September 25, 2023   7:11pm

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Sometimes there’s a region of the world that interests you, but you’re not exactly sure where you want to go or where to stay when you get there — you just want it to be special. Our expert traveler Susan shares where she goes for just that kind of info …

These websites focus on the very special hotels and cruises. Many also allow you to book travel, but don’t bypass your travel agent. He/she may have even better rates and deals for various properties, including upgrades and other perks.

Absent from the list are websites for large hotel chains, which shouldn’t be dismissed as they’re good for checking property details, packages, etc. (As always, I receive no compensation from any listings.)

HOTELSHelp finding those great places:

• Guests’ comments about their stays in hotels worldwide, listed by destination. Extremely perceptive and helpful, due to specific comments about rooms, service, amenities, etc. with a wide price range represented for each location.

• A loosely based consortium of hotels whose respective ambiance is considered “design-worthy” — generally smaller properties, mid to upper price range. Favorite from the listings: CaPisani Hotel, Venice, Italy. (If you book, please tell them Susan Burdick sent you. (I want the small, family owned property to know that I’m spreading the word for them!)

• Another site for smaller, generally high design hotels worldwide. (There is some overlap between these sites.)

• Another site for boutique hotels worldwide. Overlaps with tablethotels, sometimes, – but not always.

• A tightly edited selection of hotels by Mr. & Mrs. Smith along with dining and other recommendations for the cities in which the hotels are located.

• They bill themselves as the “finest collection of chic, boutique & luxury hotels on the net.” Run by travel insiders who have visited hotels on the site. British based, so you can talk to them (via phone) if you want more information about a property.

• Hotel news and talk

MORE SPECIAL PLACES TO STAY (Small hotel groups):

• Kit and Tim Kemp’s fabulous collection of boutique hotels in London — all winners in terms of style, location and service. Depending upon property and room size selected, rates will be moderate to upper range (especially considering the value of the pound vs. dollar).

• Boutique properties in the U.S. and Mexico (often branded as Viceroy or Tides) — city and resort — all high style.

• The website for this luxury hotel and restaurant group merits browsing, especially if you are bound for the European countryside (some properties are surprisingly moderate pricewise depending on location).

• Extremely high-end, but spectacular properties, mainly in Asia but spreading worldwide. Definitely worth the splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in an exotic location (example: Amanjiwo on the island of Java, Indonesia, facing the spectacular Borobordor temple).

• The website for hotels, trains and cruises organized by this high-end, luxury provider. TIP: they have taken over ownership of some lovely, low-key properties in Southeast Asia, that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

TIP: If you still can’t seem to find a place that suits you: Use Google and enter your parameters — such as “boutique hotels, Rome” and see what comes up. Many of the above sites will be there, but you might find some surprises too.


• Reviews of a wide range of cruise lines and their respective ships. A great place to get started. And as recommended in my prior post, cruises are an excellent opportunity to work with a travel agent who is savvy about which ships/cabins and itineraries are currently the best choices.
We’d love to hear about your favorite travel web-sites and why as well. So, let us know.

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