fireplaces, and coastal views, with comfy-as-a-cloud beds and plush bathrooms to boot. With rooms and views so nice, you may never want to leave; thankfully, there’s plenty of on-site activities: a spa that’ll whisk all your worries away; highly rated restaurant, Drakes Sonoma Coast (, that celebrates the region’s surplus of sustainably farmed produce, seafood, meats, and even honey (harvested from the hotel’s hives); infinity edge hot tub, pool, and spa; and bocce ball court.

The Lodge at Bodega Bay


Why We Love It: Luxurious without being bougie, The Lodge at Bodega Bay cuts zero corners when it comes to cleanliness and attention to detail. From the expertly manicured grounds (seven acres in total) dotted with wooden rocking chairs and fire pits aplenty, to the complimentary beach cruisers and well-appointed accommodations, it’s ideal for discerning travelers who want to stay somewhere that’s a destination in and of itself.

The Lodge at Bodega Bay


Eat Here: Flip-flop friendly Fishetarian Fish Market ( features sustainably, locally caught seafood and made-to-order coastal classics like fish & chips and clam chowder. Their spacious patio, oceanfront location, and commitment to the environment makes it a must for lunch or dinner.

by Megan Wiskus

Charcuterie photo courtesy of Black Bear Lodge. Coffee mug photo courtesy of Mabble Media. All other photos courtesy of @saltdesignhaus. Hotel Stratford photos coutesy of Hotel Stratford. ONE65 photos courtesy of ONE65. Venice V Hotel photos courtesy of Venice V Hotel. The Win-Dow photos coutesy of The Win-Dow. The Lodge at Bodega Bay photos by Caitlin Atkinson, Paul Dyer, and Travis Watts.