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Industry gurus say boutique hotels are expanding across the globe. And no wonder—not bound by the design uniformity of some chains, boutique properties can be more creative with location, theme, decor and amenities. Often tied closely to local traditions, history and culture, these hotels tend to take over historical buildings and landmarks as well, enhancing a neighborhood’s flavor. Here are some examples.

The Graduate, Princeton

Graduate Hotels‘ latest property in Princeton, NJ is set to open in early June as the 34th hotel in the brand’s portfolio, which comprises a distinctive and highly curated offering in university towns across the U.S. and U.K. Located directly opposite the historic university, Graduate Princeton will feature 180 guest rooms, as well as a signature food and beverage offering and nearly 6,000 sqft of public space decorated in the brand’s characteristic maximalist style.

Graduate Princeton is a hybrid adaptive reuse and new build project, sensitively restoring and expanding a 1918 building formerly used as a dormitory for university students. Design throughout the hotel will focus on intentional storytelling—inviting immersion and exploration at every turn—and is full of rich textures, colors, and tributes to the building’s original architecture, including the addition of Revolutionary-era cannons found buried behind the university’s Nassau Hall.

Hotel guests will discover subtle references to storied traditions and rites of passage synonymous with the Princeton student experience. A focal point of the interior design will be a two-story library lounge, lined with a collection of colorfully embroidered Senior Jackets (a token received by students upon graduating), featuring a 30-foot custom carved wooden communal table for visitors to gather and connect.

Since 2014, Graduate Hotels has expanded from a handful of refurbished properties in college towns such as Ann Arbor, MI, Athens, GA and Princeton to become a hospitality empire that extends across the country, including locations in Dallas, Palo Alto and Auburn, AL.

Otis Harbor Springs

Rooms at the Otis Harbor Springs feature local touches.

In Michigan, going “Up North”—where small towns are surrounded by the natural beauty and pristine shores of Lake Michigan—is a summer ritual. Those who find themselves on the M-119 scenic route, also known as the famous Tunnel of Trees, emerge in Harbor Springs to find a hidden gem on the bluffs: Otis Harbor Springs, a meticulously restored and reimagined mid-century hotel with a history dating back nearly 100 years.

The resort comes to life throughout the month of June, with outdoor-driven programming and cocktail service.

As guests drive up to the property, they are greeted by the facade of the building—one of the few works of mid-century architecture in Northern Michigan—with original stonework outside and beautiful interior beamwork.

The 31-room resort offers three public venues that welcome both guests and Harbor Springs locals: Birchwood General, an onsite market offering curated local goods and arts alongside takeaway food and beverage; the Fireplace Lounge, a cocktail lounge centered around the building’s original hearth with vintage furnishings and custom mural work; and a window-service café overlooking a new outdoor deck for an alfresco experience.

Ranging from studios to spacious family suites, with patio spaces overlooking the central meadowlike courtyard, guestrooms wind throughout the series of three connected buildings and feature a calming palette that plays off the mid-century colors of the original bathroom tile: pinks, yellows and blues are offset with creamy off-whites and a deep, earthy ochre.

In the courtyard, guests will find outdoor seating, bocce ball, and stone fire pits to enjoy in the twilight hours. Planned for July, a yoga platform will be placed in the back edges of the property by ancient white pines, Michigan’s state tree, for yoga and meditation sessions, soundtracked by the surrounding nature and tranquil waves of Lake Michigan beneath the bluffs.

The Palmetto, Charleston

The Palmetto is set in the heart of Charleston’s Historic District.

Already passing the one-year mark, what’s new about Charleston’s newest boutique hotel are the accolades it has earned—AAA Four Diamond Designation, the No. 2 spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards for Charleston and being named one of Travel + Leisure’s 15 best hotels in Charleston—plus word on the street is they serve the best espresso martini in town.

The 45-room hotel has various room types, each with floor-to-ceiling windows, elegant king beds and state-of-the-art shower fixtures, ranging from the standard Deluxe to the new upgraded Penthouse Suite. The space features a full wet bar, large living room and 500-square-foot rooftop terrace, complete with lounge seating to enjoy the city’s most iconic landmarks and many church steeples that give The Holy City its nickname, making it a versatile venue for a romantic getaway, business meeting or private party.

The Standard Singapore

The recently opened Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon.

Set for a Q3 opening this year, the latest in boutique brand Standard‘s international expansion, the 143-room Standard Singapore, will be set at at the heart of a triangle formed by the Botanic Gardens, Newton Circus and the Orchard Road shopping strip—Singapore’s version of New York’s Fifth Avenue—and will feature an infinity pool and pool bar within a lush botanical courtyard, along with a fitness center and an array of cultural and art programs.

The new property joins recent openings in Bangkok and Hua Hin, Thailand, with locations due in Brussels and Lisbon in the first and second halves of 2025, respectively. The 200-key Brussels property will feature the brand’s first extended-stay accommodations within the transformed World Trade Center, while in Lisbon, a 172-room hotel housed within a former naval hospital will include an outdoor pool deck, rooftop cocktail bar, and a colorful onsite spa.