Warning: these designer hotels will give you severe wanderlust.

You’ve just opened Instagram and your feed is flooded with perfect, DSLR-shot images captioned with #notcominghome and #whereyou’dratherbe. Sound familiar?

We are all travelling more than ever before, and we just can’t get enough of luxury porn, no matter how unreachable that six star resort might be – in fact, that’s totally beside the point.

Hotels are no longer just a place to rest your head after a day out exploring. Bye-bye run of the mill, beige and boxy hotel rooms, and hello design-focused, boutique lodging worthy of your smartphone’s camera roll.

Listen: Meet the mum who moved her family to Bali. (Post continues after audio.)

These four luxe boutique hideaways will complete (or begin) your next memorable overseas getaway, or at the very least take your holiday inspiration Pinterest board to a whole new level. You’re welcome.

Macalister Mansion, Penang, Malaysia

One of the most unique hotels you’re likely to visit this lifetime, Macalister Mansion in Penang’s capital of Georgetown is eclectic as it is beautiful. This immaculately restored colonial mansion now houses a mere eight individually designed rooms, with communal areas representing the rooms found in a mansion – as you do.

From the relaxing and ambient Cellar and Den to the Living Room (ie. the on-site restaurant), this is a hotel for people who hate hotels (complimentary mini bar, anyone?). Intimate, exclusive and charmingly quirky, you’ll never forget the time you spent at this little piece of Penang history. (Post continues after gallery.)


South Place Hotel, London

If you’ve visited London in the past few years, you’ll know the East End is the new West End, and South Place Hotel’s location next to cool and buzzing Shoreditch is the first drawcard for this hotel hotspot. But the sleek vibe and contemporary, art-focused design is what you’ll really want to text home about.

With an over-the-top five bars to choose from in this boutique hotel, your best plan of attack is a cocktail at 3 Bar, dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred seafood restaurant, Angler, followed by a nightcap and game of pool at speakeasy Le Chiffre before finally sinking into the comfort of your Super King-size bed.

Oh, and if you’re the type to binge-watch there’s always the library of free films on your room’s Bang & Olufsen TV. (Post continues after gallery.)

Aria Hotel, Budapest, Hungary

If you’re serious about having a memorable holiday, a stay in the Elvis Room at Aria Hotel Budapest should do it. Yep, at Aria each of the wings of the hotel are dedicated to a musical genre – classical, jazz, rock and opera – meaning each time you stay here you can have a completely different experience.

Quirky theme aside, this 44-room hotel is a design aficionado’s dream, with the building’s four wings overlooking a gorgeous central indoor courtyard, now the lobby and dining room and aptly called the Music Garden. Meanwhile, looking up will give you an uninterrupted view of the sky above. (Post continues after gallery.)


The cherry on top is the spectacular rooftop that offers 360-degree views of Budapest, where you can start your day with complimentary morning yoga and end it with sunset cocktails.

Hotel Valverde, Lisbon, Portugal

Hotel Valverde in Portugal’s charming capital is the kind of boutique hotel that offers the comforts of home in an environment that’s, well, a lot more luxurious than home.

Actually, the hotel was somebody’s home before it was converted into this elegant city stay where each of the 25 rooms have been individually designed. (Post continues after gallery.)

Reflecting the building’s 1920s heritage, the interior is an art deco masterpiece, and the whole building is so warm and cozy you could easily spend a whole weekend here and not feel obligated to step outside. Picture rich jewel tones, dimly lit halls, decadent rugs, wooden floors and fabric-covered lounges and you’re about one tenth of the way there. In a nutshell: stay here.

Have you ever stayed in a designer hotel? Tell us about it in the comments.

Madelin Tomelty is a lifestyle and travel writer. She reviews luxury hotels and resorts and writes about her favourite holiday destinations on her website, Never Leaving: A Guide to Luxury Travel.

Follow Madelin on Instagram @never_leaving_luxury and on Facebook here.